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SonomaFlyer
Topic Author
Posts: 2255
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:47 pm

AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:47 pm

As all of us dogpile to fly this summer, getting to the airport (especially for international flights) is a must.

Friends got to SFO THREE HOURS prior to their 11 p.m. departure to PLS (Turks and Caicos) via MIA. There was ONE person doing check-in for international flights and over forty people waiting. Flying first class didn't matter nor did having all of your docs in the computer and proof of negative COVID etc.

Twenty of those people were left behind because check-in cuts off 45 mins prior to departure. AA said, its too bad and we don't have staff and here is a card to call AA to rebook because they were closing. Our friends are going out via EWR on UA tonight and had to renew the COVID test.

We are going to PUJ out of SFO with AA next week so I'm sliding my arrival to SFO to 5 p.m. for a 10 p.m. departure.

FYI folks, staff levels just aren't there and won't be there for at least this summer so plan accordingly.
 
jbs2886
Posts: 3127
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:07 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:36 pm

SonomaFlyer wrote:
As all of us dogpile to fly this summer, getting to the airport (especially for international flights) is a must.

Friends got to SFO THREE HOURS prior to their 11 p.m. departure to PLS (Turks and Caicos) via MIA. There was ONE person doing check-in for international flights and over forty people waiting. Flying first class didn't matter nor did having all of your docs in the computer and proof of negative COVID etc.

Twenty of those people were left behind because check-in cuts off 45 mins prior to departure. AA said, its too bad and we don't have staff and here is a card to call AA to rebook because they were closing. Our friends are going out via EWR on UA tonight and had to renew the COVID test.

We are going to PUJ out of SFO with AA next week so I'm sliding my arrival to SFO to 5 p.m. for a 10 p.m. departure.

FYI folks, staff levels just aren't there and won't be there for at least this summer so plan accordingly.


There is a general labor shortage for the lower paying jobs. A lot of factors contributing to this, although I think hospitality may be a good comparison. A recent Seattle Times article discusses that a lot of employees just aren't willing to work for the pay they were getting and, perhaps more importantly, just find the business to be insecure. That is, if a new variant spikes, do restaurants close or lose a ton of business? I bet airlines have a lot of the same issues as travel could collapse nationally or in specific regions. Here is the article: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food- ... -recovery/

Someone also posted on this forum recently about how working at airports is just difficult and expensive now relative to other available jobs. If you are hourly the hassle of getting inside security, parking (that you pay for), etc. makes the option less appealing when there is so much other demand where you have fewer hassles. Here is another article: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/e ... kers-grow/

Before someone comes in, yes some states have the extra unemployment and it is a factor for some employees. But lets not discuss those politics.
 
asuflyer
Posts: 740
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:48 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Wed Jun 09, 2021 11:54 pm

We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.
 
SonomaFlyer
Topic Author
Posts: 2255
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:47 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:13 am

asuflyer wrote:
We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.


I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.
 
Pi7472000
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:26 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:34 am

Sounds like AA needs to cut back on their route network if they can't provide basic services. I hope the DOT gets involved. Those passengers should get a full refund if it is AA's fault.
 
usflyer msp
Posts: 4155
Joined: Tue May 23, 2000 11:50 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:38 am

jbs2886 wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:
As all of us dogpile to fly this summer, getting to the airport (especially for international flights) is a must.

Friends got to SFO THREE HOURS prior to their 11 p.m. departure to PLS (Turks and Caicos) via MIA. There was ONE person doing check-in for international flights and over forty people waiting. Flying first class didn't matter nor did having all of your docs in the computer and proof of negative COVID etc.

Twenty of those people were left behind because check-in cuts off 45 mins prior to departure. AA said, its too bad and we don't have staff and here is a card to call AA to rebook because they were closing. Our friends are going out via EWR on UA tonight and had to renew the COVID test.

We are going to PUJ out of SFO with AA next week so I'm sliding my arrival to SFO to 5 p.m. for a 10 p.m. departure.

FYI folks, staff levels just aren't there and won't be there for at least this summer so plan accordingly.


