British Airways Asks Pilots To Work As Flight Attendants

Paddle Your Own Kanoo has the details of an internal memo that outlines how British Airways is so short staffed on flight attendants, that the airline is looking for pilots and office workers to temporarily take on the role.

British Airways’ “Take To The Skies” program

British Airways’ wholly-owned CityFlyer subsidiary is based at London City Airport, and operates a fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft. While so many airlines have staff shortages nowadays, the situation at CityFlyer seems to be dire. Specifically, the airline is allegedly recruiting pilots and office staff to temporarily work as flight attendants, in a program that’s called “Take To The Skies.”

Those who take part in the program would undergo basic training to become flight attendants, and would then fly for a period of a minimum of 2.5 months. This is being described to employees as a way to “travel to a wide range of destinations,” “meet new people in the business,” and see “what it is really like for our crew to do their job.”

Apparently staff would maintain their usual pay under this program, which seems like a costly initiative for pilots.

Why this is a controversial initiative

There are a couple of things at play here that make this challenging.

First of all, this concept will no doubt be unpopular with unions. Similar tactics of trying to find temporary replacements for flight attendants have been used in the past during industrial action (Icelandair tried to do this in 2020, when the airline threatened to fire all flight attendants). Odds are that most pilots (who are also unionized) would be unlikely to want to do this, especially given the limited upside.

Along similar lines, while all kinds of companies are short staffed nowadays, British Airways does an especially terrible job with labor relations. The company has long treated both pilots and flight attendants as disposable, not letting any crisis go to waste in terms of trying to cut costs at the expense of employees. We’ve seen British Airways do this with both pilots and flight attendants, so the level of trust among employees is low.

I can’t imagine many people will take British Airways up on this opportunity, though I’d sure love to experience service from a pilot or office worker…

Bottom line

British Airways’ CityFlyer subsidiary is allegedly so short staffed on flight attendants that pilots and office workers are being recruited to temporarily work in that role for a period of at least 2.5 months. I’m curious to see if there ends up being any interest here.

I suspect most pilots won’t do this on principle, given that it essentially undermines flight attendant labor negotiations. But you never know…

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