MEC Central Schedule Committee DSL Report
October 11, 2020
DSL Review Information
The System Scheduling (DSL) meeting to review the November 2020 flying assigned at each base/satellite was held on Monday October 5th, 2020. CSC received both the International and Domestic DSLs on Sunday October 4th, 2020 for our review.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and by order of the Governor of the State of Illinois restricting the number of people who can attend meetings, the Company and AFA conducted the Contractually required scheduling meetings via Microsoft Teams video conferencing. In attendance for the company were Tim Wilson, Jason Silber, Kevin Potter, Scott Anderson, Shannon Pisciotto, Jim Carlson, Robert Poleski, Warren Rys, Edith Sanfillip, Kaella Nowac, Lucille Bangura-Doxey, Mary Fran Oates, Mia Corpuz and Mackenzie Ness. Central Schedule Committee (CSC) representatives present on the call included: CSC Chairperson Greg Jacobs, CSC Members Sandy Travis, Brian Fleming and Celeste Bouchard. Council 11 – San Francisco LSC Chairperson Jim Braun as well as LSC member Mimi Muller were also present on the call as guests of AFA.
November is a 31-day month (A) starting Friday 10/30/20 and ending on Sunday, 11/29/20.
Contractual Paid Holiday: Thanksgiving – 11/26 USA & Guam
Other Unpaid Holiday:Halloween – 10/31
Return to Standard Time:
(-1:00) Sunday 01 November at 02:00; U. S., Bahamas (NAS), Canada and some of Mexico
2020 International Changes/Highlights:
Network Operations continues to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both passenger loads and overall demand and is making adjustments based on a continually changing environment affecting the demand for travel. In November, we see the return of some international flying:
IAH/AMS ends 10/30 IAH/GIG eff 11/01 IAH/SCL eff 11/ 01 SFO/TPE eff 11/01 DEN/FRA eff 11/02
Widebody Equipment Changes:
From 777 “N” to 787 “Z” From 787 “Z” to 787 “V”
SFO/FRA eff 11/01 SFO/MUC eff 11/04
SFO/LHR eff 11/01
There are numerous cancellations over the U.S> Thanksgiving Holiday to/from several markets.Holiday reductions start as early as 20 November and run through 29 November.
We started off the meeting reviewing the overall trends; United will schedule an increase in domestic flying, including Mexico and the Caribbean, along with a small increase in International flying.This was reflective in the overall increase in the line averages at many bases, as noted below.
Changes in Flying:
Tim pointed out the return of International flying from Denver with the return of service to Frankfurt starting with a frequency of three (3) times weekly. Houston will also see an increase of flying to the South American cities of Santiago de Chile and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. San Francisco will also see the return of service to Taipei.
While the increase in international is welcome news, Tim also pointed out that looking forward, the Company is not showing the normal transition of flying GUM-NRT from 737’s to 777’s in our schedule and expressed his view that the route will continue to be flown using the 737 for the foreseeable future.
CSC also inquired into the announced launch of non-stop service to Shanghai out of San Francisco, eliminating the current stopover in Seoul as it was noticed that the DSL published by the Company for November reflected no non-stop flights. Tim informed us that this was a very last-minute change and the optimization of the flying had already been completed when Network Operations added the flights to the schedule at the last-minute.CSC expressed concern that any Flight Attendants who would bid and be awarded the PVG pairings through ICN would, as a consequence of this unincorporated schedule change, be made subject to reassignment because of the changes to the foot print of the pairings. Tim acknowledged our concern with regard to the upcoming changes to the PVG pairings after bids are awarded and committed to reaching out to the crew desk to make sure that the affected Flight Attendants would be able to remain on the adjusted pairings.
International Purser Re-activations:
Tim notified CSC that with the boost of International flying out of DEN, IAH, and SFO, the Company would need to reactivate some International Pursers that were recently been declared surplus from their respective Purser bases.Denver, Houston, and San Francisco would each activate five (5) International Pursers for the November bid month.
