E-Lines: October 30, 2020
October 30, 2020
COVID-19 Safety Strategy
This week we will address some ways to stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the first of a two-part series: “keeping yourself safe” and “keeping us safe.”
The first part which we cover this week is “keeping yourself safe” and includes that which each of us can do in the workplace to protect ourselves. The second part, for next week, includes many of the things we believe United Airlines has the responsibility to do to keep us safe every time we come to work.
Keeping Yourself Safe During COVID-19
We are out on the front-lines every day supporting our country through the essential service we provide. Let’s not forget that.
It is important for each of us to practice safety measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19, not only for our own health and safety, but equally important for our co-workers and passengers. Safety practices are nothing new to our profession. They are at the core of what we do as safety professionals and first responders. Adding this new complexity of virus safety has been confusing and challenging at times, but we’ve successfully incorporated these into our daily routines.
As we move into the fall, and winter, where we anticipate an increase of virus spread, it is critically important to both our health and the success of United Airlines that we continue to be vigilant and not become complacent.
First and foremost:
- Wear a mask or approved face covering
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Whenever possible, practice social distancing
- Wear United approved face shields or safety glasses if you feel the need to protect your eyes
- Advocate for your safety by clearly communicating with your crew prior to each flight the mutual expectations for mask compliance and safety during your briefings
Each of these are essential in containing the further spread of the virus. At the same time, it is also important for each of us to recognize, given the return to some level of normalcy in the daily activities both where we live and work, that maintaining social distancing may not always be under our complete control. In order to safely navigate these changing circumstances, situational awareness is key and vigilance toward essential health practices is important.
We need to understand, try as we might, we may not always be able to keep the desired distance in grocery stores or shopping malls, when riding on public bus and/or trains, including those public transportation vehicles that bring us from either our home or the parking lot to the terminal buildings. While it may not always be possible to practice complete social distancing, while utilizing crew transportation or public transportation on layovers, we do expect strong and reasonable efforts be made to keep us as safe as possible (more on that in the next article). Sacrificing our health or safety for convenience or cost is not an acceptable trade-off.
The advice and guidance from the CDC are invaluable in providing direction on how we can best protect ourselves when faced with these situations:
- Wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth.
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces as much as possible.
- If you must touch these surfaces, as soon as you can, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or rub your hands with sanitizer containing 60% alcohol.
- Avoid crowded spaces when possible, especially at transit stations and stops.
- Consider skipping a row of seats between yourself and other riders, if possible.
- Enter and exit buses through rear entry doors, if possible.
- After you leave the transit station or stop, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
In our workplace, we can adhere to and help enforce the CDC recommended guidelines and United policies in accordance with the direction we’ve already been given.
We should wear our mask from the parking lot/public transit all the way through our duty day until we are inside our hotel room. We need to wear our mask effectively, covering both our mouth and nose while being cognizant of the time and exposure considerations when we need to remove it to eat or drink.
We should kindly and compassionately encourage/remind our co-workers who may forget for a moment about proper mask etiquette to help them avoid getting into any conflict with United’s clear policy on mask wearing while on duty. If an unavoidable conflict does arise, you should contact your local EAP / Professional Standards committee to help assist with the issue. This keeps the issue with AFA and/or the other Unions on United property.
One thing to remember, the pilots have a unique ability to determine “Safety of Flight” decisions. This allows them a mask exception when they are in the flight deck with the door closed. This allows the pilot flying and communicating to determine if a mask impedes their ability to safely operate. Because of this, a pilot may not have a mask on when the Flight Attendant enters the flight deck if they have determined that it may impede communications or their vision while operating. For this reason, as Safety Professionals, we should protect ourselves when we are required to enter the flight deck during flight. You can do this by utilizing the N-95 mask (PPE) provided to us for our safety. Do not rely on someone else doing the right thing for you, we should each protect ourselves whenever accessing the flight deck by ensuring we have placed a N-95 mask on prior to entering especially if you have any concerns. This can serve to relieve any concerns of a pilot who feels they are unable to wear a mask inflight while on the flight deck.
Also, do not be afraid to politely and professionally ask the pilot(s) if they would put a mask on for your safety. We can communicate that we desire for them to do so, however, we cannot mandate that they comply with our request. Of course, the best place to figure all this out is during the pre-flight briefing. Remember, we are on the same team and crew. Discuss with the pilots what their intentions are, and ask questions to be sure everyone is on the same page. In an ideal world, both pilots and Flight Attendants wear their masks for the entire flight, but we do have tools available if the circumstances require otherwise.
We should follow United’s direction to us on politely requesting passenger mask compliance and work to build a bridge of cooperation and empathy with any passengers who need extra encouragement while remaining firm in upholding United’s standards and policies.
As you know, United’s policy is that passengers are required to wear a face covering while on the airplane for the duration of the flight and when in the United portion of any airport we serve, at every step from check-in to baggage claim. They may remove their mask while actively eating and drinking, but then must promptly replace it.
