From mass furloughs, voluntary job losses and retirements, to understaffing problems and a surge in cases of harassment and assaults by unruly passengers, workers at airports and airlines continue to bear the brunt of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the air travel industry.
The sector was among the hardest hit by Covid-19, losing about 100,000 jobs in the first few months of the pandemic.
Through three rounds of funding, Congress provided the industry with $54bn in federal assistance to keep workers on payrolls, while surges in the Delta variant have stifled air travel recovery domestically and internationally.
US airlines have differed on whether to implement vaccine mandates for their employees, while passengers are not required to be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test to fly and some airlines did not support extending mask mandates on US domestic flights.
“In my entire career, I have never experienced what we are experiencing right now,” said an American Airlines flight attendant who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, as they are not authorized to speak with the media.
“I go to work now and I always worry what’s going to happen, what’s going to trip somebody up, trigger their anger. It’s a whole new ballgame out there right now and it’s a different type of passenger we’re seeing right now.”