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Scheduling Crew Rest Breaks

Date: May 3, 2019

One of the many responsibilities of the International Purser is ensuring that all Flight Attendants on a given flight are provided with their contractual onboard rest. Further, she/he is responsible to schedule Flight Attendants for Crew Rest in seniority order given two considerations:

1.     The International Purser has the latitude to schedule her/himself to meet legitimate operational needs of the flight, and

2.     On flights with multiple language qualified Flight Attendants, she/he is charged with the responsibility of ensuring at least one of the Flight Attendants in the designate language qualified positions, LQFAs, are available in the cabin at all times.

The International Purser is the designated onboard leader on the aircraft and she/he is responsible for coordinating the overall service on the flight and ensuring all aspects of the scheduled service are completed according to established company standards. 

There have been a number of questions regarding the assignment of breaks and a renewed search by Flight Attendants for an understanding of what constitutes a legitimate operational need. These questions have arisen in response to assertions of “operational need” by International Pursers without facilitating an understanding of the operational need.  This has resulted in what might be interpreted, by some, as a challenge to the International Purser’s decision in the scheduling of crew rest breaks when, in fact, the questions are intended to garner an understanding of the operational need.  As peers, we should be strive to understand each other.

It should be understood that the International Purser has the authority to modify the seniority component of the break schedule in response to legitimate operational needs.  The International Purser does not have the authority to deny Flight Attendants their contractual rest periods or to reduce those rest periods below the contractual minimums.  With this authority comes the responsibility of being able to articulate the reasons behind the decision making.  Accountability and authority go hand in hand.

There are legitimate operational reasons for the International Purser to schedule her/himself in response to these needs.  However, in every instance, the International Purser should strive to ensure that all member of the crew clearly understand those needs and are not left feeling as if the International Purser has scheduled her/himself simply as a matter of convenience or reasons of personal preference.

In every instance where there may be a question about how breaks were scheduled, we recommend that a discussion start with the assistance of our peer AFA Professional Standards representatives. In all cases, it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid involving management in those discussions because, as experience has proven, those situations often don’t turn out as expected.   Working together, talking to each other is the path forward in resolving any misunderstanding.  We strongly encourage everyone to benefit from the experience of our trained Union volunteer professionals who work to increase understanding and to improve our professional relationships.

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