Flying with American Airlines this week? Be extra patient and kind to your flight attendants.

They're going through a ton of changes after several things happened all at the same time recently. And change can be hard--even when it's ultimately a good thing.

Here's everything that happened, how it affects more than 25,000 American Airlines flight attendants, and how it ultimately affects you as a passenger. 

1. A merger with U.S. Airways

Wait, didn't American Airlines already merge with U.S. Airways, like back in 2013?

Yes, indeed. But the new American Airlines kept running as if it were still two airlines in several ways, and it took more than five years for one of the last parts of the airline to integrate: its flight attendants.

Until last week, on legacy U.S. Airways flight, all the flight attendants were legacy U.S. Airways flight attendants. And if you flew a legacy American route, all the flight attendants were American.

This created big scheduling challenges at times. But as of Oct. 1, they're merged 100 percent. No matter which organization hired a flight attendant, they can now work any flight.

It's a giant change, and not all of the flight attendants like this arrangement, because of a new scheduling and attendance policy that came with it. (Basically they say it's way more punitive and restrictive than the old policy.) But the flight attendants union was powerless to stop it. 

2. The massive new law

It was easy to miss this last week, but President Trump signed a massive new airline bill. It nearly slipped under the radar, because the ceremony was held at a few minutes before 3 p.m. Friday,exactly the same time as when a key U.S. senator gave a speech to say she'd vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

But for flight attendants, the biggest changes are mostly positive. One of the most important is that flight attendants, including the ones on American Airlines, will now be guaranteed at least 10 hours of time off between shifts.

This is something the flight attendant unions have wanted for literally 20 years. Up until now they were only guaranteed eight hours, which meant that when you counted travel time to and from the airport, getting ready in the morning, and maybe even sleeping in an unfamiliar hotel room, they'd get only a few hours of sleep. Ten hours is a lot more civilized.

3. New uniforms

Two years ago, American Airlines rolled out new uniforms. It was probably the most disastrous new uniform debut since the 1976 White Sox. Or maybe the ridiculous denim uniforms that the United States wore back in the 1994 World Cup.

But last week, after rashes, complaints, and lawsuits, American Airlines employees finally made some headway. The airline let 85 of them vote to choose what their replacement uniforms will be like.

The winners were something called "Modern Voyage." They'll be rolled out during 2019, and Lands' End is the supplier. Overall, apparently, employees mainly wanted to end any association whatsoever with the Twin Hills uniforms that many of them say made them sick.

So call this one another positive change. Because if the uniform you have to wear to work every day doesn't affect the way you feel about your job, I don't know what would.

Published on: Oct 7, 2018
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