American Airline Crew Bases
This article is broken up into two parts. It has resources and information for American Airlines pilots as well as American airlines flight attendants. It will continue to be added to as more resources become available.
American Airlines is a major US airline and has a main headquarters in Fort Worth Texas. Currently it is the largest airline measured by size, however in todays competitive market, that is always subject to change. American Airlines became large due to key acquisitions over their inception as a commercial air carrier. They have amassed over 350 destinations in more than 50 countries (to this date)
There is a rich history of American dating back to the 1920’s. Their first passenger service began in 1936 with DC-3’s. American over the years would take part in several aircraft designs and test markets that have eventually shaped much of todays landscape.
What are the Crew Bases for American Airlines?
American Airlines domiciles are simply crew bases in certain cities. It is the place in which American crews are based. No one flight attendant or pilot has multiple bases. You are assigned a base and you fly all of your trips out of that one base. You may go anywhere in the country but you will always start and end in your crew base. Some of American’s bases are more senior than others and American is no different from any other company. These are the bases:
CLT, ORD, DFW, LAX, MIA, JFK, LGA, PHL, PHX, DCA, SFO
In case you do not understand airport identifiers that is Charlotte, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, John F. Kennedy NY, LaGuardia NY, Philadelphia, Washington Reagan and San Francisco
What are the most senior bases for Pilots?
- This is always an active discussion but the short answer is it really depends on what aircraft you want to fly and what type of flying you want to do. The larger bases such as PHL, CLT and DFW will always have a large variety of planes and flying available. Warmer climate bases tend to be more popular overall in the aviation industry. For the most part, pilots either want to live in base or be close enough to drive. This is the ultimate goal for anyone who has commuted to work. Driving removes a big layer of stress and time to any trip. It is important to know that airlines are starting to address more bases despite the cost to make the choices for pilots more appealing. Whereas in the past, bases were a budget item which means airlines would shy away from opening a new base because it cost $2 million dollars to establish one (estimated guessary) This competitive climate is slowly changing the long term standard rules about crew bases and American Airlines is no different. As smaller more competitive airlines strive to compete, they will increase the offerings to pilots in the form of smaller crew bases. As of this writing, it is not to our knowledge that AA is focusing on creating smaller crew bases to create better demand, however this too is fluid and will most likely change, so keep that in mind.
What are the most junior bases for Pilots?
- Any major city with a high cost of living such as SFO, ORD and LAX These bases tend to have flight crews commuting in and out of them for this very reason.
- As older pilots retire, these senior bases are subject to change.
What crew bases for American Airlines flight attendants can you expect as a new hire?
- New hire assignments go by staffing levels at each base. These are very fluid and change constantly. As a new hire employee, you will be subject to assignment based on the needs of the airline.
How long before you can transfer crew bases?
- Crew bases are assigned as a new hire. After a set amount of time, you can transfer to a new base. These times are subject to change via contract and needs of the company. This rule is different for both pilots and flight attendants.
- You do this by “bidding” which means you more or less vote for where you want to go and you can hold that based on your seniority. The more senior you are, the better choices you have
- Airlines put out base bids at certain times of the year, this is always subject to change and is also true for american airlines flight attendants.
Where should you pick as your crew base?
When you are a new hire pilot or flight attendant, you generally have very limited choices and sometimes no choice at all. You go to where they need you as an assignment. If there is more than one base open, then based on your seniority in your new hire class you will get to choose. Most new hires do not get to choose their base unless there are massive shortages and openings in each base. Chances are very good that seniority in the class is determined by age since most classes start with several in attendance.
What is Commuting?
Commuting is traveling (on your home airline) from your current living location to your crew base. It is considered a pain in the backside. You commute because you cannot afford to live in your crew base or you don’t want to move from your current position. Commuting is a quality of life issue. You can also travel “offline” which is using another airline to commute to work (for example United). This is more common in smaller towns or cities that American does not have a larger presence in. This could also be if you live in a American base city, but you are not senior enough to hold it. You could live in the Dallas area but have to commute to Chicago or San Francisco. Commuting in general, has its own set of challenges, we have never met anyone who likes it.
Lets say you live in Orlando but your crew base is in Philadelphia. This means you have to get on a plane and fly to your crew base before you start your trip. If your trip starts early in the morning, you may have to go the night before so that you are in base and ready to go. The challenge is that additional time is added to your day because you have to commute into and out of your airlines crew base.
Charlotte also happens to be a city that does have limited options in and out on offline carriers. Large cities that are dominated by a specific airline make it hard to commute in on a competitor since the choices are less. Other cities in the American Airlines system are congested making it harder to commute and is part of the job. Most people want to avoid commuting. I cannot think of any pilot or flight attendant who says they really enjoy it.
Crash pads are places to stay that crews chip in for or contribute a monthly rent towards to stay while commuting. If you have a trip that starts very early in the morning, you would most likely have to arrive the day before and stay somewhere overnight so that you could begin your trip. For example if your trip started with a 6 am show time, and the first flight into your base did not arrive until 8 am, those times are not going to line up. So you would have to come the night before so you would be in position.
There is nothing more nerve wracking than factoring in a “back up flight” into your commuting strategy. You have to have a back up in the airline industry because one flight can cancel throwing the whole system into delays which would affect your arrival time for your trip.
Crash pads can be a house with a bunch of bunk beds or an apartment as well. It is all based on how the crash pad owner has it set up. Some crash pads can have as many as 50 people staying there since they are not all there at the same time. Crews come and go and sometimes you could be the only person there or sometimes you could be in a loaded house.
