Under the recently approved American Airlines pilots’ union contract, pilots flying “head dead” to their next destination can be upgraded ahead of elite AAdvantage members.
With the approval of the new contract between the Allied Pilots Association (APA) and American Airlines, a national strike was announced. But could this come at a cost to travelers?
The FlyerTalkers made the buzz on several reports that the new contract would prioritize domestic first-class upgrades for pilots flying “deadheaded” to get to their next station.
Upgrade priority could be part of ‘quality of life improvements’
The original rumors were posted on the FlyerTalk forums by FlyerTalker lcb2013, after talking with a friend working for the Fort Worth-based carrier.
“He mentioned that headlong pilots will now have absolute priority in business class (domestic first) or higher on the upgrade list, above any passenger holding elite status,” writes lcb2013. “Only headlong pilots will jump on the upgrade list, not other flight crew members. This also only applies to domestic flights.
Shortly after the thread gained momentum on the FlyerTalk forums, three blogs reported on the development. In a Press release, the APA noted that the new contract would include “substantial monetary gains and quality of life improvements,” but was only in monetary terms. In cash, the four-year contract offers $1.1 billion in one-time payments and ratification bonuses, as well as salary increases that could reach more than 21%.
FlyerTalk has contacted the APA for clarification on the new policy, but has not received a response as of press time.
As it is today, upgrades are determined by three different factors:
- AAdvantage loyalty level, with ConciergeKey flyers being top priority
- Upgrade type: Free upgrades take priority over system-wide and mileage upgrades.
- The balance of loyalty points over 12 rolling months
If all else is equal, upgrades will be offered based on the booking codes and at the time the upgrade was requested.
FlyerTalkers are considerably interested in how this will affect them on a practical level. While the consensus is that this is a good thing for both passengers and operations, everyone is curious how this will affect those who pay to be in the higher class, or how downgrades will be offset by the airline company.
“I don’t see a problem in terms of upgrades, but I believe the (United) policy also prioritizes headlong pilots over paying (first class) customers,” writes ORDflyer92. “I’ve seen instances on their forum where a fare-paying passenger has been downgraded to a sold-out cabin to make room for a headlong crew. If this is now the case, (the American) needs fairer compensation for the downgrades than the difference in fare for a purchase (full price ticket) on the same day. »
“I’m fine with that as long as passengers who paid for first class aren’t bumped,” CLTRob writes. “Also, crew members who choose to live off base should not be given priority over anyone else.”
Analysts suggest American could pass on contract costs to flyers
In addition to costing travelers dearly in upgrades, other analysts warn that the contract costs of $9.6 billion could be passed on to passengers. write for LaRue.comeditor Todd Campbell warns that the increase in contracts could not only reduce airline revenues, but also increase the cost of future airfares.
What do you think of the potential new policy? Share your thoughts on FlyerTalk Forums.
This story will be updated when we receive a response from the APA.