Pilots To Fill In For Fired Icelandair Flight Attendants


Icelandair fired all its flight attendants Friday and told pilots they’ll be doing those jobs temporarily starting Monday. The airline and the FAs had been in a monthlong labor dispute and on Friday the company ended it. “Icelandair will permanently terminate the employment of its current cabin crew members and permanently discontinue the employment relationship between the parties,” the company said in a statement. “The company’s pilots will temporarily take over responsibility for onboard safety on 20 July.”

There has so far been no reaction from the flight attendants or the pilots but the decision raises immediate questions about the wisdom or even the legality of the move. Pilots don’t get a lot of the training that FAs do in terms of evacuation procedures and rendering aid to passengers and most countries the airline flies to require the correct number of qualified flight attendants to be on board. Under the current circumstances, those safety-related duties would be the full job description. In-flight service is all but nonexistent on flights thanks to the pandemic. The carrier has 36 aircraft, mostly Boeing 757s, and flies to 16 destinations from Reykjavik.

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  1. Labor relations aren’t the only problems Icelandair has. Prior to COVID restrictions I booked flights from PDX to DUB and Icelandair was my first choice due to scheduling convenience. Until reading customer reviews – seemed like the absolute worst of any airline ever. Incompetent customer service, chaotic scenes at Reykjavik causing missed connections and worse. I was able to switch to Aer Lingus without penalty as I found out within 24 hours, but yeah. Icelandair is a nope for me.

    • The number of cabin crew are set by regulation. The Beech 1900 was popular with airlines because of the 19-seat capacity. That is the maximum allowed without a dedicated cabin attendant. The 50-seat regional jets were popular with airlines because for 51-or-more people, the rules require two flight attendants, and so on.
      So no, they aren’t just going to have the copilot pop in. They’re going to have pilots in the FA jumpseats in the cabin.

      • I believe you are citing FAA regulations, which IA will not have to comply with unless they fly within US airspace. Another article I read stated that IA was indeed planning on the stated approach for their flights outside the US.

  2. From what I have seen all flight crew get the same cabin safety training so this is legal and safe. And now they have backup cockpit crew on every flight. From what I have read, the former cabin crew of Icelandair were poor at best in terms of customer service. Out with the bad and in with the new and hope they do a better job. Maybe this will happen for a few of the US airlines that also have horrible cabin customer service.

  3. With the coming ‘Autonomous Aircraft’, both the Captain and Co-pilot will be serving drinks soon. The pilots will have an app on their phone that will tell them if a system needs attention and run credit cards.