It can be social if you like the people there, or it can be just a place to get some sleep and then start your trip. Some junior crews spend a lot of time in the crash pad so it’s important that the atmosphere is decent so that you do not dread going there.
I have heard some crash pads described as "jail" and others as a throwback to college dormitories. It’s all in how you look at it, and I would say that most people would choose not to have a crash pad. The other part of crash pad living is the added expense of staying there. Most new hires do not realize this fact.
As of this writing, crash pads are getting harder and harder to come by since the economy has tighten the housing market leaving a lot of properties in demand. This has created a shortage of rooms available to rent as a crash pad. Staying in a hotel is another option to crew members but that is subject to availability and can quickly become very expensive. Most hotels give crew discounts but they are also subject to supply and demand. If demand is high, they will not be willing to give out rooms at a discount in favor of getting full retail pricing.
(keep in mind, this picture show a brightly lit room for photo purposes, usually it’s a dark room so that people do not have to deal with the light coming in when they flew the redeye in.
American Airlines Fleet
Boeing 737-800 303 aircraft
Airbus 321-200 218 aircraft
Airbus 319 133
Boeing 777-200 47 aircraft
Boeing 777-300ER 20 aircraft
Boeing 787-8 24 aircraft
Boeing 787-9 22 aircraft
Airbus 320-200 48 aircraft
Airbus 321 neo 39 aircraft
Boeing 737 Max 8 41 aircraft
For most of its existence, American Airlines had a silver polished aluminum paint scheme that made it unique in the industry. The only paint was on the logo making them easy to distinguish. Now the livery is updated and highly patriotic to the American flag and updated logo that reflects a better image for the airline.
American Airlines Flight Attendants and Pilots:
What are American’s biggest hub and Market Share?
Denver has 73 routes and over 1400 weekly departures. This is the order (currently) of their operation from large to small
- Dallas Fort Worth, 87%
- Los Angeles
- Chicago 35%
- Charlotte 91%
- Philadelphia 70%
- Miami 68%
- New York, JFK 12%
- Phoenix 33%
- Washington, DCA 49%
- New York, LGA 27%
Which airline has the highest paid flight attendants?
This list tends to fluctuate since contracts are always changing and never at the same time. All the Legacy carriers are in the same range.
- American at $40.432
- Delta Airlines, $31/hour and 57K per year
- United Airlines $54,600 per year
- Alaska Airlines $52,000
- jetBlue $46,000
- Spirit $43K
- Alliegiant $43K
This of course is average, if there is a lot of open trips a flight attendant can add them to their schedule and make even more. There are many who routinely make over $100,000 a year.
What are the pay scales for Pilots?
This is probably the hottest topic in the industry right now and changes rapidly. One of the newest changes in contract negotiations is the creation of what's called a snap up clause. Most contracts are created on what is called Peer set rates. This means that airlines that are considered to be comparable to the size of American Airlines are used to establish the pay rates. For example if United airlines pays their Airbus 320 captains a first year pay rate of $200 (not an accurate number, this is just an example) then American would start there and offer something similar. What happens with a snap up clause is if the rival or comparable airline gets a raise, lets say a couple more dollars per hour, American would match that to their pilots. This is a constant game of tug of war between carriers and kind of like watching children fighting over the same toy. (our opinion)
Is it hard to get hired as a American Airlines Flight Attendant?
Getting hired at American is more of a numbers game and knowing what the company is looking for. The application process is simple but because of the volume of applicants, getting hired is very competitive. American typically hires people who will be a great Cultural fit for the Company. If you know what they are looking for, you can increase your odds plus the fact that most airlines are hiring like crazy.
Does American have a flight attendant union?Yes, The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA)
Does American Airlines buy their flight attendants their uniform?
Most airlines supply a initial amount of uniforms during hiring for new flight attendants. Then you may or may not get a uniform allowance per year to refresh your attire. This is subject to change with each contract. Over time, you will find that you will want to refresh your uniform (yearly) since you wear them often and they are subject to wear and tear.
Does American have a union for Pilots?
Have a comment or an idea about American as an airline company, the routes they fly, the cities they serve or any jobs or employment opportunities, please let us know below.
Current information for both American flight attendant training and American pilot training is always recommended when doing your career research.
American Airlines Flight Attendant Training, and Hiring
Click here for a good gouge on interview questions for new flight attendants.
American Airlines Pilot Hiring
Check this site out for current qualifications
- Excellent communication skills and quick and accurate decision-making skills
- Close attention to detail
- Minimum age of 23
- Ability to work varying hours of the day or night, on weekends and holidays
- Must be able to secure appropriate airport authority and/or Customs security badges
- Completed FAA criminal background checks
- Ability to learn and work with PEDs
- Distance vision corrected to 20/20 and near vision corrected to 20/40 or better in each eye
- Current Unrestricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) rating (multi-engine)
- Valid FCC Restricted Radio Telephone Operator permit
- Valid First Class Medical Certificate
- Flight time in accordance with all FAA requirements
- Be able to fluently speak and understand English
- Must have the right to work in the United States
- Must have a valid passport and documentation allowing for entry into the United States after an international flight
How did American Airlines get so big
Like many airlines, mergers have been a primary reason for growth. American airlines acquired several airlines over the years of which US Airways being the most significant. Part of the reason is that Us airways acquired several airlines in its history as well.