There is a general labor shortage for the lower paying jobs. A lot of factors contributing to this, although I think hospitality may be a good comparison. A recent Seattle Times article discusses that a lot of employees just aren't willing to work for the pay they were getting and, perhaps more importantly, just find the business to be insecure. That is, if a new variant spikes, do restaurants close or lose a ton of business? I bet airlines have a lot of the same issues as travel could collapse nationally or in specific regions. Here is the article: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food- ... -recovery/

Someone also posted on this forum recently about how working at airports is just difficult and expensive now relative to other available jobs. If you are hourly the hassle of getting inside security, parking (that you pay for), etc. makes the option less appealing when there is so much other demand where you have fewer hassles. Here is another article: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/e ... kers-grow/

Before someone comes in, yes some states have the extra unemployment and it is a factor for some employees. But lets not discuss those politics.


That is not touching the elephant in the room - getting badged. Many of the folks that might be interested in working a low wage job have issues in their past that prevent them from being badged and the several week wait to start work because of the badging process makes airport work undesirable for many others. If you already have a badge,it is a great time to be looking for a second/temp summer job. I know one company at MSP is giving 1000 signing bonuses to people already badged.
 
asuflyer
Posts: 740
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:48 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:15 am

SonomaFlyer wrote:
asuflyer wrote:
We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.


I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


Unfortunately its par for the course for AA. Even in good old days pre pandemic I remember being at CLT at 11:30pm during IRROPS and there being only 3 AA agents to rebook a line of about 500 misconnected pax and getting to the front of the line and the agents leaving one by one saying they were going to the bathroom and disappearing to go home for the night.
 
FlyingElvii
Posts: 1399
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:53 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:20 am

usflyer msp wrote:
jbs2886 wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:
As all of us dogpile to fly this summer, getting to the airport (especially for international flights) is a must.

Friends got to SFO THREE HOURS prior to their 11 p.m. departure to PLS (Turks and Caicos) via MIA. There was ONE person doing check-in for international flights and over forty people waiting. Flying first class didn't matter nor did having all of your docs in the computer and proof of negative COVID etc.

Twenty of those people were left behind because check-in cuts off 45 mins prior to departure. AA said, its too bad and we don't have staff and here is a card to call AA to rebook because they were closing. Our friends are going out via EWR on UA tonight and had to renew the COVID test.

We are going to PUJ out of SFO with AA next week so I'm sliding my arrival to SFO to 5 p.m. for a 10 p.m. departure.

FYI folks, staff levels just aren't there and won't be there for at least this summer so plan accordingly.


There is a general labor shortage for the lower paying jobs. A lot of factors contributing to this, although I think hospitality may be a good comparison. A recent Seattle Times article discusses that a lot of employees just aren't willing to work for the pay they were getting and, perhaps more importantly, just find the business to be insecure. That is, if a new variant spikes, do restaurants close or lose a ton of business? I bet airlines have a lot of the same issues as travel could collapse nationally or in specific regions. Here is the article: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food- ... -recovery/

Someone also posted on this forum recently about how working at airports is just difficult and expensive now relative to other available jobs. If you are hourly the hassle of getting inside security, parking (that you pay for), etc. makes the option less appealing when there is so much other demand where you have fewer hassles. Here is another article: https://www.seattletimes.com/business/e ... kers-grow/

Before someone comes in, yes some states have the extra unemployment and it is a factor for some employees. But lets not discuss those politics.


That is not touching the elephant in the room - getting badged. Many of the folks that might be interested in working a low wage job have issues in their past that prevent them from being badged and the several week wait to start work because of the badging process makes airport work undesirable for many others. If you already have a badge,it is a great time to be looking for a second/temp summer job. I know one company at MSP is giving 1000 signing bonuses to people already badged.

