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Cabin Crew Timeout

Jan 8, 2018
We were scheduled on a flight from BWI to MSP. The flight got delayed several times as they worked on a mechanical issue. After 6 hours or so, I inquired of the captain about crew timeouts. He advised that the cockpit crew was OK, but the cabin crew might time out.
I asked when it would happen for them and he responded that "their rules are different than ours". I learned that the flight crew is limited by the FAA, but cabin crew limits are shorter by contract.
When the flight was finally ready to board, suddenly an angry bunch of FAs stormed off the plane. One said "good luck getting to Minneapolis". (It took two days to get re-booked)
The captain explained that they had "exercised their timeout clause".
I feel that the cabin crew could have flown if they wanted to, but chose not to. Is this accurate? Anyone know what the contract says?

BTW, Delta behaved honorably, paying for hotel, Lyft for sightseeing, restaurants, lots of FF miles.
Sep 19, 2015
Cabin crew FAA regulations on schedules and work - 14 CFR 121.467

Pilots and flight crew 14 CFR 117 119 121

Note these are the minimum requirements. Contracts can give more rest than the minimum.

Short answer is that it is complicated.


Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
FYI ... DL is one of the least unionized companies in the airline industry. The cabin crew is not unionized.

As far as "they could have flown if they wanted to," there's a lot of maybes in there. They could have timed out by FAA standards or DL standards. Either way, they timed out. FAA rules are no joke and would have caused problems. DL has one of the better relationships with their cabin crew which is the reason why they have repeatedly voted down union representation. When they are out of time, they are out of time.

Sounds like their were some deeper issues going on. Remember that the cabin crew wasn't getting paid while you sat at the gate even though they were at work.
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Reactions: jsn55 and VoR61
Sep 19, 2015
I have to agree that there are some cabin and flight crew issues in that particular flight.

Flight crew gets more rest than cabin crew.
The cabin crew may have been on an earlier flight started work before the flight crew.

The cabin crew may have just been frustrated with the repeated mechanical delays -- hence the good luck comment. They do not get paid as John Baker pointed out. So six hours at the gate and they got zero pay for it.

Delta pilots are in a union and cabin crew is not.

Saying "they could have flown" is too simplistic for a complicated issue. No one wants a tired crew either cabin or flight.

There are some websites that say they have parts of the Delta contract online but I am not sure how accurate they are --- you can google them.