Air Transport World

Deregulation causes some passenger service woes.

most airlines like to tout the quality of their inflight service. But passengers notice that the service is often not up to the level promised by the advertising. In fact, it may vary on the same airline from flight to flight and from route to route.

If this is so, please don't blame the flight attendants, pleads Vicki Frankovich. Blame it on the fallout from deregulation, she says. Frankovich is president of the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants, the union that represents TWA's cabin crews. What she has to say, while drawn from her experience with TWA, applies in a greater or lesser degree to other U.S. Major and national airlines, she notes.

Cost pressures resulting from competition with nonunion carriers and time pressures resulting from the proliferation of hub-and-spoke operations have produced strains in the system, Frankovich says. Even computerization, that management tool that enables airlines to schedule their flights and crews more efficiently, has its unpleasant side effects. When these impact the cabin staff, they inevitably impact the passenger too, she says.

No FAA regulations govern the working conditions of flight attendants except for the rule requiring at least one attendant for each 50 passengers. This is aimed at assuring safe evacuation of passengers in case of emergency, not at their comfort. Limits on duty hours and provision for rest periods are subject to management discretion or to negotiation with the attendants (a coalition of six flight attendant unions has petitioned FAA for a rule covering these conditions). …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.