American Airlines is closing its San Francisco crew base and asking 400 flight attendants to leave California or leave the airline

By January 31, American Airways flight attendants primarily based in SFO should choose an airport from an inventory of the airline’s hubs exterior of California to work out of.Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photographs

  • American Airways is closing its San Francisco base, doubtlessly displacing 400 flight attendants.

  • Two-thirds have labored for the airline for 13 years or extra, in accordance with union calculations.

  • 10 flight attendants informed Insider a myriad of things make it tough to go away the Bay Space.

The mass e mail hit some flight attendants’ inboxes mid-flight.

“Right now it is with nice remorse that I let you recognize about our determination to shut the SFO flight attendant base,” American Airways govt Brady Byrnes stated within the September memo obtained by Insider.

In closing its San Francisco base, citing financial elements and shifting buyer demand, American introduced 400 flight attendants with a selection that many stated felt inconceivable to make: go away the airline or go away the state.

The bottom is residence to a number of the provider’s most senior flight attendants, two-thirds of whom have been on the airline for 13 years or extra, in accordance with the union representing American Airways flight attendants. By January 31, they need to choose an airport from an inventory of the airline’s hubs exterior of California to work out of. For individuals who cannot or will not, the one choices are to retire early (if eligible) or resign, the union informed Insider.

In interviews, 10 SFO-based flight attendants informed Insider {that a} myriad of things make it tough to go away the Bay Space. (Some have requested to stay nameless in concern of dropping their jobs, however Insider verified their identities and employment.)  Some are single mothers, some are battling well being points, some have youngsters with particular wants. Others have divorced spouses with joint custody of their youngsters, aged mother and father, or companions who cannot uproot their careers.

“That is residence,” stated Marcia Brown, a flight attendant who has been primarily based in San Francisco for 38 years.

American Airline flight attendants Louis Rangel and Uma Arunachalam / American airlines planes are seen at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Flight attendant Louis Rangel (left) began working for American in 1988 and has lived within the Bay Space his total life. His two daughters are enrolled in native faculties there.Courtesty of Uma Arunachalam (left) / Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Company by way of Getty Photographs (proper)

An American Airways spokesperson stated it determined to not have flight attendants primarily based in San Francisco primarily based on logistical elements together with the airline’s altering measurement, shifting buyer demand, and fleet modifications.

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“As we take a look at the way forward for our community, we count on that San Francisco will keep the identical stage of flying it does at the moment, however there are not any plans to develop San Francisco and no future flying prospects primarily based on our present community technique,” they stated.

Most SFO-based routes rank poorly for profitability in comparison with different routes throughout American’s community, in accordance with aviation analytics agency Cirium. This 12 months, the provider reduce the quantity of flights out of San Francisco by roughly one-third, Cirium informed Insider.

In June, the Supreme Courtroom dominated {that a} state legislation requiring employees get a break each few hours does in reality apply to California-based airline staff.

Some SFO-based flight attendants suspect they do not have the choice to switch to Los Angeles  — a bigger American hub — as a result of the airline might exit California altogether.

American would have a “good enterprise cause” to take action, John Masslon, a senior litigator on the Washington Authorized Basis, informed Insider, particularly when contemplating the airline’s $37 billion debt.

“You may need conditions the place the aircraft is unable to take off due to having to attend for a relaxation or meal break,” he stated. “Planes will probably be unable to land and it’ll have a cascading impact on delayed flights and mess up your entire system.”

A bitter ending

SFO-based flight attendant Cynthia Duarte and her husband, who is battling brain cancer.

SFO-based flight attendant Cynthia Duarte and her husband, who’s battling mind most cancers.Courtest of Cynthia Duarte

At 64-years-old, Brown plans to retire early, regardless of desirous to proceed working.

“It is hurtful that I’ve given them 38 years of my life and that is how I’m going out,” she stated. “I hate leaving feeling indignant and bitter. I needed to go away feeling unhappy as a result of it has been an ideal profession.”

