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Vacation Bidding

(For more information about Vacation please see this year's Vacation article on www.unitedafa.org)

Vacation Bidding (Section 18)

Section 18 of our Contract governs the annual vacation bidding process and outlines the procedures and timeline for the awarding of vacations.  If you participated in the Partnership Program, you should also refer to the Partnership Agreement Section I – Vacation.

Reserve Letters (Section 10.A.)

The first step in the annual vacation bidding process is the assignment of Reserve letters. Section 10.A. of our Contract requires that Reserve letters be assigned and posted in domiciles in September, the month prior to the start of vacation bidding. The list establishes the top 25% of the domicile who are exempt from Reserve rotation and assigns "A" or "B" Reserve Letters to all Flight Attendants with more than five years seniority. You will obtain important information by checking the domicile seniority list known as the Reserve Letter List containing the Lineholder status and Reserve letters. We remind you that the Reserve letters are effective in February through January of the following year.

Vacation Bid Periods (Section 18.E.)

Vacation Period Open Close Posted
Primary Bids 0830 October 29 0830 November 7 0830 November 12
Secondary Bids 0830 November 16 0830 November 23 0830 November 28
Tertiary Bids 0830 December 1 0830 December 7 0830 December 11
*All listed times are LOCAL domicile times.

*All listed times are LOCAL domicile times.

Vacation Accrual and Bidding Seniority (Section 18.B.)

The number of vacation days accrued and your vacation bidding seniority are based on company seniority, which may differ from your Flight Attendant seniority. When vacation bids open, a seniority list for vacation bidding will be available in your domicile. The list will show your seniority for vacation bidding and the total number of days you have accrued. Vacation accrual is based on completion of years of service. Flight Attendants hired before the 15th of the month accrue 1 day each month for years 1-4 for use in the following year. Flight Attendants in year 5 and beyond accrue vacation in the current year for use in the following year based on the accrual schedule. The number of vacation days you have accrued will be included in your VACBID screen.

The number of vacation days increases as you reach specific seniority levels as provided in Section 18.B. of the Contract with a maximum accrual of 40 days.

Years of Service Vacation Days Each Year
1- 4 years Up to 12 days with 2 splits, 6 days minimum
5 years 19 days with 2 splits, 6 days minimum
10 years 26 days, with 3 splits, 6 days minimum
17 years 33 days, with 3 splits, 6 days minimum
25 years 40 days, with 3 splits, 6 days minimum

Vacation Reduction (Section 18.B.2.)

Section 18.B.2. of our Contract provides for a reduction in vacation accrual.  A Flight Attendant will receive full vacation accrual after having completed a minimum of 97 hours and 30 minutes of paid activity in each quarter of the rolling twelve month period ending in the August schedule month prior to the vacation year. If you have less than 16 hours and 15 minutes (16:15) of paid activity for that period no vacation is accrued.  You will accrue 1/24 of the vacation accrual for the calendar quarter for every 16 hours and 15 minutes of paid activity in that quarter. For the purpose of calculating vacation accrual, hours paid for publicity and training shall have the same value as credited flight time. If training is paid under Section 15.G., the greater of the training hours or the flight time credit for the scheduled flight hours missed shall be used.  Designated quarters are the bid months of September through November, December through February, March through May and June through August.

Section18.C. covers other reductions in vacation accrual.  The Company will reduce your accrued vacation days if you have been on Leave of Absence (LOA); if you have been on furlough status, voluntary or involuntary or if you have been on suspension for 30 days or more. The only exception to this list is Occupational Leave status (occupational sickness or injury on the job), which will not impact vacation accrual.  If you are affected by a reduction in your vacation, your vacation accrual will be reduced by 1/12 for each 30 days of leave or major portion, on a prorated basis (Section 18.C.).  In addition, the Partnership Program Letter of Agreement also provides for a reduced accrual (see below).

