The Rise of Flex Work

Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns Push the Industry Toward Flexible Work

The new work environment has reshaped the face of travel and caused carriers to rethink whether a seat on a plane can be an entitlement, or one of many perks. Airlines have moved from being primarily a source of cheap travel to a destination themselves. If the industry is going to grow, it is going to have to move to be more relevant to travelers.

Andrea Nix/Reuters

“The idea was to offer a more full-service experience,” said Jeff Seidl, senior vice president for the airline retail division at Delta. “I think today’s passengers have more options today than they ever had before.”

One thing that is changing about air travel is the rise of so-called “flexible” work schedules.

Many of today’s flexible travel options are the result of airline changes, which now include:

Flexible work schedules in which employees can work more than 35 hours a week, with no requirement that they have a set number of hours a week

More flexible work hours, allowing employees to work more than 40 hours a week

Work-from-home programs, allowing employees to work from anywhere outside the office

In each of these cases, airlines are making it more convenient for their business and passengers to combine their working and traveling lives, while still providing passengers with security and a sense of security in a world where the world has become a more crowded place.

The rise of flex work started in 2001 when Delta moved to allow its pilot program to be open to non-Delta employees. The idea was to allow non-Delta employees who wanted to continue working to do so in the program, in the same way as those who went to work for the airline.

In 2002, British Airways began the same program. A year-long trial program in which non-BA employees could join the pilot program, with the option to continue working once aboard.

In 2007, British Airways began allowing employees to work beyond 35 hours per week, and it became very obvious to most travelers that it was open for business.

In 2008, American Airlines instituted a flexible work program. The idea was initially similar

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