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Flight attendants who cannot retire early or transfer must commute, which within the airline enterprise means flying standby to get to and from their new base.

The closest bases to SFO are Phoenix and Dallas, 2-hour and three.5-hour flights respectively, and never all 400 of the affected flight attendants will obtain their first selection. Much less-senior staff could also be caught commuting throughout the nation, including dozens of unpaid hours to their schedules.

Cynthia Duarte, a 38-year veteran, worries that the additional time she’d need to spend commuting would make it inconceivable to look after her husband, who has terminal mind most cancers.

“Proper now I am solely gone for in the future, two occasions per week and he can barely deal with that. You add a three-hour commute on to that and my time away triples,” Duarte stated. “I by no means thought at our age we might be coping with an sickness that makes each second rely. We do not know what number of we have now left.”

Lots of her colleagues are in equally powerful conditions.

A single mother and flight attendant of over 20 years does not understand how she’d commute and safe additional childcare for her younger little one, who wants an insulin pump modified each three days. A 30-year veteran battling a life-threatening sickness stated she will be able to’t afford to lose the corporate’s medical health insurance, so she plans on flying the three hours to Dallas and again for every shift.

Anthony Cataldo, a flight attendant of 33 years, stated he plans on commuting to American’s New York Metropolis base— a 5.5-hour flight for which he’ll compete with different flight attendants for a standby seat. He estimates commuting will value him as much as $700 a month between lodge rooms, which are not supplied by the corporate in a scenario like this, and parking.

If a flight attendant misses a shift as a consequence of an absence of standby area, solely three missed shifts per 12 months are allowed. After that, every missed commuter shift ends in two attendance “factors.” Workers with 11 factors are topic to termination, in accordance with American’s attendance coverage.

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One flight attendant, a single mom who has labored for American for over 20 years, stated she’s searching for a brand new job to keep away from needing to maneuver or commute out-of-state. “I’ve nobody wherever else. That is the place my household is. That is the place my assist system is.”

A dream denied

Flight attendant Anthony Cataldo and his husband Martin Ortiz-Cataldo alongside their mothers, whom they both take care of.

Anthony Cataldo manages a rental unit in San Francisco. His husband works at a neighborhood college and their growing older moms additionally dwell within the Bay Space, he stated, making it “principally inconceivable for us to rise up and go away.”Courtesy of Anthony Cataldo

In an trade the place seniority determines scheduling and pay, yearly brings flight attendants nearer to working worldwide flights, high wages of $68.25 per hour, and extra schedule flexibility and customization. For a lot of, it is an finish aim that may make the low beginning pay, night time shifts, and grueling reserve hours all value it.

The many years of expertise with the aim of attaining that life-style at the moment are successfully misplaced, one flight attendant informed Insider.

“I put in over 20 years, and now they’re telling me that I’ll not have the ability to put in the remainder of my years,” she stated. “My plan was to retire at American.”

In a city corridor assembly on September 27, firm representatives informed SFO-based flight attendants that after a number of calculations, the provider decided that working a base out of San Francisco was merely not financially viable, in accordance with an audio recording shared with Insider by a verified supply.

Some staff expressed confusion on why they should go away San Francisco if the provider will nonetheless must employees SFO flights. American particularly expressed plans to maintain flights on the similar stage as at the moment, which means the airline must fly in flight attendants primarily based at different airports.

Contemplating the airline additionally stated it’s going to proceed to rent new flight attendants, a number of crew members stated it feels as if the airline desires to interchange its veteran employees with new staff who’re paid a lot much less. 

“We have now a 17-year-old daughter who’s graduating highschool this 12 months, and an 11-year-old daughter. It does not make sense for me to ask my household to maneuver,” Louis Rangel, who began working for American in 1988 and grew up within the Bay space, stated.

“I do not know methods to begin over,” he continued. “It is onerous for many people, to assume that somebody you have been devoted to for 30 plus years, after which simply, nope, that is it: Take it or go away it.”

Are you a flight attendant? Received a narrative or tip to share? E mail this reporter at from a non-work handle 

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