American Airlines, Southwest Flight Attendants Want to be Paid for Boarding Airplanes

Flight attendants don’t start accruing regular pay until planes pull back from airport gates, even though boarding is “one of the hardest times” for those aviation workers.

Cooper Neill | AFP | Getty Images

Flight attendants at American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are pushing to end a decades-old practice of not getting paid during boarding, even though they are required to be in the cabin 30 minutes to an hour before the plane takes off and the clock starts on their regular pay.

Boarding pay has become a hot-button topic as flight attendants across the country enter contract negotiations in a new era for flying following two years of pandemic chaos and a shift in worker power with labor shortages across the globe.

“Boarding for us is one of the hardest times during our flights,” said Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Attendants, which represents about 24,000 American Airlines employees. “We are getting everyone seated and you’ve seen the last two years what happens when we are on the ground.”

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