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American Airlines Cuts Flight Benefits and Retirees Aren’t Happy

Excerpt from Bloomberg Businessweek

Jun 06, 2014 4:39 pm

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Parker will have to make hard decisions about which benefits to cut, but healthcare and free flights will be the toughest to swallow.

— Jason Clampet

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Rodger Mallison  / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

Members of the American Airlines pilots union, flight attendants union and other unionized employees march from the Airline Pilots Association office to American Airlines Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to present a petition to management, Friday, May 11, 2012. Rodger Mallison / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT


The chance to fly for free, or nearly free, is a bedrock perk in the airline industry that helps to attract, retain, and reward employees. Any tinkering with these perks is also highly controversial—and that ire was displayed today at American Airlines’ AAL first post-merger shareholders meeting.

As part of the merger integration on policies governing this travel, American’s new executives made several changes that have angered American’s retirees and workers from the former US Airways. The new American, which was formed in December, has about 700,000 people who fly for free as part of its “non-revenue travel” program, including about 110,000 employees, plus 515,000 spouses, dependents, relatives, and friends.

… the changes at American pit the interests of current workers and retirees, who have not hesitated to tell Chief Executive Doug Parker that they feel slighted by the changes.

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