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Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

Vaction Bidding

Revised: October 22, 2016
This article was produced by the United MEC Central Schedule Committee

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2016 Vacation BiddingSection 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, Refer to the Partnership Agreement Section I - Vacation.

Reserve Letters

Review: 2017 Reserve Lists

The first step in the annual vacation bidding process is the assignment of Reserve letters. Section 10.A. of our Contract requires that 2016 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 2016 Lineholder status and Reserve letters. We remind you that the 2017 Reserve letters are effective in February 2017 through January 2018.

Vacation Bid Periods (Section 18.E.)

Vacation Related Item Contractual Date
Generation of Reserve Letter Lists for 2016 September 29, 2015
Primary Vacation Bids Open October 29, 2016
Primary Vacation Bids Close November 7, 2016
Primary Vacation Bids Posted November 12, 2016
Secondary Vacation Bids Open November 16, 2016
Secondary Vacation Bids Close November 23, 2016
Secondary Vacation Bids Posted November 28, 2016
Tertiary Vacation Bids Opens December 1, 2016
Tertiary Vacation Bids Close December 7, 2016
Tertiary Vacation Bids Posted December 11, 2016

Vacation Accrual Quarters for 2017 Vacations

*Revised Start and End dates under Section 2.W. for 2017

Quarter Order

Schedule Months (defined in Section 18.B.2)

*Start and End Dates for 2016


September - November

August 30, 2015 - November 29, 2015


December - February

November 30, 2015 - February 29, 2016


March - May

March 1,2016 - May 31, 2016


June - August

June 1, 2016 - August 29, 2016

Vacation Accrual and Bidding Seniority

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

airplane flying above palm treesSection 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. (Note: Start and end dates for some bid months for 2016 have been changed as provided in Section 2.W. of the Contract. See table above.)

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).

Newly employed Flight Attendants shall accrue one (1) day of vacation for each full month of continuous employment with the company during the remainder of the calendar year after date of their initial employment. If employed prior to the fifteenth (15th) of a month, vacation credit shall be given for the full month. The first vacation shall be given during the following calendar year. This initial vacation is not subject to the vacation reduction provisions of Section 18.B.2. but shall be reduced for Leaves of Absence or furlough or a suspension of 30 days or more as outlined in Section 18.C.

DAT Reduction Period: DAT vacation taken November 1, 2015 - August 29, 2016 will reduce your 2017 vacation.

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. In addition, Flight Attendants in the Partnership Program will receive the full vacation accrual provided she/he has a minimum of 97:30 of paid activity in each quarter of the twelve month period ending in the August schedule month prior to the vacation year and shall accrue no vacation in a calendar quarter if she/he has less than 16:15 of paid activity for that time period.

Partial Days – Availability Following Partial Vacation 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. Availability following partial vacation days applies as follows:


If the check-in for an ID begins at the exact same hour (time) as when 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. 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.

Ready Reserves

Where a Flight Attendant on Ready Reserve status ends vacation with a partial day, she/he may not be contacted for assignment until after the time the vacation ends, and may not be required to report for duty until six hours after the time the vacation ends. For example, A Ready Reserve with a partial day vacation (1/2 day) which ends at 12:00 Noon may not be contacted by the company until after the time vacation ends and may not be required to report for duty until six (6) hours after the vacation ends or 1800.

Call-In Reserves

A Call-in Reserve must call the assignment tape the day before coming off vacation but is not to be assigned to report for duty until at least six (6) hours following the final hour of the vacation.

Lineholder Going On Ready Reserve Status following Vacation

A lineholder whose vacation ends on the last day of the month and who is going on Ready Reserve status in the new month is not available for call until 0001 of the new month and is eligible for assignment at 0500 or later.

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Bidding Strategies

skiingIn 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 the five-year Reserve cap during 2017, you will not know whether you will be an “A” or “B” until approximately the 10th day of your 5th year anniversary month. This means, unfortunately, you will bid your vacation without knowing your respective Lineholder and Reserve months. Keep in mind, however, the Contract provides each Flight Attendant the ability to trade her/his reserve letter at least once during the year. (See Reserve Considerations Section of this article.)

Other Bidding Considerations

Flight Attendants participating in the Partnership Program should be aware that the 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.

One of the most common vacation bidding errors involves the bidding of vacation that spans two calendar months. Again this year, it is critical that you review the start and end dates for the newly defined schedule months. By doing so, you can ensure that you have the correct number of days in each month based on the vacation period being bid. When applying vacation slide rules, your initial vacation bid must be legal. If not, vacation slide will not correct an invalid bid.

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

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

If more than seven (7) 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 as set forth in Section 10.B.4. of the Contract.

Sacred Days

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 Section 8.J of the Contract may not infringe on these sacred days. Flight Attendants may not be drafted while on vacation under any circumstances.

