Transport Airlines

Flight Attendants End Virgin America’s Run as Last Big U.S. Carrier Without a Union

Aug 14, 2014 12:01 am

Skift Take

Passengers won’t feel a difference for quite soon time, but there may be more questions on the IPO road show.

— Jason Clampet

Free Report: The Changing Business of Extended-Stay Hotels

Max Faulkner  / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

Virgin America flight attendants line the red carpet at Love Field in Dallas, Friday, April 25, 2014. Max Faulkner / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT


Virgin America Inc. flight attendants voted to establish the first union at the airline partly owned by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson, ending its status as the largest U.S. carrier without organized labor.

Collective bargaining with the Transport Workers Union raises the prospect of higher operating costs for the airline, which filed July 28 for an initial public offering. The carrier reported second-quarter net income of $37 million yesterday after posting its first annual profit in 2013.

Today’s vote follows a decision in April by pilots at JetBlue Airways Corp. to join the Air Line Pilots Association, ending that carrier’s status as the largest nonunion U.S. airline at that time. JetBlue flight attendants also are seeking an election on TWU representation.

Virgin America’s attendants supported the TWU with 58 percent of the ballots cast, the labor group said in a statement. It was the second union vote for attendants at Burlingame, California-based Virgin America, who rejected the TWU in December 2011.

“Virgin America bills itself as an ‘upscale’ airline and prides itself on that service that ‘team members’ offer,” said John Samuelsen, TWU International executive vice president, in a statement. “With this vote, flight attendants will have a say on how to further improve Virgin along with their own work lives. This is a chance to make the airline better for both customers and workers.”

–With assistance from Michael Sasso in Atlanta.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net. 

Tags: ,

Next Up

More on Skift

National Parks’ Centennial Campaign Expected to Boost Outdoor Recreation
4 Tourism Trends We’re Tracking at Skift This Week
5 Digital Trends We’re Tracking at Skift This Week
4 Strategies to Better Engage the Millennial Traveler