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Alaska Airlines Group Ordered To Pay $31 Million To Flight Attendants As Part Of Wage Dispute

SimpleFlying 1/24/2023 Lukas Souza
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Alaska Airlines and Virgin America flight attendants won almost $31 million as part of a reevaluation of a decade-old class action lawsuit against the Alaska Airlines Group over wage disputes.

Paying fines

Years after the class action lawsuit was filed against the Alaska Airlines Group, a federal district judge in Northern California reevaluated the penalties the airline group was required to pay due to not properly compensating flight attendants. In the original decision made by Judge Jon S. Tigar in 2019, flight attendants were paid about $77 million in damages and penalties. Still, the airline group went to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to get the number reduced.

In the appeals court, most of Tigar's ruling was upheld, but some parts were not, which required a recalculation of the fees paid. The US District Court for the Northern District of California handled the recalculation of fees and today determined that flight attendants were owed another $31 million and that the state was owed almost $12.3 million in penalties. The airline group sought a nearly 75% reduction of the penalty fees in the appeals court, but in the end, it only received a reduction of about 25%.

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A large portion, 75% to be exact, of the fees owed will go to the state of California as part of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). California's law requires that 75% of PAGA penalties be paid to the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency and that the remaining 25% go to workers.

When the class action was filed, flight attendants accused the airline group of a series of violations which included pay for fewer hours than the amount worked, keeping wages at the minimum rate, and failing to provide accurate wage statements. The breakdown of the $31 million to be paid to the flight attendants is below:

  • More than $6.3 million in damages and restitution for overtime failures
  • More than $5.1 million in interest for the above
  • More than $601,000 for rest period and meal claims
  • Almost $4.4 million for wage statement failures
  • More than $2.2 million to waiting time penalties

Recent Alaska Airlines news

Earlier today, Alaska Airlines announced it will invest $25 million to install equipment to provide WiFi on its regional aircraft, soon to comprise the Embraer E175s as the Dehavilland Canada Dash 8-Q400s are being retired this week.

The airline is near the end of the installation process for satellite WiFi equipment on its mainline aircraft, and predicts that every Alaska Airlines passenger will have access to inflight internet in the next four years. Intelsat has been chosen as Alaska's partner for the enhancements which are expected to be concluded in 2026.

Read the full story here.

WiFi will first be provided on Horizon Air's aircraft, and then on SkyWest's fleet operating for Alaska Airlines. Horizon Air is a regional operator that operates solely for Alaska Airlines, hence why it will undergo the upgrades before the SkyWest aircraft operating for Alaska.

Source: Bloomberg Law

  • Alaska Airlines
    IATA/ICAO Code: AS/ASA
    Airline Type: Full Service Carrier
    Hub(s): Anchorage International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Portland International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
    Year Founded: 1932
    Alliance: oneworld
    CEO: Ben Minicucci
    Country: United States
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