American Airlines flight attendants authorized their union leaders today to call a strike against the second-largest U.S. carrier if they are freed from further negotiations. According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, about 97 percent of those voting cast ballots to support a walkout.
The vote is a signal to American’s management that the attendants will push toward a strike unless contract issues including compensation and retiree benefits are resolved. A walkout can’t occur until the union and American complete several additional steps required under a federal law governing airline labor talks.
Contract discussions resumed yesterday, about a month after the National Mediation Board ordered the two sides back to the bargaining table. Flight attendants had asked the board to find talks at an impasse and trigger a 30-day cooling off period that must come before a strike.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Alaska Airlines is offering passengers free wireless Internet through July 31 as the airline launches Wi-Fi service today on six Boeing 737-800s. Through an airline agreement with Visa, passengers can sign up to use the service free by entering the promotional code ALASKAVISA on the login screen. See www.alaskaair.comfor details. After July 31, cost on flights within the continental United States will be $4.95 per flight for flights up to 1.5 hours; $9.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile devices for flights of 1.5-3 hours; and $12.95 for laptops and $7.95 for mobile access for flights longer than three hours.
- Spirit Airlines is warning employees that the airline might have to “shut down operations permanently” if its pilots union goes on strike, as it is threatening to do as early as June 12, adding more tension to what could become a high-stakes showdown. Spirit considers ultra-low fares to be its brand, using ancillary revenue and industry-leading low unit costs to help fuel its profits. But the leader of the Spirit union says pilots want a new contract that brings them closer to parity with pay at carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran, which is 20% to 30% higher.
- Frontier Airlines said it is ending its frequent-flyer partnership with AirTran Airways as of July 16. The partnership, launched in November 2006, allowed passengers on one of the two airlines to use their miles to fly on the other. No specific reason for ending the partnership was given. However, Denver-hubbed Frontier is in the process of merging with Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, which has a history of fierce competition with Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran.