Flight Attendants Get Triple Pay on July 4th – But Is It Enough?

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Jessica is a respected contributor to the Sampling America writing team, eloquently sharing tales of adventures across the country and beyond.

Thunderstorms on the United States’ East Coast led to some colossal problems at airports during Independence Day weekend.

United Airlines, for one, was short-staffed, and offered flight attendants triple their usual pay if they came in on their vacation days and/or worked extra hours. Some, though, are saying that that 300% pay increase is not enough to make up for what the airline has put its employees through recently.

Compensation for Flight Attendants and Passengers

Flight attendants
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First, a bit of backstory. Due to the bad weather and numerous operational issues recently, United Airlines has had to cancel hundreds of flights, many of them during the peak July 4th travel holiday.

To get things back on track, the airline asked flight attendants to come in on their days off or to work longer shifts when they were already on the job in exchange for triple their normal pay.

The airline also offered 30,000 airline miles to passengers who were affected by these issues, miles which can be used to upgrade seats, book other flights, or pay for in-flight meals.

The Problem

United Plane
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Triple pay and thousands of free miles may sound like a great way to make things up to the people most affected by the airline’s issues. But many say that this should not have been necessary in the first place.

The Association of Flight Attendants – CWA union said that this “aggressive response” was not enough, and that the airline needs a better plan for when things go wrong. There should be a permanent contingency plan in place, not just a breakneck, scrambling, stop-gap measure taken when a crisis hits.

To make things worse, United Airlines looked even less reliable and trustworthy when its CEO, Scott Kirby, took a private jet from New Jersey to Denver in the middle of all the chaos. While thousands of passengers were stranded, he was flying over them all, a decision he later admitted was the wrong one to make.

Morale Is Low

Disappointed employees
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Even with three times the amount of money in their pockets, members of United’s staff are not satisfied. Morale has been damaged and trust has been lost in the company that employs them. Many flight attendants — just like the passengers they attend to — were stranded in unfamiliar cities and did not feel that United helped them enough to get where they needed to go.

Money is nice, but flight attendants say that United must offer more than that if they want to earn back their employees’ trust.

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