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Crew Rest Assignments, Seniority & Language Qualified Coverage

Date: August 31, 2018

The process by which Crew Rest is scheduled and, in some cases, bunks are assigned has changed for some of us. Flight Attendants have requested clarification on how crew rest assignments involving seniority are made especially as it pertains to the process of scheduling crew breaks for Language Qualified Flight Attendants.
On July 13, 2018 the Joint Implementation Committee published a One United, Crew Rest Policy Harmonization

Crew Rest assignments: The [International Purser] will schedule Flight Attendants for Crew Rest in seniority order with the following 2 considerations: 

1.    The [International Purser] should schedule her/himself to meet operational needs, and, 

2.    On flights with multiple Language Qualified Flight Attendants (LQFAs), at least one language speaker should be available at all times.

Section 3.DD.9.b. of our JCBA reads, in part, “The [International Purser] will honor seniority when scheduling and coordinating crew rest breaks among Flight Attendants.”

Management sought to increase the number of language qualified Flight Attendants assigned on each flight because, in their view, having language qualified Flight Attendants on the aircraft adds value to those customers where English is not their first language. While the Union was successful in limiting an increase to the number of language qualified Flight Attendants, management continues to view language qualified Flight Attendants as a necessity on flights to international destinations.  

Given this view, management also sought to ensure that language qualified Flight Attendants were available to render language assistance for all or the greatest number of the phases of the flight. Consider, if you will, a situation where all of the language qualified Flight Attendants were in the same seniority range and all were on break at the same time. During that rest period, there would be no language qualified Flight Attendants available to render language assistance during that phase of the flight. This is a circumstance management seeks to avoid not only from the customer experience perspective but also for safety.

Under the terms of Section 3.DD. of the contract, this is the “coordinating” part of the International Purser’s responsibility. That is, to coordinate the breaks to ensure language qualified coverage during all aspects of the flight. To be clear, the International Purser has an obligation to follow the terms of the Contract and must ensure that all Flight Attendants receive breaks. In a case where there are multiple language qualified Flight Attendants who require these breaks, those individuals can be scheduled for crew rest honoring seniority within that group of individuals by offering the choice of a crew break to the most senior language qualified Flight Attendant first and proceeding through the remaining language qualified Flight Attendants accomplishing the scheduling of all – in seniority preference order.

Depending on the seniority range of the language qualified Flight Attendants on board, it is possible that breaks can be offered in strict seniority order with the result being one language qualified Flight Attendant on each break period. On others, that may not be possible.

There is a recognition that the scheduling of these crew breaks may have occurred differently in the past. However, the scheduling and coordination of crew breaks in a manner that ensures language qualified Flight Attendants are available to the greatest part of the flight is part of what was bargained for by the company to add to the customer experience and is a management expectation of the responsibilities of the International Purser.

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