United’s NFL Charter Flight Staffing Scam
Historically American Airlines have done significant numbers of charters for sports teams. For example, United Airlines has contracts with about three dozen teams in the National National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Well, according to a lawsuit filed by two veteran United Airlines flight attendants, the airline has adopted an unfair approach to staffing these flights, selecting flight attendants “solely on the basis of their racial and physical attributes, and sexual attraction.” Based on stereotypical assumptions. ”
The two men behind the lawsuit claim that they both repeatedly tried to assign these charter flights, but were unsuccessful. For what it is worth, one is a black woman who has been at United for 28 years, and the other is a Jewish woman who has been at United for 34 years.
Instead of operating these flights on the basis of seniority, it is being claimed that these flights are usually assigned to young, blonde flight attendants.
When two experienced flight attendants asked observers why they could not make these charters work, they were told that they were not on the “favorites” lists, which are based on the team’s priorities. Then after some digging he noticed the trend – young, blonde flight attendants (with very little seniority) seemed to be on these lists.
As the lawsuit describes the situation:
“United has created a nuanced situation, such that decades of legislation and policies prevent discrimination on the basis of age, race, and descent, and gender simply does not exist.”
Why did flight attendants want these flights to work exclusively? According to the lawsuit, flight attendants working on these charter flights earn more, and are provided with better accommodation. They also sometimes get tickets for the games, and “extremely valuable” infield passes.
Two women say they tried to lodge complaints with the airline, but were ignored. They are now asking for monetary damages.
United Airlines charters for three dozen sports teams
I have a lot of questions …
Obviously I don’t think it’s good that United did it. But I’m also confused about how this happened, given the extent to which seniority is in all respects in the American airline industry.
- Does United really ask the teams for their priorities, including the flight attendants? Or did one team consistently make “special” requests, and obliged United?
- Does United’s contract with the flight attendant allow it to create a “preferred” list for certain types of flights?
- Do other US airlines doing NFL charters have similar policies?
- Airlines also have some flight attendants that they use for PR events, conferences, etc., so how are they selected? It generally seems that young (ish) and attractive (ish) flight attendants are selected for these roles, so why are they selected, at least in part?
How did this situation reach this point?
United Airlines is being sued for its discriminatory attitude toward the staff of NFL charter flights, as the company continues to offer young, golden-colored flight attendants on these flights.
I am very curious to see what comes up in this lawsuit, and would especially like to know more about how this situation unfolded. As with everything for flight attendants at United based on seniority, this is a clear framework.