Home > News > MEC Central Schedule Committee DSL Report

MEC Central Schedule Committee DSL Report

Date: September 10, 2020

DSL Review Information

The System Scheduling (DSL) meeting to review the October 2020 flying assigned at each base/satellite was held on Monday, September 7th, 2020. CSC received both the International and Domestic DSLs on Saturday September 5th, 2020 for our review.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and by order of the Governor of the State of Illinois establishing “shelter in place” requirements, the Company and AFA conducted the Contractually required scheduling meetings via Microsoft Teams video conferencing. In attendance for the company were Tim Wilson, Jason Silber, Kevin Potter, Scott Anderson, Shannon Pisciotto, Jim Carlson, Robert Poleski, Warren Rys, Edith Sanfillip, Kaella Nowac, Lucille Bangura-Doxey, Mary Fran Oates, and Mia Corpuz. Central Schedule Committee (CSC) representatives present on the call: CSC Chairperson Greg Jacobs, CSC Members Sandy Travis, Brian Fleming, Shaun-Christopher Washington and Celeste Bouchard. Council 21 – Washington LSC Chairperson Wayne Talaski Jr., Council 21 Vice President Michael Simpson, and Council 63 LSC Chair Jo Fullerton were also present on the call as a guest of AFA.

October is a 30-day month (B) starting Wednesday 9/30/20 and ending on Thursday, 10/29/20.

Contractual Holiday: NONE

2020 International Changes/Highlights:

Market/Season Changes:

Network Operations continues to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both passenger loads and overall demand and is making adjustments based on a continually changing environment affecting the demand for travel.

GUM/NRT (827/828) eff 10/16 IAH/BOG eff 10/02 IAH/EZE eff 10/12 IAD/TLV eff 10/25

LHR/EWR (17) eff 10/25 ORD/HND eff 09/30

Widebody Equipment Changes:

From 777 “N” to 777 “X”

SFO/FRA eff 10/01

Non-Language Exceptions: LHR will be flying EWR/BOM and IAD/MUC as part of a six-day pattern in order to ensure adequate hours are available to the base.

Note the following LQ Staffing Exception: 76A, 76C and 76S equipment staffed with less than 7 Flight Attendants will have 1 Language Qualified Flight Attendant.

Mixed Base (Shared) Flying: None

Post Meeting Addendum: On September 9, 2020, United announced the inauguration of new flights in several markets to India, Africa and Hawaii.

Starting in December 2020, United will inaugurate daily service between Chicago and New Delhi, India.


Starting in the Spring of 2021, United will inaugurate service between San Francisco and Bangalore, India, the first ever non-stop service from the United States.

Starting in the Spring of 2021, United will inaugurate service between Newark and Johannesburg as well as service between Washington Dulles and Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria.

Starting in the Summer of 2021, United will inaugurate the first ever non-stop service from Newark to Maui, HI and Chicago to Kona, HI four times weekly.

These newly announced international routes are subject to government approval.

International Meeting

Inflight Reorganization:

Jason Silber began the meeting by discussing changes to the organization for Advance Schedule Planning resulting from the recent reduction in force that has occurred company-wide. More specifically, the planners Robert Poleski, Kaelia Nowoc, and Edith SanFilip will report to Jason Silber as well as Jim Carlson the IT liaison. Reporting to Tim Wilson will be Shannon Piscutto, Mary-Fran Oates, Mackenzie Ness, and Claudia Vegas. Scott Anderson will transition to a supervisory role overseeing the pairing analysts Warren Rys, Kevin Potter and Lucille Bangura-Doxey. Jason, Tim, and Scott will all report to Mia Corpuz.

Language Qualified Flying:

Given the planned reduction in force that will occur in the absence of an extension to the CARES Act, CSC reviewed the company’s plan for preassigned language qualified flying in the October 2020 DSL. After some discussion the company advised CSC they assign only one (1) German language qualified position on the flight to Zurich. Furthermore, the company plans to staff Brussels five (5) days a week out of Dulles; all other flights to Amsterdam and Brussels will operate without Dutch qualified Flight Attendants .

