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Gary Gardner

Mr. Bill Frezza,

I must say that as I read your article which was published by Forbes magazine, on April 24, 2012, I was taken in so many different directions that I hardly know where to begin in response. As a professional American Airlines Flight Attendant, I will keep the emotion out of my response and focus only on the facts and the misconceptions of your editorial. I must first say that I find it interesting that a writer such as yourself would have the ìinsider knowledgeî to make such a vast and broad comment on the situation that we find ourselves at with American Airlines today. I assume that you have never been a Flight Attendant yourself, just as I have never been a journalist. I am not familiar with your training as a journalist, your pay structure, your benefits of working with Forbes magazine, and your basic day-to-day activities, requirements, and schedules. I admit that in advance. Would you be willing to admit to me as well as the readers of Forbes magazine that you are not familiar with my career specifics as well? I am going to assume that you are vaguely familiar with my career and more inclined to base your assumptions on what you see when you fly on a commercial airline. That is where I begin this response to your editorial entitled ìDeadly Embraceî, posted on April 24th, 2012. Yes, we are a ìlegacy airline,î one of the first factually. No, we are not ìlimping toward oblivion, crippled by expensive labor contacts, and efficiency-killing work rules.î Make note that AMR (American Airlines) came to the employees in 2003 and pleaded their case that they would have to file bankruptcy if we could not work with them to achieve substantial cost savings in our contracts. They actually threatened us by saying that if we did NOT work with them that they would declare bankruptcy and take MORE than what they were asking for at that moment. Keep in mind that almost ALL of the other ìlegacyî carriers were in bankruptcy at that time. Under a ìpull-together, win-togetherî and ìshared sacrifice, shared gainsî promise, all of our unionized groups came together and gave up almost 35% of our compensation in terms of pay and benefits. We were promised that when ìtimes got betterî that we would return slowly back to ìnormalcyî as a group, as an airline, and as a ìfamily.î Well, over the past few years, the American Airlines ìmanagement teamî has time and time again failed to make any profitable ìideas and innovationsî happen and has consistently made huge mistakes and miscalculations on what it would take to achieve any positive movement for AA to move forward. They have consistently lost money on misguided ventures, money-losing ideas, and cash-dissolving attempts to bring us back to reclaim the number one spot, as the largest and most innovative airline in the world, as we were in the late 80ís and the early 90ís while we were under our CEO Robert Crandall, who was the preemptive ìairline-builder.î As a result of our management under CEOs Carty and Arpey, their ideas of bringing management to task was just swapping their positions at HDQ until they found the ìright fitî for everyone already employed in the upper echelons of AMR. No getting rid of ìdead-weightî. No bringing in of new ideas. Well, needless to say, most of them have been proved less than worthless to the re-building of the former highest acclaimed US airline and the largest airline in the world. As far as you considering USAir as a ìWhite Nightî offering us huge pay raises, and that you said that we would jump ship to whomever offers us the most money, you are not familiar with the facts of the case. The percentages of raises you stated were not for all work groups and as a statement of fact, our offer by USAir was not even two percentage points above what American offered. The work rules as far as hours flown per day, and per month were not that different as well. You should really be more informed of the facts before you present them to a group as discerning as Forbes readers. Also, our Unions understand that the shedding of our current pension plans are just part of the equation. Currently defined pensions are undeniably a part of past America and although we hate to see them go, well so be it as long as American can help us transition into new retirement plans such as the 401k programs. As far as our contracts ìbleeding American to deathî, if you compare our contract with those of the other major airlines, ours is very comparable to the current negotiated contacts with the other carriers. After reading your article, I have a strong feeling that you havenít looked at that data yet. I suggest that you do so before making any future comments as to our ìsituation.î As far as comparing us to GM, that is not really relevant, because although we are both unionized, we are different industries. You canít really use those as a fair comparison. Your stating that eventually a ìcombinedî USAir/AA merger would go looking to ìUncle Samî for a bailout was ignorant and misguided at best. Looking at current data, a combination would provide little route overlap, a combined benefit of shared revenue, including combined world-wide alliances, and an almost even keel with the other two major players, Delta and United-Continental. If we went looking for Uncle Sam to bail us out, then United-Continental and Delta could as well. How could this be a ìDeadly Embrace?î If this combination could be done in a legal, amicable, and organized way, why are you afraid of it? It would be considered normal in the ìairline industry.î Iím just a little perplexed as to why you find this whole idea to be so threatening. It has been said for years that eventually the airline industry would ìeat itselfî and shrink down to three major players. That is what is happening now. If you ask yourself about the foreign carriers that is very simple. Airlines have created ìalliancesî. Most foreign carriers have ìalignedî with other foreign carriers as well as US carriers. We are all connected in one way or another, so, in essence, there will be only 3 major ìworld airlineî alliances, with ìnicheî carriers such as Southwest (for the moment), and Easy-Jet and Ryanair.

And lastly, your comment on the Flight Attendants at American Airlines being less friendly than ìUS Postal Workersî was not only an insult to us but a huge insult to our Postal Workers. You should be ashamed! Also your stating that we are all ìolder than dirtî was offensive and must be addressed. I will not bore you with our work rules, our pay, our benefits, or our lifestyles. And yes, being a Flight Attendant is a lifestyle, as well as a career. It is not a ìjobî as you see it. I will tell you this though. We only get paid when we are in the air. For all of the countless hours that we spend prepping a flight, after the flight, hours in between flights, and sitting around, that is on our own time. That just goes with the profession. Yes, I make what most would consider a lot per hour BUT, keep this in mind. I am gone A LOT MORE than 40 hours a week to NOT get paid for that. The only way that I can explain it is in this way. Just imagine that you are a bank teller. You clock-in for work at 8am on Monday morning. You work your 8-16 hour shift (based on flight length). You stay at that bank. You sleep at that bank. You socialize there. You eat there. You work again there. You NEVER leave that bank. You clock out and go home on Thursday night at 9pm. Yet you get paid for 15-20 hours for the ENTIRE time that you are at that bank. Does that put it into perspective? Donít get me wrong. Most of us enjoy our careers, contrary to what you said. American Airlines has some of the oldest, and YES, the best Flight Attendants in the industry! How dare you comment on the age of our crewmembers. I have met some Attendants in their 60ís who would carry you piggy-back to your final destination and I have met some new Attendants who wouldnít urinate on you if you were on fire. But isnít that the same as EVERY other service industry worldwide? Before you make comments on our workforce, our motivations, and our problems again, would you be willing to do a little more research on us specifically?

Sincerely,
Gary Gardner, American Airlines Flight Attendant, 22 years

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1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

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APFA Headquarters
1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

Currently, no scheduled events...

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