During your entire lifetime when you''ve boarded an airplane, you''ve been greeted by a flight attendant.
Most people are smiling, making you feel confident as you board the plane. They also assist you get to your seat, get your bag where it belongs, and generally control the mood of dozens of individuals who are already irritated about trying to fold themselves into a little amount of personal space.
Because until the plane closes its doors, flight attendants do not receive paid, they do all of this for free.
While this may seem like a form of wildly abusive practice, it isn''t. In reality, it is a business standard established for decades, along with a few other things that appear to be archaic in a country as well as aviation.
She went on to describe more about her past 19 years in the industry.
"I''ve spent a lot of money on hotels and Ubers, none of which is reimbursed. If we don''t live on base, we are not guaranteed a seat on our flights to or from the airports we need to be there to work."
Many airlines also employ a strict point system for reporting late and absences as "occurrences," according to she. After an employee has accumulated a certain amount, they are automatically fired.
"Calling in sick is one occurrence and this included medical leave. I got an occurrence for having a baby," she said. "If I were to take medical leave because I needed chemo, I''d get one. I didn''t get one when my mother died, but I had to provide proof of her death [to avoid that]."
Why Delta is Changing its Policies
After a recent company memo from Delta (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. stated it will pay flight attendants during the boarding process beginning June 2nd. It is the first United States airline to make this move.
Although it might seem like Delta would take the risk of adopting better practices, it''s more probable that the change is the result of a continuous union effort that tirelessly fought hard for it.
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The Delta Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a flight attendant union founded in 1945, played a vital role in pushing for changes in the board''s board of directors. In 2019, the organization began advocating for changes in pay, benefits, working conditions, and profit sharing.
Delta has paid "100 million less per year" than United, according to the company. This corresponds to what the flight attendant we spoke with had, claiming that she had already paid for increases and, therefore, "could qualify for food stamps."
While the AFA''s victory is a key event, it''s also a wacky one.
"They stated this today, and they may also cancel this policy anytime unless we have a contract that locks it in," the AFA said in a letter on its website on April 25. "Lets double down on our campaign so we can secure a contract that locks in all of these benefits AND ensures we have a voice in our pay, benefits, and working conditions every day at Delta."
Will the Industry Follow Delta''''s Lead?
One thing stands in the way of this policy''s potential for change across the airline industry: its impact on customers.
Paying flight attendants during boarding would save the environment a lot of money, causing everything from the cost of flights to items purchased on the plane. This is why Delta''s new policy demonstrates that the pay for boarding time is only half the hourly rate of inflight pay.
These actions, in a country that is already struggling to recover from the devastating earthquake, may be challenging to make. However, flight attendants have long been pressed to the point between inadequate pay, excessive restrictions, and worsening behavior from passengers over the past few years.
Nearly 80 percent of flight attendants are female, indicating a dismal similarity to the gender pay gap problem that women have fought for decades.
"If I require approval from a passenger, they are much more likely to comply if a male pilot makes an announcement than if I ask something of them," said the flight attendant.