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Special E-Lines, March 4, 2020

Date: March 4, 2020

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today there have been a number of communications from the company regarding changes to the April aircraft schedule.  We understand that many of these communications, not seemingly well coordinated, have raised a number of questions.

Earlier in the day, following the release of news articles in the press reporting “United slashes flights and freezes hiring”, Oscar sent a communication to employees addressing how the company planned to reduce international and domestic schedules in response to a reduced demand for travel.  In his communication, he detailed International and Domestic Network changes, addressed how change fees for customers would be handled and introduced a concept of voluntary unpaid leaves of absence for employees

tt wasn’t until much later in the day that Inflight released a publication advising Flight Attendants of the availability of additional Special COLAs of 1-, 2- and 6-month durations as well as the availability of Jobshares & a Special COLA for the May schedule month.  We trust that this information provided additional clarity to Oscar’s message.

AFA has been in discussion with management in the days immediately preceding these announcements.  Operating within an environment where the company has indicated it has never in its history been better positioned to withstand this economic uncertainty, AFA made a number of recommendations to provide additional flexibility and to address staffing issues:

·         Offering COLAs of a longer duration, perhaps as long as six-months.

·         The award of additional March Special COLAs was under review on Friday (2/28).

·         AFA requested the company provide additional vacation allocations for the summer months.

·         AFA requested the company consider additional Jobshares and partnerships.

·         AFA requested the company consider an increase in the daily PTO allocations.

·         The company acknowledged they will continue to review and award personal drops.

In addition, addressing our Members concerns on the lack of available opportunities to increase time, we brought forward the issue reported by more than one Local Council where scheduling is not staffing flights based on Established Staffing Guidelines (ESG) on those flights where a widebody aircraft was re-deployed as an aircraft substitution in the domestic market.  We have addressed this issue for management to resolve and have received a commitment these positions will be placed in open time.  

It is important that we’re clear – all of these items that provide the company the ability to react to these changing circumstances and that provide each of us additional schedule flexibilities are based on provisions in our Contract.  We negotiated these provisions in the interest of our Members and trust these provisions will provide the additional flexibility necessary to weather this period of adversity. 

Please review our full article on www.unitedafa.org that provides details of the time off/reduced schedule programs as well as the revised bid timeline for April.  We remain in contact with management daily and will continue our advocacy on behalf of our Members.  As additional details become available, we will ensure we share this information with you. 

In Solidarity,

Ken Diaz, President

United Master Executive Council

Coronavirus Impacts Development of Flight Attendant Schedules in April and beyond

The schedule building process for the last few months has been significantly impacted by the changes made to the world-wide aircraft schedule as United management responds to the impact of Covid-19, Coronavirus in February and March.  As the impact of the coronavirus is felt in other parts of the world, further revisions to the aircraft schedule are necessary in response to changing passenger demand.  The timing of these schedule revisions will have an impact on the development of Flight Attendant schedules for April.  

Because of the market driven late changes to the aircraft schedule and subsequent delayed handoff to Crew Schedule Planning, changes to the bidding timeline are necessary. At this point, the process is 10 days behind schedule. A revised April aircraft schedule is expected from Network Planning at some point today. Once received, the company’s pairing analysts will begin work to develop a new April flight schedule.  Once completed, our Central Schedule Committee and Local Schedule Committees will work to create schedules that include the most up to date flying.

In order to ensure we include all aspects of the scheduling development process, the timeline related to bidding, awarding, and other scheduling items related to April schedules will need to be modified. The modified timeline is as follows:

Primary bid period opens:                                  March 17 @ 0800 Local                 5-day delay

Primary bid period closes/award begins:             March 21 @ 0800 Local

Primary award line numbers visible:                   March 22 @ 0800 Local

Finalized primary award loaded:                         March 22 @ 1700 Local

Mutual trading begins:                                       March 22 @ 1700 Local

EOM conflicts dropped:                                     March 23 @ 2359 Central                      4-day delay

EOM mutual trades suspended:                         March 23 @ 2359 Central

Self-adjustments begin:                                     March 24 @ 0600 Central                          

Vacation Relief bid period opens:                       March 24 @ 2000 Local

Self-adjustments end:                                        March 25 @ 0600 Central

Vacation Relief bid period ends/award begins:    March 26 @ 0800 Local                                   

Real-time trading begins:                                   March 27 stagger/brackets*

Real-time trading re-opens:                                March 28 @ 0700 Local

Real time trading closes:                                   March 30 @ 0700 Local

Seniority trading begins:                                    March 30 @ 1500 Local    3-day delay

Real-time trading re-starts:                                 March 30 @ 2100 Local

April schedule month begins:                             March 31 @ 0001 Local

Move-up line building window starts:                  March 31 @ 0001 Local     No delay

Move-up line building window ends:                   April 4 @ 2359 Local                 

The exact time-of-day for each bases’ respective trade window will remain unchanged.  

