MEC Central Schedule Committee SWLOF Report
July 16, 2020
Build and Review
The Line Review (SWLOF) meeting for August 2020 line recommendations was held remotely due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as restrictions imposed by the governor of the State of Illinois; CSC Members Celeste Bouchard, Shaun Christopher Washington and Sandy Travis were remotely available for line review & assistance as well as Chair emeritus Jo Fullerton. August is a 30-day month beginning Friday, July 31st and ending Saturday, August 29th. Line averages at all locations varied between 69:00 and 71:07 domestically, while internationally line averages varied from 69:05 to 69:46. The only locations assigned international flying were EWR, ORD, IAD, IAH, SFO and GUM. All domestic locations and satellites had flying assigned for the month of August.
Continued Low Line Averages
The continued impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic created difficulties this month for all locations. For August all locations had an overall line average at or above 69:00 consistent with the requirements of Section 7.A.3. of our Contract, although and as a natural consequence of a 69-hour line average, some lines constructed for the month of August had values less than the minimum of 71:00 hours.
While the company has established a 69-hour line average, that does not negate the requirement to submit pure lines of flying as outlined in Sections 7.A.4 and 7.A.5 of the agreement. Furthermore, these lines should be in pattern as outlined in Section 7.A.7. For a 69-hour average that means in many instances it would be natural to select a four trips per line pattern for East Coast Bases to Europe (16-hour trip), or three per line on the West Coast (22-hour trip). In cases of where it is necessary to submit recommendations with mixed flying due to the line averages (for example a 27 hour trip which would not support three trips at 81 hour and two trips only equates to 54 hours), than it is imperative to select trips that fly in the same direction to avoid disruptions in circadian-rhythms; should it be impossible to select trips in the same direction, than recommendations from the LSCs must have as much time off as possible (generally 7 days is preferred) between trips heading in opposite directions in order to prevent conflicts in the sleep cycle. Please reach out to any member of CSC should you have questions.
CSC reminds Local Schedule Committee Chairpersons of their responsibility to check the award of the company’s vacation relief lines to ensure the average of all lines, in combination with the primary line awards, do not fall below the minimum required base average of 69 hours per Section 7.A.3.
Also, we continue to remind the LSCs to check the Cover Letter at their locations for the accuracy of the information posted as there continues to be errors in the published bid package. The sooner you check for accuracy, the quicker CSC can get it corrected and avoid disruptions to the Flight Attendants Schedule.
Issues with the August Build
CSC was contacted on Wednesday, July 8th and informed about changes to the China flying out of SFO. More specifically, the PVG route was being pulled from schedule as United did not receive authorization to land with passengers from the US non-stop. In its place, the company was going to operate an additionally frequency to ICN twice a week; this flight would have passengers continuing on to Shanghai, local traffic between ICN and PVG would not be permitted, and there would be a crew change in Seoul. The company was planning on operating the SFO-ICN-PVG-ICN-SFO as a 6-day pairing with the ICN-PVG-ICN portion flown as a turn. When CSC had the conversation with the company they did not have the schedule from Network planning and could not make a determination if this sequence could be flown as a turn based on scheduled landing/takeoff slots at ICN & PVG. Advanced Schedule Planning indicated they wanted it to be flown as a turn in order to avoid an 8 or 9 day paring which included a significant cost increase. CSC inquired about changing the Reserve coverage patterns in San Francisco in preparation for this longer trip and we were told that was not ideal. CSC then advocated to management that the flight be staffed with an additional Flight Attendant above the FAA minimum, including the augmented staffing. Jason Silber stated he would look into that request. The removal of the PVG flight at SFO resulted in a loss of 92 lineholders for the month of August in that location.
On Thursday the 9th, CSC was informed by the company that Guam to Narita service was being pulled down with trips on the 7th through the 11th as well as the 13th no longer operating. Based on these changes the company was reducing the number of lines in the three Flight Attendant crew complement by 1 line and increasing the one Flight Attendant crew complement by 1 line, and decreasing the 1 Flight Attendant Japanese LQ crew complement by 1 line resulting in a net total loss of three lineholders. Due to these changes impacting the entire set of recommendations CSC reached out to the LSC in Guam who was available to make the adjustments and sent them into the company before the midnight deadline.
CSC was also contacted by the company on Thursday the 9th in regards to the Reserve recommendations. Specifically, the company was not going to accept the IAD Dutch reserve lines as they no longer anticipated awarding any Dutch Qualified reserves. When CSC inquired into the logic of this as there remains Dutch Qualified flying in Dulles, we were told that COLA requests were high and that the company would rather award COLA than staff a language reserve. Should the flight require a language Reserve, the open position would be covered first by a Reserve qualified in a different language such as French or German or covered by a non-language qualified Reserve.
Post DSL Meeting Follow-Up
CSC received follow-up from our questions asked at the DSL meeting. First, were informed that the company was announcing the inauguration of ORD to TLV service intending to fly it three days a week. The company plans to award transfers into ORD for Hebrew qualified Flight Attendants only.
