a man sitting in an airplane
LONDON, UK: Gilbert Ott (God Save The Points) on the inaugural British Airways A350 flight to Madrid from London Heathrow on 06 August 2019 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

A crossroads is here, and British Airways is in grave risk of becoming the next low cost airline, with high cost seats and even loftier expectations from customers.

Through vicious gamesmanship from parent company IAG, the airline has been accused of using the covid-19 crisis as a means of slashing staff costs, with many cabin crew members told to accept a 50% pay cut, or almost assuredly face dismissal along with 12,000 other colleagues.

Even if you don’t care about the livelihoods of British Airways many cabin crew, pilots, ground staff and office workers, you may care about how the changes could impact your next flight, and so far, the cuts look dreadful as the airline eliminates customer service previously reserved for high achieving cabin crew with excellent customer satisfaction in favor of cheap labor.

For many at BA, the pay cut means dipping onto the poverty line, or facing unemployment in a time when hiring isn’t exactly en vogue. But that’s not why we’re here. People built lives and families on an understanding of general compensation numbers, and are now being asked to take a mere fraction.

We’re here because senior cabin crew members responsible for the professionalism and service of crews are being ditched, and years of expensive attempts to claw back “premium airline” standards are all but assured to disappear in favor of eye rolls and tuts when you ask about that extra pack of peanuts.

a man in an orange vest waving at an airplane

All airlines are in the midst of great change and new measures to ensure a future, but British Airways is the only airline going “this” far to settle long held disputes with staff. Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG is using his final months “in office” to seal his legacy as the most ruthless airline executive in modern history, where cost cutting trumps even modest livelihoods.

Walsh was recently called to Parliament in the UK to account for using a crisis to slash wages over 50% for some, and remove 12,000 vital jobs after receiving government assistance and payroll protection guarantees.

For cynics, the move is just the latest continuation of British Airways long decline into a low cost carrier in everything but branding, but going beyond hyperbole, the airline was on a trend for luxury and success over the last 24 months. British Airways was becoming “great”, with new seats, lounges, technology across all cabins and even new planes, but without great people, or with fewer of them, gains will be hard to recognize.

Among the many awful terms in British Airways new unified contracts, where all cabin crew are forced to fly both short haul and long haul, removing the merit based hierarchy from staff is one of them. There will only be two types of cabin crew member – those at manager level and those at cabin crew level, down from three levels of achievement.

Having a unified contract for all employees makes sense, and creates greater consistency, but that absolutely does not account for the brutal working conditions or pay cuts which are a part of the new terms. A full salary of £24,000 per year is expected for cabin crew, which is an inflated number since it accounts for per diem to recover costs while down range in cities outside of London.

For senior customer service leaders and customer service directors who devoted decades to the airline and rightfully earned raises over time to levels near £60,000 or more, the new £32,000 annual wage is quite a shock, and crew are being told there’s no “wiggle” room.

Know this: most were nowhere near that somewhat comfortable level, and the new cuts take away any gains and lifestyle earned in years of service.

Ask yourself this: will someone who made up to 60K last year, who now must work more hours for half the pay still smile at you the same way they did before, after watching 12,000 colleagues get tossed aside?

a row of seats on an airplane

Rather than having a customer service director (CSD) in charge of the entire crew, and then customer service leaders in charge of each cabin, there will simply be one person in charge of the entire plane, and then a bunch of entry level staff living on or below the poverty line, some of whom just took 50% pay cuts manning the rest of the aircraft.

This matters because “something” happens on every flight, everyone is a critic, and having dedicated members of a team in each cabin to field issues from passengers and aircraft seating issues created a crucial safety net for customer satisfaction. With the vast majority of British Airways profits coming from corporate contracts between New York and London, as well as other key business markets, the so called “little” details make “big” differences.

With the introduction of new business class “suites” complete with privacy doors, improved lounge offerings and even an investment in decent catering, British Airways was on an upward trend, even if it was taking longer than many would’ve wished. Enhanced cabin crew training and educational courses in hospitality were winning major contracts and improving customer “net promoter” scores, and new facilities such as ‘The First Wing’ at London Heathrow were helping too.

The new moves however, which pit staff against airline, and remove incentives to move up the ranks beyond one grade, are a clear signal of turbulence ahead for passengers, crew and British Airways.

