American Airlines upping flight attendant holiday pay as critical travel season nears

American Airlines continuing hiring push, anticipates 4,000 new flight attendants in fourth quarter

American Airlines is offering flight attendants a one-time holiday pay premium as travel ramps up around the nation, according to an internal memo obtained by FOX Business.  

Flight attendants working "within the holiday peak periods" will receive a 150% premium, according to the memo from Brady Byrnes, vice president of flight service. Those periods are from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29 and Dec. 22 to Jan 2.

However, if a flight attendant has no absences between Nov. 15 and Jan. 2, the Texas-based carrier is offering a 300% pay premium for hours worked during the holiday peak periods. 

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The funds are seen as a way to "recognize team members who have been and will continue to help us run a reliable operation," Byrnes said. 

However, Byrnes also acknowledged how hard the current environment has been on flight attendants. 

Pilots talk as they look at the tail of an American Airlines aircraft at Dallas-Ft Worth International Airport February 14, 2013.  (REUTERS/Mike Stone / Reuters Photos)

"The past few months, and particularly the past week, have been challenging," Brynes said. "From mother nature wreaking havoc on the operation, the myriad of policy changes you've had to keep up with and an increase in incidents of customer misconduct, you've been dealing with a lot."  

The announcement comes just after the carrier faced significant operational challenges over Halloween weekend that resulted in thousands of canceled flights across the nation. 

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American’s troubles began Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, when high winds at times shut down its busiest hub, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and prevented the airline from using all runways there. The number of canceled and delayed flights grew larger in number and geographic sweep throughout the weekend. 

HUNDREDS OF AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHTS CANCELED, DELAYED MONDAY

About two-thirds of cancellations on Oct. 31 were due to a lack of flight attendants in the right places, with almost all the remaining cancellations due to a shortage of pilots, according to internal figures seen by The Associated Press.

And staffing up, especially heading into the critical holiday season, hasn't been a breeze either.  

AMERICAN AIRLINES PLANNING TO ADD MORE THAN 1,300 NEW PILOTS BY END OF 2022

American's chief operating officer, David Seymour, noted in a letter to employees that "the reality is that the hiring environment has changed as a result of the pandemic." 

However, Seymour said that "nearly 1,800 flight attendants have returned from leaves in November and that’ll continue in December with 800 more." 

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Additionally, the airline said it will have over "600 new hire flight attendants join the team by the end of December." 

Overall, American anticipates about 4,000 new team members to join in the fourth quarter.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.