Hong Kong (HKGSW)

We do not anticipate scheduling flying from Hong Kong until April 30.  Communications with HKG Flight Attendants will be directed through the base.

International Purser Opt Out for April 

We will delay the deadline for International Pursers to request an Opt Out for the month of April. The new deadline for the International Purser Opt Out will now be Tuesday, March 10 at 08:00 a.m. Home Domicile Time. 

Redeployment of Widebody Aircraft  

For the month of March, Network Planning has redeployed some of the widebody aircraft that will no longer be flying international flights  exclusively for hub-to-hub domestic routes, particularly trans-cons, along with up-gauging aircraft to certain spring break and warm weather destinations. Widebody redeployments for April are expected to continue within the domestic operation.

Special COLAs

These revised schedules provide opportunities for the company to offer additional time off options for Flight Attendants.  Please note the availability of the following time off periods:

·         April 1-month 

·         April-May 2-months 

·         April-September 6-months (new) 

·         May 1-month (new)

Previously, management offered Special COLAs for the 1-month (April) and 2-month (April-May) time periods. The bid period to submit requests to participate in these Special COLA awards will be extended. The new deadline to request a Special COLA is Sunday March 15, at 08:00 a.m. Central Time. 

Flight Attendants who submit their requests after bids close will be waitlisted for the Special COLA. Should the opportunity to award additional Special COLAs present itself, management will do so on a first-come, first-awarded basis.  

New: A 6-month Special COLA option, starting in April and ending the last day of the of September schedule month, will be offered.  This option is now available for all active Flight Attendants to consider, including any Flight Attendant currently on a Special COLA.  Please review the Special COLA documents found on Flying Together. 

One word of caution:  With any longer Special COLA, there is always the possibility, depending on travel demand that you may be called back to work prior to the end of the awarded Special COLA.  Section 15 of our Contract, as well as the Special COLA packets available on Flying Together, provide additional information.

New: The company will be offering a 1-month Special COLA in May and will consider other months during the summer.  

Jobshares/COLA for the May Schedule month

Jobshare and a 1-month COLA options will open for the May schedule month and the request window will run from March 6th-20th(Section 16.B.1.a).   You can submit a Jobshare or COLA request at the same time as a 1-month Special COLA for May. The Special COLA will close and be awarded before any Jobshare/COLA is awarded. 

The number of Jobshares/COLAs awarded will be determined after reviewing our staffing requirements upon completion of the Special COLA award for May. 

NOTE: Special COLAs include active employee medical benefits and are being offered in conjunction with JobShare/COLA. If interested in a COLA only, consider the Special COLA prior to submission.

Annual Partnerships

We have been told, because of the uncertainty resulting from the market driven changes in the industry, annual partnerships will not be awarded.  Management will, however, continue to review opportunities for multi-month partnerships, jobshares and COLAs in the months ahead.

Line Average Forecast

We should all expect to see lower than typical line averages in the upcoming months including during the traditional peak summer travel months. Lower line averages will impact all bases as determined by overall customer demand for travel.

Reserve Lines 

We expect management will continue to explore opportunities to build Reserve schedules having more than the minimum 12 days off (Section 8.I.1.j) with a proportionate reduction in guarantee.  When feasible, these Reserve schedules will be included in your monthly bid packet.  

In conclusion

The coronavirus impact over the past few months has been challenging for all of us in the travel industry.   We recognize that these disruptions have a direct impact on your work and personal lives.  Be assured that our efforts are directed at minimizing the impact resulting from these market driven adjustments.  

Thank you for your patience and understanding as together we work through the many changes resulting from these network disruptions.  The Union’s objective is to work with Crew Schedule Planning to deliver the best possible schedules to the Flight Attendant community and we are committed to doing so with the least disruption possible.


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