If there’s one thing I’ve seen in my many years of flying hundreds of thousands of miles per year, it’s that when cabin crew hate their jobs, or feel highly underpaid or undervalued, it’s bad news for everyone. American Airlines, a transatlantic Oneworld partner of British Airways is a prime example.

Each traveler approaches their journey with a different perspective, but for an airline with such a sharpened focus on lucrative transatlantic business travelers, it’s hard to see how this environment of rags and riches won’t turn toxic. Business travelers have expectations on service levels, even in a post covid-19 world, and removing the crew members best prepared to field any issues, or forcing them to work more for more than 50% less in some cases just doesn’t add up.

If British Airways continues to push things through as is, the premium branding it’s groveled to achieve in the last few years will fall by the wayside.

I bought in when the airline said it could still be premium despite removing free food and drinks on short haul flights, and I certainly bought in when it added state of the art seats to long haul flights, but I can’t ever buy into believing you’ll achieve the same level of premium satisfaction from crew who are making less than ever before and working much harder for it.

It’s becoming a lot easier to see why Huw Merriman, Chairman of the UK Transportation Select Committee recently called the airline a national disgrace. Whether you do or do not believe the airline is acting beyond things necessary to survive, you surely can’t believe the airline will retain a premium branding.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This is the same transition we experienced in the 1980s within the U.S. airline industry. TWA and Pan Am were global leaders in the 1960s to 1980s.

    They both spiraled downward just as BA is now doing. At TWA we eventually moved on to other carriers or other careers. It was painful, but we survived. BAs employees will follow a similar path of life-changing events. All will learn and grow. Good things will come to them eventually

  2. Even more important for VS To survive now than ever. No competition and poor standards from a company that is prepared to treat staff in this way. It’s totally disgraceful and immoral, but sadly legal.

  3. I take it as a huge positive. Having flown long haul on BA F, (and only flies longhaul in J or F) the last thing I want is some chatty FA coming over and talking to me all the time.

    I want to be left alone so I can do work and sleep in peace.
    I don’t even want the food usually. Just, leave me alone. I want privacy.

    I can’t imagine a SINGLE person in the world booking a J ticket based on the smiles or kindness of the FAs. Maybe a travel blogger who books J on miles redemptions and needs something to talk about. But, for those of us who travel for business – it’s honestly not even something I have thought about till this post.

    It’s the LAST thing anyone with a brain could possibly care about when booking paid J.

    1. George,
      You may not care about cabin crew, but the fact is that most people do. If you can’t see that, it speaks volumes about your comment. From helping mothers with infants to providing little touches that make first or business class “worth it”. If you had just left it at “I don’t”, I wouldn’t be commenting here, but you couldn’t resist the blogger body slam.

      For the record, I too travel for work outside of “being a blogger” on full J tickets sometimes and I avoid social interaction as well. Crew make or break experiences for most travelers though, and soft touches aside, having well trained and experienced crew can make all the difference in safety as well.

      Rolling my eyes at you from sunny London, Gilbert.

    2. @George – I certainly respect your opinions and habits in-flight but I have to agree with Gilbert here. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same preferences or habits as yourself. I fly long-haul both for business and for personal reasons (only J not F). In contrast to your preferences, I prefer airlines who have a pleasant and professional cabin crew. I’m not in it to have my behind kissed or to have a chatting buddy whilst in-flight but I prefer cabin crew to be pleasant and attentive, as or when necessary, to me and all the other passengers (F, J, and Y). The level of service have always played a key part on which airline I spent my and my company’s money and I don’t see that changing even post-COVID-19.

  4. When the WiFi packs up, and experienced crew go through the manual to try and fix it and if that doesn’t work give you avois.

    or the IFE and the crew lend you their own iPad with episodes of the new bbc series they downloaded

    Or the chillers break and there’s no food, so the crew spend hours mid flight sorting through all the trays making sure what’s safe and isn’t to eat so you can have breakfast.

    Or the gate staff put you in a broken J seat but there’s a spare one in first so the crew upgrade you even though their not meant to because they want you to have a nice flight and you have a lot of work to do.

    Or the passenger next to you is making loads of noise, and your trying to sleep so the crew have a discreet word making sure no ones embarrassed.

    Or when you leave your bag in the overhead locker and the crew run ahead with it to catch you at the baggage belt to make sure you get it back rather than it getting muddled up for days in lost and found.

    Or when your gluten free meal wasn’t loaded so the crew take time out of the service to run round every cabin with the food allergens list putting together a nice meal for you to eat.