It’s not just AA...
My former regional is scheduled more than 100% of summer 2019, and is having fits.
(I soooooo want to pick up the phone, just to see how it is going, but have so far restrained myself, to my wife’s glee)

They are offering to buy back June and July vacations for pilots and FA’s to staff the flights. While my former co. Miraculously managed to keep almost every line pilot on the payroll, (while others like PSA or Envoy laid off hundreds) they chopped other areas to the bone, and are having issues due to people not willingly to come back, early retirement, etc. At carriers that furloughed, the remaining crews are senior, and have more generous vacation and days out, that many intend to use.

The training process is a mess, not only because of recerts, but because of the brain drain. The sims are impossible to schedule, not just because they are gearing back up, but because EVERYONE is gearing up at the same. Any issues cascades down the line.

Training staff and management pilots that got laid off enmass last summer and fall got swallowed up fast by the likes Atlas and FedEx, retired, or found other jobs flying GA.

And the question remains, do you really want go back in, only to be laid off again in 2 to 3 months when the summer travel season ends?
 
crj900lr
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:44 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:24 am

SonomaFlyer wrote:
asuflyer wrote:
We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.


I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


I find that very hard to believe that there was just 1 person at the ticket counter. Even if they had numerous call outs there is more then likely a supervisor or manager there that can step in and help. I'm thinking there may be more to this then what has been posted.
 
SonomaFlyer
Topic Author
Posts: 2255
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:47 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:09 am

crj900lr wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:
asuflyer wrote:
We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.


I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


I find that very hard to believe that there was just 1 person at the ticket counter. Even if they had numerous call outs there is more then likely a supervisor or manager there that can step in and help. I'm thinking there may be more to this then what has been posted.


I was skeptical at first but was able to confirm via a colleague who was flying out on the same flight but just to MIA. Sometimes, stuff happens. Someone calls in sick, someone no shows etc. Perhaps only one person had the requisite training. The original source was reputable and the colleague is as well. It's why I'm getting to SFO 5.5 hrs ahead of our international check-in next week on AA; I don't want to get left at the counter late at night.
 
silentbob
Posts: 1632
Joined: Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:26 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:16 am

crj900lr wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:
asuflyer wrote:
We have known this for awhile now on this forum that AA would be understaffed this summer and any weather disruptions could lead to service meltdowns. But this is really across the board not exclusive to AA. DL is also facing staffing issues as well. Heck the TSA is asking office workers to assist at airport checkpoints. https://thehill.com/policy/transportati ... heckpoints. In the hotel and rental car industry it is a similar story as well as they cannot cope with sudden rebounds in demand. Some employees have made career changes to other industries and are finding careers outside of travel, tourism and hospitality and are finding that careers that are more lucrative and have better hours.


I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


I find that very hard to believe that there was just 1 person at the ticket counter. Even if they had numerous call outs there is more then likely a supervisor or manager there that can step in and help. I'm thinking there may be more to this then what has been posted.

One agent per flight is actual policy now from what I understand
 
JohanTally
Posts: 327
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:44 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:33 am

At one of the AA subsidiaries they put in a bonus system begging employees not to call out sick and pick up an extra 40 hours each month through the summer. They also are denying most vacation requests for Gate and Ramp agents. At CLT AA outsourced wheelchair assistance to Prospect which pays $9hr and needless to say those jobs have not been filled. AA is now asking their subsidiary employees to work extra shifts pushing wheelchairs around the airport. Passengers have had to wait hours for wheelchair assistance.
 
FlyingElvii
Posts: 1399
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:53 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:14 am

Envoy? Piedmont? Or both?
 
rajincajun01
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:16 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:44 am

JohanTally wrote:
At one of the AA subsidiaries they put in a bonus system begging employees not to call out sick and pick up an extra 40 hours each month through the summer. They also are denying most vacation requests for Gate and Ramp agents. At CLT AA outsourced wheelchair assistance to Prospect which pays $9hr and needless to say those jobs have not been filled. AA is now asking their subsidiary employees to work extra shifts pushing wheelchairs around the airport. Passengers have had to wait hours for wheelchair assistance.


