These ‘Reserve’ Flight Attendants Keep Your Flight From Getting Canceled

At any given airline hub, chances are there’s a room hidden away high above the passenger concourse or deep below the terminal that's full of old couches, recliners, a landline telephone, and flight attendants. This isn’t the same location where crews go to check-in for their next flight assignment, though. This is “the hot room,” where so-called reserve flight attendants await a last-minute assignment.

Most airlines require new-hire flight attendants to begin their career on “reserve.” These crews don't bid for a flight schedule, but instead are reserved to assist the operation in the event of crew mishaps like sick calls, day-off requests from more senior flight attendants, and any other reason the airline may need additional staffing. Essentially, reserve flight attendants are used to rescue flights from short notice issues in an attempt to keep the airline running on time or to prevent cancellations. If you've recently had a flight delayed because of crew issues—as is happening with many disrupted flights this summer—reserve flight attendants were probably called in to save the day.