    And all these things instead of shrugging to you and saying oh well. These things happen.

    Let alone knowing where every piece of emergency equipment is, making sure thier up to date on every change in a 10,000 page operating manual, retraining every 12 months in medical and emergency procedures. And doing all of that on the way home after a minimum rest stop at 4am on a Seattle with no bunks and staying awake for 35 hours straight.

    Trust me. No your travel will not be as pleasant and the crew won’t be as pleasant to you.

    1. Exactly this. Experienced and professional FAs are more than just smiles and serving us food and drinks. We don’t notice or see the problems because they take care of it as soon as something comes up. Cutting pay by 50%+ is not only insulting but disrespectful, in any industry.

  5. I’m a businessman who travels regularly on BA. I don’t see any difference between the staff on a European flight or a long haul flight. They’re all brilliant.

    I recently flew to Phoenix with an absolutely fantastic crew who could not of been more attentive if they tried.

    What I’m having difficulty understanding how it clearly states in this article how the different crews have vastly different pay scales.

    As I’ve never seen a bad BA crew surely it must make good business to pay the crews the same salaries. I can’t see why legacy crews get paid far more that other crews when I receive the same service across the airline.

    I’ve read a few articles like this and they all seem to talk about the same thing. How much certain crews get paid. Surely having a job to go to is better than losing your job?

    The world airline industry is on its knees and yet certain employees are more concerned about their pay. I think this is a very naive perspective which what’s is going on in the world. Are these individuals loyal to their employer or to themselves?

    1. Ok business guy, you take a 50% pay cut, work more, get less and then make it all work. Just one thing: you were earning a decent wage before, now you’re near the poverty line.

      BA crews had varying contracts, but rather aim for middle ground, the airline went to put everyone on the lowest and flash benefits.

      1. Hi yes it’s a very difficult time for many millions of people I too have taken a pay cut to save my job and that of our employees.

        Reading through the comments to this article you mention safety so only experienced crews are safe to fly with?

    2. Surely the incentive to move onto long haul will ensure that service is also decent on short haul?

  6. I understand George’s desire for privacy and quiet but George you can’t forget that the crew are human beings like you, people now being faced with outrageous unnecessarily extreme measures which will bring hardship to many. I too fly J and F long haul – out of my own pocket – through choice and choose British Airways as often as I can (very often). We MUST support people through hard times – from Venmo to Gofundme to a random 20 CHF to a delivery driver : I am trying and will keep trying. WE George are fortunate and WE must never forget that.

  7. This has to be the most thought through and brilliantly perspective article written to date on BA’s terminal decline .

    This carrier is the “Norma Desmond “ of the airline industry . Continually trading on its former glory.

    I applaud your insight and balance. I fear everything you have forecast will come to pass .

  8. George is another entitled person who does not care about others but himself.

    “A huge positive” is not something one with a brain says about deep pay cuts around the poverty threshold for people that provide service to you.

  9. Despite your comment about an upward trend in the past 24 months its bit something Ivee experienced with still dirty, but still badly serviced cabins, and inadequate catering and a cut back service in every area.
    Staff were the only possible mitigation to this bottom scraping dive in product / service and I suspect for many Messr Walsh and Cruz have just removed the only reason for not actively avoiding being ripped off for a sub par customer hostile service.
    #FlyABBA if you want catering, comfort, integrity, comfort honesty, reliability, service or value

  10. This is incredible that BA think they will get away with this …. there older crew are fantastic I travel 10 trips a year and there is a lot to be said for the legacy crew to jfk…. shame on a British brand….. #nowayba

  11. Sorry to say but why should the airline continue with 3 fleets and vastly different salaries? It’s time to simplify the structure, which should have been done years ago.

    And this talk about needing experienced crew because they provide better service or knows the safety is just clutching at straws to justify higher salaries. I’ve flown with the newer crews and had better service than some flight with “experienced” crew. It’s about the person’s attitude more than their experience. Often those with experience believe they know it all and know better than everyone else.

    Also, if £24k is poverty pay, what do you say to the thousands out there who earn less than this? I have friends who have left university in recent years and have often been offered similar salaries in their first positions.

    1. I specifically said it makes sense to simplify the structure? I don’t even know where to start with the rest. People leaving Uni are different than 20 year employees of a major corporation.

