The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Flight Attendant Job:
Fly for Free—No, Work for Free

May 23, 2022

The job of a flight attendant has often been portrayed as some kind of glamorous career—like it’s not a job. Why, you can travel the world, you can fly for free.

But if truth be told, in fact, it’s that all flight attendants in the United States are not on the paycheck clock UNTIL ALL PASSENGERS ARE SEATED AND UNTIL THE DOOR CLOSES on a flight. So, all boarding, loading, greeting, helping customers with their luggage, serving drinks to first class, helping families get their seats together—all that work has been done for FREE. It’s like going to the factory or office and not getting paid until after you have worked for 35 to 40 minutes!

But recently, Delta Airlines announced they will begin paying attendants boarding pay, at half of flight attendants’ hourly rates, starting June 2.

Why now? Is it because, as Delta has publicly explained, it’s a testament to Delta’s longstanding commitment to deliver industry-leading pay?! Or is it the fact that Delta is the only major U.S. airline whose 20,000 flight attendants aren’t unionized and that they may be trying to head off a unionization drive currently taking place at Delta?

According to a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, the country’s largest flight attendants’ union, “As we get closer to filing for our union vote, management is getting nervous.”

Whatever the reason for this change in pay policy—it doesn’t begin to make up for the fact that hundreds of thousands of flight attendants have been robbed of pay for their labor time for decades. And getting paid for 35 minutes/flight, at half of their hourly rate for boarding time, starting June 2nd, doesn’t begin to make up for this historical theft of their labor!