American Airlines Gives New Flight Attendants 'Poverty Verification Letters' — 'Airlines Do Not Want You To Make This A Career'

Instead of giving their flight attendants a pay raise, American Airlines has resorted to these "letters" as compensation.

flight attendants posing with smile at the check in counter Akarawut | Shutterstock

American Airlines has caught a bit of criticism after rumors emerged online about their plan to address the low wages that their flight attendants make. 

The $9 billion company came up with a plan that would help flight attendants who aren't making enough money to comfortably live in higher-end cities.

They're reportedly giving new flight attendants 'poverty verification letters.'

According to Travel Pulse, American Airlines is giving new-hire flight attendants the chance to receive poverty verification letters for those who live in the most expensive metro areas in the United States. The leaked letter, which was posted on Reddit, is available for flight attendants living in places like New York City, Miami, Boston, and Dallas in an attempt to help them find housing.


"This is to introduce you to [redacted] employee number [redacted] who is a new Flight Attendant currently going through American Airlines flight training," the letter reads. "The projected annual salary is $27,315 per year before incentives and taxes ... any courtesy you can provide would be appreciated."

poverty verification letter r/americanairlines | Reddit


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There are many new-hire flight attendants who can’t afford to live in the same city they have been based in and are forced to commute from cheaper towns and cities using their jump seating privileges to get to and from work. In between shifts, many flight attendants also have to rely on crash pads, which are converted houses and apartments where crew members are forced to cram themselves into bunks.

Instead of the airline paying their flight attendants more, they've resorted to providing these poverty verification letters, which essentially acknowledge the financial struggle their employees face without addressing the root cause or coming up with a better way to fix it. 

To make matters worse, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom has an estimated net worth of $23.5 million, while the airline company itself is a billion-dollar enterprise.


two flight attendants leaving the airport moodboard / Canva Pro

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According to Business Insider, most airlines don't even pay flight attendants full wages for the time spent boarding a flight or for delays at the gate. Instead, they compensate for the time beginning when the aircraft doors close and the engine starts, including taxiing.


"We just want to be paid for the time that we're actually at work because right now, a three or four-hour delay is standard procedure at the airport," an Air Canada employee told Insider. "I don't feel that it is too much to ask, to be paid for the time that we are working. I'm not asking to be paid to sit on my butt at home."

Flight attendants have previously protested for contract changes that reflect pay raises.

In February 2024, according to CBS News, three separate unions representing flight attendants at major U.S. airlines were picketing and holding rallies at 30 airports insisting on new contracts and higher wages. 

Flight attendants expressed frustration that pilots were given huge pay raises last year while they were forced to work for wages that have not increased in several years


While a newly hired American Airlines flight attendant's salary is above the federal poverty line of $15,060 for a single-person household, that doesn’t take into account regional price differences, including in major metro areas where the cost of living is often significantly higher.

According to CNN, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is proposing a 33% pay increase to top out at $91 an hour during the first year of a new contract and increases of 5%, 4%, and 4% for the remaining years of a four-year agreement. 

Just like any other job, employees deserve to be compensated for the amount of work they're putting in, and flight attendants more than deserve a pay scale that reflects the extensive training they go through, their irregular hours, and the high level of responsibility they carry on each and every flight they work on.


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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.