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Procedures for Working “Cargo Ferry” Flights

Date: May 9, 2020


Recently, and as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Aviation
 Administration (FAA) authorized carriers to carry certain cargo in the cabin of the aircraft.   In order for United to capture the revenue opportunities made available by this recent authorization, it is necessary to have individuals trained in fire identification and suppression available in the cabin when this cargo is carried.  Flight Attendants are uniquely qualified and possess these skills.

Because our Contract does not address the unique nature of these operations, United Airlines and AFA have entered into a Letter of Agreement to provide for this work to be done by Flight Attendants.  

The Company will be permitted to operate Cargo Ferry Flights utilizing Flight Attendants as follows:

  • The Cargo Ferries must follow all FAA guidelines for safe operation;
  • Flight Attendants will be provided with specific guidelines for the operation of these flights;
  • Cargo Ferries will be staffed with two (2) flight attendants for a narrow-body aircraft and four (4) flight attendants for a wide-body aircraft;
  • One of the flight attendant positions assigned to each International Cargo Ferry will be for an International Purser;
  • One of the flight attendant positions assigned to each Domestic Cargo Ferry will be for a Purser (Domestic);
  • Flight Attendants will be provided with crew rest in accordance with the terms of Section 3.DD. of the JCBA, however in order to insure proper monitoring of the cabin, not more than one (1) Flight Attendant will be on break at any given time;
  • On Cargo Ferry flights, crew rest may be taken in any cabin of the aircraft or in the crew bunks, at each individual Flight Attendant’s discretion, applying the concepts of social distancing;
  • Flight Attendants will not be responsible for loading, unloading or relocating any cargo that is boarded in the cabin, except as may be needed in response to an in-flight emergency situation.

No other terms of our Contract are modified by this Letter of Agreement except those explicitly provided for in the Cargo Ferry Flight Letter of Agreement as listed above.

  • The following are unique differences of which you should be aware when working a cargo ferry flight: 

    Flight Attendants are assigned specific jumpseat 
    or cabin seat positions for taxi, takeoff and landing that give them optimum visibility into the cabin during these critical phases of flight.

  • Flight Attendants have unique monitoring functions to conduct during flight, such as specific timing for cabin walk-throughs.
  • No customers or space-available travelers on board; on occasion there may be deadheading crewmembers and/or cargo specialists on board. 

Cargo Charter pairings will be identified using pairing numbers: 8CCX.

Specific to these flights, a Cargo in Cabin Procedures Guide LINK -> Content Locker->Safety-> Cabin In Cargo Procedures Guide and Cargo Staffing Sheets, LINK ->Content Locker ->Staffing Sheets-> cargo Charter Staffing Sheets, have been developed.  The guide and staffing sheets outline the unique Flight Attendant responsibilities and the approved temporary changes to the standard operating procedures that are specific to these flights and essential for cabin monitoring and enhanced smoke/fire procedures. 

Should you experience any safety concerns while working one of the Cargo Ferry flights, submit an Irregular Operations Report (IOR) or an Inflight Safety Action Program (ISAP) report, as appropriate. Always ensure you check the box to send AFA a copy of your report.

Direct any questions you may have about these flights to your Local Safety, Health and Security Committee.

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