Using the above CDC guidelines, we can apply these safety measures both on and off the aircraft as well.
While on layover, be aware of surfaces you may need to touch while transiting the airport, doors, elevators and crew transportation. Carry hand-sanitizer with you to “touch up” when needed.
Consider using responsible disinfection of your hotel room: light switches, door handles, television remote, lamps and other surfaces. While going overboard isn’t necessary, taking basic precautions for an environment that has been outside of your control is a responsible effort.
There is no single action that will protect us and keep us healthy. It’s the combination of being aware of our surroundings, following the measured guidelines of the CDC and the consistent and proper use of available personal protective equipment (PPE). Through these tips and guidelines, we offer additional guidance on how to stay safe and healthy when presented with less than desirable social distancing opportunities.
This coming Tuesday, we’ll publish part 2 of this update, where we discuss what we need United Airlines to do, to keep us safe.
NAL Vacation Bidding/Trading Strategy
Flight Attendants who are bidding or being assigned to NAL schedules may want to consider certain vacation bidding strategies on how to incorporate their 2021 accrued vacation to work towards meeting their vacation accrual 60/120-hour thresholds in order to earn full vacation credit in 2022.
As set forth in our Contract and illustrated below, certain thresholds need to be met to receive half or full vacation accrual. The accrual process occurs across vacation quarters, which differ from calendar quarters, also shown below.
Hours per quarter required for vacation accrual
0 – 59 hours
60 – 119 hours
September – October – November
December – January – February
March – April – May
June – July – August
In order to meet the 60/120-hour credit accrual thresholds for either half (60) or full accrual (12) while working with having a maximum limit of 35 hours of flight time per month, using vacation can help fill in the gaps when incorporated strategically into our schedule. Recognizing that finding 35 hours each month from ads will be challenging in and of itself, we’ve created some examples on how you may time vacation bidding or vacation trading to help add credit time to your vacation quarters to accrue higher vacation time in 2021.
135 hours = full accrual
105 hours = ½ accrual
47 hours = no accrual
120.3 hours =full accrual
In example 1:
- In September the Flight Attendant finished the month with 120 credit hours before the IVFMP program started. In October and November, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 0 hours in October and 15 hours in November from Ads. As a result of having 135 hours for this vacation quarter, she/he will receive full vacation accrual for the quarter.
- In December January and February, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 35 hours each month from Ads. Having 105 hours, she/he will receive ½ vacation accrual based on her his seniority.
- In March, April and May, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 20, 15 and 12 hours respectively from Ads. Having 47 hours, she/he will receive no vacation accrual.
- In June, July and August, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 35, 34 and 32 hours respectively from Ads. However, in July she/he also had 6-day vacation adding the additional 19:30 credit time. Having 120:30 hours, she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
10 + 19:30
10 + 19:30
20 + 19:30
20 + 19:30
25 + 19:30
120 hours = full accrual
69 hours = ½ accrual
123:30 hours = full accrual
55 hours = no accrual
In example 2:
- In September the Flight Attendant finished the month with 90 hours of paid activity. In October and November, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 20 hours in October and 10 hours in November from Ads. Having 120 hours for this vacation quarter, she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
- In December, January and February, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 10 hours each month from Ads. In December and January, they also had 6-days of vacation each month, giving an additional 19:30 x 2 = 39 hours credit time. Having 69 hours of paid activity, she/he will receive ½ vacation accrual.
- In March, April and May, the Flight Attendant on NAL picked up 20, 20 and 25 hours respectively from Ads. They also had 6-days of vacation each month, giving an additional 19:30 x 3 = 58:30 credit time. Having 123:30 hours she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
- In June, July and August, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 10, 15 and 30 hours respectively from Ads. They had no vacation. Having 55 hours, they receive no vacation accrual.
21 + 19:30
0 + 39
78 + 19.30
120 hours = full accrual
60:30 hours = ½ accrual
123 hours = full accrual
253:30 hours = full accrual
In example 3:
- In September the Flight Attendant held a Reserve line ended the month with 78 credit hours. In October and November, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 20 hours in October and 22 hours in November from Ads. Having 120 hours for this vacation quarter, she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
- In December January and February, the Flight Attendant with the NAL schedule picked up 10 in December, 21 hours in January and 10 hours in February from Ads. In January, they also had 6-days of vacation, giving an additional 19:30 credit time. Having 60:30 hours, she/he will receive ½ vacation accrual.
- In March, the Flight Attendant on NAL picked up 6 hours, in April they held a Reserve Line and finished the month with 78 hours credit, and in May, they again had a NAL schedule and picked up 0 hours, but had 12 days of vacation = 39 hours credit time. Having 123 hours credit for the vacation quarter, she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
- In June, July and August, the Flight Attendant was awarded a Reserve Line completing each month with 78 hours credit. She/he also had 6 vacation days, and elected to do an advance vacation fly-through = 19.30 credit. Having 253:30 of paid activity, she/he will receive full vacation accrual.
