Delta Is the First U.S. Airline to Pay Flight Attendants for Boarding Time

The change came after the company's flight attendants attempted to unionize.

Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

A not-so-fun fact about a flight attendant's job is that US airlines don't pay flight attendants until the doors on the plane close and boarding is complete. That would be like only getting paid an hour after you clock in in any other job. Even as a passenger, the boarding process is the most unpleasant part of flying. Everyone is jostling to put their carry-ons into the overhead bins, people are trying to switch seats, and in the era of COVID-19, there were also issues when it came to passengers wearing masks.

Imagine dealing with all of that as part of your job and knowing that you aren't even being paid for it technically. Unsurprisingly, this has been a point of contention for flight attendants and has been used by labor organizers to try and get flight attendants into unions. Delta Air Lines, feeling the pressure of employees attempting to unionize, is the first US airline that will pay cabin crews during the boarding process.

According to ABC News, this policy change will increase pay by several thousand dollars each year for each cabin crew member. Delta announced that this change in pay would go into effect starting on June 2 for all flights. However, cabin crews will only be paid 50% of regular pay rates during boarding.

"This new policy is the direct result of our organizing," the Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement. The Association has been trying to organize flight attendants at Delta for more than two years. "As we get closer to filing for our union vote, management is getting nervous."

According to the Associated Press, Delta has the lowest percentage of unionized flight attendants compared to American, Southwest, and United and has reportedly fought hard against unionization.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.