If that is the truth about waiting, then people need to file DOT complaints for Part 382 failure.
A319 A320 A321 A330 B1900 B717 B727 B737 B757 B767 B777 B787 C172 C402 CR2 CR7 CRJ9 DH8 E120 ERJ135 ERJ145 E170/175/190 L1011 MD80 MD90 SF340
 
ABEguy
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:02 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:49 am

JohanTally wrote:
At one of the AA subsidiaries they put in a bonus system begging employees not to call out sick and pick up an extra 40 hours each month through the summer. They also are denying most vacation requests for Gate and Ramp agents. At CLT AA outsourced wheelchair assistance to Prospect which pays $9hr and needless to say those jobs have not been filled. AA is now asking their subsidiary employees to work extra shifts pushing wheelchairs around the airport. Passengers have had to wait hours for wheelchair assistance.


Brutal. This isn’t AA’s doing though (with respect to Prospect). People are getting more on unemployment then they were at these jobs. Can’t find the help. It’s the same reason all those concessions are still closed in CLT. Can’t staff them.
 
JohanTally
Posts: 327
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:44 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:01 am

ABEguy wrote:
JohanTally wrote:
At one of the AA subsidiaries they put in a bonus system begging employees not to call out sick and pick up an extra 40 hours each month through the summer. They also are denying most vacation requests for Gate and Ramp agents. At CLT AA outsourced wheelchair assistance to Prospect which pays $9hr and needless to say those jobs have not been filled. AA is now asking their subsidiary employees to work extra shifts pushing wheelchairs around the airport. Passengers have had to wait hours for wheelchair assistance.


Brutal. This isn’t AA’s doing though (with respect to Prospect). People are getting more on unemployment then they were at these jobs. Can’t find the help. It’s the same reason all those concessions are still closed in CLT. Can’t staff them.

Most of the CLT concessions that are open can only staff for one shift during the day like 1000 to 1800 but most of the terminals are busy from 0600 to 2300. Pilots have even asked if we could get them beverages(red bull) from our breakroom vending machines because no shops are open. You know it's bad when Starbucks is closed
 
alasizon
Posts: 2976
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:57 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:10 am

FlyingElvii wrote:
Envoy? Piedmont? Or both?


Envoy started the incentive program, Piedmont added it for parity about a month later.

Realistically, I expect all of the carriers to have customer service meltdowns this summer.

Issue #1 is labor availability/shortage. There simply are a lot of other places that employees can make the same money without having to wear a mask and get screamed at all day, something a lot of airport workers are getting tired of and turnover increases every time the schedule increases again.

Issue #2 is training availability and timing, simply not enough training resources to go around. For example, I have three (supposed to be four but one just left) instructors that report directly to me, that I have to spread across 800 employees of which 500 have <1 year experience so they don't know what the business is really like, they mostly experienced the COVID lull. I'm not the only one in that boat, even if we hired 200 people tomorrow there is no way I could get them trained in a timely manner and even then there are classes that are still restricted to 9-15 people due to social distancing in the classroom which just drags out the training. And don't even get me started on how much virtual training sucks for teaching...

Issue #3 is the sheer workload volume and this specifically applies to wheelchair, cleaning, and airport concessions jobs. For Prospect/Huntleigh/G2, etc. that are handling wheelchairs, requests are through the roof and are taking longer than before. For example, locally last week we handled 30% more wheelchairs than Memorial Day week 2019 and over 40% of those were ad-hoc and not requested in advance which causes just a massive ripple effect. Oddly, aisle chairs are also up significantly and I'm not sure what is causing that as aisle chair rates are historically pretty consistent. Because concessions can't staff their openings, the ones that are open are getting slammed which drives their employees away due to the workload.

