HR Management & Compliance

Ask the Expert: Are Airline Carriers Exempt from New Overtime Regs?

Question: We are an airline carrier covered under Title II of the Railway Labor Act. Are all of our employees exempt from FLSA? Or only certain employees performing non-exempt work? We have several exempt employees well below the $47,476 threshold set to take effect December 1. Do we have to pay them according to the FLSA Final Rule?  

airline carrier

Answer: Here is your answer from the experts at

The maximum hour requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), i.e., the overtime requirements, do not apply to any employee of an air carrier subject to the provisions of Title II of the Railway Labor Act.  See 29 U.S.C. sec. 213(b)(3).

This exemption does not require payment on a salary basis for employees employed by an airline carrier subject to Title II of the Railway Labor Act as is required for certain exempt administrative, executive, professional, and highly compensated employees under the exemptions in 29 U.S.C. sec. 213(a)(1) of the FLSA.

Generally, employees of an air carrier are exempt when they are engaged in duties related to air transportation.  If an employee does other types of work, unrelated to air transport, for more than 20% of the employee’s workweek, the employee may not be exempt.

You will find a detailed discussion of the airline carrier exemption in the Department of Labor Field Operations Handbook, section 24j, available online at  As a practical matter, air carrier employees typically are covered by collective bargaining agreements that specify wages paid.

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