Flight attendant says he sees cabin crew calling amid travel chaos
- A flight attendant said the current travel chaos has led some crew members to call.
- Others are switching to other airlines that pay better, leaving some flights understaffed, George Connelly told Insider.
- Shortages or delays on one flight impact the others.
As flight cancellations and delays continue, a flight attendant said he noticed cabin crew members reacting to a chaotic travel season.
“As a collective, we voluntarily drop shifts, we don’t come to work, because we just don’t want to deal with all of this,” George Connelly, a flight attendant at Spirit Airlines, told Insider. , referring to major disruptions in air travel. this summer. “Which actually makes the problem worse because now they have to call in spare crew members who can take two, three hours to get to the airport.”
Delays on one flight impacted the others. In one instance, Connelly said her flight was delayed on the tarmac for two hours because there was only one ground crew to disembark five flights which landed less than an hour apart at the nearby gates of Chicago International Airport.
“It’s just that there’s no way to do it in a reasonable time frame,” he said.
Internationally, airlines have faced labor shortages amid a surge in travelers this summer. Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed in the past month alone, and in some cases travelers have had their flights changed from different countries. Baggage has been lost and/or placed on charter flights just to get the baggage to its correct destination.
Experts previously told Insider that while the shortage crisis differs from airline to airline, staffing shortages in the airline industry existed before the pandemic and worsened when employees were laid off or laid off as travel has dropped dramatically during the pandemic.
Last month, airlines like American had to suspend around 100 regional routes due to a lack of pilots. In April, the Department for Transport received 637 complaints against Spirit airlines, mostly for delays or cancellations. That same month, Spirit flight attendants demonstrated at airports in Dallas, Las Vegas and Orlando against staff shortages and flight cancellations.
The Flight Attendants Association, which represents these workers, said in April that labor shortages meant there were not enough flight attendants to handle these cancellations, and many agents planes were stuck at airports for hours or overnight.
Connelly told Insider that labor shortages are impacting airline and airport staff, like baggage crews and refuellers. Last month, a European airline pilot blamed travel chaos on a shortage of air traffic controllers and airport staff. Some pilots have been recorded helping baggage crew members load luggage to help move along delayed flights. If conditions don’t improve – further prolonging disruption to air travel for crew and attendants – cancellations could get worse, said Connelly.
“People just need to step in wherever they can,” he said, adding that he had heard of cases where people in various roles had helped do things that weren’t normally attributed to them. role. However, as flight attendants, he said the FAA prohibited them from leaving the plane during the boarding process, so there was little else they could do to help.
“A lot of turnover”
As for flight attendants calling in or changing jobs, he said the problem is with management. Connelly said he’s seen flight attendants from budget airlines who tend to pay less to work for bigger airlines like Delta and American, which pay more.
“So there was a lot of turnover,” he said.
Connelly said it was rare for a flight to have to be canceled due to a lack of cabin crew, but in the future more flights could be canceled because there are not enough flight attendants. board for a flight to take off.
“If nothing changes, in the next two months to a year you’ll see a lot more crew cancellations,” Connelly said.
As the travel chaos continues, Connelly advised travelers to book flights days in advance, although there are no guarantees as flights can be canceled mid-flight.
“I think they can go there not expecting much,” Connelly said, referring in particular to families who have booked trips or cruises. “I would just tell them to expect the unexpected as cliché as that sounds.”