Courtesy of American Airlines
Erika Owen
June 05, 2015

Former American Airlines employees are angry about changes to the post-employment benefit policies, which favor current employees over retirees for perks like riding standby for free. Prior to American Airlines’ merge with US Airways in December 2013, retirees received equal priority when flying standby on any brand flight. Under the new policy, current employees are favored for these free seats. For the second year since the updates, former employees have protested the policies at the American Airlines annual shareholders' meeting on June 3 in New York City.

American Airlines group chairman and chief executive Doug Parker had a few words for those upset by the changes:

“I’m just telling you that not to anger you, but just to be totally honest. This isn’t going to change. This is the company’s non-rev policy. This is how we’re going to keep the list. So know that. You’re welcome to come back every year, but I don’t want to set expectations that this will result in changing anything because it can’t. This is the list now. If we were to move it now, all we’d have is enormous uproar amongst all the active employees.”

The new-ish policy also removes the weighing of seniority in handing out the free seats. People eligible for the brand’s perk are awarded seats based on flight check-in times. All of this being said, Parker said that American Airlines retirees find seats on flights 76 percent of the time, mostly due to looking for planes that aren’t full.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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