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Flying American Airlines? There May Be Delays at 14 Airports Due to Service Worker Rallies

Acts of solidarity for airport service workers can impact upcoming Fourth of July travel plans across several U.S. airports.

Among the standard airport travel woes, another issue has been brewing for American Airlines that can significantly impact travel throughout the weekend and in the forthcoming months. Over the past week, thousands of airport service workers have joined forces at 14 airports across the United States to have their demands for better pay, paid time off, and healthcare benefits met. These unfavorable work conditions are flaring amid the chronic staffing shortages that have plagued air travel for more than a year.

With American Airlines generating $49 billion in revenue last year, workers like Peyton Abrams, who works at the  Dallas airport as an unaccompanied minor escort, have voiced their frustrations over the working conditions. “American Airlines is our country’s largest airline and raked in record revenue last year–there’s no reason the workers who help keep AA flights running should be struggling to put food on the table without healthcare or paid time off. It’s time for American Airlines to clean up the mess they’ve created. That starts by paying fair wages and benefits.”

American Airlines workers are also asking for federal support. In a live video stream posted to Facebook on June 28, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport urged Congress to hear their plea, captioning their video stream: “Wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, pilots, and flight attendants are unified and demanding fair wages and benefits. They are saying respect Black, brown and immigrant airport service workers. We’re calling on Congress to include fair wages and benefits in the FAA bill. Call your Senator at 646.663.5746 to urge them to support airport service workers.

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How Will This Impact Your Travels?

People are more than comfortable traveling again. So much so, AAA is estimating an 11% increase in flyers from 2022 for the Independence Day weekend, surmising 4.17 million travelers by plane this upcoming holiday in what they are projecting to be “record-breaking numbers” for all modes of transportation. In other words, airports will be busy. With pilots, gate agents, flight attendants, and more standing in solidarity with airport service workers, this can mean travel interruptions such as increased wait times at the ticketing and baggage counters, a longer boarding process, or delayed and canceled flights. 

While the majority of the services workers made their claims earlier in the week, today, June 29, Philadelphia International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Tampa International Airport can expect to see the effects of those demands. Other airport workers speaking out includes those staffed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. 

Tips to Prepare for Airline Disruptions

Lead With Kindness: Outside of workers speaking out, peak travel season can bring a lot of stress to even the most seasoned workers. From the curbside check-in agent to the baggage handler, everyone is there to ensure you have a safe, memorable, and smooth experience as a traveler. If you need assistance, speak to everyone the same way you would want someone to talk to you. In her interview, Abrams stated, We’re the ones who help make it possible for people to see their loved ones, go on a summer vacation or travel for business. Without us, the planes can’t take off. Yet the airlines and their contractors treat us like we’re disposable.”

Have patience as you interact with workers and fellow passengers. Most importantly, thank your service workers!

Opt for an Early Flight: In my experience, early morning flights experience fewer cancellations and delays. And by early, I mean 6:30 a.m. at the latest. If you can, pair this “hack” with a direct flight. 

Get There Early: Prepare for long lines by getting there early. Download your airport’s app to keep you updated on TSA checkpoint wait times to assist in planning your arrival. 

Pack It in a Carry-On: Try to avoid checking a bag. American Airline’s baggage policy allows a carry-on suitcase plus a personal item like a book bag. By using compression packing cubes or interchangeable clothing, you can maximize space. If you decide to check luggage, consider dropping in a tracking device like an Airtag or Tile. 

Delay Pre-paid Activities: This can be hard for those who do best with itineraries that map out all trip activities in advance, but losing money can ruin a vacation. Double-check the fine print for excursions and reservations to look for iffy cancellation or no-show policies.

Pack a Survival Kit: Consider tossing in anything you need for entertainment and comfort amid a long airport wait. Some go-to items are portable chargers, books, tabletop games for kids, and plenty of snacks. If you check your luggage, add a day to two of clothing and toiletries in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost or delayed. 

These tips can be applied to travel throughout the summer with any airline.