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Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

Call In Reserve Preference Strategy Considerations

Date: May 29, 2014
Type: AFA Article

  Call in Reserve Preference Strategy Considerations

Call-In Reserves will be able to put both standing and daily preferences in order to indicate what they would like to be assigned on Reserve status. These preferences you determine are individually specific but it is important to review different “preferencing” strategies that will improve your experience with the Reserve Preference System. While there are many easy ways to preference yourself into a specific trip you want to fly, there are equally as many ways that you can “over-preference” yourself out of all the available trips.  We recommend you keep in mind the following considerations:

  • All criteria in your preference must match an ID that exists in that day’s open trip file in order to be awarded.
  • Just because you can select a preference doesn’t mean that you necessarily should nor does it guarantee a trip will be awarded.  For example, the system permits Flight Attendants to express an interest in ASL language (American Sign Language).  However, because this is not an attribute that is currently assigned to any IDs, specifying this preference will limit what you will be awarded by the system in the evaluation of your preferences.

Only Contractually established co-terminal flying will be awarded.  While SNA, MDW, and OAK are contractual co-Terminals for LAX, ORD, and SFO respectively, these are not active co-terminal locations.  Therefore, specifying these as preferences will essentially invalidate your entire preference because it is a criteria that will not match any IDs in the open trip file.

Within the Call-in Reserve Preference System, current active co-terminals can be expressed as a preference to include ALL active co-terminal locations, as well as the domicile to which those co-terminals are attached.  For example, DCA based Flight Attendants on Reserve status can express a preference to fly from BWI, DCA, or IAD while JFK based Flight Attendants on Reserve status can express preferences for EWR, JFK, or LGA.

Note: When selecting more than one (1) criteria, it is important to recognize that specifying co-terminal flying has its limitations.  For example, to specify a desire to fly from the LGA co-terminal while, in the same preference request, indicating a desire to fly international, will result in that preference not being awarded.

Earliest Check-In
This is an excellent example of a diverse preference request that can be used to accomplish more than one objective.  This preference request will be very beneficial for Flight Attendants who prefer to have later check-in times.  At the same time, this selection can also be used to increase the likelihood of being assigned an ID for those individuals who are looking to fly as much as possible.  If you are among those wishing to fly as much as possible, creating a standing preference that contains only one criteria for any check-in after 0500 will accomplish this because this preference will essentially match any ID in the OPNTRP file from 0500 to midnight. 

Note:  For IDs with check-in times between 0001 and 0459 the next day, it is a requirement of the system that you enter the specific ID in the ID number criteria.

Equipment Type
The system provides the option to select any aircraft fleet type (not model) currently assigned to and flown by pre-merger United Flight Attendants. For example, while it is possible to specify the A319/320 aircraft fleet type, it is not possible to express a preference for only the A319 model.  Any A319/320 preference would include a consideration of all IDs containing A319 and A320 aircraft.  There is also no option to avoid a specific type of aircraft.

Note: All segments within a given ID are included in the consideration of this preference request and the presence of a single segment on the specific aircraft fleet type, including deadhead segments, is considered a match and will be awarded. 

ID length
This preference is used to indicate an interest for IDs based on the length of the ID as expressed in the number of days.  It is important to understand that this preference will not override the number of days of availability a Reserve has within the Reserve block for the date(s) being assigned. For example, a preference for only 1-day trips by a Reserve who is available for 4 days you will not be awarded a 1-day ID if there are legal and available Reserves with shorter availability blocks.  However, if there are no legal or available 1-day, 2-day or 3-day Reserves you could be assigned the 1-day ID if other 4-day Reserves do not preference this option.  This is a good preference to have on file if you really prefer to fly a certain length trip. However, all other assignment rules are in play and this preference will not “trump” days of availability.

Note:  This preference will not be used to consider the length of ONSB assignments.

ID Number
It is anticipated this criteria will primarily be used when expressing a Daily Preference in large part because it is rare to see the exact same ID number operating all month long and rarely in the same market from month to month.

When using this criteria, you must indicate that you are willing to waive legalities to express a preference in this way.  When waiving legalities, you are doing so only for the assignment of this specific ID and this wavier of legalities has no impact on future scheduling. In most circumstances Flight Attendants will not truly be waiving.  As when placing a request on file for open flying, you are indicating you are willing to waive, as provided for under the Contract, 1 in 7, 35 in 7, and 8:30 in 24. 

