You Are Not Alone

March 14, 2020

Dear Delta Flying Partners:

This is a really difficult and uncertain time across the industry and around the world. The capacity cuts that CEO Ed Bastian announced yesterday are deep: “an overall capacity reduction in the next few months of 40 percent – the largest capacity reduction in Delta’s history, including 2001.” More details from his announcement are included at the end of this newsletter update.

The first and most important action you can take is to be good to yourself, and support one another. We all need to know that we are not alone – and indeed we are not. We are one crew.

We want to let you know that we have received numerous notes, calls, emails, and other communications from passengers applauding the professionalism and calm reassurance of Flight Attendants. Each of you are representing the best of aviation’s first responders as you reassure travelers, address concerns with safety always first, and act as incredible ambassadors for our industry.

We are working around the clock with lawmakers on a relief package that focuses on first keeping paychecks steady for Flight Attendants and immediate support for our airlines to get through this crisis. We didn’t create this crisis. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the damage and protect people. But we are also going to make sure that we’re not the ones to shoulder the long-term harm from it.

These are the times when a union contract is especially important. In uncertain or difficult times, a contract provides protections that are locked in, and clarity on the process for Flight Attendants and for the airline. The contract provides clear answers and gives airline management a process to follow that was put together in less hectic times when there’s time to think through all of the issues.

Under the United contract, for example, Flight Attendants know exactly what the reassignment language says, what happens if there’s a schedule reduction and rebid, and what protections are in place if there’s a potential furlough situation. Flight Attendants know that before anyone is put on involuntary furlough, voluntary furloughs and partnership flying will be awarded in seniority order. The voluntary furlough language is clear that all medical benefits continue as if you are an active Flight Attendant, seniority accrual continues, travel benefits remain in place, and the Flight Attendant can return to the base from which she or he takes the voluntary furlough. Before any of that happens, Leaves of Absences are offered and bid in seniority order with the same benefits.

Typically, Delta management rolls out procedures that are similar to the United contract and it appears that’s close to what they are doing now. Review Delta management’s PLOC description. But we know you want certainty on this and it’s important, especially in times of uncertainty, to have a contract in black and white that cannot be changed without a collective bargaining process and your approval.

When we have a consistent voice in our workplace that management must recognize, we can also address the real time issues that occur. Through AFA’s labor-management relationships with United, we’ve reached agreements that management will not contest unemployment claims during any furlough. We’re glad to see that Delta has publicly stated that they will not contest unemployment claims. Please note, Flight Attendants should get a letter from Delta stating that PLOC is a leave in lieu of furlough. This is critically important, even if the company does not contest the claims.

Even though we don’t yet have representation rights or a contract, we will work to use the collective power we have across aviation to encourage Delta management to put in place the best protections for Delta Flight Attendants.

In the meantime, please review the advice from AFA EAP on actions you can take now to get better control of your finances and best prepare yourself. This was prepared for AFA members with contracts, but much of the information will be very helpful for you too. Preparing for Loss of Flying: Take Control of Your Finances Now >

This is also a good time to encourage all of your flying partners to sign a card for a union election to gain the protections afforded Delta pilots. This is an action you can take to gain more control in an uncertain time and to demonstrate to Delta management that you want to have a say in your future and respect for your contributions – in good times and hard times.

AFA is the Flight Attendant Union, and we are fighting for every Flight Attendant. AFA EAP is always available at 800-424-2406 if you need assistance.

AFA EAP: Managing Anxiety Around Coronavirus >

Again, the most important thing you can do right now is take care of each other. Be good to each other, take care of each other.

In Solidarity,


Sara Nelson, International President
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

Latest information on COVID-19:


“Demand for travel is declining at an accelerated pace daily, driving an unprecedented revenue impact. Cancellations are rising dramatically with net bookings now negative for travel over the next four weeks. The speed of the demand fall-off is unlike anything we’ve seen – and we’ve seen a lot in our business.”

  • An overall capacity reduction in the next few months of 40 percent – the largest capacity reduction in Delta’s history, including 2001.
  • Elimination of flying to continental Europe for the next 30 days, which could be extended. We will maintain service to London.
  • Parking up to 300 aircraft as our reduced capacity requires a substantially smaller fleet.
  • Deferring new aircraft deliveries to manage our reduced capacity and preserve cash.
  • Reducing capital expenditures by at least $2 billion for the year, including delaying aircraft mods, IT initiatives and other opportunities to preserve cash.
  • Immediately offering voluntary short-term, unpaid leaves as well as an immediate hiring freeze.
  • Substantially reducing the use of consultants and contractors.