Questions and Answers
Page last updated: July 10, 2020. (new questions always posted at bottom of this document in numerical order)
- If I take a voluntary furlough, what happens to my pay progression?
Those on voluntary furlough continue to accrue seniority and therefore advance through the pay progression. When they return to work, they will be paid based on where they fall in the pay scale including the time they spent while on voluntary furlough.
- If I am placed on involuntary furlough status, what happens to my pay progression?
In the case of an involuntary furlough, the pay progression freezes on the effective date of the involuntary furlough. If at that time the Flight Attendant has completed 3 years, 5 months and 9 days of service, that freezes. When recalled from involuntary furlough, she/he will return with 3 years, 5 months and 10 days of service and will resume her/his position in the salary progression.
There is an important difference between voluntary and involuntary furlough. When placed on involuntary furlough status, the Flight Attendant is effectively separated from the company and their employment relationship with the company ceases – consistent with the terms of the Contract. They retain recall rights to the job for a maximum period of six (6) years.
- If I am placed on involuntary furlough, do I retain medical benefits? If so, for how long?
Consistent with the language in Section 18.G., Coverage under the company’s accident, sickness and dental program shall be continued on the same basis as an active Flight Attendant for the first ninety (90) days of a furlough.
- If I am placed on involuntary furlough, what pass benefits do I retain?
There is no contractual reference that provides pass travel continuance. Pass travel is subject to company policy. As of today, we have not seen the company’s involuntary furlough packet so we have not been advised if there is a plan to offer pass travel beyond the effective date of the involuntary furlough. We are pursuing this issue.
- If a Flight Attendant on the System Seniority list who has transferred into management continues working while others in her/his new hire class or junior are placed on involuntary furlough, does she/he continue to accrue seniority?
As provided for in Section 14.E.5., during a period of furlough, a Flight Attendant in a non-flying or management position shall not accrue Flight Attendant seniority which would change her/his relative position on the Flight Attendant System Seniority List with those Flight Attendants on furlough.
- If I have the age and years of service to retire and I am placed on involuntary furlough, will I be automatically retired?
No. With the exception of the expiration of the three (3) year Medical Leave of Absence, retirement requires a definitive action by the employee. You will not be retired and will instead be placed on involuntary furlough. However, once placed on involuntary furlough status, you cannot retire from involuntary furlough status.(This is not a statement of your ability to collect your pension, it is a statement of your status with United Airlines. You will not show retired from United.)
- Can I avoid involuntary furlough by bidding for the voluntary furlough?
No, a Flight Attendant will not be able to avoid involuntary furlough by bidding for voluntary furlough. A Flight Attendant who wants to work should not bid for the voluntary furlough.
When the voluntary furloughs are awarded, the 11/09/1996 furlough seniority line will move down with each Flight Attendant who is awarded a voluntary furlough above that line. The line will continue to move down by the number of Flight Attendants awarded the voluntary furlough. For example: If 10 Flight Attendants senior to 11/09/1996 bid and are awarded the voluntary furlough, then the next 10 Flight Attendants will be eligible to be awarded the voluntary furlough. If 5 of those Flight Attendants bid for the voluntary furlough, the line will move down to another 5 Flight Attendants. If 2 of those Flight Attendants bid for the voluntary furlough, the line will move down to another 2 Flight Attendants. If neither of the next 2 Flight Attendants bid for the voluntary furlough, no more voluntary furloughs will be awarded.
- If I am a Flight Attendant on voluntary furlough, will I be able to return prior to the expiration of the furlough period?
A Flight Attendant on voluntary furlough will only be allowed to return prior to the expiration of the Voluntary Furlough period for personal reasons due to hardship, with the approval of the company.
- In what order would a furlough recall be conducted?
A recall from furlough would first be offered to those Flight Attendants on involuntary furlough status in seniority order, followed by voluntarily furloughed Flight Attendants in inverse order of seniority.
- If I am awarded the Voluntary Furlough, am I subjecting myself to surplus to a domicile other than the one from which I accepted the Voluntary Furlough?
Section 18.B.1. of the AFA Agreement provides you with the Contractual right to be returned to the domicile from which you were voluntary furloughed. The only exceptions to this preferential right would be if the domicile was closed or if a surplus has been declared in the domicile and your seniority status is affected by the surplus action.
- Will United contest unemployment for Voluntary Furloughs?
No. Check with your local unemployment office for your specific unemployment benefits. http://www.doleta.gov
- May I bid for the Voluntary Furlough if I am on Sick Leave status?
If you are on Sick Leave status, you are eligible to bid for and be awarded the Voluntary Furlough provided you come off Sick Leave (OFSL) status prior to the effective date of the Furlough. Flight Attendants on Sick Leave on October 1, 2020 will not be placed on Voluntary Furlough status.
