Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:13 am

Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 11:41 am

To my colleagues out there who fly, I would like to get your feedback on how your airline handles a short-crewing situation. It seems to have become a fairly regular occurrence amongst North American carriers, given the current business climate.

1) Are services consolidated/combined or eliminated? Do your respective airlines authorize this practice?

2) Are your crews compensated financially for essentially performing the same services with less bodies? (e.g) Dividing the missing crew members salary amongst those on board who are expected to do the same work with less bodies?

3) Are customers ever made aware of this situation?

With customer service top of mind, I think most of us simply run a little faster, and just put "the pedal to the metal".


Above and Beyond
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 11:46 am

At Continental, the other flight attendants get short crew pay, but it really doesn't happen very often. Crew levels cannot fall below the legal limit, and on most domestic service, they are scheduled with minimum crew, therefore a short crew situation isn't possible. On longhaul, it is possible, and it does happen, but it is not very often. There are more instances of a sick crew member creating a short crew situation than a missing crew member.

Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:13 am

RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 12:06 pm

Artsyman -
Thanks for the reply. In our case, of late it has just been poor manpower planning, and overall staff shortages. There have been a couple of instances of load restricted flights where a 1:40 crew:passenger ratio is followed. Interesting about the short crew pay. Is that a set amount, percentage, or the actual missing F/A's salary?

Cheers Mate
Above and Beyond
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 12:31 pm

I flew AC 864 YUL-LHR on Friday in J class and had my seat assignment changed from 7A to 2D upon boarding as the crew were short and they were trying to locate all passengers into the forward cabin so as to permit better service. The service standards did not suffer, but they probably would have had there been passengers seated in both cabins. Apart from the 3 passengers supposed to have been seated in the rear cabin and subsequently reseated, I don't think any others were even aware that there was a short crew.

Now on to Air India, an airline with whom I am extremely familiar and who is currently experiencing a horrendous cabin crew shortage. AI's prescribed staffing for a 744 (12F-26J-385Y) is 1 Supervisor, 4 Pursers, 5 Assistant Pursers and 10 Hostesses for a total of 20. Over the last few years, due to attrition, expansion and a government mandated 10-year hiring freeze the airline is currently short by approximately 40% less crew than optimal. As a result, the 744 LONGHAULS were being staffed with 1+2+3+7 for a total of 13 (down from 20). The 744 SHORTHAULS were being staffed by 1+2+2+6 for a total of 11 - minimum complement.

As a result service standards absolutely DID suffer. Any and all nonrevs willing to work were drafted in to help with basic galley prep work like sorting special meals, counting linens, etc... The A-zone First Class service optimally has 3 crew + 1 supervisor working 12 passengers (2 aisle, 1 galley) and the Upper Deck Business Class service optimally has 3 crew working 26 passengers - again 2 aisle, 1 galley. Due to the shortage, the Supervisor (who is a management employee whose job description has no designated service duties) winds up having to assist the Purser with A-zone aisle service (with the Asst. Purser doing galley prep), and the upper deck crew have to "borrow" one crew member from B-zone economy class for their galley prep. As a result, the upper deck crew are forced to consolidate the number of runs through the cabin that they can realistically manage. Thus the starter and entree courses are usually consolidated on a single tray run, with desert/fruit/cheese on the second run through - after which the "borrowed crew" goes back downstairs to pick up the B/C zone economy class service while the Hostess takes over galley duties (like Coffee/Tea prep) as the Purser solo handles liquers. If there is a willing nonrev aboard who is trained in "proper" prep, they will be shoved into an Economy Class galley position and one of the Economy Class on-duty crew will move upstairs for the full duration of the service to maintain the 2-person aisle throughout.

With 7-9 short crew, the remaining folks make out like bandits for short pay, although they are inevitably walking zombies by the end of a multi-service flight. Passengers aren't usually told about the situation unless they specifically ask or comment about it though. "Pedal to the metal" can only go so far - when the shortfall hits almost 50% of complement there inevitably have to be corners cut.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 12:35 pm

At NWA we are always "FAA min" on domestic flights. DC9-10, -30 2 FA's, DC9 -40, -50 3. A319 & A320 3FA's, 757-200 4FA., 757-300 5FA.

International we are at "contract min". We work the DC10 (TransAtlantic) with ONLY 7, TranPac - 8/9. 747-200 12 FA, 747-400 13 FA's. A330 9 FA's
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 5:23 pm

At United we get $10 extra for every missing FA per hour. Needless to say I've made HUNDREDS of extra dollars with understaffing pay! It's such a great suprise for long haul! (ie LHR-LAX Summer 2001, 12 hours of flight time and short by 2!). Usually we announce to the affected cabin that we're a little short staffed (usually economy) and to bear with us. My experience is that the passengers are always 10 times nicer when we announce that!

I've worked a number of flights out of LHR where we were short by one or two usually because the crew desk will only schedule the absolutely contract minimum and then at the last minute we'll get a few passengers from BA, VS or AA that were bumped and it throws all the staffing off. They really run it tight! Out of ORD the crew desk will often pull a reserve off of a widebody to make up FAA mins on a narrowbody flight.

The debate continues... Starwood or Hyatt... which is better
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Tue Feb 03, 2004 5:38 pm

At AirMalta we operate with a max of 5 on B733/A319 and 6 on A320. That's with mixed config. All coach 4/5. On short no service flights we operate with legal minimum of 3/4. Legal is 1FA/50seats (seats on board not pax). We can only be shortcrewed by not more than 1 less than the contracted number, and then we get paid double points for that flight. And, no, the pax do not have to know that we are shortcrewed and nor do they notice.

NWAFA I am surprised how you work with 2 FA's on DC-9 and only 3 on A320. What's the seating capacity on those aircraft? We have 144 on B733, 141 on A319 and 168 on A320.
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:15 am

the DC9-10 has 78 seats and the -30 has 100, so only 2 needed for FAA. The A319 has 124 seats = 3 FA and the A320 has 148 = 3fA
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:48 am


I think this thread and comparison should be forwarded to Richard. I think the NWA Flight Attendants have already given pay cuts. If you know what I mean?

Florida Express, Braniff II and ......
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RE: Cabin Crew & Short Crewing

Wed Feb 04, 2004 4:00 am

On EL AL they dont get "extra" pay. A flight will never leave with FAA minimum Crew restrictions and very seldomly with less than minumum crew for Service.
It could happen, when a returning crew was sent for X pax, but during the layover more pax booked the flight - and there was no time to send an extra crew member to return the flight. EL AL makes all the efforts to make sure the flight leaves with out missing crew.
On 744 - 18, 742 - 14, 772 - 14, 767 - 8, 757 - 7, 73G - 5/6

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