Lines Under Seventy-One (71):

Given the line averages planned at several international locations, in combination with the trip values, it will be difficult to construct lines of flying above the seventy-one (71) hour minimum outlined in Section 7.A.1. CSC pointed out the mathematical complication and inquired if the company planned to accept some lines below (71) seventy-one hours in some locations. Tim stated, given the reduction in force, the goal was to move away from accepting lines with values below the 71-hour minimum, he understood that the system was drastically unbalanced. As a result of the reduction in personnel, Tim indicated the company would, in unique instances, accept some lines with values below 71-hours. In Guam, the company will accept four (4) Japanese and one (1) Tagalog language qualified line(s) below the minimum. In Washington DC, five (5) Geman language qualified lines on the Zurich flight will be accepted below the minimum. In Chicago, five (5) German language qualified lines on the Frankfurt flight will be accepted below the minimum.

Open Time:

During the review of the flying, CSC recognized there were unique issues associated with different bases.

At Los Angeles, the only international flying assign in the five-position crew complement was LAX-SYD. This flying was not daily flying which created a challenge in meeting the utilization for the base. As a result of discussions, it was determined that one SYD pairing from the five-position crew complement and one SYD position from the XSC crew complement would be set aside and would be used to meet the Section 7.G. open time requirement.

At Washington, the assigned Spanish language flying was only able to be included in lines of flying at an 82-hour average in order to comply with the requirements of Section 7.A.1. CSC pointed out the resulting line average in the Spanish language crew complement would be higher than the line average for the base unless the company were to accept lines with values below 71 hours. The company required lines be built meeting the 71-hour minimum requirement. 

At Houston, addressing similar issues related to utilization, it was determined that the issues would be resolved as a result of setting time aside to meet the open time requirements of Section 7.G.1.

A total of two hours and forty-five minutes will be set aside during the primary line construction process (2:45) for self-adjustments and to comply with the requirements set forth in Section 7.G.1. In addition, and to account for the reduction in the number of primary international lineholders, there was a need to increase the international time set aside during line construction by fifteen mins (15) to one hour (1:00) per primary line-holder. CSC also reminded the company that despite their claims that broken pairings cannot be repaired before the opening of the real time trading window on the 23rd of the month, all time set aside by the LSCs during the primary build process needs to be available for real time trades in order for the company to meet their open time obligation under Section 7.G.1.

Line Averages:

CSC inquired into the discrepancies surrounding line averages (see below). More specifically, CSC sought to understand how all the non-hub locations except Newark were set in the high eighties (80’s) versus the hubs which were in the mid to low seventies (70’s). Tim stated that the system is significantly unbalanced due to the reduction in force which impacted each location differently. The company is hopefully that they can address the imbalance, if not fully, at least partially through the transfer process come November. Currently they had no choice but to balance the flying through line averages and by forcing flying into some locations.

Transfers:

Tim stated that the company choose not to transfer for October due to the uncertainty surrounding an extension of the CARES Act. He stated that given the system imbalance the corporation would proceed with transfers for November. Elaborating, he stated that the process may start as early as this week and that there would be several rounds of transfers as management works to clear the lists to several locations. When a large amount of time passes between rounds of transfer activity, people’s lives change and transfers that were once desired are declined resulting in a larger decline rate. It is expected that it will take some time to rebalance the system based on system furlough activity – if it actually occurs.

CSC sought a better understanding of the company’s plan for the award of transfers to those participating in the IVFMP. Tim stated that while the company would not restrict transfer to those in the program, in terms of the company’s planning process, these individuals could not be included as part of the company’s manpower plan for the location to which transferred because these individuals are restricted to picking up flying only from advertisements. They are neither lineholders or Reserves during any schedule month during which they are in the IVFMP.

For October, there were a number of locations with high line averages. CSC sought to understand if the company was already planning to move Flight Attendants in the IVFMP to active status once transfers have been awarded to those who are senior to most senior participant in the IVFMP. Tim stated that they were not looking into moving any IVFMP to active status at this time and believes the system imbalance can be addressed by processing transfers as “transfer activity is a self-perpetuating cycle that generates further activity”.