When CSC began to review the November DSL, we noticed a change to the way the Company was building certain trips in several locations.
First, CSC noted to the Company that both Tel Aviv flights from/to EWR (84/85 & 90/91) were no longer paired together, first in/first out, to provide consistent flying for the Flight Attendants; CSC even pointed out to the Company that on any given day, some Flight Attendants would be working different return flights and wanted clarification as to why the optimizer program was pairing the TLV pairings inconsistently. There was no clear answer given and the analyst said that they would review the process. CSC requested that the flights be sequenced together, first in/first out, to provide the desired consistency of day flying and night flying as well as to facilitate buddy bidding as provided for in our Contract. The company’s response was that if there wasn’t a cost applied to the programming change, they would pair the flights together as requested by the Union. CSC did point out that we had encountered this same scenario over a year ago and changes were made to place 84/85 back together, along with 90/91.
CSC also noticed a proposed change to a particular pairing out of Guam in which the Company has reverted back to pairing an overnight MNL turn with a morning SPN turn, which has the Flight Attendants on a lengthy overnight duty period. The Guam Flight Attendants have expressed concern regarding this pairing in the past and CSC worked with the Company to adjust the pairing in order to provide two separate pairings which would be less taxing on Flight Attendants health and wellbeing, while providing for a better quality of life. For the month of November, the company declined to make any changes to the pairing and stated that they would take a look at the pairing moving forward with an eye toward alternative options. It was stressed by the company that at this point in time, cost savings were very important and they would be almost exclusively focusing on efficiency to all pairings.
CSC also noted that we saw no Spanish Language flying assigned at either SFO or DEN, even though we see Latin America trips transitioning through these domiciles. We expressed our concern that since there would be no Spanish Language base in the noted domiciles, the Company would not be able to recrew the language positions. CSC in working with our Local Councils have been monitoring this particular issue for October in LAX, from which LAX-SAL & LAX-GUA depart the station. Los Angeles for the month of October does not have a Spanish language base and a pattern has been noted in which the out of base language qualified Flight Attendant is not in position to operate the Latin America flight segment; the crew desk is therefore having to replace the position with a non-language position. The Company acknowledged the reliability issue that was currently happening at LAX with these pairings. For the month of November, LAX would have a Spanish Language base to cover Latin America flying while, at the same time, the company recognized their inability to recrew Spanish language positions at both SFO & DEN for the month of November, which they committed to reviewing our concerns and are following up as to how they plan on addressing the issue for the long term.
CSC also addressed discrepancies with regard to designated German language qualified flying that was being assigned to the LHR base within the LHR-IAD-MUC-IAD-LHR. CSC pointed out that there were 3-day pairings on certain days that showed a German language position on LHR-IAD-LHR which we inquired into why the company had designated them as German language qualified flying. After looking into the pairing, analysts stated those segments were originally part of the six-day transatlantic crossing which was partially canceled over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Tim agreed that those positions would not be designated as requiring a German language qualification and directed that they be designated as non-language.
Tim did inform CSC, for the month of September, there is an ongoing effort to requalify a very large number of Flight Attendants who have been away from the job on extended COLAs. They are currently being scheduled for their appropriate training and he did acknowledge that there would still be some Flight Attendants who will not be qualified to fly by the bidding deadline of October 17. He does anticipate that this will be the last month in which a large portion of Flight Attendants will not able to bid because of their NQ status.
CSC will continue to review open time and make adjustments to the number of hours set aside at the start of the process to ensure compliance with Section 7.G.1. Keep in mind, the open time that is set aside at the start of the process is used for two purposes: initially for self-adjustments as well as to comply with the requirements set forth in Section 7.G.1.
For the month of November the company, in consultation with CSC, increased the amount of open time held to account for changes in the fall out from vacation relief. In our review of the open time, CSC noticed that several locations were short and upon investigation, it was determined that less vacation time is falling out; as a result, this fallout cannot be incorporated into vacation relief schedules and to account for the change, the international allotment was increase by thirty mins (30) to one hour (1:30) per primary line-holder.