Note: This is also the ONLY way in which to preference those IDs with check-in times prior to 0500 on the second day of the CLLR process. The ability to preference in this manner will become especially useful for those Flight Attendants preferring IDs with pre-0500 check-ins. Keep in mind, during the CLLR Reserve assignment process Flight Attendants can only be assigned pre 0500 check-ins the second day. So if today is Wednesday the CLLR process is being run for the following day Thursday beginning at 0500 and ending at 0459 on Friday. By selecting a specific ID that checks-in Friday at 0445, you must be released for Thursday and will be required to report for an 0445 check-in on Friday morning.

This provides Flight Attendants with the ability to preference either Domestic or International flying.  This preference is particularly important at those locations having both Domestic and International flying assigned.

Note:   Locations assigned only domestic flying in the DSL (BOS & LAS) should not preference International flying as this will not match any ID in the open trip file.  As a result, the preference will not be awarded.

International domiciles (LHR, FRA, HKG, NRT & HNL) should not preference domestic flying as this will not match any ID in the open trip file.  As a result, the preference will not be awarded.

It is important to note that there are several language designators available to select from that will create essentially invalid requests. AFA recommended that only those languages currently assigned as a qualification on per-merger United aircraft be listed in the system.   However, a decision was made to not remove the additional language designators not currently assigned at this time.  Selecting one of the language designators not currently in use will result in the preference not being awarded.

Note: The presence of these language designators should not be considered as an indication these languages are in our immediate future.  In fact, some language designations are unclear.  For example, BEL (Belgium), which is actually a multi-lingual country where we have two different language assigned on pre-merger United flights to Brussels.

Latest Arrival
This is the arrival time of the scheduled return to your home domicile and is based on the scheduled arrival time of the last flight in the ID and does not include debriefing time. For those Flight Attendants wishing to capture as many trips as possible selecting a latest arrival time of 23:30 will ensure consideration of all available IDs for which you are legal for during your Reserve block.

Note: Latest arrival does not include Contractual debriefing times either when working or deadheading on the final segment of the ID back to your home domicile.

This provides Flight Attendants with the ability to preference a specific layover location. In order to be considered a match, there must be a legal rest at that location for it to be considered.  (This is to ensure that “passing through” a station is not considered a “layover.”)   While the system will permit you to enter any three letter airport code, only layovers available in the OPNTRP file at the time of assignments will be considered as a match. The system will accept only one layover location per preference (remember, you can add multiple preference requests).  An important consideration requires recognition that there may be several IDs in the OPNTRP file that match your layover request.   For example, at LHR there are layovers scheduled for EWR some of which are two-day IDs while others are three-day IDs.  When using this preference, we recommend pairing this with either check-in or arrival time criteria to ensure you are being awarded the layover for which interested.  Another way to accomplish the award of a layover location is to express an interest in a specific ID.

This provides Flight Attendants with the ability to preference Purser, aft-Purser, Galley, or non-Purser positions. This applies to both qualified and non-qualified Purser positions.  However, while you can preference both, you will only be awarded the qualified Purser position if you are qualified or if there is a qualified Purser on the base or like ID, or if there are no other Purser qualified Reserves available.

For Standby preferences it is important to note that you must be available for the number of days for which the Standby position has been designated by inflight scheduling. For example, if the 0900 ONSB position has been designated for assignment to a 3-day Reserve, one and two-day Reserves will not be assigned the standby period.  Further, a 4-day Reserve may be assigned the position in those circumstances where there are no legal or available 3-day Reserves. It is also important to note that for an ONSB preference to be valid that should be the only criteria selected. By combining ONSB with any other criteria the preference will be considered invalid.  It is for this reason the sub-menu for co-terminal and time frame exist within this criteria.

Note:  ONSB preference must be a stand-alone preference and should be the only criteria selected.  There is a sub-menu within ONSB that allows you to express co-terminal and check-in time frames within this criteria.  Combining ONSB with any other criteria outside those contained with the ONSB criteria will render the preference invalid.

Combining Preferences
Within each preference there can be as many as six different criteria.  However, it is important to note that the more criteria you preference, the fewer ID matches will occur and the less likely it is that one of your preferences will be awarded. It is very easy to preference yourself out of any match. It is also important to note that by not matching a trip with a preference you can and in many instances will still be assigned an ID by the system because at the end of the process, to the extent possible, all open IDs will need to be filled.  The system has been designed to provide Flight Attendants with the ability to preference what they want to fly.

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