Special COLAS

CSC sought clarification on the Special COLA programs the company will be offering coming October. Tim stated that they company plans on awarding one, two, and three (1-,2-, and 3-month) Special COLAs. He stated that while eight and thirteen (8- and 13-) month Special COLAs are available for preference in the LOA screen in CCS and that LOA Information packets were posted, they would only be awarded if the CARES Act is extended.

NAL (NO ACTIVITY LINES):

Given that the company plans to award Special COLAs for October, Tim stated that the award of no activity lines (NALs) will be restricted to those in the IVFMP for October 2020. Access to NALs is only restricted to IVFMP participants in months were Special COLAs are awarded and not necessarily because there are individuals on multi-month Special COLA at the base for that month.

October 1st Voluntary and Involuntary Furlough Inactivity Status

Flight Attendants on voluntary furlough whose last scheduled pairing of the September schedule month overlaps beyond October 1 and where the pairing was part of the original line of flying as awarded, will have the pairing removed from their schedule. The portion of the pairing that operates through October 1st will be pay protected. Flight attendants will be subject to reassignment to another pairing on the day(s) that are pay protected through October 1.

All other pairings that operate through October 1st will be flown by the Flight Attendant with the exception of any pairing touched by a non-fly through vacation. In this instance, the trip will be dropped from schedule as would any other pairing touched by vacation and is not pay protected.

Flight Attendants on involuntary furlough whose last scheduled trip in September overlaps into October 1st (the start date of the involuntary furlough) and where the pairing was part of the original line of flying as bid, will be removed from the pairing and the portion of the pairing through 23:59 of September 30 will be pay protected. Flight Attendants will be reassigned to another pairing on the day(s) pay protected and will be paid the greater of the value of the portion of the original pairing or the pairing to which reassigned

Because October 1st is the second day of the October Flight Attendant schedule month, CSC sought to understand the mechanism by which the company will differentiate Flight Attendants on the different furlough statuses. Jason informed CSC that those going on either Voluntary or Involuntary Furlough will be prohibited from picking up or being assigned to pairings by the crew desk that work into or past the 1st of October.

He stated that management will develop a status code that will cause Cosmos to deny the placements of these pairings into their master schedule. In an instance where an operational irregularity returns the Flight Attendant beyond the effective date of the furlough, consistent with all scheduling rules, the Flight Attendant would be scheduled to return to base after a legal rest.

Flight Attendants participating in the IVFMP will not have this restriction applied to them. The value of any overlap pairing into the new schedule month will be part of the 35-hour restriction. But for the program, the Flight Attendant would not fly any overlap pairing because she/he would have been on involuntary furlough.

Missing Pairings:

New to LHR after a several-year absence is the assignment of language qualified flying. CSC noticed that the expected German language qualified flying on the LHR-IAD-MUC-IAD-LHR pairing was missing from the DSL reviewed and inquired on the reason for it not being part of the DSL. It was explained, London had not been activated in Cosmos to have language flying. For this reason, the pairings were not generated when the file was pulled from aircraft routing. Management expressed appreciation for identifying the missing flying over the weekend which provided sufficient time to correct the oversight.

As part of the DSL review, CSC noticed the 7100 EWR-DEL and 7100 ORD-HND had also not been assigned. When we sought clarification on Monday morning, Tim was unsure as to why EWR-DEL was missing but stated that it would be corrected and assigned as a 6100 non-language position.

As for the ORD-HND pairing, Tim advised CSC of the discontinuation of the ORD-HND route for the remainder of the month of October. As a result, there is no other Japanese language-qualified flying assigned at ORD for October and the pairing cannot be included in lines of flying. The company will cover the flight with an operational pairing that will depart on 9/30 and will be assigned to another base with Japanese language-qualified flying.

Revising Planned LHR Purser Surplus:

Tim stated that the company was in the process of revising the planned surplus of International Pursers in London. Based on an evaluation of the flying after October, the company needed an additional four (4) pursers in that location.