Partnership Program

Flight Attendants participating in the Partnership Program will accrue vacation at one half (1/2) of the vacation accrual schedule outlined in Section 18.B. of the Contract during the period of the partnership.  For example, Flight Attendants with less than five (5) years of service normally accrue one day of vacation for each month of continuous service.  While participating in the Partnership Program, she/he will accrue ½ day of vacation for each month in which she/he participates in a partnership.  Should the Partnership Program be terminated, the vacation accrual rate will revert to the full accrual rate set forth in our Contract as of the date of termination.  This change in accrual is effective with the first schedule month of the partnership, and will affect the vacation accrual that will be used.

Partial Days

Some vacations have been adjusted to include days and hours (partial days).  A partial day should be used as a full day only when counting the days on the Flight Attendant schedule calendar.  Remember that all hours must be bid in the same phase.  A partial day is always the last day of the vacation. It should not be assumed that the entire day is a vacation day.  A partial day begins at 0000 and ends on the hour.  If the check-in for an ID begins at the exact same time as the partial day ends or after, the Flight Attendant is responsible for the ID.  For example, a partial vacation day (1/2 day) ends at 12:00 noon and in a situation where the check-in time for the Flight Attendant's next ID is 12:00 noon, the Flight Attendant is responsible to fly the ID.

Bidding Strategies

In all cases you are encouraged to bid the vacation period you want to hold. 

Throughout the year, you can significantly increase your income by scheduling yourself to fly holidays.  Keep this in mind when planning your vacation bidding. You may want to avoid bidding a vacation period that will encompass a holiday, thereby precluding you from receiving any holiday pay.  There are five (5) contractually paid holidays each year, one of which is your birthday. The remaining four (4) paid holidays are specific for the domicile's country (Section 2.Q.).

Some Flight Attendants prefer to bid vacation during a Reserve month in order to minimize her/his Reserve availability.  Yet others prefer to bid vacation during a Lineholder month, on days off, in order to maximize her/his pay.  Still others prefer to bid vacation in a manner that provides the maximum time off.  If you reach your fifth year anniversary after Reserve letters have been assigned, you will not know whether you will be an "A" or "B" until the 10th day of your fifth year anniversary month.  This means, unfortunately you will be bidding your vacation period without knowing your respective Lineholder and Reserve months.  Keep in mind, the Contract provides for each Flight Attendant the ability to trade her/his Reserve letter at least once during the year.  (See Reserve Considerations Section below.)

Other Bidding Considerations

Reduced accrual of vacation days may result in not being able to split vacation into multiple vacation periods.  Keep in mind the following 'split' rules:

  • Six (6) days is the minimum vacation bid period unless you have a lesser number of days accrued.
  • If you have at least 12 days and less than 26 days, you may split your vacation in two periods with a minimum period of six (6) days or more. 
  • If you have at least 26 days, you may split your vacation into three (3) periods.

You may span two calendar months using 14, 15 or 16 vacation days, provided you have at least four (4) full days in each month. 

If you bid to span two months using 17 or more days, you must have a minimum of seven (7) vacation days in each month.

If more than six (6) vacation days fall into your Reserve month, you will not be eligible for a move-up line until after the period of vacation has passed.

Sacred Days (Section 18.M.)

Days off preceding and following a scheduled vacation are considered part of your vacation and are "sacred" days (Section 18.M.).  The Company cannot assign training or meetings on those days unless you have specifically bid for them.  Reassignments under Sections 8.J. and 12.I. of the Contract may not infringe on these sacred days. Flight Attendants may not be drafted while on vacation under any circumstances.

Vacation Pay

Lineholders are paid the same number of hours for each full day of vacation - 2:45 hours per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. Effective 02/28/2013, vacation will be paid at 3:00 hours per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. Effective 2/28/2014 if you have been paid nine hundred thirty six (936) hours of flight time credit, vacation pay will be three hours and fifteen minutes (3:15) per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. Premium pay for vacation applies as provided in Sections 5.B.3.b. and c. and 12.D.4.e.  Additionally, if a Flight Attendant's vacation period results in her/him being projected under her/his minimum guarantee for the month due to the elimination of trips that fall in the vacation period, her/his guarantee shall be adjusted.