    2. Hi Tom your points make absolute sense I must say. This notion of more experienced crews provide a better service and are more safety conscious is non argument.

      Of course job experience can be an advantage but having the best training will mitigate these factors, regardless of age of time served in an airline.

      These points are just used as a vehicle to try and justify high salaries (like you said) All when ten of thousands of aviation jobs around the world are lost.

      Unfortunately some people can’t see past the end of their pay statement.

      1. Easy for people who don’t live pay check to pay check to say. Age is no guarantee of ability but youth is no guarantee of innovation either. A livable wage and reflection of achievement is nothing to laugh at, and I think it’s laughable for people to pretend like this is somehow a necessary move. Looking across the entire world of airlines, it’s not.

        1. It’s a grim reality unfortunately and what do you class as a liveable wage? It would be very interesting to compare legacy salaries with other employments outside the airline. Say healthcare?

          So do the crews on other fleets lack experience? The whole point that they work in a high demand low skilled job is not sinking in at all.

          You still haven’t answered my question about safety which you mentioned before? You eluded to the fact that less experienced staff are less safe?

          Trust me the legacy crew you’re talking aren’t living pay check to pay check. When they earn more than new pilots, go figure?

          Or you could get paid in free flights for your blog who knows.

          1. I only fly J or F on the company dime ( see also not my money) and you haven’t got a brain if you don’t mind interacting with ( artistic license for the above poster) is the epitome of a DYKWIA pax on the infamous flyertalk thread.

            That’s you and that’s fine but others who feel differently don’t have some kind of mental impairment just because we don’t happen to feel or think the exact way you do. The entitlement in your statements is immense.

            I work hard and fly J, and F on a redemption, because I’ve worked hard to spend my own money travelling to build up those miles for a redemption. My miles booking is no different to yours apart from I earned those miles myself rather than accruing them while the company bank rolled my travel.

            Logically moving forward the one thing likely to go by the way side is corporate travel when companies ask themselves if they need to be paying 10-20k per trip a few times a month for you to fly around the world when this whole episode has shown that many ( I won’t say all) meetings can be done remotely.

            I wonder if you’ll have such a high opinion of those using their miles when suddenly your own work travel is cut, your Golf, GGL or whatever suddenly dries up and you have to earn your own status like many of us do.

            as for BA crews they are, in many ppls opinions, the one saving grace the airline still has and the author is spot on that anyone expecting the same level of service when staff are financially hit so hard is probably in for a rude shock.

          2. I think you’d be surprised how skilled it is as a job. I have 2 degrees and years of experience and training was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

            To add to that you really do want high skilled cabin crew.

            You would be amazed how often things catch fire on planes. If your a frequent flyer I can almost guarantee you’ve been in a plane fire that’s been put out by the cabin crew and you probably didn’t even know it was happening.

            Or a medical. There’s one literally on every flight, some minor, some involving CPR and defibs and medical equipment scattered all over the aircraft.

            Or passenger restraints where we get the handcuffs out.

            Or where the crew identify a fume event or mechanical problem with the aircraft.

            Just because the only part of the job you see is chicken or beef. Don’t assume it is only chicken or beef.

  12. Reasonable minds can differ, but like it or not cabin crew is a relatively low skilled occupation require only about two months of training.

    Positions as cabin crew are also highly desirable and sought after roles, with many people thinking of it as a glamorous work.

    Unfortunately in free market economies, low-skilled, highly desirable jobs, don’t command very high salaries.

  13. @mike….

    I wouldn’t say having access to almost £9 billion in available credit “on its knees”

    BA will survive, they love to act like they’re suffering, even when we make mega bucks and we get our yearly bonus it’s always a case of “could do better” or “there are still challenges” …. But you made £900 million profit.
    As crew I can assure you, I won’t be going out of my way when trips have been reduced down to bare minimum nightstops, having just 8 days a month to combat the mixture of long days, early starts, overnights, and jetlag. Then you try to get my attention for another G&T while you’re engrossed in your movie… You think I’m going to be rushing to assist?… While your sitting there watching said movie I’m going to be wondering how to make ends meet on my £1500 a month take home (and I live in Hounslow, hardly knightsbridge prices!!)

    I’ve been here over ten years, I’m more than happy to mix fly long and short routes, but for £1500 a month? I feel like I’m being forced out, before I’m ready! I love my job, I love my colleagues… There are some amazing people at BA who cover for all the cock ups made my senior management, but you wouldn’t know because we take pride in what we do and we wouldnt want you to suffer…. (Well, that’s out the window now)

    I’m not ready to go! But feel like I will now have no choice.

    Enjoy the service on any upcoming flight… Give it 12 months, you’ll see a massive difference

    1. Oh got you I know Hounslow very well. You must be on one of the other fleets that don’t earn’t as much as the legacy crews then?

      This must be so frustrating hearing about their plight on the reduction of pay and T&C’s. Having a job is by far the best outcome but living in London is hard.

  14. I agree with most of your post but there is no way any FA should be near £60k a year, it’s a hugely important job and they are mostly amazing at it, but £60k is ridiculous.

    1. I guess my only retort is to ask you the difference in what you make now, compared to what you made when you first entered your job. If it’s 50% less, or around the same as your entry level salary, that’s fine.

      if you’re anywhere near double what you initially earned, or more, i’d say who are you, me, or anyone to decide a limit on upward mobility. An airline ticket in BA first can be worth $10,000 easy, and having people adept over decades of experience with ensuring those people get what they need to book again is a small investment, compared to the overall pot.

  15. It’s awful what is going on, I feel for the more senior colleagues, I can’t imagine what they are going through (there aren’t many who earn 60k by the way!?) BUT, as BA crew on a similar wage to what is being suggested in the new contract, I can assure you, I haven’t ever eye rolled an extra-bag-of-peanuts request. Have as many as you like and come back for more, I’ll also put on a pot of tea and have a cuppa and chat with you if that’s what you would like. The “awful” terms of flying short haul and long haul you suggest aren’t that awful. A normal week could be a short hop to Paris and back (or stay over night) followed the next day for a trip to America. Some of us have done it for a while and enjoy the variety. There is also very little difference in satisfaction levels between senior and junior crews. I say that not trying to swipe at legacy colleagues, but to highlight that we aren’t all chavs on gap years who do the bare minimum. The politics of BA have no bearing on how I treat people. Most of us are human. If I didn’t want to be there, I would find an easier job. Is it the best paid? No. Would I like more? Yes, wouldn’t we all? Is it the job I’ll do forever? No. Probably not, but not all of us are bitter to the wrong people as your article suggests.

    1. Very well said. I can only report from my own experience but mixed fleet cabin crew are often just as pleasant as those from euro and worldwide. Mixed fleet are normally some of the loveliest people I’ve met. The only time I’ve ever seen eye rolling from BA staff involved a sick bag and in those circumstances it makes sense. All I can really say is thank you for putting up with this and for always providing a good service.

      1. It comes down to protecting profits for the likes of Cruz and Walsh so they can have their big bonus and gold plated pension. Would they take a pay cut? Course not God forbid. They have been trying to do this for years and now have a perfect excuse.
        I feel sorry for the BA employees as its their hard work and dedication that has enabled Ba to make hugh profits and this is how they are treated. Disgusting

  16. I’ve always had quite a bit of respect for Willie Walsh. He certainly knows how to run an airline well, just look at how IAG is handling this crisis compared to Lufthansa Group for example. However what he’s doing here is despicable. Many of these people have worked for BA for decades grafting day in and day out to work their way up the rankings to be some of the best cabin crew on any airline. Now they’re being told walk or take a huge cut and have to work longer in worse cabins. It’s not fair and it’s not right. I’d been enjoying the make BA great again spirit of the last couple of years. But now the only difference between BA and Ryanair is that BA operates out of Heathrow.

    1. Ryan Air have lower density seating than BA on equivalent routes, bigger washrooms onboard, more reliable and better value catering Oh and they charge a fraction of what BA do. They are certainly better value than BA but I’d argue the reality in economy is a better experience too… At least they deliver what they market and don’t pretend to be a premium brand or to have any social responsibility in their PR.

  17. Premium branding? On BA? This is the same airline that charges you for hot water within Europe and even the business class seats there are being changed to become economy seats with a non-adjustable empty middle seat and terrible leg room. Most people fly in back and BA has been quite active there in making negative changes to the customer experience. I sincerely wish that BA would actually try to become a premium airline as it was decades ago, but as long as management is rewarded for making passengers more miserable that seems rather unlikely.

  18. May I take this opportunity to thank you for the comments which overwhelmingly support the BA cabin crew. This is awful for them.
    The systematic dismantling of the Premium brand will ultimately undo this company. Having happy, well paid staff in secure contracts is a huge integral part of providing a great product. I hope the shareholders see this too !

  19. Interesting viewpoints. Most have for me validity. For fretting crew now to say though ” I won’t do this or that” for passengers in the future then that is your choice and fine. I’ll simply choose another carrier then the reduction in salary (painful as it is) will be compounded by no job at all because ultimately bums on seats in high yield routes are important obviously. Yes it’s a shame. A lot of business restructuring is painful. It often results in changes in conditions, ways of working and a choice to be made. Hi along with it or seek alternative employment. Brutal maybe, reality definitely and after Covid many service industries will be implementing change. Some will survive, others will falter, stumble and fall. Current turnovers even if solid will crumble if business models dont adjust. Service industries are tough. Working within never easy.

  20. I rarely bother to leave replies to comments about Cabin crew jobs as everyone Seems to think they know all about our careers and seem to think every flight we do is like going on holiday…far far from it!! But why does anyone seriously think that £24k (circa may I add and pro rata ) a good salary? And please stop including the mention of commission from inflight sales, the average is about 8p to £1 if we are lucky! It may not be a bad salary for someone of 18 years old straight out of college but for someone in their 40s,50, and 60s with Families earning 50% less in a job they’ve been in for 20-40 years you think is acceptable? Why can’t any loyal staff member be paid a good wage? We have mortgages, loans etc all based on the salaries in our contracts how are we expected to pay for them on 50% less? For me 30 years with BA and now working 75% after tax and Ins on the new proposed contract etc I will be lucky to take home £1000. My fuel costs to work alone each month is almost £180.
    Just imagine yourself in this situation. Half your enormous wage, no more First Class travel (God forbid you may have to sit down the back), because the company you’ve given your all to for the last 20+ years doesn’t really think your worth it, and let’s face it there’s always someone else who will do it for less money etc. No, it’s not a nice thought is it? It’s very scary to think I will most probably be made redundant at 52 years old.

  21. I’m not going to lie, I’ve lost all respect for the company and so have many of my colleagues.

    Do I care that the power port doesn’t work to charge your laptop? No

    Do I care your food is burnt? No

    Do I care your seat doesn’t recline? No

    That’s going to be the attitude on a lot flight from now on and I’ll feel it’ll get worse if they force us to sign that disgusting contract.

    Ohh and for all of you saying we’re just cabin crew and don’t deserve better pay. Get f*cked.

  22. Whilst I don’t agree with BA using this crisis situation as leverage to force the changes they want, I don’t think it’s reasonable to argue that the widely disparate two tier salary system was fair. I don’t see why older cabin crew should be paid more than the majority of junior doctors in the UK, whilst younger crew should be paid substantially less for doing a similar role.

    60k is ridiculous in just the same way that paying 24k is obnoxious. I think a fairer pay system across the board that compensates all crew equally with a living wage, would be something to strive for.

  23. I feel for the crew but I keep thinking back to those few greedy pilots who were on strike last year. The lady from Ryanair that came in and was a main player in making that strike happen. Had they had not lost 100K in revenue from that strike alone, they may have been slightly better placed now for contingency during covid19

    1. I can’t comment on the disagreements from last year, but IAG is in fantastic financial shape compared to airlines who aren’t pursuing such aggressive cuts from staff. The entire point here is that by any reasonable measure, BA is going above and beyond necessary measures from any covid related drops and financial woes.

  24. I used to be a flight attendant with now defunct America West Airlines. My starting salary was close to $12,000 a year, back in 1997. It was difficult to live on that, even then. But as a new FA, excited about my job and profession, I gave excellent service and regardless of salary, I would jump into any safety related incident with full energy, knowledge, knowing that my skills could save lives.
    That being said, I became disillusioned with the customer facing service jobs of my industry very quickly, as all senior staff members seem to care about were their days off, salary, schedule, and seniority. It was bitch, bitch, bitch in the galley from take off till landing on almost every single flight. If a flight attendant is unhappy for any reason, they can become rude, surly, and “forgetful”, just because. And that is even when you as a customer are nice. Just forget it if they think you are the least bit aggressive or ungrateful, or entitled. Remember, they serve your food and you just don’t know what they will do to your it before it gets to you.
    And now, as a paying customer who flies in first all the time, I see all manner of “customer service” from the front of cabin attendants. AA is the worst of them and UA is not much better. The international carriers are the best, not BA necessarily, but Cathay, Singapore, Etihad, Air NZ, etc etc.
    I think all the points have been made, but I will add that any employee that is making poverty living wages has more to complain about than someone living on easy street. Yes, there are options, but in reality, for someone who does not have connections, or money, the options are much much less and therefore they must work, sometimes for almost nothing. And life is not fun when you are worried every single moment how you are going to pay your bills, take care of your child or get to work. So yes, this pay cut from BA will matter a lot and the passengers on all future BA flights will suffer because of it.

