United Airlines Pilots Living in RVs at LAX Employee Parking Lot

The pilots say they can't afford to return home or stay in a hotel between shifts

By Shirah Matsuzawa and Chuck Henry
|  Friday, May 25, 2012  |  Updated 11:59 AM PDT
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Some United Airlines pilots have moved into RVs in an LAX parking lot because they say they can't afford to return home or stay in a hotel between shifts. Chuck Henry reports for the NBC4 News on Friday, May 24, 2012.

Some United Airlines pilots have moved into RVs in an LAX parking lot because they say they can't afford to return home or stay in a hotel between shifts. Chuck Henry reports for the NBC4 News on Friday, May 24, 2012.

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A group of United Airline pilots invited management and media outlets Thursday to tour what they refer to as the “LAX ghetto,” a section of the airport’s employee parking lot where many of the pilots stay in motor homes while they wait for their next shift.

Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the pilots claim that sacrifices had been made in an effort to keep the airline in business, and one those sacrifices resulted in a pay cut.

"The only time we get paid is when the brakes are released and when the brakes are set, we’re off the clock," said John Russell, United Airlines captain. "You may have a two-hour flight that takes you eight hours to do it, you only get paid for those two hours, even though you’re there for eight hours.”

The pilots say they have not had a contract in three years and, as a result, many of them cannot afford to return home or stay in a hotel between shifts.

“This is an affordability issue, so that’s how I ended up here,” said Pat LaClair, United Airlines First Officer.

Any reference to the RV park as a “ghetto” is nothing but a public relations campaign by the pilot’s union, according to a statement released by United Airlines.

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