Reserves are paid 2:45 hours per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. After 02/28/2013 vacation will be paid at 3:00 hours per vacation day, prorated for any partial day.  Effective 2/28/2014 if you have been paid nine hundred thirty six (936) hours of flight time credit, vacation pay will be three hours and fifteen minutes (3:15) per vacation day, prorated for any partial day.  Additionally, if a Reserve Flight Attendant's vacation period results in her/him being projected under her/his minimum guarantee for the month due to the elimination of Reserve days that fall in the vacation period, her/his guarantee shall be adjusted. The new projection will equal vacation pay minus reserve days scheduled and this may be below 78 hours.

Reserve Vacation (Section 18.N.)

In a 30-day month, Reserve availability days are valued at 4:20 hours per scheduled day of availability.  In a 31-day month, Reserve availability days are valued at 4:07 per scheduled day of availability. Reserves whose vacation encompasses no days of Reserve availability may move the vacation to encompass two (2) days of availability. Contact your schedule planner if you find yourself in this situation.

Vacation Slide (Section 18.M.)

Section 18.M. of the Contract provides that if a vacation starts or ends between a scheduled outbound and return flight, a Flight Attendant may, at her/his option, move the vacation period forward or backward in order to fly the scheduled ID.  Contact your Schedule Planner immediately after monthly schedules are released should you opt to fly your trip. Should you wish to fly an ID in the "old" month that would be dropped as a result of a vacation period in the new month, you must contact Crew Schedule Planning before schedule bidding for the new month closes in order to ensure the vacation slide is applied before the award of monthly bids.  Refer to your monthly bid package Cover Letter for additional information.

Vacation Pay Advance (Section 18.P.)

The Company shall provide, on written request, a partial advance up to sixty (60%) of pay to a Flight Attendant for the purpose of vacation.  This advance must be requested at least seven (7) days prior to the beginning of the vacation period.  Contact the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) for assistance.

Day at a Time Vacation (DAT)

Each Flight Attendant may take up to ten (10) vacation days a year separate from her/his awarded vacation period(s), as provided by our Contract in Section 18.U.  These days will be deducted from the Flight Attendant's allotment for the following year's vacation.

If you use day-at-a-time-vacation (DAT) between November 1 and October 31, your vacation accrual will be reduced.  Once vacation accruals are posted in the VACBID screen, the only adjustments made to the accrual are for any DAT taken October 27-October 31.   

After the award of relief lines and prior to the beginning of the month, DAT vacation days will be awarded in seniority order.  Throughout the month, DAT will be available only to the extent that regular ANP is available.  DAT days have equal priority with ANP.  DAT days will be paid at the same as the daily vacation rate for a Lineholder.  DAT cannot be made up.  If awarded DAT, a Flight Attendant shall have her/his minimum monthly guarantee and/or line guarantee reduced accordingly.  For example, if you were to use 2 DAT days for a 10-hour trip with a 79-hour line guarantee and a 71-hour minimum, you would be paid 5:30 for the two DAT days and your line guarantee would be reduced by 4:30 to 74:30 and your minimum to 66:30 (Section 18.U.6.).  A Flight Attendant on Reserve using DAT is also paid 2:45 hours per day and her/his Reserve minimum is reduced from 78 hours. (This is the only time when the application of vacation reduces the reserve minimum from 78 hours.)

Note: The daily rate for vacation increases effective *February 28, 2013, including Day at a time (DAT) vacation to 3:00 hours per day. Effective 2/28/2014 if you have been paid nine hundred thirty six (936) hours of flight time credit, vacation pay will be three hours and fifteen minutes (3:15) per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. Refer to VACINC in Unimatic to verify eligibility for vacation daily rate increase.

Reserve Considerations

Lineholders, as provided in Section 10.A.1.e. of the Contract, may bid Reserve lines.

