Flight Attendants Reveal Crowded 'Crash Pads,' the Low-Cost Option That May House Up to Dozens of Workers
They cost a few hundred dollars a month, making it the only low-cost option for many out-of-state workers. “I’m stuck in a new city and I'm just trying to do whatever I can real quickly with the smallest amount of money,” one flight attendant says.
On the big screen, flight attendants live a life of luxury, but in real life, for many, that glamour flies right out the window.
Flight attendants across the country are posting videos of so-called “crash pads” that they say sleep up to 30 workers while they're on layovers or on call. The cost is just a few hundred dollars a month, making it the only affordable option for many from out of state.
The crash pads have been around for years and at one point were even seen as a rite of passage. But now, some are so fed up with cramped quarters and low wages they say they may just quit altogether.
Jen Barnes says she has no option but to share a packed hotel suite with seven other women in Chicago.
“I’m stuck in a new city and I'm just trying to do whatever I can real quickly with the smallest amount of money,” Barnes said.
With two bunk beds and a cot, a single room sleeps five. The rest sleep in a tiny living room.
“I wouldn’t even put my children in the bunk beds that they have in there. They're made of thin, hollow metal, they make noise, you don't get any sleep,” Barnes said. There’s also just one bathroom.
Barnes says it's all she can afford. Like most flight attendants, she's only paid for the few hours the plane is in the air, not the time before takeoff and in between flights.
“We can work a 16-hour day and only get paid for six of those hours,” Barnes said.
The same day Inside Edition spoke to Barnes, more than 100 flight attendants gathered outside Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport, threatening to strike if pay isn't increased and working conditions aren't improved.
“We can't just shut these places down. We have to make sure people actually have a place to stay. Sometimes it can get even worse. If the crews don't have a crash pad to go to, what do they have? They have the airport floor,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
Another crash pad in Boston housed 20 people and was deemed such a potential “death trap” by fire officials, they shut it down.
“We have to dedicate everything into being a flight attendant. If you do not make your flight then you are out of a job,” she said.
The trade group Airlines for America says the average annual U.S. airline industry wage almost doubled over the past two years, adding they're focused on investing in their current and future employees who they say are the greatest asset to their industry.
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