Earlier this week, two of the biggest US airlines sent furlough notices to tens of thousands of employees, following the expiration of the CARES Act, which provided payroll support to the industry struggling due to the pandemic.
United Airlines and American Airlines have said they cannot afford to pay salaries to more than 32,000 employees, who were placed on furlough as of Thursday, leaving many with no pay and no healthcare coverage.
Despite the clear economic impact of the decision, the human aspect has proven even more touching.
One video in particular has highlighted this.
A clip shared by ABC journalist Sam Sweeney has now gone viral, showing a flight attendant's tearful final message to passengers.
The American Airlines crew member can be heard saying:
I will never forget seeing your faces today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kindness shown on today's flight. I also want to personally thank each and every one fo you for choosing to fly American today.
While I have already begun my next chapter, there are many of my co-workers who have not and because of that I ask that you please keep them in your thoughts during this time.
This job was an escape for me after being unhappy with my job after graduating college. It was a job that awarded me many opportunities, a job that I fell in love with. I've been to places I never thought I'd have the opportunity to go [to], and places I never knew existed. I've met people from all walks of life and I've made friendships that will last the rest of my life.
To my family at American Airlines, thank you for taking a chance on me two and a half short years ago, thank you for giving me the opportunity to see this big world.
To my amazing crew I wish each of you the best of luck. We were told in training to be like palm trees, and this is the perfect example – we may bend but we never break.
Finally I have one last request for each of you today. With so much happening in the world you never know how small actions can impact the next person.
Please be kind to one another, practice compassion with everyone, live with acceptance of yourself and others, and until I see you guys and the friendly stars again, please take care of yourself and your health.
I hope all of you have a wonderful night, and again thank you for flying with us.
As her message ends, the passengers offer a moving applause for her words.
The clip – which was originally shared on Facebook – has since been retweeted more than 10,000 times, with people expressing sympathy and support for the situation of so many employees.
It has also prompted other airline workers to share their stories.
People also took the opportunity to highlight how political change could improve these situations.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker is hoping to reverse the furloughs if the CARES Act is extended or a new business aid package is introduced.