  25. Well written however only legacy fleets have a CSL in every cabin – mixed fleet manage with just one senior leading the whole team – on less pay – so get your facts right – also the eye rolling you mention comes from crew on every fleet sometimes more so on the legacy crewed routes who are just going through the motions. However no employee deserves to be treated in the way Walsh & Cruz are treating all BA employees – wage cuts at the very least, brutal new terms and conditions that many will feel they have no option but to sign just to stay employed. Most crew who remain will still go that extra mile for their passengers because that’s what they do and love sadly Walsh knows that – he also has an unlimited supply of cabin crew from other airlines who would still want to fly for BA – sad times indeed

  26. The 9 billion will have burnt through by the time we have any sort of normal again, if you have a business you know just opening the doors each month has a huge cost, it saves no one claiming they should just spend that money. Businesses who tried video meeting years ago and gave them up have now discovered they work well, many will stay with that option, depleting the high prices ticket travellers, we pretend we want a premium service but when 2 airlines are £100 apart on a ticket, we choose the cheaper one or don’t fly. £24k is over the UK average salary, except for London, it should be higher but not 60k sorry that’s just not a value proposition in any business. Where else would you find a team leader on that money.

    Service wise I’ve not been super impressed with any airline cabin crew one way or the other, none noticeable bad, none appreciably good. Feed me, water me, chat behind the curtain the rest of the time, but I fly PE so a decent seat is all I really want, not dinner at the Savoy with silver service.

    Every business in the UK is going to feel the pain, pay cuts, staff reduction, air travel even more so, if your so skilled and needed take those skills to whoever can justify £60k for them, we earn what we make for our employer, it’s a simple equation.

  27. Please just stop with that assumption that all BA legacy crew are on 60k! Where has this figure come from? The Daily mail?

  28. I flew as cabin crew for thirty years, retiring in 2002. I had joined when the airline was BOAC and continued through its Corporate evolution.
    I was proud to work for BA. I totally believed in the company. Highly motivated, I like others actually did more than what we were paid for and our job brief.
    I recall 9/11 and my fabulous colleagues on our SEA. How they got involved in the terminal after our diversion to Belfast. The commitment they showed to our disrupted passengers. The ground staff could not cope and our 747 crew volunteered to help them. We viewed that the passenger were our responsibility.
    W-W is looking totally at cost. My heart goes out to those employed in the airline now. How motivated can you be when your management treat you so disgracefully. When your management value you so cheaply.
    Also the majority of cabin crew do not earn £60k pa, they earn very substantially less.
    In my time we absolutely knew that we were one of the best airlines in the world and were proud of that fact. Customer service figures tell there own story then and now. BA has dived In the ratings. They deserve to. If you devalue and demotivate your staff then it shows in many small ways that potentially add up to a very poor customer service experience. In the new world of WW, traveling as a passenger don’t look for anything in customer service more than the most basic. Please don’t complain because all you will get is a shrug and a comment card.
    Why be the best when your company pays you the worst and values you the least.
    Do remember that IAG made superb profits last financial year. Obviously the shareholders are of higher value than it’s customers and its employees. WW might know a lot about making a profit but he knows very little about motivating his workforce. He might learn very soon the true cost of that ignorance and arrogance.

  29. Just a historical point about Legacy crew.
    When I flew 1973-2002 I was on the original contract.
    Around the millennium BA brought in the Business Efficiency Plan. (BEP). This dramatically cut the entry level rates of pay. Also BEP contract crew were told that on promotion they would go to the original contract payment (Legacy by any other name) But pre existing contract crew members were not impacted by BEP contracts.
    Next financial change was the change in ‘oversea allowances payment’ or per diem.
    The airline Management has been chiseling away at cabin crew wages ever since. Thus now you have an anomaly of payment.