- May I bid for the Voluntary Furlough if I am on Medical Leave status?
If you are on any type of Medical Leave status on the date bids close for Voluntary Furlough, you are eligible to bid for and be awarded the Voluntary Furlough provided medical clearance with a return to work date by September 30, 2020 is received and approved by company Medical no later than 1700 CST on Monday, July 27, 2020.
- May I bid for the Voluntary Furlough if I am on Extended Illness status?
If you are on Extended Illness status (and being paid from your Sick Leave bank), you are eligible to bid for and be awarded the Voluntary Furlough provided medical clearance with a return to work date prior to September 30, 2020 is received and approved by company Medical by 1700 CST on Monday, July 27, 2020.
- May I bid for the Voluntary Furlough if I am on Occupational Leave?
Your doctor must provide written documentation that must be received and approved by company Medical no later than 1700 Central Time on Monday, July 27, 2020. The documentation must state that you will be cleared to fly no later than September 30, 2020 in order to be eligible to be awarded the Voluntary Furlough.
- May I bid for the Voluntary Furlough if I am on FMLA?
If you have an intermittent Family Medical Leave status, you are eligible to bid for the Voluntary Furlough. You must come off Sick Leave (OFSL) by September 30, 2020 in order to be placed on Voluntary Furlough status.
If you are on continuous Family Medical Leave you are eligible to bid and will be awarded the Voluntary Furlough provided medical clearance with a return to work date no later than September 30, 2020 is received and approved by company Medical by 1700 Central Time on Monday, July 27, 2020.
- Do I pay Union dues while on Voluntary Furlough?
The AFA Constitution and Bylaws requires that all Flight Attendants pay dues for the first 3 months of any Leave status, including Voluntary Furlough. Flight Attendants should contact their Local Council Office with any questions about payment methods. If you would like to pay your dues beyond the required first three months to remain an active Member to vote, (“Leave & Remain Active”) please contact the AFA International Office Membership Department at 1-800-424-2401, ext. 707 to receive the form to have monthly deductions taken from your checking account. You will also need to ask the Membership Department where you should fax or send a written and signed statement saying that you would like to “leave and remain active.”
- Can I retire from Voluntary Furlough?
- How do I bid for a voluntary furlough?
Bids will be accepted via the Crew Communications System (CCS).
Navigate to CCS >Leaves > Voluntary Furlough Preview.
On the Voluntary Furlough screen, completely enter your bid and select a preference in numerical order, then submit your request to complete the transaction.
You will receive an immediate system generated response containing your selection, the date, and a timestamp indicating your request was submitted.
Changes may be made to the Voluntary Furlough screen, but only during the open bid period. During the open bid period you may:
- Submit your initial request
- Modify your request
- Elect to withdraw your request
- How will I know if I have been awarded a voluntary furlough?
Your work history (WH) in CCS will be updated to reflect your furlough status. The number of months awarded, and the effective date range will appear as the current work status. You will also be notified by mail at your permanent address on file
- What medical benefits will I receive if I am voluntarily furloughed?
According to Section 18.A.3.d. of the Agreement, a Flight Attendant on voluntary furlough will receive:
Medical, Dental, and/or Vision Insurance as if they were an active Flight Attendant. If you and your dependents (if applicable) participate in a medical or dental plan for which you pay a monthly contribution, you will be responsible to pay the monthly amount that is normally deducted from your paycheck but on an after-tax basis. Medical, dental, and vision coverage will continue throughout your voluntary furlough with benefits, provided you pay your employee contributions. You will receive a notification letter from the United Airlines Benefits Service Center with payment details.
Note: If you fail to pay for your coverage on time during your voluntary furlough, then your coverage will be terminated and cannot be reinstated until the earlier of (1) your return from voluntary furlough, or (2) the January 1 following the next Annual Enrollment period. For this reason, we recommend that you set up an ACH payment from your personal banking account to ensure timely payment and continued benefit coverage.
If you have questions you may contact the United Benefits Service Center at 1-800-651-1007 or via https://united.service-now.com/hrportal/
In addition, you may continue your Flexible Spending Account for the remainder of the year on an after-tax basis. This is important if you wish to submit medical claims incurred after the effective date of your voluntary furlough. You will receive additional information from the Benefits Center within 45 days
- Will I be entitled to sick leave pay while on voluntary furlough?
- Will I continue to accrue sick leave and vacation while on voluntary furlough.
- If I am on voluntary furlough, will I be paid for my vacation days I have already accrued in 2020 since I will not be bidding lines or using my vacation time in 2021?
You will need to participate in the 2021 Annual vacation process where you will be able to fully participate in the annual vacation election & bidding processes.
