Flight attendants sleeping on airport floors ‘become the new normal’ as airlines suffer operational meltdowns

It’s becoming ‘the new norm’ for flight attendants to sleep in airport hallways, claims a top union boss who fears airlines aren’t doing enough to care for frontline workers during operational meltdowns caused by bad weather, air traffic control problems and internal computer problems.

Gary Peterson, vice president of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) airline division, said the idea that flight attendants have to sleep at the airport during what the industry calls “irregular operations” or ” irrops” for short was unknown until recently.

“Sleeping in the airport hallway – that never happened in the industry, and now it’s becoming the new norm,” Peterson told The Gaurdian newspaper.

Over the past few months, there have been a slew of cases in which flight attendants say they have been abandoned by their own airlines during irrops and left to fend for themselves.

Airlines failed to provide basic necessities like hotel rooms and transportation, so flight attendants ended up sleeping in the airport. Recent cases have involved flight attendants at American Airlines, as well as the low-cost airline Spirit, where weary crews have begun a new campaign to make improvements.

“We had flight attendants getting kicked out of airports in the middle of the night,” said Don Reno Intreglia, flight attendant at Spirit and vice president of airlines at the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA ).

“It’s been horrible for the morale of the flight attendants, because you’re sleeping on the floor of an airport, you have hardly anywhere to go

The Miramar-based airline has been hit hard by a series of bad weather and air traffic control issues in the Florida area, but the union says Spirit’s handling of the irrops has only exasperated The problems.

Intreglia told the insider that some Spirit flight attendants were stranded for about 30 hours during a recent operational meltdown. During this time, no one from Spirit reportedly contacted the crew to make sure they were ok and the airline made no accommodation arrangements for them.

Instead, the crew found themselves sleeping on the floor of an airport until Spirit finally found a plane to fly them back to their home base. “It’s been horrible for the morale of the flight attendants, because you’re sleeping on the floor of an airport, you have basically nowhere to go,” Intreglia said.

The union suggests this is not an isolated case and that another operational meltdown this summer could lead to an even worse incident.

It’s no wonder, then, that Spirit flight attendants began picketing the airline at airports across the United States. The Flight Attendants Association says Spirit broke its promises and continues to break the contract with the flight attendants’ union.

A spokesperson for Spirit did not comment on the specific allegations involving flight attendants sleeping on airport floors, but in a statement the airline said it was “committed to finding ways to better support our team members and resolve the issues most important to them.”

“We have been through so much together throughout the pandemic, and we are committed to making the necessary investments to build a stronger, more resilient airline for our team members and guests,” the statement continued.

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Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s most important airline and flew throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always on the cutting edge, Matt’s knowledge, analysis and news coverage are often used by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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