American Airways flight attendants, pilots complain about lack of lodge rooms, transportation

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An exterior view of an American Airlines B737 Max aircraft is seen as a man walks at Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport in Dallas, Texas on December 2, 2020.

Cooper Neill | AFP | Getty Images

Unions, which represent 40,000 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants, say the airline failed to provide adequate transportation and adequate hotels to crews during layovers, a trend that in some cases has left them indifferent.

In complaints filed with the airline on Tuesday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Allied Pilots Association said crews faced hotel booking and transportation delays while on the move.

“We have flight attendants who sleep in airports and outside baggage claim because the company is not providing hotel accommodation on time,” said Julie Hedrick, national president of APFA, in a statement. “The rest of the crew is affected and clean, comfortable and quiet rooms are not provided for the necessary rest.”

On July 17, according to a union official, several American Airlines flight attendants stayed on camp beds at Glacier Park International Airport in Montana following flight delays. There are not enough available hotel rooms in the popular tourist destination, the official said. Originally, they were supposed to return to their New York base the same day.

The case is unusual, but flight attendants have often arrived at destinations without accommodation, are faced with long waiting times for rooms and long waiting times with support from the crew, said the union official.

Earlier this week, American announced flight crews that they could use an app to try to rebook themselves due to long waits when booking hotels due to “irregular operations” on the network, according to a memo verified by CNBC became.

As travel restrictions continue to weigh on the demand for outbound travel, American and other airlines have expanded service to smaller airports, which are gateways to outdoor destinations that were hugely popular during the pandemic. Car rentals and hotel room deals have been hard to find or expensive in these areas this summer.

Tightly packed flight schedules and some crew bottlenecks have exacerbated weather and other problems.

The APFA said it has received complaints from crew members such as that rooms are not available when they arrive at a layover hotel and that they face “excessive” waiting times for hotel booking services.

A shortage of hotel rooms and long waits for customer service are issues that airline customers are also facing this summer as the industry struggles with a labor shortage to cope with the surge in demand faster than airlines expected .

“Taking care of our crewmembers in their absence is a priority for American,” the airline said in a statement. “We are investigating the concerns raised by APA and APFA.”

The APA pilots union said it wanted pilots to be reimbursed for accommodation costs even if they had to find hotel rooms themselves.