– Furloughed?

Furloughed, Now What?!

If you have been working as a flight attendant for some time, then you are keenly aware that many people in your profession are losing their jobs. Some airlines are going bankrupt, others have decided to cut back, while still others are merging and laying off thousands of workers.

Pretty WomanMaybe you haven’t been too concerned about losing your job, figuring it probably won’t happen to you or perhaps you have resigned yourself to what you see as the inevitable next step in your career — you’ll eventually lose your job and join the ranks of the unemployed.

Despite the massive shift now taking place in the airline industry, your furlough may not be the end of your flight attendant career. You still have some options available to you, but first let’s take a look at what you need to do when you have been issued a pink slip:

Know Your Rights

— If you are a unionized flight attendant, you have some rights available to you that a non-union workforce does not have. Specifically, your union will represent you and your co-workers as you go through the restructuring process. Check your airline’s collective bargaining agreement to learn what your rights are including termination, severance, health benefits, pension, future rehiring possibility, etc.

Take Action — Once you have learned that you will be losing your position, start preparing for the future. If you were planning to retire anyway, then your layoff might have come at just the right time, especially if you are eligible for a severance package. Make certain that the package you get reflects your years of service and that your pension and other benefits are in tact. If you are still seeking to work in the industry, you can apply for employment with other airlines, but as you likely know you’ll be at the bottom of the seniority and pay scales. This may be the time for you to consider leaving the airline industry completely!

Career Counseling

— If the airline is offering career counseling services as part of their severance package, then take advantage of it. Your union may be sponsoring a work shop, but if neither is offered, contact your local community college to see what seminars are being offered. Get help with updating your resume, creating a cover letter, developing a reference sheet, and more.

Once you have settled with your previous air carrier and have prepared yourself for the future, you’ll want to do the following to help maintain momentum:

Stay In Touch

— Some of your former co-workers can offer support to you as you make the transition to a new career or seek employment with a different airline. Encourage one another, but be cautious about spending time with people who are overly negative and offering little valuable advice. Ultimately, you’ll be making decisions that impact you and you alone — seek out the moral support only if it is supportive indeed. If depressed, seek professional help immediately.

Get Retrained

— If you have decided to put your airline career behind you, then retraining for a new career is a must. Do an inventory of your skills, i.e. customer service, food preparation, safety, management, etc. and see which career paths complement what you know and are of interest to you. You may have to pay for retraining, but it could be the best personal investment that you have ever made.

Finally, as you begin your newest venture always keep in mind that job security is a thing of the past. Some fields, such as nursing, are much more secure than the airlines, but rapid-fire changes can impact even the most secure workers too. Staying informed, keeping up with training, and expecting change will see you through most any crisis — just the type of attributes most employees seek in their new hires.

Further Reading

Former Aloha Air Staffers Adjust

Minn. lawmakers want Northwest to pay up if HQ, jobs lost

The Travesty of TWA


Association of Flight Attendants (CWA)

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Flight Attendants

Photo Courtesy of D.J. Jones

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