Issue #4 is the self-caused hurt from moving a higher than prr-COVID percentage DGS/UGE/Piedmont/Envoy employees into the open Mainline roles, made training easier for Mainline and quicker but it certainly hurt the ground handlers.
Airport (noun) - A construction site which airplanes tend to frequent
 
jfern022
Posts: 192
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:24 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 8:38 am

Can’t find the link for the story I had read, but I did read something pertaining to their contract negotiations with their customer facing staff at the airport, and if I’m not mistaken, there were provisions that agents in different roles couldn’t work each other’s positions at the ticket counter, etc, because of the pay scales. Not sure if that would have an effect if accurate.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 9603
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:35 am

SonomaFlyer wrote:
I was skeptical at first but was able to confirm via a colleague who was flying out on the same flight but just to MIA. Sometimes, stuff happens. Someone calls in sick, someone no shows etc. Perhaps only one person had the requisite training. The original source was reputable and the colleague is as well. It's why I'm getting to SFO 5.5 hrs ahead of our international check-in next week on AA; I don't want to get left at the counter late at night.


Yes, people can call in sick - but AA is responsible for staffing (irrespective of what the C of C says). It's a customer commitment issue. (Little c, little c.)

AA knows very well how many people it's going to see on every flight at least a day in advance (ignore IROPs from other flights). Data from NW and UA at least 20 years ago showed that only about 10% of passengers even then had a same-day ticket purchase. Me adding three hours to trip time because of carrier staffing unpredictability is just darn unacceptable. If carriers can't staff reliably at adequate levels they need to cut the schedule -- McDonald's operators are smart enough to do that.
 
RJNUT
Posts: 1952
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 1:58 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:55 am

as a retiree i thought for a brief moment, i would apply for one of these airport positions. I have the experience but it goes way back into the 80's and 90's. I dont know if I could handle todays environment of TSA, COVID and PC thought. I do live in in Palm Springs, so the airport there is generally pretty chill. Maybe i should just push wheelchairs, LOL!
 
EBiafore99
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:03 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:23 pm

In a way, I struggle to understand the staffing issues, and not just at AA either. I thought the billions given to them by the government were to essentially maintain their payrolls. I'm not saying there were no staff reductions, but I can't wrap my arms around the apparent magnitude of the reductions. Yes, travel is rebounding, but I don't think we're back to pre-covid levels. So, while I would expect hiccups here and there, I would not expect issues of this magnitude (Recently I flew DL and tried to call them - wait time over 8 hours).
 
flyboy80
Posts: 2135
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2001 8:10 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:54 pm

Darn- I was hoping the flagship lounge in Chicago would be open by the end of August when I do my fancy trip, probably not happening.

I agree with other comments- if you can’t run the schedule, don’t build it. This machine is geared too tight this summer I can already tell, and there is little disincentive to the airlines to pass up on revenue here.

Not sure about AA or other legacy carriers but I do recall Delta shed a significant number of frontline employees during the pandemic through an early-out program. Did AA also scale down frontline workers so much they can’t staff the ticket counters? I understand the worker shortage for airport food and beverage, and airline support services like pushing wheel chairs, but the actual airline positions are often coveted jobs that people spent years in.
 
Italianflyer
Posts: 733
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 3:06 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:00 pm

I think this is going to be the Big Story of summer '21. I agree with others that this is just the beginning and it's going to be a long hot summer in the aviation industry.
In my city, restaurants and bars are free to open up yet they can't because of a lack of staffing. Yesterday I went to Family Dollar for cleaning supplies and there was a sign that they would not reopen until Friday due to staffing. My neighborhood grocery was 24 hours (except Sunday) pre-COVID and now they close at 21.00....due to staffing.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 9603
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:27 pm

EBiafore99 wrote:
In a way, I struggle to understand the staffing issues, and not just at AA either. I thought the billions given to them by the government were to essentially maintain their payrolls. I'm not saying there were no staff reductions, but I can't wrap my arms around the apparent magnitude of the reductions.


flyboy80 wrote:
Not sure about AA or other legacy carriers but I do recall Delta shed a significant number of frontline employees during the pandemic through an early-out program. Did AA also scale down frontline workers so much they can’t staff the ticket counters? I understand the worker shortage for airport food and beverage, and airline support services like pushing wheel chairs, but the actual airline positions are often coveted jobs that people spent years in.


Since you both mentioned Delta (and I have a modest recollection of the numbers) I'll come back to this.