While it might be hard to imagine vacation in 2022 and it may seem like a lifetime away, for those with NAL schedules strategic planning now is an important consideration when 2022 arrives.
One Year Seniority Pay Addition
United payroll has identified an issue for those Flight Attendants having one year of service and who have a two-week furlough pay entitlement while on involuntary furlough. There was an improper calculation that was made for this group of Flight Attendants whereby their two-week entitlement was inadvertently split into two payments.
Payroll is aware of the issue and has issued an additional off-cycle paycheck for the second week of furlough pay, and the full amount of pay will be available to these 1,809 Flight Attendants on October 30, 2020, consistent with the terms of our Contract.
Vacation Bidding & Involuntary Furlough
Flight Attendants who have been placed on involuntary furlough should be aware they do not need to bid 2021 vacation periods. As part of the involuntary furlough process, these Flight Attendants were paid for their 2021 vacation as part of their final paycheck.
Because the vacation programming occurred before the involuntary furlough, the accrued 2021 vacation was loaded into Vacation Accrual letters and the vacation program. At that time, no one had been placed on an involuntary furlough and everyone was optimistic that the CARES Act would be enacted. While those on involuntary furlough may see vacation days available to them to bid in CCS, in fact, these days will not be awarded through the vacation bid process.
Vacation Bidding Closes Tomorrow
First round vacation bidding closes tomorrow, October 31 at 0800 HDT.
2021 Flight Attendant Vacation Timeline
Open vacation election period
By September 25
Close Election Period On October 15 By 0800 HDT
Begin First Vacation Bid Period By October 23
Close First Vacation Bid Period
On October 31
By 0800 HDT
Post First Vacation Awards
By November 4
Begin Second Vacation Bid Period
By November 8
Close Second Vacation Bid Period
On November 16
By 0800 HDT
Post Second Vacation Awards
By November 20
Vacation Allocations Published
By November 24
Trades Awarded by Seniority
On November 30
Final Vacation Allocations Published
By December 4
Instant Trading Open
On December 5
For additional information regarding 2021 Vacation bidding reference the 2021 vacation page on Unitedafa.org.
Ready to Vote?
MEC Government Affairs Committee
Election Day is November 3. Through Early or Absentee Voting, millions of Americans have already cast their vote. Voting is at the core of our democratic way of life and every one of us must ensure we exercise this fundamental right.
Third Trimester CBT – Due Tonight!
The Third Trimester CBT is due by 2359 Central Standard Time tonight. Log into TakeOff Learning and select Continuing Qualifications (CQ) 2020 Trimester 3.
Annual Benefits Enrollment Closes Tonight
MEC Benefits Committee
Benefits enrollment for 2021 is closing tonight. If you have not made your selections, we encourage you to do so before it closes. Keep in mind, there will be a period for corrections that will occur after Open Enrollment for inactive employees, including those on Voluntary Furlough, closes on November 13.
Daylight Savings – Fall Back this Sunday
Remember to “fall back” this Sunday, November 1st. On Sunday, at 0200, we turn our clocks back one hour from Daylight Savings time to return to Standard time. Most areas of the US observe daylight savings time with a few exceptions.
E-175 Aircraft Seat Configuration Changes
United Express carriers will be reconfiguring all E-175 aircraft to a maximum capacity of 70 seats and it is expected this work will completed by the end of November. Effective immediately, however, the total passengers that can be boarded on these aircraft is 70. For a time, you may see some aircraft with the 76 physical seats but only 70 seats may be occupied. To be clear, these additional six (6) seats, above the 70-seat threshold, may not be used to accommodate space available passengers or jumpseat riders.
Presidential Election and Hotel Safety
Our MEC Safety, Health and Security Committee has been in communication with United’s Corporate Security Department as it pertains to potential concerns about protest activity as we approach the November 3, 2020 election day. There is a possibility of renewed protest activity and, out of an abundance of caution, precautionary measures to ensure your safety and suitable rest are being put in place. Specifically, in certain cities due to potential disruptions that could impact the quality of your rest or your safety, crews will be moved from downtown to airport locations. Most moves are planned to begin Monday, November 2, 2020. There is an ongoing evaluation of security information that has the potential to drive additional changes. Please review your pairing(s) in CCS for any updated layover information.
Reminder and Quick Links
October 1-31 - Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October 19 - 30th Annual Benefits Enrollment
October 22 - Link Internal Protection Plan Enrollment Opens
October 23 - First round Vacation Bidding Opens
October 30 - Third Trimester CBT Due
October 31 - First Round Vacation Bidding Closes by 8:00 AM HDT
Fall Back Your Clocks – November 1
November 3 – Vote!