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Furloughed Flight Attendant Creates Group to Support Thousands Like Him

More than 30,000 people were furloughed Thursday, and that’s just in the airline industry. This comes just one day after the federal ban on job cuts for airlines that received Federal CARES Act money expired. That includes American Airlines and United Airlines. 

American Airlines flight attendant Brian Smith said he hoped it wouldn’t come to this. He made a YouTube video, chronicling his last flight.  

“Walking down the isle of that empty 767, ripped my heart from my chest,” Smith said. “Contrary to what much of the flying public believes about flight attendants, we actually need the constant chaos, companionship and energy that we get from strangers when we share a home in the sky.”

In that video Smith also showed this picture of his last flight back in April.

“I signed up with American, they were asking people to take leaves of absences to try to stem some of the money going out the door. So I did sign up for a leave of absence which was due to end at the end of November,” he said.

Smith took a leave of absence for six months to try to help save jobs, but thousands still ended up losing their jobs, at least for now. And with no new CARES Act relief package coming out of Washington just yet, Smith wants the more than 32,000 people on furlough from American Airlines and United Airlines to lift each other up. 

“Just the energy was wonderful, and I miss that. So I’m like ‘let’s lift each other up. Let’s help each other find the next page, chapter in our life.’ I don’t know what that is. I’m still trying to find it for myself.”  

Smith created a group on the app MeetUp to try and promote new business ideas flight attendants on furlough may have. He also hopes the group will help others find jobs and provide them with that same sense of community and comfort. 

Smith says he will receive a severance package and keep his health benefits until the end of the year. But, unless there’s another bailout to reverse the furloughs, he – along with thousands of others – will have to find a new career path.

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