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Continuous Overnight Duty (COD) Pairings – An Update

Date: October 26, 2018

Since the implementation of the provisions of our JCBA on October 1st, we’ve all had to make a number of adjustments to the many changes brought about by the ratification of our JCBA on August 12, 2016.  Since that time, we’ve all navigated the seas of change in many other areas of the JCBA. None are more significant that these scheduling provisions which affect each of us, every day.  In fact, it shouldn’t surprise any of us, as we’ve continued with the priorities of our individual lives, we may actually have forgotten some of the changes to scheduling to which we agreed at ratification.

One of the most dramatic changes has been the construction of certain types of trip pairing at every location.  Because of the type of flying predominantly assigned at certain locations as well as the change to pairing construction that is predicated on home domicile time, the change has been more dramatic at certain locations.

Continuous Overnight Duty (COD) pairings, otherwise known as stand-up all-nighters, contain duty periods with an overnight “sit” that does not meet either the definition or requirements of a legal rest period. There has been much chatter on the line, communication to the AFA and corporate leadership about these pairings. What was immediately clear is that the change to include these flying sequences into the schedule occurred very quickly and with little time for any adjustment. These sequences of flying had direct impact on those flying the pairings and, for those not flying them, the reaction to the printed key pages was equally dramatic.

Inflight and AFA leadership, Central Schedule Committee and Crew Planning began immediate discussions in an effort to address the reaction to the pairings that began before the first pairing was flown in October.

Our first consideration was to determine if the volume of these pairings had changed significantly.  In fact, give the overall increase in the size of our combined pool of flights, the number of pairing represented just 2% of the domestic system wide flying for the November schedule month.  Given the fairly small number of these pairings overall, we began to research what was being done with these segments and how were these being included in the sequences of flying.  

There were certain commonalities with the pairings. First, many of these pairings were originating from west coast domiciles where all-night flying naturally falls because it originates in those domiciles.  In fact, this reality combined with the construction of flying based on home domicile time resulted in a different impact on the U.S. west coast domiciles.

In addressing this issue and working to find alternate ways to include these all-night flights in efficient and cost effective sequences, management worked with AFA to implement the following changes that will become fully effective in December:

1.    Continuous overnight duty pairings with layovers at domicile locations were eliminated.

2.    Pairings having sequential duty days containing continuous overnight duty pairings will be restricted to one per pairing

3.    Duty periods containing an additional leg beyond the all-night segment will also be limited.

Crew Schedule Planning and our AFA MEC Central Schedule Committee will continue to meet monthly to review pairing construction. The focus of these meetings will be, as they always have been, on safety and Flight Attendant quality of life. 

However, there must be a realistic consideration, as part of United’s overall business strategy of meeting customer demand for reliable flying, the company will need to find a way to include these late night and overnight departures in other sequences of flying. It’s likely that many of these segments will not be distributed more widely across the system. This work will continue with an eye toward balancing quality of life issues for Flight Attendants, with reliability and efficiency.  

In addition, there are those who would prefer to fly all-night. The assignment of all-night flying at west coast domiciles – LAS, LAX, SFO – will continue into the future. This flying naturally falls in these domiciles.  AFA’s emphasis has always been to ensure a varied schedule preference for Flight Attendants and this does included an equitable mix of different types of flying to meet those preferences – 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, High value turns, all-night flying. Each of these types of flying have a place at each of our domiciles and our dedicated volunteers on Central Schedule Committee work to seek the proper mix that does not disadvantage any single domicile.

In keeping with our efforts to address Flight Attendant quality of life issues we note that management has worked with your AFA leadership on the following improvements:

  • Soft blocking crew rest seats for flights of more than seven and less than eight hours
  • Eliminating all-night sits at the bases
  • Reducing sit times in pairings through the adjustment of reliability buffers
  •  Reducing the number of Flight Attendants serving on Reserve from October to November (based on a reduction in seasonal flying)
  • A reduction in the system line averages from October to November (based on a reduction in utilization targets & reduced flying) by 11%.

Each one of these items has an impact on Flight Attendant quality of life made possible through a cooperative relationship between management and AFA. Each of you have played an important role in providing information via our dedicated e-mail account to enable us to address quality of life issues associated with these Continuous Overnight Duty pairings. Please continue to share your actual experiences by writing to cod@unitedafa.org.  

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