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Frontier Airlines Flight Attendants Ready to Protest Low Pay

Frontier Airlines Flight Attendants Ready to Protest Low Pay

Frontier Airlines planes at Denver International Airport, the airline’s main hub. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

A flight attendant’s work, according to Joslynn Wiese, begins long before the an airplane leaves the tarmac. “You have to think about the trip you’re going on,” Wiese, who works for Denver-based Frontier Airlines, told New York last week. “If you’re doing a three- or four-day trip, you’re packing. You’ve got to think about all the food, so you’re meal prepping.” She usually takes half a day to get ready for a trip, she said, and when it’s time to fly, she arrives an hour before her scheduled check-in to get ready for the work ahead of her. She isn’t paid for that preparation time, which is normal for the industry. Flight attendants are generally paid for flight hours, and the clock starts as soon as the airplane door shuts.

That industry practice means that a flight attendant’s hourly wage is all-important to their ability to pay rent. But Wiese’s employer, Frontier, pays among the lowest wages in the industry, and she and her colleagues say they often can’t afford to make ends meet. They want a raise, and soon. Their union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, has been in contract negotiations with Frontier since 2016, and in November 2018, 99 percent of the union’s members voted to authorize a strike if those negotiations stall. Though the National Mediation Board is guiding talks, AFA-CWA’s patience appears to be running thin. The union’s international president, Sara Nelson, wrote to Frontier members on March 6 to tell them that the union would demonstrate in Denver if a new contract isn’t reached by March 20.

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