CARES Act PSP funding prohibited involuntary staff reductions. DL (and WN, AA, UA...) did a voluntary program and cut about 18K positions. IIRC, very low numbers (maybe a couple hundred?) of those were pilots. The mix of the rest of that 18K - FA, GA, mechanics, baggage, call center, ticket agents - I have no details.

I waited three hours mid-day for a DL callback last week on a messy multi-res, large party ticket refund issue on a schedule change. But to her credit, the agent got it all done correctly on the first pass.
 
User avatar
TVNWZ
Posts: 2317
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:28 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:28 pm

A friends daughter isn’t going back to work for AA. Fed up with the mask confrontations and general passenger rudeness. Life’s too short she said.
 
PSAatSAN4Ever
Posts: 1234
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:38 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:42 pm

It is ironic that I am reading this topic with the thread just above this titled, "AA launches 13 new routes from AUS".

The demand is returning, but the willingness to fork over $$ for support staff isn't.

The CARES act paid off a lot of promised bonuses, I'm sure, for those who managed cut service levels to the bone and keep wages just at or above starvation levels, all to increase "shareholder value". But when it comes time to find enough people to do that job again, suddenly, "we can't find people to do it!" No s***, Sherlock, because people had to move on!

The restaurant here in San Diego that my husband works at has seen an enormous rebound in business as well - but finding help? Not a problem. You know why? Because they are willing to pay their employees. And if someone isn't up to the task, there's the door.

And if people ARE making more on unemployment, what does that say about the company?

The business model of "everything for the exec's and shareholders, poverty/starvation wages for the mass of employees" will hopefully die out.
 
FlyingElvii
Posts: 1399
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:53 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:59 pm

flyboy80 wrote:
Darn- I was hoping the flagship lounge in Chicago would be open by the end of August when I do my fancy trip, probably not happening.

I agree with other comments- if you can’t run the schedule, don’t build it. This machine is geared too tight this summer I can already tell, and there is little disincentive to the airlines to pass up on revenue here.

Not sure about AA or other legacy carriers but I do recall Delta shed a significant number of frontline employees during the pandemic through an early-out program. Did AA also scale down frontline workers so much they can’t staff the ticket counters? I understand the worker shortage for airport food and beverage, and airline support services like pushing wheel chairs, but the actual airline positions are often coveted jobs that people spent years in.

Pre-Covid, many of the front-line Airline staff made less money than the folks working at the airport McDonald's. Given the current incentives still available in many states, why go back to get yelled at all day? Delta dumping DGS on to Wackenhut, for example, really showed a lot of dedicated people what the company really thought of them, so why bother?
 
IFlyOff
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 6:36 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:36 pm

It's not only lower paid ramp contractors that are facing shortages. United ramp union jobs with good benefits, including flight benefits, are going unfilled in places like DEN and (pre-COVID) SFO. The wages in the union contracts are not competitive in high cost of living areas and they don't pay cost of living overrides for those areas unless it's below the area's minimum wage set by that state or city. Flight benefits are useless if you can't pay rent.
 
737MAX7
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:26 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:59 pm

IFlyOff wrote:
It's not only lower paid ramp contractors that are facing shortages. United ramp union jobs with good benefits, including flight benefits, are going unfilled in places like DEN and (pre-COVID) SFO. The wages in the union contracts are not competitive in high cost of living areas and they don't pay cost of living overrides for those areas unless it's below the area's minimum wage set by that state or city. Flight benefits are useless if you can't pay rent.

You make a good point about wages not being competitive in these expensive cities and to be honest I think the airlines do that on purpose. At my airline we don’t make really good money on the ramp until year 4 or 5. They are hoping you don’t make it that long so they can just wash, rinse and repeat with the lower paid employees. They don’t want you topping out or staying for 20 years because it costs them way too much money. My airline was offering $20,000 to people at over staffed stations to transfer to understaffed stations and my station could only get 15 people to transfer in. We are 50 or so bodies understaffed at my station and the new hires won’t be badged and ready to go until August. DEN is having a huge problem getting people that can pass a drug test.
 
planenutz
Posts: 1163
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 1999 5:50 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:01 pm

I flew on AA330 yesterday from SFO to PHX. Only one person at bag drop and it seemed that every other passenger waiting in line had an issue of sorts. TSA screening was a breeze compared to the scrum at AA check-in. Also maybe its just me, but AA's check-in area at SFO seems smaller ow that they are located at Terminal 1. Smaller and more cramped.
Not all who wander are lost....
 
