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The Whole Truth: Management's OAL Comparison

15 Mar, 2022

Management’s long promised Flight Attendant Pay, Work Rules and Benefits Comparison (“OAL Comparison”) is a selection of cherry-picked Delta favorable items. It ignores contractual guarantees. Management also only compared United and American, leaving out other competitors like Southwest, Alaska, Hawaiian and more.

TOTAL CASH COMP

Example: Management’s annual pay comparison (page 5) includes DL base rate 12 year + "Shared Rewards of $850" but UA compensation leaves out $1,000 UA bonus from its total. Management lists the bonus in fine print of a footnote, but excluded it from their "Shared Reward" visual aid chart and share graphic. They also excluded this compensation from Total Compensation, and Profit Sharing sections.

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Example: Management excludes international override pay from compensation ratio that is normally included as part of compensation for 40-50% of Flight Attendants at AA/DL/UA. This pay item is hidden in Slide 11, and instead presented as a stand-alone item.

PURSER AND SERVICE LEADER PAY

On Page 7 of their comparison, management compares the pay of the Purser/Leader positions, but does so by adding together the pay of both Delta's Purser AND Service Leader positions. This was either done to purposely mislead or because those who put together the comparison do not understand how these assignments work on the airplane. These are separate positions on the aircraft and one Flight Attendant cannot earn both at the same time.

Purser pay at Delta of $5.65 badly trails the Purser pay at United and American of $7.50 an hour. So management decided to add the pay of an additional position of Service Leader of $3.80/hour to the Purser pay to incorrectly claim Delta exceeds this United and American pay item.

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Additionally, there are two other major problems with their approach to assessing and comparing purser/lead pay rates:

  1. Management adds $1.75 of galley pay at AA in the slide in an obvious attempt to lessen the impact of combining the rates of pay for two positions to DL. However, the $1.75 they added to AA purser is for 757/767/A350 aircraft and is not the $3.00 galley pay for AA aboard widebody aircraft 777/787 – and flies the majority of their transoceanic flying.
  2. For some reason while DL adds Purser and Service Leader to exhibit their premium pay, they chose to not add the $1.00 for galley pay at United. This is completely inconsistent and highlights the degree that management’s comparison is a results-driven presentation that defies logic and reason.

LANGUAGE OF DESTINATION 

Management leaves out that United Flight Attendants with language qualifications working in other than the designated Language Qualified position(s) are paid, in addition to all other compensation: $1.00 per hour prorated for each credited hour flown.

Delta management highlights in a banner that Delta LOD's earn their premium even when not working the official LOD position on a qualifying route, only including in the fine print that AA also has this benefit to manipulate the narrative.

GROUND HOLDING PAY

On Page 10, management displays what it thinks is a fair comparison of pay for Flight Attendants experiencing long ground holding times. The display shows $15 for Delta, $7 for American and $0 for United and a formula. The title says "Ground Holding Pay after 30 minutes,” but the slide shows 35 minute max on Y axis of the graph. The impression is Delta pays best, $15/hr., for ground holds. This is knowingly erroneous and disingenuous in several respects and treats a variety of time/pay prorates and differing contexts/definitions of ground holds as if they were all the same among carriers.

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Let’s break it down:

  1. Delta has the most restrictive definition of ground hold time based on the lesser of schedule, pax loading time or time past report. AA and UA have much more Flight Attendant favorable language concerning the circumstances for triggering ground holding pay than Delta Flight Attendants have.
  2. Delta graph shows 35 minutes on bottom horizontal axis, but shows $15/hr. This is too high, Delta pay for 35 minutes would be for 35 minutes of an hour and be only $8.75 (based on 35/60 * $15).
  3. American prorates $7.00 at 31 minutes through 60 minutes. $14 at 61 - 120 minutes, etc.
  4. United’s holding pay formula includes applicable premium pay and language pay.

Assuming a 1 hour hold:

  • DL Flight Attendant, regardless of pay step, receives $15.00
  • Starting UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $7.22 ($7.43 using weighted average hourly rate based on 80 hrs.)
  • 7th year UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $12.10 ($12.31 using weighted average hourly rate based on 80 hrs.)
  • Top-of-scale UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $16.78 (using base hourly rate of $67.11) or $16.99 (using weighted average hourly rate of $67.94, based on 80 hours/month)

Assuming a 1.5 hour hold:

  • DL Flight Attendant receives $22.50
  • Starting UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $14.44 ($14.86 using weighted average hourly rate based on 80 hrs.)
  • 7th year UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $24.21 ($24.62 using weighted average hourly rate based on 80 hrs.)
  • Top-of-scale UA Flight Attendant with no premium/language pay receives $33.56 (using base hourly rate of $67.11) or $33.97 (using weighted average hourly rate of $67.94, based on 80 hours/month)

Flight Attendant ground hold time payout is based on differing sets of circumstances among carriers that make such a comparison difficult, even without purposeful self-serving distortions that management uses. Relative payouts for such delays between the three carriers are affected by the actual length of time of the delay.

VACATION PAY

  • DL: no premium pay included
  • UA: includes FSL and Purser premium pay if applicable
  • AA: includes premium pay (lead, purser, aft, galley, speaker, int’l. & CRAF)

RESERVE / A DAY

UA Reserve override pay: $2.00 prorated for each credited flight hour, an extra $156/month

SICK LEAVE

UA: no mention of 4:00/month credit to a separate occupational injury leave bank (max. accrual = 400:00 hours)

UA: no mention of rapid re-accrual provision:

“A Flight Attendant who is absent as a result of maternity, or who as a result of a single injury or illness, has used more than two hundred and fifty-five (255) hours of sick leave shall re-accrue sick leave at the rate of seven (7) hours each month until she/he reaches the same level of sick leave she/he had at the onset of the injury, illness or maternity.”

IN CONCLUSION

Evaluation of the data by subject matter expert and airline economist Dan Akins in the Hidden Costs Town Hall presentation, based on actual (2019) not calculated pay rate data, shows that Delta Flight Attendants are paid less than AA/UA/HA on average and work more block hours to get their lower pay.

Management’s calculations are based on 80 hours—but we have no minimum monthly guarantee let alone 80 hours guaranteed. We have no limit to monthly schedule max, no average daily guarantee hours, etc. Consequently, our share of total employee payroll (13.8% in 2019) was second lowest of any Flight Attendant group in the industry, just above Allegiant. Yet we had roughly the same number of Flight Attendants as United.

The Hidden Costs Delta Flight Attendants face are shown clearly in the actual compensation data.

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