After a flight to Miami, American Airlines found out that the crew would be sick. They sent an email cancelling the flight and refunding passengers.
The “American Airlines Cancels Flight When Cabin Crew Shows Up Sick At The Airport” is a story of a flight attendant that was forced to cancel an American Airlines flight.
When cabin crew members arrive at the airport sick, American Airlines cancels a post-holiday flight.
on December 28, 2021 by Gary Leff
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both provided significant incentives for staff to work over the holidays in order to reduce sick calls. They had some cancellations over the weekend, but not nearly as many as United and Delta. I cautioned that financially rewarding crew members not to call in sick may spread the infection since it punished staff members who were unwell and didn’t show up (losing out on things like triple pay).
Where American did postpone flights during the holiday weekend, I believe it was due to a shortage of pilots rather than flight attendants. There was no agreement in place to compensate pilots for not being called out.
I’ve been chastised by flight attendants for implying that they would ever come to work unwell – and by some managers for implying that the airline would promote it. I’m not suggesting that all flight attendants would do this, or that it’s the airline’s intention, but at the margin, the high cost of not showing up to work – not only foregoing premium pay for a trip, but also missing out on a near-perfect attendance bonus at the end of the holiday season – could push someone to show up or cloud their perception of whether they’re truly sick, perhaps wondering if it’s just allergies and they’re still alrig.
According to a credible source, American Airlines flight AA2578 from San Diego to Miami last night looks to be exactly the kind of aircraft I had in mind, where a flight attendant went to great measures to show up – as rewarded by premium holiday pay — even though they were too unwell to fly.
One of the flight attendants, I’m informed, was unwell but went to the airport anyhow, planning to fly, but then phoned in sick once they arrived. There’s a rumor that the crewmember was suffering from Covid symptoms, but this isn’t important for the discussion. After the trip was canceled, the remaining crew — two pilots and three flight attendants – flew the plane to Miami without passengers as American Airlines AA9782.
The aircraft, which was scheduled to 171 people out of 172 seats, couldn’t fly as a commercial flight since the crew was below the FAA requirement of 4 (one flight attendant every 50 passenger capacity), hence the redeye at the conclusion of the holidays was canceled. The aircraft, however, was still required in Miami the following day.
Motives alone aren’t enough to keep a sick team functioning. It’s also worth mentioning that, despite an incentive scheme in place to encourage passengers to fly, JetBlue had a lot of cancellations during the holidays.
Nonetheless, it’s a safe bet that after the holiday pay premiums expire on January 3, we’ll see more staff eager to call in sick (though after the time when they’ve traditionally had cause to call in sick even when they weren’t genuinely unwell).
…-does- turn out to be the case, I’d still argue that it’s a trade-off that AA would have made, even cheerfully, in exchange for doing much better over the Christmas travel season than its rivals.
December 27, 2021 — “*° JonNYC °*” (@xJonNYC)
I’m genuinely relieved that the flight attendant assigned on AA2578 chose to call in ill, even if it was at the last minute! Even if customers didn’t realize or comprehend the tradeoff at the time their flight was canceled, it’s preferable to receive service in the aisle from someone who is sick.
It’s also healthier for the rest of the team to stay healthy. And it’s better for the airline since a single cancellation due to a sick flight attendant is preferable to the cascade impact of several crewmembers being ill and having to cancel. It’s interesting, however, that at a base airport with many redeyes booked, there wasn’t a single spare flight attendant available.
If the flight attendant had not yet phoned in ill, they would have forfeited their perfect attendance incentive. I wish America had an exemption that didn’t punish workers who didn’t show up to work because their Covid-19 test was positive.
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