CSC also reminded the company that despite their claims that broken pairings cannot be repaired before the opening of the real time trading window on the 23rd of the month, all time set aside by the LSCs during the primary line construction process needs to be available for real time trades in order for the company to meet their open time obligation under Section 7.G.1. as well as to comply with the requirements of Section 7.A.1.We will continue to pursue compliance with both of these sections of the Agreement.
Additionally, when reviewing the open time outcome for the October 2020 bid month, the company was unable to offer an explanation as to why Cleveland had approximately six (6) hours of open time per primary lineholder at the start of the trip trade window. When CSC inquired into why Seattle’s numbers also came in at six (6) hours per primary line holder, we were informed that it was due to a high number of pairings dropped due to vacation which could not be incorporated into vacation relief lines. CSC will be following up with the Local Schedule Committees at all of our bases to enlist their support and assistance in tracking this open time in an effort to ensure the contractual open time is available while, at the same time, working to ensure as many primary lineholders as possible.
CSC also expressed concerns about the discrepancies in line averages around the system. Tim acknowledged the increase in overall line averages in many North American bases. He stated that the company still has a large imbalance in many bases and has processed some transfers for the month of November to assist with this disparity. Elaborating further, he stated that the company is hopeful that they can address the imbalance, if not fully, at least partially through the transfer process moving forward but will continue to be cautious with the hope that the CARES Act is extended. Currently they continue to balance the flying by forcing flying into some locations while utilizing the provisions of Section 7.A.5 for the bases that are understaffed. Tim noted that we should continue to see the Company process transfers to certain bases in the event the CARES Act is not extended, as we approach the December bid month.
Tim informed CSC that the Company would be offering only one (1) month duration Special COLAS for November to help provide an easier transition with manpower if there is an extension of the CARES ACT during or preceding the month of November, while moving forward into December and next year they will evaluate offering multi-month options if possible. Tim also informed CSC that EWR, DEN, and HNL would be awarding little, if any, Special COLAS for November due to increased flying and an insufficient active population.
NAL (NO ACTIVITY LINES):
Given that the company plans to award Special COLAs for November, Tim stated that the award of no activity lines (NALs) will be restricted to those in the IVFMP for November 2020, except for the above listed bases of EWR, DEN, and HNL. Tim said that for those Flight Attendants in EWR, DEN, and HNL that have an expressed interested in bidding for the no activity lines, the Company will be sending out further communication that include instructions and deadlines for submitting their NAL requests.
Domestic Meeting Information
For the month of September pairings with layovers at SAP, RAP, PNS and OGG were again missing hotel information. CSC did inquire as to why we continue to have missing hotel information for these hotels when we ask month after month, for which the Company had no explanation. We informed our MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee following the meeting as well as initiated a discussion with the MEC Officers in regards to why this information continues to be lacking in the DSL, and ultimately the scheduled pairings.
Changes to the Optimizer:
Scott indicated that the company has chosen to continue with buffer settings in their optimizer which we saw in the October pairings. More specifically, the company looks at a three (3) year rolling historical arrival metric; if flights are arriving earlier for given city pairs, then the required connections for those city pairs decrease in the optimizer. Conversely, if the flights for a given city pair start to arrive late, then the connecting time in the optimizer increases. Our review of the DSL reflected similar sit times from the October to November schedule month with longer sit times during certain times of the day at various hub locations.
Lengthy Discussion around All night Flying
CSC noted an unusually high number of all-night segments that occurred in the middle of a pairing or had a morning flight following an all-night segment. CSC expressed concern about these pairings as they were being proposed to be flown, given that many were in multi-day pairings that alternated circadian rhythms within the pairing. CSC recommended management honor their commitment to not schedule (day – all night – day) flying within the same pairings whenever possible, in order to address the adverse impact on sleep cycles.
