Looking for work as a flight attendant?

Hypothetically speaking, what would you do immediately after concluding negotiations with 2,200 flight attendants to buy them into retirement? In the case of American Airlines the answer is to hire 1,500 new ones. From an internal memo to the other FAs:

Now, on to some exciting news that I’m very happy to confirm. We’re at an interesting and rather unique juncture in regard to our flight attendant corps, because with the exception of our new Mandarin speakers hired in 2011, we will soon be able to do something that we haven’t been able to do since 2001: hire new flight attendants in November 2012! With 2,256 flight attendants electing to separate from the company via VEOP or TSP, along with our need to begin an aggressive training schedule to prepare for combined operations as well as our new Premium services, we’re planning to hire more than 1500 new flight attendants over a 12 month period. We look forward to welcoming new faces and working together to bring a fresh energy to our team, while at the same time giving current flight attendants the opportunity to move up the seniority list and many will no longer serve reserve.

American will also be merging the domestic and international FA bases. All domestic FAs – more than 400 each month – will undergo a two week training course to be able to also work international flights. Existing international FAs have a one day course to learn the new premium service process.

One other random interesting bit from accounts of the change is the depth to which the seniority lists run at American. The company hasn’t hired in 11 years so it is clear that the newest hires won’t be moving up in the ranks for a while. But there are some domestic bases where FAs with 23 years experience are still drawing reserve lines. The LAX international base is even higher. I cannot confirm those numbers but I have no reason to doubt them. That’s some crazy seniority.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. You might want to edit to define what drawing a reserve line means. I think I understand, but I suspect many people do not.

  2. No wonder why every time I transited from JAL to AA, I always felt like I was in a plane filled with retiring grandpas and grandmas.

  3. We fly out of DFW and have certainly noticed that the older the FA, the grumpier they are and much less inclined to provide “service (if at all) with a smile”.
    Hope most of them are taking early retirement!

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