    I do recall a BEP contract crew member complaining to me that all the other crew in his galley were on ‘original contract’ payment and why should he work as hard. I explained to him that he had a choice. As indeed do crew now……

    Regarding as one writer said. That, legacy crew often complain about day off, trips, holiday, Christmas etc. The truth is that ‘all’ crew complain about things they believe are unjust or unfair irrespective of contract. Long haul cabin crew life certainly is very tough for lots of physical and life disrupting reasons. It is definitely not 9 to 5. It is also not traveling between swimming pools and shopping malls. Crew on new contract wages cannot afford shopping malls anyway With the pound sitting on its a**.
    Before anyone complains about the views of a 72 year old ‘When I’ ……. I can assure you I have been seriously round the cabin crew block and I am still very much ‘in touch’. Just a little sad about the airline I retired from in tears as I cut a leaving cake in F/C which my crew had arranged at my leaving sector . You deserve better from your management guys…… You really do.

  30. Despite the pilots strike BA made 1.9 billion last year in profit. That makes it the most profitable airline In Europe and one of the most profitable in the world. The have nearly 10 billion euros in liquidity’s. Personally I think it’s acceptable for a business In such amazing financial shape to take a bit of a hit for year in order to bounce back stronger than ever. But shareholders don’t like that idea.

  31. This is BA absolutely using this pandemic to get their long held desire to finally get rid of the ‘old’ legacy contract. BA, with its billions of profits achieved with help from both legacy and mixed fleet is only attacking its British workers, not vueling or Iberia for this very reason.
    BA could easily cut costs by imposing part time contracts or unpaid leave blocks until this TEMPORARY situation improves if it wasn’t being so opportunistic and brutal. The new terms and conditions with ZERO workers protection is an insult from our national carrier and another blatant unnecessary attack.
    Legacy crew earn more than mixed fleet for the simple reason they have dedicated 20/30 years and more to BA. What company pays the same starting wage as to their longer serving employees not forgetting inflation rises etc.?Also some legacy crew are also on different pay scales depending when they joined. This is not legacy crews fault it is the way management deemed fit to impose. Just the same as mixed fleet were taken on under yet another contract (ba are not the only airline to do this by any means) legacy crew did not want that at all BUT we all signed up to the contracts we were offered and have financial commitments based on this, mortgage/rent/ bills etc
    If BA are allowed to get away with this opportunistic attack on its employees then what’s to stop any company anywhere ripping up your contract on a temporary downturn when it deems fit to do so? BA are treating its employees far worse than some smaller airlines are and BA can and should rethink these obscene changes.

  32. £24000 a year may seem like an OK wage for someone straight out of college with no formal qualifications but some of the old reasons for working for a major airline have now gone. Travel used to be the lure but this is now largely irrelevant as most layovers are no more than 24 hours. Long-range flying means going to many destinations with an eight-hour or more time change after a flight of up to 14 hours, so sleep becomes a hard-to-achieve luxury. And given that many flights operate in the hours of darkness mean many crew are not properly rested. Up until recently, 48 hour rest periods were built in to all these long-range layovers but I understand that may soon change.
    Many long-haul crew lived and raised their families in places away from their Heathrow base. This was achievable as they would be away for, say, a week and then have three or four days off. They took out mortgages and settled as much as the job would allow. Now, these same ‘legacy’ crew will be expected to operate to different European destinations on consecutive days as well as the long-haul ones with no accommodation at base between flights. Some of the new mixed-fleet crew have even been found living at the BA reporting offices between flights as they cannot afford to go home. These are the same crew who will attend to you if you have a heart-attack, cope with a dangerously abusive passenger who threatens the safety of the aircraft; who will get you out safely in the event of an emergency – whilst coping with the majority who haven’t even bothered to watch the pre-flight safety briefing – and even on, thankfully, very rare occasions, deliver your baby. This, in addition to all the ‘trolley-dolly’ stuff which seems to be uppermost in the minds of most of the commentators on this page. And this £24000 also includes money for meals ‘down route’ and we know how much more expensive it is to eat out rather than at home.
    With no yearly incremental pay-rises and only one shot at promotion, the chance of earning a decent salary is just a pipe-dream. It would seem to me, from talking to friends within the airline, that Walsh intends to ‘burn-out’ his employees so they don’t even want to stay on for a lengthy period. This speaks volumes about to his attitude towards having experienced crew, the well-being of his employees and keeping BA as a premium airline.
    I rest my case.

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