AAtakeMeAway
Posts: 509
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2004 8:59 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:10 pm

silentbob wrote:
crj900lr wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:

I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


I find that very hard to believe that there was just 1 person at the ticket counter. Even if they had numerous call outs there is more then likely a supervisor or manager there that can step in and help. I'm thinking there may be more to this then what has been posted.

One agent per flight is actual policy now from what I understand


One gate agent for flights under 80% LF. I haven't seen anything in this regard for ticket agents.
 
EBiafore99
Posts: 136
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:03 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:37 pm

IFlyOff wrote:
It's not only lower paid ramp contractors that are facing shortages. United ramp union jobs with good benefits, including flight benefits, are going unfilled in places like DEN and (pre-COVID) SFO. The wages in the union contracts are not competitive in high cost of living areas and they don't pay cost of living overrides for those areas unless it's below the area's minimum wage set by that state or city. Flight benefits are useless if you can't pay rent.


Good point - unions usually want equal pay for equal work, but "equal pay" is different in Des Moines vs San Francisco due to cost of living.
 
crj900lr
Posts: 498
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:44 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:55 am

silentbob wrote:
crj900lr wrote:
SonomaFlyer wrote:

I think everyone understands that staffing will be tight. However staffing a single person to do all of the hoop jumping for international trips at a major station like SFO seems crazy, even for AA.


I find that very hard to believe that there was just 1 person at the ticket counter. Even if they had numerous call outs there is more then likely a supervisor or manager there that can step in and help. I'm thinking there may be more to this then what has been posted.

One agent per flight is actual policy now from what I understand



One agent at the gate, not the ticket counter. There are usually 2 agents at the gate but they are planning on reducing that to 1. That's gonna be a disaster.
 
TW870
Posts: 1328
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:01 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:13 am

737MAX7 wrote:
IFlyOff wrote:
It's not only lower paid ramp contractors that are facing shortages. United ramp union jobs with good benefits, including flight benefits, are going unfilled in places like DEN and (pre-COVID) SFO. The wages in the union contracts are not competitive in high cost of living areas and they don't pay cost of living overrides for those areas unless it's below the area's minimum wage set by that state or city. Flight benefits are useless if you can't pay rent.

You make a good point about wages not being competitive in these expensive cities and to be honest I think the airlines do that on purpose. At my airline we don’t make really good money on the ramp until year 4 or 5. They are hoping you don’t make it that long so they can just wash, rinse and repeat with the lower paid employees. They don’t want you topping out or staying for 20 years because it costs them way too much money. My airline was offering $20,000 to people at over staffed stations to transfer to understaffed stations and my station could only get 15 people to transfer in. We are 50 or so bodies understaffed at my station and the new hires won’t be badged and ready to go until August. DEN is having a huge problem getting people that can pass a drug test.


All excellent points. I used to be an SFO-based flight attendant for United. Even with a unionized job, a pension, etc., it was hard to get by as housing costs went up in the bay area. And that was twenty years ago.

I hope change comes out of this situation. By the time the pandemic hit, we had created an economic model where many people had to work multiple full time low wage service jobs to make ends meet. Even with all that work, SNAP benefits and medicaid were necessary to get by. The shock of the pandemic seems to have made it so people found new work-arounds, and are less likely to take the particularly exploitative jobs. I hope the old system does not return.
 
SL1200MK2
Posts: 198
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:00 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:18 am

I think we are all well-aware of the transformation of air travel as one of sophistication to that which is quite different.

