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American Airlines Retirees Protest Travel Benefits Downgrade

Aug 20, 2014 6:00 pm

Skift Take

American Airlines’ retirees are becoming a casualty of the merger with US Airways. There is a balancing act of interests going on, and retirees are being let down.

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American Airlines retirees protest outside the airline's shareholder meeting in June 2014, imploring CEO Doug Parker to retain the levels of benefits they had been receiving. OkfrmMusk / YouTube

More than 100 American Airlines retirees gathered outside of the airline’s Fort Worth headquarters today to protest upcoming changes to their travel benefits.

Chanting “AA, what do you say! Retirees are here to stay!” and holding signs that read “Equal rights for retirees,” the protesters walked up and down Amon Carter Boulevard.

Retirees are upset about changes to their travel benefits and complained at American’s annual shareholders meeting in June that they do not like having lower priority than active employees when it comes to getting available seats. They currently have equal status with active employees and some used their travel benefits to get to Fort Worth for the rally. The policy change, made following the company’s merger with US Airways, is set to go into effect after Labor Day.

Arlington resident Marc Bowers retired as a crew chief at American in 2012. His shirt read “Shame on American. I worked 44 1/2 years then they stripped me of my earned benefits.”

Bowers said it is not fair for new hires to get empty seats on a flight before someone like himself, who worked for the company for decades.

“I think that we deserve all the benefits that were promised to us the day we were hired in,” Bowers said.

American merged with US Airways last year and as management works to integrate the two carriers, changes have been made to employee and retiree benefits.

“We put a lot of thought into combining the travel privileges from American Airlines and US Airways, knowing that we had many different groups to consider and everyone would experience some change,” the company said in a statement. “With more than 700,000 active employees, retirees and their dependents eligible for free travel, we did our best to create a program that accommodated all stakeholder interests, and combined programs from both airlines.”

Retirees picketing outside of the headquarters building were offered free water from the company. Several cars passed by honking in support of the retirees’ efforts.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk ___

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