If you are a rotating Reserve, consider your Reserve letter prior to bidding your vacation.  Reserve letters are effective February-January.  One Reserve letter trade is allowed each year.  You will be eligible to serve Reserve based on the following (Section 10.A.1.b.):

If you are assigned “A”
(Odd Numbered Months)
If you are assigned “B”
(Even Numbered Months)
January February
March April
May June
July August
September October
November December

Keep in mind, Section 10.B.4. of the Contract provides that a Reserve on vacation or ANP for seven (7) days or more in the remaining part of the month will not be awarded a Move-Up line. So, if you bid an end of month vacation of seven days or more as a Reserve, you will be by-passed on the Reserve Move-Up list. Schedule months can be changed annually with appropriate notice to the Union.

Please review the schedule months posted in the annual Vacation booklet before bidding your vacation.

No Bids and Insufficient Vacation Bids

If you have accrued less than 30 days vacation, and fail to submit a vacation bid, you will be assigned a vacation period during the secondary vacation bid process.  If you have accrued 30 vacation days or more, and fail to submit a vacation bid, you will be assigned a vacation period during the tertiary vacation bid process.  

If you do not bid enough to cover your seniority (insufficient bid), you will be assigned a vacation in one of the two following ways:

  1. During the primary bid process, the Company will award all primary bids.  Insufficient bids will then be awarded in seniority order by working backward through the year, from December to January.
  2. If your secondary or tertiary bid is insufficient, you will automatically be assigned a vacation in inverse seniority order working forward through the year, from January through December.  In this instance it would mean that if you have 1998 Company seniority, you will be assigned a vacation before another insufficient bidder who has a 1991 Company seniority date.

Trading Vacations (Section 18.S.)

You are allowed two vacation trades per year with another Flight Attendant.  All vacation trades must be completed two months before the first vacation.  As an example, if you have a September vacation, you must submit your vacation trade request in July or earlier.  There are two exceptions: 

  1. Flight Attendants trading days in the same month are not bound to the requirement of trading two months prior to the vacation month.
  2. Trades involving January vacations must be submitted by December 15. February vacation trade requests must be submitted by December 30.

Trades between Flight Attendants involving vacation days awarded during the primary vacation award must be for the total number of primary vacation days awarded. In other words, the vacation periods traded must be of identical length. 

When trading secondary or tertiary vacation periods, the trade does not need to involve an equal number of days. Trading one of these vacation periods with another Flight Attendant having fewer days will reduce your vacation.  For example, Mary has ten days of vacation and would like to trade with Eric, who has eight days.  If the trade is awarded, Mary will lose 2 days of vacation.  To avoid loss of vacation, we encourage you to trade the same number of days with your flying partners or use the interim vacation bidding process.

Interim Vacation Bids (Section 18.G.)

Section 18.G. of our Contract requires that all un-awarded or vacated primary vacation days will be posted for interim vacation bids.  Flight Attendants are allowed unlimited interim vacation bids.

You may split your vacation through the interim bid process as long as it does not give you more splits than you are allowed.  For example, if you have a total of 16 days vacation, 10/1-10/16, you may submit an interim bid vacating 10/1-10/7 for 5/1-5/7.

Interim Vacation Bidding opens on the first business day (weekday) of the schedule month and remains open for seven (7) consecutive days.

The same two-month advance restriction applies to interim bidding as in vacation trading.  The company can waive this restriction based on the needs of service.  You can interim bid a February vacation for alternate days in February during the December interim bid process if there are available days posted. 

Section 18.R. of our Contract provides should you be hospitalized, on jury duty or on an occupational illness absence for a major portion of your vacation, you may attempt to bid a later vacation using the interim bid process. Contact the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) to submit bids for these situations.

Section 23.M.2. of our Contract provides that the company shall not require Flight Attendants to use vacation time for Family Medical Leave.

Transferring Flight Attendants must interim bid when arriving at their new domicile unless otherwise advised by the Company. Interim vacation bids are now submitted via SkyNet.  If you are at a layover location that is not SkyNet accessible, contact the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) for assistance in submitting the bid.

Should you have additional vacation bidding questions, please contact your Local AFA office for assistance.

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