American Airlines workers told to clean less extensively, per management orders

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — American Airlines workers have said they’re now being told by management to only spot clean tray tables, seatbelts and overhead bin compartments between flights -- things they said they have been cleaning thoroughly throughout the pandemic.

An anonymous worker from the airline described recent meetings with management, who reportedly instructed Charlotte ramp agents. Those workers who clean planes between flights were told to do so less extensively.

“They basically said all of the cleaning I was doing was a little too much and that I should be spot cleaning. If I see it, clean it, but otherwise, we’re not cleaning as extensively anymore,” claimed the anonymous ramp agent.

American Airlines has advertised enhanced cleaning on its website throughout the pandemic, despite what the Charlotte ramp agents say they have been told behind closed doors.

“Basically, we no longer have to wipe down tray tables, arm rests, overhead bin compartments, seatbelt buckles,” said the ramp agent. “My thought was ‘that’s crazy,’ because COVID is still rampant.”

American Airlines customers have mixed thoughts about the issue.

“I always assumed they were doing it and if they’re not doing it, that’s not good. I don’t feel safe flying,” said flyer Ciobhan Cress.

But flyer Robert Austin didn’t mind.

“None of this bothers me. I’m OK with it,” he said.

The airline did not specifically address the complaints of the Charlotte ramp agents, but they did say that cleaning in between flights usually focuses on common areas like lavatories and galleys. When we reached out to American Airlines about this claim, a spokesperson from the company said in a statement: “All of these surfaces-seatbelts, tray tables and arm rests - and the rest of the aircraft, are cleaned and disinfected daily during overnight deep cleans. Throughout the day these surfaces are inspected and cleaned as needed.”