United States

Three Major US Airlines’ Flight Attendants Join Hands To Picket Outside Airports For Better Pay

Flight attendants at 30 US airports held rallies to protest the lack of new contract and pay raises on Tuesday.


Flight attendants picketed outside airports to protest. Photo: AP

Flight attendants from three major U.S. airlines took to the picket lines and held rallies at 30 airports across the country on Tuesday, demanding new contracts and higher wages amid growing frustration.

The flight attendants argue that while pilots secured significant pay raises last year, their own wages have remained stagnant for several years, despite their essential role in ensuring passenger safety, particularly during the pandemic.

Organized as a national day of action by the unions representing flight attendants, the protests were not strikes, as federal law imposes strict regulations on airline unions conducting legal strikes.

Picketing took place at some of the busiest airports in cities like New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Julie Hedrick, president of the union representing American Airlines flight attendants, expressed disappointment over the lack of raises, highlighting that pilots received lucrative contracts while flight attendants did not.


Unlike pilots, who faced a shortage and therefore had leverage in negotiating raises, flight attendant positions typically attract numerous applicants, giving airlines more control over wages.

The protests were organized by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants, and the Transport Workers Union, representing crews at various airlines including American, United, Alaska, and Southwest.

While flight attendants have conducted strike votes to pressure company negotiators, federal mediators, the president, and Congress can delay or block strikes. Mediators have already rejected a request by American Airlines flight attendants to initiate a countdown to a strike.

Flight attendants picketed outside airports to protest on Tuesday.A
Flight attendants picketed outside airports to protest on Tuesday.A Photo: AP

At American, flight attendants are seeking immediate pay raises of 33%, followed by four annual increases of 6%. Southwest attendants rejected a proposed deal that would have increased pay by about 35% over five years.


One key demand is compensation for time spent during boarding, which currently only Delta Air Lines provides. American Airlines offered half-pay during boarding in its September proposal.

Both American and Southwest Airlines expressed willingness to reach agreements that prioritize flight attendant pay. They acknowledged the importance of resolving contract negotiations, but noted challenges such as inflation and changing industry dynamics.

Union leaders emphasized the need for significant wage increases to keep up with rising living costs, highlighting the disparity between current wages and the economic conditions when the previous contracts were negotiated.

Lyn Montgomery, president of the Southwest flight attendants union, emphasized the challenging nature of the job and the need for fair compensation to reflect the increased demands and stresses of the role.