Additionally, we also expressed our concerns with other all-night pairings where Flight Attendants would be ending with a morning segment following an all-night segment. Our concern is that they could then potentially be driving home in heavy traffic after a lengthy duty period during the middle of the night. CSC requested that the Company take another review of several of these pairings which we felt had potential adverse effects on the overall health and wellbeing of the Flight Attendants. While the Company did acknowledge that the November schedule did see an increase in the domestic market and many of flights included all-night segments, the Company stated they had changed the way pairings were being built to add efficiency and provide overall cost savings. In the strictest sense, they were going to adhere to the parameters of the contract.
Domestic Pairing Change Requests
CSC also requested several pairings in the LAX base to be split into two separate pairings that would provide additional variety in flying, but we were informed that most of the splits would create additional trip rigs and therefore would not be permitted. Only one accommodation was made as again.
On September 23rd the company awarded a total of 168 transfers to the following bases/satellites reporting for the November schedule:
For the month of November, the company has decided that all bases with utilization (line averages) in the high eighties would have twelve (12) day off Reserve lines, with the remaining bases staying with all sixteen (16) day off lines. Only twelve (12) and sixteen (16) day off Reserve lines will be offered as follows:
CSC again inquired into how the company plans to address more than six (6) day pairings, specifically those with only one flight into and out of the station such as the 7-day pairings being flown in Houston to South America. After an evaluation of all the destinations to which these pairings are being flown, it is the company’s position that options exist to deadhead Reserves off-line on other carriers to get the Reserves down and in position to work the return flight home. No Reserve schedules will be built with Reserve blocks having more than (six) 6 consecutive days of availability anywhere on the system.
*** These are the total number of Pairings picked up from each of the bases indicated.In addition, we’ve identified the total percentage of that bases’ flying that is being done by out of base Flight Attendants ***
Contract Compliance Information
Local Schedule Committees should continue to construct lines of flying using patterns appropriate to the line average for the crew complement and the company’s established targets.The 95-hour flight time maximum limitations shall not apply to line construction. Priority will be given to scheduling pure lines of flying. Please continue to submit patterned lines even if the value of the line exceeds 95 hours. Contact Central Schedule Committee should you have lines rejected by the company or if you have questions or concerns. CSC makes every effort to review all pairings, including weekend and exception pairings, during the domestic DSL review process.We recognize the volume of trips we are all working with has grown exponentially and it is easy to miss errors.We bring this to your attention to heighten your awareness this might occur and ask your cooperation by completing a review of your DSL.
CSC reminds all Local Schedule Committees of the need to review the relief lines of flying published by the company as soon as possible to ensure that they are indeed contractually compliant and represent the recommendations of your Local Schedule Committee. Local Schedule Committees are responsible for ensuring the relief award complies with the language of LOA 12 of the Contract and that line averages for the domicile are consistent with the provisions of Sections 7.A.3. – 5 of our Contract.
We remind all Local Schedule Committee Chairpersons that as soon as possible after reviewing the DSL, when you submit Line of Flying recommendations, the Local Schedule Committee Chairperson should make recommendations to the company as to the sequencing of trips for Relief and Reserve move-up lines. These recommendations are to be considered in the construction of lines. Please copy CSC in on these recommendation letters.
Pursuant to Section 7.A.3., lines of flying must be constructed so the average of all lines at each base is not less than sixty-nine (69) hours.We emphasize the Local Schedule Committees must review the line averages for the primary and relief lines as a whole.If you find the line average of the primary and relief lines falls below sixty-nine (69) hours, please contact a member of Central Schedule Committee immediately.
We remind all Local Schedule Committees, Section 7.A.4. requires that domestic and international lines of flying shall be constructed so the average at each domicile is no more than 88 hours credited flight time each month.Should averages in the primary bid package approach this 88-hour maximum, we remind you of the importance of monitoring the average of the vacation relief lines to ensure compliance with the Contract.
Note: While flying assigned to Guam is considered International for pay purposes, for compliance with Section 7.Y.2.a, block hours assigned do not count toward the international domicile cap since Guam is a US territory.
November 2020 International Flying Summary