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Allied Pilots Association Unveils Principles for Humanizing Air Travel

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2018) — By unveiling a set of principles aimed at humanizing air travel, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) plans to be a vocal advocate for passengers and pilots alike. The release follows recent news coverage showing how the air travel experience has become frustrating and unpleasant for many.

“As pilots, we have our passengers’ backs,” said Captain Dan Carey, President of the Allied Pilots Association. “We strive to uphold these principles every day with every flight. By calling attention to them now, we are committing ourselves to helping reverse a troubling trend in air travel.”

APA has long embraced the values of safety and reliability, and likewise has been a vocal advocate for empowered pilot leadership. By formalizing these Principles for Humanizing Air Travel and urging their adoption by American Airlines and others, the pilots of American Airlines are highlighting for the flying public the ways in which pilots work to protect passengers and make the flying experience as safe, reliable, and pleasant as possible.

Principles for Humanizing Air Travel

1. Safety – This is priority number one during air travel. Safety means getting passengers to their destinations safely, but it also means that flight schedules must allow for well-rested pilots and that the cockpit and cabin should be free of toxic fumes. Some of the ways APA advocates for safety on a daily basis include:

a. Continuously collecting and analyzing a large volume of data provided by our pilots to spot trends and prevent incidents before they occur. This data clearly illustrates the need to ensure that pilots achieve adequate rest before each flight.

b. Urging the passage of the Cabin Air Safety Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass), and designed to protect passengers and crew from the harmful effects of toxic cabin air. This issue affects everyone on board, as illustrated by the FAA’s recent Safety Alert for Operators.

c. Devoting more than 20% of member dues to furthering aviation safety.

2. Reliability – Both the flying public and pilots deserve flight schedule reliability. When a passenger buys a ticket, they should have the assurance that they will arrive at their destination on time and that they will not be left behind due to overly aggressive booking, early closing of jet-bridge doors, and rushed departures. Similarly, pilots deserve schedules that are efficient, that are constructed with sufficient buffer against federally mandated maximum duty times, and that protect federally mandated rest time. A rationally scheduled airline is a reliable airline. Some of the ways APA advocates for reliability on a daily basis include:

a. Opposing rigid policies that result in leaving passengers at the gate. APA believes it is possible to achieve an on-time departure while accommodating passengers who arrive at the gate with little time to spare.

b. Warning against overly aggressive scheduling practices that result in pilots “timing out” legally under FAA regulations, inconveniencing passengers and disrupting the airline’s schedule. These scheduling practices can also result in chronically fatigued pilots, reducing the margin of safety. The National Transportation Safety Board has long included the need to reduce fatigue-related accidents on its “Most Wanted List” of safety priorities.

3. Empowerment – Pilots are committed to ensuring that their passengers are accommodated and have a comfortable flight. When the unexpected happens, pilots must be empowered to make decisions that help preserve the margin of safety and ensure their passengers’ needs are met. Policies are important and should be followed, but not at the expense of common sense. There’s doing things right, and then there’s doing the right thing. Those independent decisions happen on the frontline, with our passengers, not from behind a desk or in front of a computer. A culture of empowerment that enables pilots to make the right decisions for passengers is essential to humanizing air travel. In advocating for empowerment, APA recognizes that:

a. As the front-line operational leaders, pilots are often in the best leadership position to coordinate with other front-line employees to successfully address passengers’ needs while maintaining schedule integrity.

b. Rigid adherence to policies at the expense of basic decency and common sense is not reflective of our values and creates an unpleasant travel experience for our passengers.

c. As such, pilots should be supported to take action on behalf of passengers in situations that warrant it.

“Pilots know that everyone on the aircraft wants the same thing: a safe, reliable, comfortable travel experience,” Carey said. “Pilots and passengers are all in it together, and we are dedicated to working with passengers and American Airlines’ management to make sure that happens. APA will wield our influence on behalf of our passengers and pilots to advocate for better air travel, and we urge others to join us and adopt this approach as well.”

Click here to see graphics illustrating the principles for humanizing air travel.

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org. American Airlines is the world’s largest passenger airline.

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