Delta pays flight attendants during boarding amid union push

Flight attendants wearing protective masks walk through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines announced it will pay flight attendants during boarding, a first for a major US airline and an initiative that comes amid a union initiative for the Atlanta-based airline’s largest working group.

Typically, flight attendants are paid from the moment the boarding doors close.

Delta plans to begin boarding pay, half the hourly rate of flight attendants, on June 2, according to a company announcement. The airline is also increasing boarding times for narrowbody flights from 35 to 40 minutes, which the company says is “one of several steps we are taking to make our operations more resilient.”

The pay changes were announced as a union campaign by the Flight Attendants’ Association, which began in late 2019, gathers momentum as the pandemic crisis eases for airlines.

Unlike other major US airlines, Delta’s more than 20,000 flight attendants are not unionized.

“The closer we get to filing our union ballot, the more nervous management is getting,” the AFA said in a statement. The organization is the largest cabin crew union in the country and represents cabin crew from United, Spirit, Hawaiian, Alaska and Frontier, among others.

“In this case, they also know that changing the domestic boarding time from 35 to 40 minutes without adding a benefit would spark an uproar — just like the Atlanta ‘test’ in October,” the AFA said.

The boarding pay comes on top of the 4% increases Delta announced in March, its first annual increase in employees since 2019. Delta pays flight attendants during boarding amid union push

Chrissy Callahan

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