Strike Update: Three Airlines to Watch – British Airways, Spirit, and American

UPDATESpirit Airlines pilots went on strike June 12. Tentative agreement reached June 16; flights to resume Friday, June 18.

Earlier:

It’s not enough that we airline passengers have to dodge volcanic ash and oil spills that could throw a trip into chaos -we also have to be alert to the latest in labor strike news.

Who’s on Strike?

Let’s look at three airlines, only one of which is currently undergoing an employee walkout. It is possible however that the other two could see job actions this summer (and note that I used the word possible and not “probable”).

As of this moment, the signs of labor trouble are there, but speculation is pointless. That said, I always think it’s better to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

Where to Turn

First rule of preparation: stay in touch with your airline. That’s where you’ll find the best information on what you can do if flights are canceled or delayed. Again, let’s check out what’s going on with the following three airlines:

Britsh Airways – Now on Strike

British Airways is currently in tail end of the latest in a series of four job walkouts by cabin crews (including flight attendants). This current and last “announced” strike ends today, June 9 – but the threat of more short-term walkouts continues to haunt the carrier’s busy summer season.

According to the airline’s website, do not go to the airport unless you have a confirmed reservation. Other information of note:

  • Flights in and out of London City and Gatwick airports are operating normally
  • Some flights in and out of Heathrow have been canceled
  • Check the British Airways website for ongoing flight changes and detailed contact information

Stay informed: keep up with the news and keep checking with British Airways

Spirit Airlines – Pilot Strike Coming?

According to the latest news reports, the pilots of discount carrier Spirit Airlines will go on strike this coming Saturday, June 12if they do not come to an agreement with the airline.

The pilots are already getting in some practice; Tuesday they held an “informational picket” at the Atlantic City airport, carrying signs saying, “The Clock is Ticking”.

The pilots’ goals: better pay (some reportedly make as much as a third less than their counterparts at AirTran and JetBlue), and a seniority system based on years of service, as opposed to the number of hours flown.

Spirit’s response: Spokesperson Misty Pinson told FareCompare negotiations continue, and that while the airline is committed to reaching a fair deal, the airline has also “developed plans to continue operations and is working with customers whose flights may be affected”. At the moment, I can find no information about this on the Spirit website, but keep checking, in case things change.

American Airlines and the Flight Attendants

The flight attendants of American Airlines have authorized their leadership to call a strike, but as the airline notes, the two sides “are still in mediated negotiations” under the auspices of the National Mediation Board; those following the situation closely say they have no idea if the airline will ever face a walk-out by these employees – and, if it does happen, it may not be until months from now (again, if ever).

What we do know is, some flight attendants are unhappy – and frustrated – like this 25 year veteran:

“Am I angry?  You bet.  When we haven’t seen a raise in those 7 years? When the cost of living is rising and I still make $40K a year as a 25 year flight attendant…the same amount I made in 1994 as a 9 year flight attendant?” - Anonymous American Airlines flight attendant

American’s response:

“American flight attendants are among the highest paid compared to their industry peers and are scheduled to fly the fewest hours per month.” – Missy Latham, American Airlines

Meanwhile, the airline is looking for volunteers among management to train as flight attendants, should it come down to a strike. Another wrinkle: according to the Dallas Morning News, last week the Transport Workers Union (TWU) confirmed that “it has withdrawn its approval of a tentative agreement covering fleet service clerks and other ground workers at American Airlines.” American’s Latham has said she believes these issues can be resolved.

Again, there is no indication at this time that there will (or won’t) be a strike by anyone at American. And of course, all flights continue to operate normally. But if something changes, check with FareCompare or the American Airlines website for updates.

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Published: June 11, 2010