AFA has made much of a 2018 study of airline financial reporting published by MIT, claiming that Delta flight attendants lag United by $14K per year.
The truth is that AFA has misrepresented this MIT study, despite MIT’s clear disclaimer against using the report to compare between airlines.
The study is based solely on data submitted to the Department of Transportation by each airline and it is not reported consistently between carriers. For example, the data does not include the 14% that Delta paid out in 2018 profit sharing vs. United‘s and American’s pay-outs of 4.6% and 1.4% respectively.
The MIT study authors’ disclaimer about the data, copied below, notes that it is misleading to use this data for a head-to-head comparison between airlines. To see the disclaimer for yourself, click here.
DISCLAIMER: The labor cost measures presented here are based on data as reported by each airline to the US DOT. Given that different airlines may include different elements of total labor expense in their reports, direct comparisons of total labor remuneration across airlines can be misleading. For example, the inclusion of profit sharing payments in these data reports can and does differ across airlines.
At every step from new hire to top-of-scale, total compensation (flight pay, profit sharing and Shared Rewards) is higher for Delta flight attendants than American and United. In some cases Delta flight attendants earn as much as 15% more as of Jan. 1, 2020.