Delta to start paying flight attendants during boarding

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Delta Air Lines said it will start paying flight attendants from the moment the boarding process begins. 

The new boarding pay policy will take effect on all flights beginning June 2, and the rates will be based on the length of scheduled boarding time, the carrier said in an internal memo.

The Atlanta-based airline said it would increase domestic boarding time on all narrow-body aircraft to 40 minutes from 35 in order to add "resiliency" to the operation.

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"Our compensation system ensures that flight attendants are paid for all of their time at work – from sign-in and boarding through deplaning and everything in between," the memo said.  

People sit under Delta sign at Salt Lake City International Airport on July 1, 2021, in Salt Lake City.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file / AP Newsroom)

The newly added boarding pay component "further recognizes how important your role is on board to ensuring a welcoming, safe and on-time start to each flight and for each customer," the carrier continued. Unlike other airlines in the U.S., Delta's flight attendants are non-union employees.

However, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents upward of 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, argued that these recently added benefits are "a direct result" of the unionization drive. 

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The AFA claimed that "management is getting nervous." 

"This new policy is the direct result of our organizing—and a desperate attempt to prevent their other new boarding policy (D+40) from creating the kind of anger that it deserves," the union wrote.

Delta knew "changing domestic boarding time from 35 to 40 minutes without adding a benefit would create an uproar," the AFA continued. "But this also shows that Delta could have been paying Flight Attendants for boarding all along."

Additionally – although it was a positive change – crews "are still being forced to fly more often thanks to short staffing," the union added. 

The union says these improvements shouldn't stop their unionization effort because "every improvement they [Delta] add now will get locked in when we vote for our union because they can’t retaliate and take it away." 

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