Delta Air Lines, facing another attempt to unite its hosts, will begin paying cabin crew for boarding, a first for a major US airline.
Across the US airline industry, hourly pay for flight attendants begins when all passengers are seated and the aircraft doors are closed.
Delta said the change will begin on June 2 on all flights.
In a note to flight attendants, Kristen Manion-Taylor, Delta’s senior vice president for in-flight service, said the new salary “further recognizes how important your role is on board to ensure a welcoming, safe and on-time start to every flight.”
The rate of pay during boarding will be 50% of the normal wages.
The change comes as Delta plans to increase boarding time on single-aisle or “narrow-body” planes from 35 minutes to 40 minutes, which the airline expects will increase the proportion of flights departing on time.
Manion Taylor said that after taking a test last fall, and getting feedback from flight attendants, she promised not to enforce the new boarding times without offering cabin crew extra pay.
Delta said the new boarding pay will be on top of the 4% increases for flight attendants it announced in March and which will take effect later this week.
Atlanta-based Delta campaigned successfully to defeat several attempts to regulate its 20,000 flight attendants. The Flight Attendants Association, which had been preparing for its latest regulatory effort in Delta for more than two years but had not yet gathered enough support to force a vote, got its boarding fare.
“This new policy is the direct result of our regulation,” the union said in a statement posted on its website. “As we get closer to running for our union election, management is getting nervous.”
The union represents flight attendants in United, Alaska, Spirit and about a dozen smaller airlines. Delta said that none of these airlines paid their cabin crew for boarding time.
Unions account for between 82% and 86% of workers in America, the United States and the Southwest, but only 20% of Delta’s 83,000 employees, according to a regulatory filing. It represents the 13,000 Airline Pilots Association. Flight attendants at Delta Endeavor’s regional airline are union affiliated.
David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter
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