Airline travelers may encounter picket lines Thursday, as flight attendants worldwide hold a day of action to demand new contracts with improved wages and working conditions. The contracts for more than 100,000 flight attendants are either expired or under negotiation.

What You Need To Know

  • Flight attendants are picketing at 30 U.S. airports Thursday as part of a Worldwide Day of Action

  • About 100,000 flight attendants are demanding new contracts with improved wage and working conditions

  • Many flight attendants are working under expired contracts or contracts that have been under negotiation for more than five years

  • Pickets are taking place in Austin, Detroit, Las Vegas and other cities

“When negotiations drag on for three to more than five years, it’s clearly time to call the question,” Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson said in a statement. “Airline executives have believed they have a free pass to delay conclusion of negotiations, while richly rewarding themselves. No more!”

The flight attendants will be picketing Alaska, American, United and other airlines at more than 30 U.S. airports, including Austin, Detroit and Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, a group of 32 Senators led by Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked the National Mediation Board to resolve a delay in flight attendants’ contract negotiations.

“These workers were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and were instrumental in saving the airline industry from collapse, but now, in some cases, find themselves working for pre-pandemic wage levels,” the senators wrote in a letter to the NMB.

Without authorization from the NMB, flight attendants are not legally allowed to strike. The last time the NMB authorized airline workers to strike was in 2010, when Spirit Airlines pilots struck for higher pay.

Thursday’s flight attendant picket lines follow a similar action in February.

“We’re working harder than ever with long days, short nights, more time away from family and in some of the most difficult working conditions of our history,” the Association of Flight Attendants said on its web site promoting its Worldwide Day of Action.

The association says some of its members haven’t seen pay raises in five yaers and are struggling with higher prices. The Worldwide Day of Action comes as 100,000 flight attendants negotiate new contracts with various airlines, including Alaska, American, Southwest and United.

A request for comment from Airlines for America was not answered before deadline.