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An Update on Crew Meals

Date: June 1, 2018

Since the inception of implementation of the Crew Meal language in Section 5.A.3. of our JCBA, there has been considerable confusion and misinformation concerning our crew meal entitlement. In the weeks immediately following the implementation, work began in earnest to address areas where Crew Meals were missing or the quality of the food provided was deficient.  

Section 5.A.3. of the Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA) governs crew meals. Crew meals must be:

  • appropriate to the time of day.
  • boarded at company expense.
  • provided whenever the scheduled duty day is in excess of 7:59 and all sit time is scheduled less than 2 hours.
  • provided on charter flights when meals are provided for passengers.
  • provided for on ID/pairings in the bid package as well as in pairings built in the operation.
  • provided for whenever a Reserve is assigned/scheduled to any sequence that meets the criteria.
  • provided whenever a flight originates or terminates in an international city*, is scheduled for three (3) hours or more and passengers are provided a meal. Meals are provided regardless if the trip is a partial pickup (Sections 7.I.8.of the JCBA and Sections 5.G.1.b. & 5.G.5.a.4 of the pm CAL CBA) or a pairing picked up within the same duty period (Sections 7.I.16. of the JCBA and Section 5.G.5.a.8. of the pm CAL CBA) only because the segment involves travel to an international city.

*NoteFor this provision Alaska, Hawaii, Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, and San Juan are not considered international cities.) 

Crew meals will NOT be boarded:

  • When a Flight Attendant executes a partial pickup that creates a duty day in excess of 8 hours with less than a 2 hour sit.
  • When a Flight Attendant picks up a pairing up within the same duty period (Sections 7.I.16. of the JCBA and Section 5.G.5.a.8. of the pm CAL CBA) not involving travel to an international city.
  • When operational delays shorten a sit, or lengthen a duty day
  • When a reassignment/drafting occurs that creates a duty day of greater than 8 hours with less than a 2 hour sit.
  • And when the combined duty time of a pairing/ID and airport alert (AA)/On standby (ONSB) creates a duty day greater than 8 hours with less than a 2 hour sit.


As well as the contractual requirements governing when crew meals must be provided, our contract establishes that crew meal food components must be business class quality or better and includes deadheading Crew Members on international flights. In those instances where storage space is a premium, it is acceptable for Crew Members deadheading in economy to receive the food components in an economy setup; the meals are boarded with the passenger special meals and are indicated as ZDML on the manifest.

Note: There is no contractual requirement that meals be identical to those being served to passengers on the same flight and there is no contractual recognition of meals for different lengths of duty day.

Further, Flight Attendants who are not provided a meal or if the meal is contractually insufficient are encouraged to first notify catering regardless of the anticipated response. If a meal is not boarded when contractually appropriate, a Flight Attendant may purchase a meal, when possible, and submit the receipt for reimbursement of actual/reasonable expenses. When filing a Local Council Worksheet through our website, unitedafa.org., the following information must be provided: 

  • Was catering notified of the issue?  If so, what was their response?  What meal was purchased?
  • When reporting issues of meal qualify, take clear, well-lighted photographs of all food components.
  • pm-UAL- When submitting a Local Council worksheet, Flight Attendants need to provide a copy of the FLTLOF and DSL from UNIMATIC (not 3rd party display) to demonstrate meal entitlement.
  • pm-CAL/CMI- When submitting a Local Council worksheet, Flight Attendants need to submit a copy of the pairing as viewed through My Schedule, with the dropdown menu displaying the crew information for the flight at issue.(Not 3rd party display.) This information is pertinent because it should display that a meal was scheduled for the flight. 
  • This information can also be used to substantiate your entitlement to a reimbursement for a purchased meal.

Additional questions should be directed to your Local Council Office. 

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