American, following Delta’s lead, asks employees to volunteer at the airport
This summer is going to usher in a busy travel season.
American Airlines isn't preparing only by adding new routes or upgauging existing ones with wide-body aircraft. On Monday, the Fort Worth-based carrier also sent out a plea to its management employees to ask them to volunteer at the airport, as first reported by Twitter user "JonNYC" and later confirmed by the carrier.
In a memo to employees, American is asking its corporate support teams, mostly those who sit in offices at the company's Skyview headquarters, to pitch it at the carrier's mega-hub at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) from June through mid-August. Though the volunteer program is launching this summer, the carrier plans to keep it up during busy operational periods in the future.
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In a statement confirming the move, an American Airlines spokesperson explained:
As we look forward to welcoming back more of our customers this summer, we know they’re counting on us to deliver a reliable operation and help them feel comfortable as they return after many months away from traveling. That’s something our frontline teams are experts on as they regularly go above and beyond to take care of our customers. To ensure they have the support they need this summer and beyond, our corporate support teams will provide additional support at DFW.
American's recruiting employees to help in five different areas, mostly structured around key wayfinding locations, like airport entrances, TSA checkpoints and international baggage re-claim area. The carrier is hoping that this will help streamline the travel process for those first-time flyers who are just now returning to the skies after a nearly 18-month lockdown.
AA is also asking for staff to support its wheelchair return and staging operation, as well as floaters who'll be used in various areas depending on demand.
Volunteers are expected to work six-hour shifts, and each employee will be asked to sign up for three shifts at a minimum. Though American says this is optional, it is "encouraging it if your workload allows."
Notably, no extra pay will be offered for those who volunteer. Aside from designated staff working at AA's headquarters, I wouldn’t expect to find flight attendants, pilots and other non-HQ employees working at the airport.
The memo states that American isn't necessarily worried about airport staffing levels. Rather, the goal of this program is to ensure that the frontline teams have extra support during the busiest time periods.
American's move to recruit office-based staff to passenger-facing roles follows just weeks after Delta did something similar.
Related: It’s all hands on deck as Delta asks ‘volunteers’ to clean Sky Clubs
Delta is in the process of reopening all of its Sky Club airport lounges by this summer. Unfortunately, the Atlanta-based carrier is struggling to ramp up staffing as locations reopen, so it asked salaried employees to help volunteer with "cleaning, wiping tables, running food, restocking food buffets, etc."
It's not just airlines struggling to ramp up staffing as pandemic-weary travelers return to the road. A recent Reuters report citing Labor Department data shows that that hospitality businesses, including hotels and restaurants, are boosting pay as they try to rebuild their workforce to meet the increased travel demand.