DALLAS - Hundreds of off-duty Southwest Airlines flight attendants picketed outside of Dallas Love Field airport on Tuesday, demanding major changes ahead of a busy holiday travel season.
The demonstration was one of many at airports across the country demanding better pay, improved staffing and safer working conditions.
The Southwest Airlines flight attendants union is currently negotiating a new contract.
"We have been without a contract for 4 years," said Lyn Montgomery, the president of TWU Local 556, the union that represents 18,000 Southwest Airlines flight attendants. "We've been doing more and more with less."
The picket comes at a time when the airline industry appears to be in turmoil.
Flight attendants are being assaulted on planes in record numbers.
Airlines, including Dallas-based Southwest and Fort Worth-based American Airlines, have seen massive cancelations over the past year, which have left countless customers stranded at airports.
Cabin crews complain of being spread too thin.
"We're frustrated so are our customers and Southwest Airlines needs to hear us," said Montgomery.
The airline says it respects its employees and their opinions and looks forward to continued negotiations with the union and the national mediation board.
The flight attendants are seeking pay for when passenger are boarding, more control over their schedules and ending the practice of putting flight attendants on 24-hour on-call shifts.
Prior to the Labor Day weekend, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg put the airline industry on notice.
Major U.S. carriers were warned they had to pay for food and lodging for any passenger who was stranded due to an issue "within the airline's control".
"They'll cancel on you in a heartbeat you can be boarding a plane, and they'll cancel a flight and that's happened before," said traveler Bobby Smith.
Airline passengers say they support the picket, and hope the airlines can get back on track in time for the busy holiday travel season.
"They're probably struggling they don't have enough help it seems," said traveler Janelle Cohn.
Southwest says its hired and trained 3,000 flight attendants and has north 7,000 candidates in the pipeline.
"We are so tired of saying we're sorry to our Southwest Airlines customers," said Montgomery.
Southwest Airlines has scheduled another hiring fair for later this week. The airline says they're on track to hire more flight attendants at one time than ever before.