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E-Lines: November 20, 2020

Date: November 20, 2020

Second Round Awards & Vacation Trades by Seniority

The Second Round Vacation Awards were published earlier this week.  The next step in the process is Open Time Trades by Seniority: 

  • After the annual vacation award, all available vacation days remaining will be published and the Open Time Trades by Seniority trade window will open on November 24th at 0800 (HDT) and will close on November 30th at 8:00 (HDT).
  • You can view Open Vacation Time Allocations from the myVacation page and selecting the “to view Vacation Open Time Click Here”
  • Create Requests between November 24th and November 30th
  • There are multiple options for criteria as well as the ability to modify and delete requests 

The system processes all requests for a Flight Attendant until one is awarded or until their requests are exhausted and no trades can be made. The order in which requests are processed is based on the “Request Priority” specified by the Flight Attendant while submitting each OT Trade by Seniority trade request. 

The system moves through the list of trade requests in seniority order, either awarding a trade or leaving the trade request as unawarded if no trades are possible for the specified dates. When the system has passed through all trade requests, it begins again with the most senior Flight Attendant and passes through any trade requests that remain unawarded in the event that a trade can now be made. 

Once a trade request has been awarded, the system will no longer look back at that particular request to see if a higher preference trade request date has become available. 

The system continues this process until all possible trades have been granted.

Full details about this process, how to view allocations, and instructions on submitting/changing/removing requests is reviewed thoroughly on our Vacation Page: https://unitedafa.org/schedule/vacation/

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 by Seniority Open

November 24


Trades Awarded by Seniority

On November 30


January Vacation Fly Through Opens

On December 1


Final Vacation Allocations Published

By December 4


January Vacation Fly Through closes at 10:00 HDT

On December 5


Instant Trading Open

On December 5

8:00 A LDT

For additional information regarding 2021 Vacation bidding reference the 2021 vacation page on Unitedafa.org.

Requests for 2021 Vacation Fly Through & Trades Between Flight Attendants

Requests for Vacation Fly Through for 2021 vacations may be placed on file starting December 1st. However, if you are requesting a vacation fly through involving a vacation that starts in the January (including vacations that overlap into February) schedule month vacation, you must have those requests on file no later than 10:00AM HDT on December 5th.  

In addition, trades between Flight Attendants opens on December 1st at 8:00AM HDT. 

Instant Vacation Trades

Instant vacation trades open at 8:00AM HDT on December 5, 2020. 

 United Doubles-Down on Third-Party Application Policy

United recently issued an Inflight Scheduling Alert notifying Flight Attendants of the corporate decision to eliminate all third-party applications. Their communication reinforced that this would include third-party suppliers who have provided a variety of services, including monthly schedule bidding services, for some number of years. By limiting the access these vendors have to United’s proprietary systems, these vendors will have no choice but to end their relationships with us as soon as early February just prior to bidding for the March schedule month begins.  On a going forward basis, United further clarifies only United “approved” software will be allowed and by this, reference is being made to applications developed by United’s IT group.

As we all know, the tools United uses to develop the pairings that populate our monthly schedules has become more complex and sophisticated over time.  We rightfully should expect that the tools they provide us should be similarly complex in their technology.  As an example, United has used its pairing optimizer to sequence the network flight schedule (which has been optimized on a daily basis) into the pairings we fly. These pairings are derived from what is often referred to a United’s “best flown solution.” As a result, many times in the domestic markets, there are no two pairings that are exactly the same from day to day.  As a result, especially at the larger bases, you may have to bid hundreds of times to cover yourself. Accomplishing this will require sophisticated computer logic to serve our needs.

We call on United to continue to invest significantly in development of the products they plan to offer as replacements.

United’s UBid software has been designed by their IT department.  While we have no reason to question the capability of those responsible for this development, it’s important to point out the unique nature of Flight Attendant schedules.  Perhaps not all of those nuances have been completely understood.  Your Union will continue to work and engage United’s IT department to identify and implement our needs into their technology and will follow through on management’s commitment to meaningfully improve tools such as UBid.

 The Return of the 737 MAX  

This past Wednesday, United communicated to Flight Attendants that they plan to return the 737 MAX to service in the first quarter of 2021. This follows on the certification of the MAX this week by the FAA, and United’s need to train pilots.

How United plans to assure the public the plane is safe to fly as well as procedures for rebooking remain unrefined.  Likewise, as United moves forward, we will be looking to their communications to reassure Flight Attendants of the safety of the aircraft and plans to address our concerns as they come up – as well as how we can address passenger concerns and questions when we are at work.

 MEC Meeting Concludes

The United Master Executive Council conducted our virtual Fall 2020 Regular Meeting this week on November 19 and 20, 2020. Meeting summaries are available on our website.

During the course of business, the MEC received updates from the MEC President, Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer while our MEC Government Affairs and Membership Engagement Committees provided annual reports. In closed sessions held on each of the afternoons, the MEC received an update from our Negotiating Committee and engaged in Open Discussion to review and debate on a number of topics relevant to individual Councils and issues import our membership as a whole.  

Consistent in the discussions on all topics, the MEC Officers and Local Council Presidents, over and over, reiterated their resolve and commitment to the thousands of involuntary furloughed Flight Attendants, and thousands of Flight Attendants on IVFMP, and our solidarity to the Flight Attendants affected by the International Base Closures, and Surplus in GUM.

Elections were conducted for the MEC Central Schedule, Communications Committee and

Daily Summaries are available on our website.

 Deadline for Enrollment for Link Protection Program. 

 We are in the final days to enroll in the full year Link Protection Plan.  If you are interested in the full year protection, you must enroll by November 30, 2020. Please review additional information on our website.

 Dependent Care and Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts

Given the number of different status possibilities as a result of the recent Reduction in Force, we continue to receive questions on Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (HCFSA) and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (DCFSA) how contributions are processed and when they are discontinued.

It cannot be emphasized enough, that while there are similarities in how these contributions are processed, they are directly tied to the status of the individual Flight Attendant. It is not a one size fits all answer.

Voluntary Furlough:

HCFSA: Payroll deducted contributions end but individual can elect to contribute via COBRA through the end of the year.

Note: *COBRA contributions are after tax* 

DCFSA: Contributions terminate (IRS Rule).

Involuntary Furlough:

HCFSA: Payroll deducted contributions end but individual can elect to contribute via COBRA through the end of the year. 

Note: *COBRA contributions are after tax* 

DCFSA: Contributions terminate (IRS Rule)

Involuntary Furlough Mitigation Program (IVFMP)

HCFSA: Continued after tax contributions via direct bill and pay available through the end of the year. 

DCFSA: Contributions terminate (IRS Rule)

Special COLA 

 HCFSA: Continued after tax contributions via direct bill and pay available through the end of the year. 

DCFSA: Contributions terminate (IRS Rule)

If you have additional questions, please contact your Local Council Benefits Committee.

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