Second, United has indeed been awarded military contracts and the company has been placing those into open time. We have been the airline of choice for the government for the months of May through July, but at the time of publication the company did not know if this was going to continue.
Third, there remains no update on the permit status to land in Delhi. As a reminder the company is expected to resume service into Delhi at the end of this month (July) and has published a full operation for the month of August. CSC expressed concern about the publication of schedules where we do not have the authorization to fly as failure to obtain the authorization has the potential to result in a large number of re-assignments.
Lastly, there remains no update on the Island Hopper service being returned to full time. Council 14 had asked this question of the company when they were the guest at our prior meeting seeking to inquire its full return and which base it would be flown by.
Voluntary Furlough Announcement
On Wednesday July 8th, the Company announced the intention to furlough 15,100 Flight Attendants.
In the event there are an insufficient number of voluntary furlough bids, involuntary furlough will be imposed using inverse system seniority order. Flight Attendants with and junior to System classification seniority (SW) date of 11.09.1996 (System Seniority number 10,210) are potentially subject to involuntary furlough. This determination has been made based on the June 23, 2020 System Seniority List.
Voluntary Furlough offerings are required per Section 18 of the JCBA and will be offered in increments of 8 and 13 months. Additionally, after the voluntary furlough award, Furlough Mitigation Partnerships will be reviewed and awarded per Section 16.A.2.C. with a 13-month duration.
Voluntary Furlough Bidding Timeline:
July 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM CT
July 30, 2020 at 8:00 AM CT
July 31, 2020 by 5:00 PM CT
Furlough Mitigation Partnership Bidding Timeline:
July 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM CT
August 19, 2020 at 8:00 AM CT
August 19, 2020 by 5:00PM CT
Additional information is available on our covid-19 recovery resource page on www.unitedafa.org/covid-19.
As a reminder when your solutions are complete and ready to send to the company please make sure that you are titling them as “LSC FINAL”. There have been some instances of confusion when the Local Schedule Committee sends in their recommendations without the solution name as “LSC FINAL”. To prevent delays in processing your recommendations and to eliminate the possibility of Crew Schedule Planning pulling and publishing the wrong solution, please name your case as “LSC FINAL”
Additionally, CSC and Crew Schedule Planning have had conversations about the best way for each LSC to indicate which lines contain trips that are to be designated to seed open time. As a reminder, the LSCs are requested to send in their recommendations with the lines allotted for open time adjustments locked and located at the bottom (last lines) of the package. As an additional clarification, we also strongly recommend that you state which lines you are planning to allocate for open time adjustments in the comments section when you finalize your case; doing so will speed up the completion of your recommendations.
CSC and Crew Schedule Planning mutually understand spreadsheets will no longer be sent automatically to the LSCs for Reserve cases of seven (7) or fewer lines. However, the practice has been preserved. If you wish to receive a spreadsheet for cases of seven (7) lines or less, please email, firstname.lastname@example.org
When importing your spreadsheets into RESPlan please make sure all of the spreadsheet boxes have been filled in with one of the following: R, X, or *. If any of the boxes lack any of these characters it will result in an error loading of your information into RESPlan.
Note: Single day off patterns should now be accepted in all locations. If there are any questions, please contact your CSC Representative.
If meeting the 3+ targets becomes difficult, check the company’s solution to see if they have indeed met their own targets. This can be down by selecting the notepad with a small eye in the lower right-hand corner of the picture. If the company’s solution does not meet their own requirements please contact CSC immediately.
Lastly, there continue to be instances where the spreadsheets are being sent to LSCs with incorrect information, such as longest trip length, which will affect the selection of patterns used and how fresh starts are calculated. CSC has also been advised of errors where the spreadsheet information (such as targets) differ from that which is loaded into ResPlan. It is imperative that you evaluate the spreadsheets sent to you to ensure their accuracy; we STRONGLY advise that you do so as close to the time you receive them due to the shorter time frame to submit Reserve recommendations. Should you run into issues, please contact Jim Veart at the email address above and copy in CSC on any communication so that we can assist you in your efforts
All locations experienced an increase in the total number of reserves. As previously reported, the company is seeking to maximize their costs savings. All of the reserve lines were constructed with sixteen (16) days off with four (4) restorable days. With more than fifty percent (50%) of the population restoring their days to twelve (12) days off, the Association continues to advocate for some lines to be built at twelve (12) days off.
As a reminder the contract allows for reserves to restore some or all days even if they did bid for specific lines:
Section 8.I: “No later than three (3) days prior to the schedule change, a Reserve who was assigned a line with the number of days off exceeding the monthly applicable minimum may, at her/ his option, contact Crew Scheduling to be assigned additional days of availability and have her/his Reserve guarantee adjusted. Crew Scheduling shall add days of Reserve Scheduling Procedures 99 availability to restore the Reserve’s minimum days off, per Paragraph I.1.a. above. Crew Scheduling shall consider the Flight Attendant’s preference as to which day(s) of availability to restore.”