Vacation Pay *NEW* JCBA Section 12.B.1.

cruise ship near desert islandLineholders are paid the same number of hours for each full day of vacation - 3:15 hours 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. The new projection will equal vacation pay plus trips scheduled and this may be below 71 hours.

As provided in Section 12.B.1., vacation pay will be 3:15 per vacation day prorated for any partial day.

Reserve Vacation

Reserves are paid 3:15 hours per vacation day, prorated for any partial day. Reserves awarded a full month Reserve schedule and who have vacation are protected by the language in Section 5.D. of our Contract and will be paid the Reserve minimum guarantee of 78 hours.

As provided in Section 12.B.1., vacation pay will be 3:15 per vacation day prorated for any partial day.

Vacation Slide

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 Advance 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

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. See Section 18.P. for more details. Contact the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) at option 4, then 8 for assistance.

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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, day for day, from the Flight Attendant’s allotment for the following year’s vacation.

After the award of relief lines and prior to the beginning of the month, day at a time (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 a rate of 3.00 hours (3 hours) per day, 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 6 hours for the two DAT days and your line guarantee would be reduced by 4 hours to 75 hours and your minimum to 67 hours (Section 18.R.). A Flight Attendant on reserve using DAT is also paid 3 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.)

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. 2017 Reserve letters are effective February 2017 – January 2018. 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 until after the 7 day period of vacation has passed. So, if you bid an end of month vacation of seven days or more as a Reserve, you will be by-passed for a move-up line on the Reserve in this instance until the period of availability has passed.

Note: Section 2.W. of our Contract provides that schedule months can be changed annually with appropriate notice to the Union. The company has changed the start and end dates for some of the Flight Attendant schedule months for 2017. The 2017 Schedule months are as follows:

Note: The January 2017 schedule month begins on 12/30/16.

January 12/30-1/29 31 days
February 1/30-3/1 31 days
March 3/2-4/1 31 days
April 4/2-5/1 30 days
May 5/2-5/31 30 days
June 6/1-6/30 30 days
July 7/1-7/30 30 days
August 7/31-8/29 30 days
September 8/30-9/28 30 days
October 9/29-10/29 31 days
November 10/30-11/29 31 days
December 11/30-12/29 30 days

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Insufficient Vacation Bids

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.

No Vacation Bids

If you fail to submit a vacation bid, you will be assigned a vacation period as follows:

Phase I

Not assigned until Phase II

Phase II

If you have less than 30 days of vacation, you will be assigned in Phase II as follows:

  • After insufficient bidders
  • In Company seniority, January through December

Phase III

If you have 30 days or more, you will be assigned in Phase III as follows:

  • After insufficient bidders
  • In Company seniority, January through December

Trading Vacations

You are allowed two vacation trades per year with another Flight Attendant (Section 18.S.). 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 vacation 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. (Section 18.S.)

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.


Transfers with effective dates between October 29th and December 30th, 2016:

  • Accepting a transfer prior to 1200 the day before the close for that particular domicile will ensure the bid is awarded at the new domicile.
  • Accepting a transfer after the close of any bid phase, the vacation may be awarded at the former (old) domicile. As a result, it will be necessary for you to re-bid your vacation at the new domicile in the first available interim vacation period after the effective date of the transfer. Your VACBID screen will reflect unassigned vacation days.
  • Vacations awarded in any phase prior to the transfer acceptance will be placed into interim vacation at the old domicile and you must re-bid in the first available interim vacation period after the effective date of the transfer.

Transfers with effective dates after December 31, 2016:

  • Vacation awards will be placed in interim and must be bid in the first available interim vacation period after the effective date of the transfer at the new domicile.

Reserve Letter Trades

Unimatic Trade Screen Windo

Our Contract provides for the trading of Reserve Letters. For 2017 and different from previous years, the company will require all Reserve Letters Trade Requests to be entered via Flying Together. The historical Unimatic DIS page will remain available to refer Flight Attendants to the resource on Flying Together but will not be used for submitting Reserve Letter trades.

You can find the new, A/B letter trade request form on the Crew Scheduling page on Flying Together and replaces the old Unimatic request page.

Interim Vacation Bids

sunset at beachSection 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.

Section 18.H. of the Contract requires “a Flight Attendant shall be notified of the date of her/his vacation as far in advance as is practicable and such notice shall be furnished not less than four (4) weeks before the beginning of each Flight Attendant's vacation period except for those Flight Attendants who have vacations scheduled for the first half of January, in which case such notice shall be furnished not less than three (3) weeks before the beginning of their vacation period. A Flight Attendant shall not be required to take a vacation unless such notice is given.“

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 FlyingTogether. If you are at a layover location that is not FlyingTogether accessible, contact the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) for assistance in submitting the bid.

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