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Irregularities, Call Wait Times & Self Help

Date: July 31, 2018

The weather irregularities of the past few weeks are growing tiresome for all of us. While we understand that irregularities are inherent in our line of work, we’re frustrated by what appears to be the company’s inability to respond in a timely manner when this happens. Many of you have expressed your frustration at the lengthy call wait times when calling Crew Scheduling and Crew Accommodations seeking assistance during irregularities. We have elevated your concerns to Inflight management seeking answers to your questions and advocating for an outcome that meets the requirements of our Contract. 

As we previously reported, your MEC Officers met with senior Inflight leadership, on June 30, 2018 to discuss our continuing concerns regarding the unavailability of hotel rooms during severe weather conditions. Our expectations were reiterated to management at that time emphasizing that provisioning of hotel rooms remains the company’s responsibility and we put management on notice they have to step up their game in this area. It is disappointing to receive reports from Flight Attendants that this issue has remained unresolved. We anticipate additional discussion on this topic to continue in the weeks ahead in an effort to help us better understand the reasons for what appears to have been yet another breakdown in the system.

As part of our advocacy, we will discuss the fact that having Flight Attendants wait extended periods of time to secure hotel rooms does not support the operation. Flight Attendants should not be required to reduce their already shortened rest periods. 

We have also heard from many of you asking the question, “How long do I have to wait “on hold” to reach Crew Accommodations before securing a room on your own?” Following a discussion with the Managing Director of Crew Scheduling, the company and the Union share the following understanding of the steps that should be taken: 

1.    Flight Attendants must first make an effort to contact Crew Accommodations to seek assistance in securing a hotel room for their assigned layover. Flight Attendants should document whom they spoke with and the time the call began and ended.

2.    In those instances where there is no answer or there are extend call wait times, the following guidelines should be used:

a. For field (short) layovers, Flight Attendants able to secure their own rooms should proceed to the hotel after no more than thirty (30) minutes, and

b. For downtown (long) layovers, Flight Attendants able to secure their own rooms should proceed to the hotel after no more than forty-five (45) minutes.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to act in your best interests. United is responsible for our safety on layovers. If they do not respond, take care of yourself. If one of your flying partners is in trouble and doesn’t have the expendable cash or a credit card to take care of it, help them out if you can. 

Once at the hotel, you should notify the Crew Desk of your layover contact information. Keep in mind, Crew Accommodations is not the Crew Desk. In some instances, Crew Accommodations can arrange to cover the cost of the hotel rooms by sending a voucher directly to the hotel. Don’t hesitate to ask for this assistance. In the alternative, employ self-help to ensure your proper rest.

Self-help is not only allowable per our Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is strongly recommended you seek self-help to ensure adequate rest and, most importantly, to protect your safety and ensure your personal well-being. The AFA MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee meets with United Crew Accommodations monthly, to address problems and seek positive resolution.  Our advocacy is strengthened when problems are documented and trended through your TVLLOG and hotel reports. 

Additionally, Flight Attendants finding themselves in situations where they have not received adequate rest (ie: sleeping in airports, cots or crew rooms) and feel they are unsafe to perform their Flight Attendant duties efficiently and safely, are encouraged to review the company’s Corporate Fatigue Policy and act accordingly. 

If you have any questions please contact your Local Council.  

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