American Airlines retirees angered by change in travel benefits


An American Airlines aircraft taxis to the gate at Miami International Airport, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Audrey Fletcher

Associated Press

American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker is facing heat from retirees who are angry the company reduced their travel perks.

After merging with US Airways, American Airlines put retirees behind current employees of both carriers in claiming open seats on stand-by basis.

Some retirees are livid about the change. They have picketed company events and spoke up during Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting in New York.

Gail Dunham, who retired in 1995 after 28 years as a ticket-counter and reservations agent, said retirees earned travel benefits equal to those of current workers.

“You devalued what we worked a lifetime to accomplish,” she told Parker. She said some retirees are now buying tickets on other airlines.

Parker said the airline won’t go back to the old policy because it would anger current employees. He said every other airline puts retirees behind current employees when it comes to stand-by flying. Besides, Parker said, retirees are able to get on flights 76 percent of the time — slightly more often than current employees — because they look for flights that aren’t full.

Shareholders elected the company-nominated slate of 11 directors and approved a non-binding resolution on executive pay. Parker received compensation valued at $12.3 million last year, mostly in stock awards and incentive pay. The Texas-based company earned a record $2.9 billion in 2014 as airlines benefited from steady travel demand and falling fuel prices.

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