Travel | June 8, 2021 3:03 pm

Major Airlines Are Now Asking Employees to Volunteer at Airport

Instead of, you know, hiring enough people to perform the work that needs to be done

Major Airlines Are Now Asking Employees to Volunteer at Airport
Ross Sokolovski

You read that right. American Airlines has sent out a request to employees asking for additional support at the ground level this summer — pro bono.

In a memo, which originally made the rounds via Twitter and has since been verified by the airline, local management is told to encourage corporate employees to volunteer at the American Airlines hub at Dallas/Fort Worth airport, “to ensure [customers] have the support they need this summer and beyond.”

Volunteers — who will assist in wayfinding near airport entrances, at TSA checkpoints and in the international recheck line, as well as with wheelchair returns and staging — will be asked to sign up for no fewer than three six-hour shifts if their “workload allows.” That workload, of course, refers to their full-time jobs, which they work in exchange for money, more of which they would not receive for the additional hours they spend volunteering.

American Airlines isn’t the first airline to pull something like this, either. Last month Delta also made headlines after a memo calling on employees to volunteer at the Atlanta Sky Club airport lounge leaked.

And as a traveler I can definitely appreciate the initiative to make things run more smoothly at airports right now. I flew out of Newark two weeks ago, and it was so busy that I wasn’t able to check in an hour before my flight and wound up getting rebooked. What I can’t get behind is an employer, specifically a multi-billion dollar airline, asking their employees to perform additional work without any additional compensation and then, to make matters worse, calling it volunteer work. It feels comparable to a major corporation asking retail employees to volunteer on Black Friday.