It’s seems like the airlines and their paltry pay are stuck thinking that the glamor of working for an airline makes up for said low pay.
 
visual8L
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:09 am

It really is a crappy job. Almost 30 years of it
Here and apart from vacation bidding it doesn’t
Get any better with seniority like inflight does.
Obviously there will be some one to take that
Crappy job when you’re ready to leave, but the
Spiral down continues. If you encounter this type
Of staffing issue-the agent surely has already been
Screaming for backup. Yes they are wearing the
Company’s name on their uniform. That isn’t a
Bullseye. Call RES. Call corporate. Ask if anyone
Else is expected on shift. It is an awful pax experience too often. But do not be a Karen.
‘Agree to disagree’ is generally suggested by the person who insists on remaining the asshole.
 
FlyingElvii
Posts: 1399
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:53 pm

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:40 am

visual8L wrote:
It really is a crappy job. Almost 30 years of it
Here and apart from vacation bidding it doesn’t
Get any better with seniority like inflight does.
Obviously there will be some one to take that
Crappy job when you’re ready to leave, but the
Spiral down continues. If you encounter this type
Of staffing issue-the agent surely has already been
Screaming for backup. Yes they are wearing the
Company’s name on their uniform. That isn’t a
Bullseye. Call RES. Call corporate. Ask if anyone
Else is expected on shift. It is an awful pax experience too often. But do not be a Karen.

(Clappa Clappa)

Did many years on the line, before going to headquarters. I think every HQ employee should be required to do a week on CS, and week on ground, so that they remember what it is that really pays the salary.
 
slcdeltarumd11
Posts: 5155
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 7:30 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:50 am

This exact situation happened to me at SFO on AA in late April! Total chaos and zero premium check in lines. You could self tag your luggage but the luggage drop had hundreds of people and unclear where it started or went. There were three large planes leaving at the same time. I was a premium "business" customer I had to shove my way to the baggage drop and tell them I was gonna miss the bag drop time and I was there 2.5 hours ahead!!! I've travelled alot in third world countries and ive never seen as unorganized and no staff situation like AA at SFO!

AA seems to be super disorganized and terrible right now. They seem more disorganized and out of control then any other airline. There has to be a reason AA is so much worse , even the ULCC don't seen as bad. All the fights we have seen in MIA were AA flyers too! AA seems like they need to figure things out before July when demand is about to skyrocket!
 
slcdeltarumd11
Posts: 5155
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 7:30 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:59 am

planenutz wrote:
I flew on AA330 yesterday from SFO to PHX. Only one person at bag drop and it seemed that every other passenger waiting in line had an issue of sorts. TSA screening was a breeze compared to the scrum at AA check-in. Also maybe its just me, but AA's check-in area at SFO seems smaller ow that they are located at Terminal 1. Smaller and more cramped.


Pretty much exactly what I saw at SFO on AA. It seems unreal but there was like one dude and one lady trying to check in like three full flights. It was insane and same for me TSA was relaxing and cleaning after the insane scene at the AA checkin in with everyone pushing and cutting each other and no idea where lines were. Very stressful experience. I wrote to AA I got a generic we will forward to management reply and clear they didnt even read or look at my photos
 
slcdeltarumd11
Posts: 5155
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2004 7:30 am

Re: AA and Airline Staffing Levels

Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:00 am

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
planenutz wrote:
I flew on AA330 yesterday from SFO to PHX. Only one person at bag drop and it seemed that every other passenger waiting in line had an issue of sorts. TSA screening was a breeze compared to the scrum at AA check-in. Also maybe its just me, but AA's check-in area at SFO seems smaller ow that they are located at Terminal 1. Smaller and more cramped.


Pretty much exactly what I saw at SFO on AA. It seems unreal but there was like one dude and one lady trying to check in like three full flights. It was insane and same for me TSA was relaxing and calming after the insane scene at the AA checkin with everyone pushing and cutting each other and no idea where lines were. This was late april too covid was still here and no one could social distance in an absolute chaotic scene. Very stressful experience. I wrote to AA I got a generic we will forward to management reply and clear they didnt even read or look at my photos and I was in premium transcon business class

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