During the August Build and Review period and given the close in development of the schedule to the actual operation, the Company addressed the need for the LSCs building Reserve schedules to ensure designation of the required restorable days off, commonly designated as “+” days, not be placed at the beginning of a Reserve line in order to avoid both the 1 in 7 legality and the 24 in 7 FAR. For August, the Company has continued to place restrictions in allowing restorable days to be placed at the beginning of a Reserve line. The Union has objected to these restrictions as there is a specific provision of the Contract that provides Flight Attendants with the ability to waive a 1:7. The 24 in 7 FAR can be satisfied by either a 24-hour period off at home or on a layover that provides a period of 24 hours free from duty. Additionally, with the increase in the number of Reserves available systemwide, we don’t anticipate coverage issues. We ask that you submit your traditional patterns and if the company objects to the placement of “+” days at the beginning of the month, please bring these rejections to the attention of Central Schedule Committee. CSC has forwarded the issue to the MEC officers where it is being addressed with the Director of Crew Schedule Planning.
CSC reminds all LSCs, given the Company’s current interest in building Reserve lines having more than the contractual minimum (12) days off, placement of the “+” designator in those lines so affected is essential. These “+” must be placed on the Reserve schedule where the restored day off can be attached to an existing block of Reserve days of availability or at the end of the month; the only exception would be in lines of fifteen (15) or sixteen (16) days off, where blocks of three (3) or four (4) restorable days can be placed together and not create short blocks.
For those Reserve cases having more than fourteen (14) lines, please include a full set of seven lines that will provide consistent “same day of the week off” in each line, including a line with all weekends off. Please ensure that restorable days are not used to create your pattern. Your pattern should stand on it’s own without the restoration of available days. Additionally, duplicate lines are acceptable as long as the “set” days in each set of lines are different.
When constructing recommendations that include widebody domestic and/or international flying, be mindful of mixing positions. This is especially true when constructing LQ lines. Priority should always be given to keeping like trips and positions together to the extent utilization and trip availability make is possible. Doing so supports the position bidding provisions of our Contract.
We continue to remind Crew Schedule Planning that any changes to pairings (whether assigned or otherwise) must be brought to the attention of and reviewed with CSC before the DSL is transmitted to the Local Schedule Committees. We encourage the Local Schedule Committees to review the DSL carefully when you receive it. If you see unusual changes in the pairings typically assigned at your domicile, such as charter trips, and question the pairing, please bring your questions and concerns to CSC.
Due to difficulties in obtaining governmental approval. Flying to some China locations from EWR & SFO were postponed due to lack of approval by the Chinese government. These changes came at the end of the build process and it required some lines to be destructed and rebuilt.
CSC reminds all Local Schedule Committees of the proper application of Section 6.P. of the Contract (the international 1-in-7 rule) in the construction of line recommendations. While 1-in-7 can be satisfied as ‘One (1) 24-hour period free from duty at an away from domicile point’ it has been the long-standing practice of the Association to ensure, unless mathematically impossible, that all line recommendations include at least one (1) calendar day off at home in every seven days. Please do not back-up trips that eliminate the possibility of one (1) calendar day free from duty at home (in seven days). If you find it impossible to do so, please contact a Member of CSC immediately, so we can assist in working out an alternate solution.
Relief lines should also be constructed observing one (1) calendar day off in seven at home – please continue to review your relief lines for compliance. In addition, relief lines of flying should be built using all flying that becomes open after the award of primary schedules – including any language qualified flying. Please monitor your relief lines to ensure language relief lines are being constructed consistent with the requirements of the Contract.
Please continue to submit lines pure and in pattern as a priority. Consideration should be given to the value of the trip pairing as well as to the utilization average, as set by the company, in determining the pattern used in making your legal recommendations. Please contact a Member of Central Schedule Committee if you have questions or membership concerns specific to your domicile.
Day at a Time Vacation (DATV)
As a reminder, Section 12.J. of the Contract provides that each Flight Attendant may take up to ten (10) days a year separate from their awarded vacation period(s). These Day at a Time (DATV) will be deducted from the Flight Attendant’s allotment from the following year’s vacation. After the award of relief lines, and before the beginning of the month, day at a time vacation (DATV) will be awarded in seniority order. Throughout the month DATV days will be available to the extent that regular personal drops are available; DATV days have equal priority.
The company has indicated that transfers are not anticipated in the immediate future with the exception of Hebrew language transfers to ORD in response to the announcement that the company will be inaugurating service to Tel Avis (TLV).
The timeline for the construction of the September 2020 Schedules was not available at the time of publication of the SWLOF report. As information becomes available, we will communicate this to all Local Schedule Committees.
The scheduled guests for the upcoming DSL meetings are:
July – GUM/LAS AUG – HKG/HNL Sept - DCA