- If I am a voluntary furloughed Flight Attendant, will I be able to return prior to the expiration of the furlough period?
A Flight Attendant on voluntary furlough will only be allowed to return prior to the expiration of her/his voluntary furlough period, at her/his request, for personal reasons due to hardship, with the approval of the company.
- Could I be recalled prior to the scheduled end of my voluntary furlough?
If a recall is necessary prior to the termination of the specified duration of the voluntary furlough, the recall of Flight Attendants on voluntary furlough will be by inverse order of seniority.
- At the expiration of the furlough period, will I be returned to the base from which I was voluntarily furloughed?
Section 18.A.3.e. of the Agreement provides you with the contractual right to be returned to the domicile from which you were voluntarily furloughed. The exceptions to this right to return would be if the domicile was closed, your visa expires or employment status changes (see ALE Visas London in the voluntary furlough packet for more information) or if a surplus has been declared at the domicile and your seniority status is affected by the surplus action.
- I am on an emergency transfer will I return to the emergency transfer domicile at the end of the voluntary furlough?
Emergency transfers have an expiration date. If the transfer has expired by the furlough return date, you will return to your permanent base. If it has not expired, you will return to your emergency transfer base.
- Can a Flight Attendant on voluntary furlough take part in Open Enrollment to indicate alternate benefit elections?
Yes, the United benefits team will distribute Open Enrollment information each year.
- Will I continue to have pass travel privileges on United and United Express during my active voluntary furlough status?
If the checkout process is completed properly, Flight Attendants and their eligible pass riders (including enrolled friend(s), spouse/domestic partner, children and parents) will be eligible for travel on United and United Express. Please reference the Voluntary Furlough packet for complete details.
- Will I have access to interline travel privileges while on a voluntary furlough?
No. Interline discounts (other airline travel) will not be available during your voluntary furlough.
- What will happen to my existing buddy and vacation passes?
Your existing allotments will be valid through their original expiration date.
- Will I receive new vacation and/or buddy pass allotments while on voluntary furlough?
While on voluntary furlough, you will receive your annual distribution of vacation and buddy passes.
- Can I change my enrolled friend or spouse/domestic partner for the 2021 calendar year?
Yes. Elections must be made in November through December 2020 for the 2021 calendar year.
- Will I have access to CJA travel while on voluntary furlough?
No, Flight Attendants on voluntary furlough will not have access to CJA travel on United or any other airline with a reciprocal agreement.
- What are my responsibilities in the furlough check out process?
All Flight Attendants awarded a voluntary furlough must return required company-issued items including: all local parking access media (stickers, swipe cards, hanging tags), LINK and TSA/Crew badge during the voluntary furlough checkout process. These items must be returned to your base prior to the commencement of your leave. Flight Attendants must return these items to the base at their own expense via FedEx, Certified Mail or UPS. Failure to return the above-mentioned items will result in the suspension of your travel privileges
- Who do I notify if I move while on voluntary furlough?
You are responsible for maintaining a permanent address and up-to-date telephone information on file at all times to ensure the company can reach you with updates or recall information. This includes your home address, telephone, e-mail address, etc.) You are required to provide this information through Flying Together>Employee Services>My Info>Personal Details.
In a circumstance where you intend to be away from your permanent address more than thirty (30) days, you must update your records with contact information. In addition, you need to update your telephone contact information on the My Info screen in CCS.
- Can I pursue other employment opportunities while on furlough status?
Yes, Flight Attendants on voluntary furlough may pursue and accept other employment. However employment with another airline is subject to prior, written approval by United’s Ethics and Compliance Office. Please Contact your Base Supervisor for additional information.
- If I am awarded a voluntary furlough, will I be eligible for unemployment compensation?
You may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. It is best to contact the unemployment office in the state in which you reside to file an unemployment claim. It is essential that you inform the unemployment office where you were last based because that is where your pay records were reported.
NOTE: United Airlines defers to the respective unemployment agencies to determine whether a voluntary layoff qualifies for unemployment benefits.
- How can I get employment verification while on voluntary furlough status?
Employment Verification Employment verification calls are taken by The Work Number. The individual verifying your employment and/or salary should contact The Work Number at 1-800-367-5690 or at www.theworknumber.com and have the following information available:
Company name: United Airlines
Employer code: 10209
Your social security number
- Do I need to go to CQ training if I have been awarded a voluntary furlough?
Flight Attendants on voluntary furlough will not be required to maintain their qualifications during the voluntary furlough period. Additionally, Flight Attendants will not be permitted to attend training during their period of voluntary furlough, except Flight Attendants will need to be available for training during the month prior to their return to work date in order to be qualified to fly.