Pilots and flight attendants for American Airlines are struggling to find transportation and hotel accommodations during layovers, unions for the two groups say, and in some cases it’s leading to a lack of sleep for crews.
Complaints filed Tuesday by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and the Allied Pilots Association, which represent 43,000 crew members for the airline, say American’s management failed to provide them with timely hotel and transportation accommodations.
‘We have Flight Attendants sleeping in airports and outside of baggage claim due to the company not providing hotel accommodations in a timely manner,’ APFA National President Julie Hedrick said in a statement.
The unions representing flight attendants and pilots for American Airlines say they have been hit with delays for hotel room booking and transportation during layovers, which in some cases had led to attendants sleeping in airports.
‘Crew rest is being impacted, and clean, comfortable, and quiet rooms are not being provided for required rest.’
The complaint says its members have faced problems such as no rooms available upon arrival, ‘excessive’ wait times for bookings and a lack of reliable transportation.
‘Basically it’s as elementary as you can get,’ Capt. Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the APA told the Daily Mail. ‘It’s hard to have a workplace culture if you don’t have a place to stay.’
Tajer said the problem is recent. Pilots have waited hours to receive a hotel room, which can lead to flight delays when they are unable to get the required 10 hours of rest between trips.
The complaints come as American Airlines has struggled to match demand for surging summer travel. Pictured: American passenger jets prepare to depart from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport last Wednesday
‘It bleeds into the system very quickly,’ he said.
Tajer said the issue was urgent, ‘because every day that passes there’s another crew that shows up and doesn’t have a hotel.’
American automatically canceled hotel accommodations for pilots when flights are delayed, he said, speculating that it might be a cost-saving measure.
Complaints filed by unions representing pilots and flight attendants for American Airlines say they have been hit with delays in hotel and transportation bookings
‘It’s not the performance you’d expect from a well-established airline,’ he said.
The union is also asking American to reimburse pilots for rooms when they are forced to make their own accommodations.
‘Taking care of our crew members while they are away from home is a priority for American,’ American said in a statement. ‘We are looking into the concerns raised by APA and APFA.’
The issues appear to stem from the travel industry’s struggles to keep up with increasing demand as pandemic fears subside.
On Monday, American released a memo to pilots warning about a nationwide supply crunch of jet fuel and urging them to conserve fuel whenever possible amid surging summer travel.
‘Use all available fuel savings strategies when possible,’ Managing Director of Flight Operations John Dudley said in the memo. ‘Every gallon of jet fuel saved is helpful.’
The logistical issues come as summer travel is increasing after a sharp drop off last year
Experts said the supply crunch stems from shortages of fuel, as well as trucks and drivers to transport it.
The fuel crunch comes as airlines experience a surge in travel demand after a sharp downturn last year during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As evidenced by data from TSA checkpoints, travelers have been steadily increasing since the beginning of the year.
This means that as travelers start to fly again, they may find themselves with less desirable flight options.
According to CNBC, American Airlines has added stops to certain flight routes because of the fuel delays.
While the airline faced ‘minimal’ flight disruptions thus far and hasn’t had to cancel any flights due to the fuel supply shortage, officials expect to see its impact throughout the summer.
‘American Airlines station jet fuel delivery delays initially affected mostly western U.S. cities, but are now being reported at American stations across the country. Delivery delays are expected to continue through mid-August,’ Dudley said.
A shortage of jet fuel has been one of the issues, and prices have risen substantially since last year
In addition to planned stops, the airline has started tankering fuel, which means that certain flights are carrying additional fuel into airports that have been affected by the shortages.
Dudley also urged pilots to contact American Airlines dispatchers early ‘if it is necessary to land enroute’ and noted that taking on extra fuel ‘will lead to a heavier aircraft when landing’.
However, because extra fuel adds weight, Tajer noted planes may need to leave some seats empty to ensure safety of all passengers. This could limit traveler capacity on certain routes.
He expects planes to fly with more fuel than needed to complete their journey when traveling from cities where fuel is more abundant into cities where supply is tight.
A memo from APA to union members stated that while ‘these new challenges are manageable, [it’s] important to be proactive and work closely with the load agents and dispatchers.’
In a statement to DailyMail.com, American Airlines said the company is aware of the shortage and has taken steps to minimize the industry-wide impacts. The statement reads:
‘We are aware of fuel supply issues at some airports, predominately across the western US, affecting a number of carriers. American is currently experiencing minimal operational impact due to fuel supply issues. Our team continues to work around the clock to monitor the situation and minimize the impact on our customers.’
American Airlines declined to comment on whether or not the fuel shortage has impacted the company’s finances or stock.