Flight attendants plan day of action as United plans in-flight staff cuts

Flight attendants at America’s United Airlines are not taking the news lying down that the carrier intends to reduce the number of flight attendants by one in the high-margin Polaris international business cabin. The consequence of United’s announcement earlier this month has seen those who are members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) plan a “day of action” on December 13 in protest at the move, along with a number of other issues which have upset the company’s 24,000+ flight attendants.

It is anticipated such disruption will include informational picket lines at United’s key hubs across the U.S. including, but not limited to, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.
Union leaders said in a memo to AFA’s United Airlines membership that: “we are taking our fight public because our fight affects the traveling public too, and management should not only be answering to Wall Street. The people on planes are the ones who matter.”

United management has insisted the cut of one flight attendant in the Polaris cabin, which will take effect on February 1, will not materially affect the level of service to Polaris customers as the carrier plans to pre-plate entrees served in the business cabin. However, the AFA has taken issue with this, an AFA spokeswoman commenting today that: “Pre-plated food is no substitute for another flight attendant in the aisles.”

United also confirmed that eliminating one flight attendant position would make staffing in the cabin match the ratio of staff to passengers in international business class cabins of United’s principal United States-based rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

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