United to reduce staffing on many flights beginning in July
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
As with their counterparts around the world, U.S. airlines are in serious financial trouble following a severe drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite essential support provided by the CARES Act.
United Airlines alone lost more than $2 billion in the first quarter of the year, even with passenger numbers remaining somewhat consistent until March. As a result, we’re likely to see even more significant losses for the second quarter, including unprecedented year-over-year passenger drops for April, May and almost certainly June.
As a result, United is continuing to search for opportunities to trim expenses — now, beginning July 1, the airline will reduce the headcount on some of its flights. John Slater, United’s head of inflight services, shared a memo with employees on Tuesday detailing the changes, which will impact both domestic and international flights.
Most flights with the U.S. will operate as they currently do, since they’re already staffed at the minimum level required by the FAA. But those flights that are currently staffed above FAA minimums will be adjusted down to meet (but not exceed) federal mandates. In many cases, customers won’t notice any change — on the Boeing 737-800, for example, United currently staffs each domestic leg with four flight attendants, and will continue to do so moving forward.
International flights will be staffed just over FAA minimums, with one extra flight attendant. United will add another flight attendant once the passenger load reaches 80% in economy, which matches the current policy. Many international passengers will likely be traveling on a Boeing 787-9 or 787-10 Dreamliner. Moving forward, both aircraft will be staffed with eight flight attendants on international routes, or nine if at least 80% of seats are occupied in economy.
Slater told employees the changes are part of “our need to be more aggressive than ever before in controlling our costs and the many steps we are taking across the company to do that.”
“Staffing more closely to FAA minimums is one of those realities,” he added.
Onboard responsibilities have already been adjusted for crew members on many flights. Buy onboard items are not currently available and service has been reduced in premium cabins, on both domestic and international trips, impacting each flight attendant’s workload.
Additionally, while United hasn’t matched airlines like Alaska and Delta in capping passenger capacity, the airline has implemented several measures to help reduce the number of passengers onboard, including notifying customers booked on flights where at least 70% of passengers have checked in, giving them a free option to change, and capping non-revenue passengers on all flights.
Featured photo courtesy of United Airlines.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees