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Southwest offers staff extra pay, frequent flyer miles to avoid holiday travel disruptions

A baggage handler pushes a bag close to a Southwest Airways airplane at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, California, October 10, 2021.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Photos

Southwest Airlines on Saturday provided its flight attendants new attendance incentives aimed toward avoiding extra flight cancellations, notably over the height vacation interval, amid issues over staffing, in accordance with an inside memo.

Southwest canceled greater than 2,000 flights round Columbus Day weekend, disruptions the air provider mentioned price it $75 million. American Airlines, which can be providing flight attendants and different crews additional pay for vacation shifts, struggled with mass flight cancellations late final month and in early November as nicely.

Flight attendants and different operations workers may obtain as much as 120,000 Speedy Rewards factors, valued at greater than $1,400. Flight attendants are eligible for working 36 days between Nov. 15 and Jan. 14, whereas cabin crews who work 28 days over that interval may get 60,000 factors, the be aware acknowledged. Southwest mentioned that the variety of qualifying shifts or days varies by work group.

The variety of no-shows or unreachable flight attendants has been elevated not too long ago, Southwest’s vice chairman of Sonya Lacore, vice chairman of inflight operations, mentioned in her be aware to cabin crews, which was reviewed by CNBC. Sick calls have surged as nicely when the corporate has lifted emergency insurance policies that required flight attendants to indicate a health care provider’s be aware if calling out ailing. For instance, Lacore mentioned when the airline final lifted these procedures on Nov. 9 sick calls went from 20 an hour to 90 an hour for 2 hours in a row.

“We have now an awesome alternative right here to uphold that dedication to them, and also you, within the midst of what has been a troublesome time for us all,” wrote Lacore. “Our first step in addressing this, and actively working to guard the operation, was to scale back the schedule, and we consider this incentive program will take us one other step in the fitting course.”

The airline can be providing as a lot as triple pay to floor operations workers for working Thanksgiving and Christmas and double pay for extra time shifts between Nov. 17 via Nov. 30 and Dec. 17 via Jan. 3, up from time-and-a-half pay.

Airways had provided employees early retirement packages and leaves of absence to chop their labor payments in the course of the pandemic however discovered themselves short-staffed when demand bounced again this yr. Extra flight attendants are returning to American and Southwest from go away, whereas these airways and others are additionally aggressively hiring.

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