Elaboration on London Flying:

CSC asked for a rational on how the company chose which markets to assign flying to London, especially since we have been historically told that “W” patterns result in additional cost to operate. CSC noticed that San Francisco is assigned to fly the SFO – LHR pairing for the month of October.

Tim acknowledged that W pattern flying increases cost. However, in the current situation a double layover in San Francisco is more expensive for the corporation than a six day “W” pattern to Munich out of Dulles or a seven day “W” pattern out to Mumbai out of Newark. Tim stated that despite the impact of the pandemic on hotel costs, the layover hotel costs in San Francisco have not decreased.

Mumbai and Munich were chosen since they are some of the longest destinations flown out of Newark and Dulles respectively, and provide sufficient block hours to meet the block requirement for London in order to meet the required lineholder target required by the Reserve Rotation Letter of Agreement. Additionally, assigning the flying at San Francisco addresses the continued overstaffed which can be seen by its lower line average.

Changes to Balancing Process:

Historically one possible solution to mitigate six (6) and seven (7) “W” crossings would have been for the company to re-time the LHR-SFO flight to only require a single overnight in San Francisco; while this is still an option, it is not viewed as a viable option for them at the moment given San Francisco remains overstaffed. Elaborating, Tim explained that the company is now dynamically looking at both domestic and international line holder populations when determining the best flown solution.

In the past, the company determined the most cost-effective international flying to assign to the location and artificially “reduced” the number of lineholder Flight Attendants needed to cover that flying from the geographic population. The optimizer then assigned the most cost-effective domestic flying based on that revised population. CSC was surprised to learn of this change to the methodology by which flying was being assigned. While not specifying when the change to the process took place, Tim stated that things were “evolving so rapidly”, that the business process changed.

International Line Averages for October 2020

Domestic Meeting Information

Missing Hotels/Transportation:

For the month of September, pairings with layovers at SAP, RAP, PNS and OGG were missing hotel information. We informed our MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee hotels are required.

Additional Open Time:

San Francisco had twenty (20) hours in the Latin America narrow body file, 1FM/1FA, that could not be included in legal lines of flying. Honolulu had eighty-one (81) hours in the XSC and two-hundred eighty-three (283) hours in the three (3) crew comp that we were told would not build legal lines. rather than move the flying, the company has chosen to leave it in open and it will include these hours toward the three hours (3) per primary line holder for trading purposes required under Section 7.G.1.

Changes to the Optimizer:

Jason indicated that with the return of more “normal” line values, that the company has chosen to return to pre-COVID-19 buffer settings in their optimizer. When asked to elaborate, Jason stated that the computer takes the forty-five minute (45) in the hubs and hour downline as a baseline. It looks at a three (3) year rolling historical arrival metric; if flights are arriving earlier for given city pairs, then the required connections for those city pairs decrease in the optimizer. Conversely, if the flights for a given city pair start to arrive late, then the connecting time in the optimizer increases. He stated that while the last six (6) months have seen early arrivals at historic levels, the return to this metric is expected to increase connection times, at least from a month over month perspective. Our review of the DSL reflected an increase in the sit times for the October schedule month.

Domestic Pairing Recommendations:

CSC requested that several pairings be split into turns and two day from multi-day pairing, in addition to requesting changes to deadheading on earlier flights to arrive at the home base sooner. Jason stated his team would look into that. (At the time this report was published, the status of those change requests is unknown).

CSC also asked the company to look into several tight connections involving international arrivals in both Chicago and Houston. The optimizer had flight segments paired together with only a total (1:20) or less exists to deplane, clear customs, and board the next aircraft. Jason took note of our concern and jotted down the pairing numbers. CSC will follow-up with our LSCs at these locations to monitor the actual operation of the flights involved in these city pairs.

Objectionable Pairings:

CSC raised some objections to pairings that were being proposed to be flown as multi-day pairings that alternated circadian rhythms within the pairing. We asked the corporation to not schedule (day – all night – day) flight within the same pairings, when possible, in order to address the adverse impact on sleep cycles. Management took note of our concerns without comment.

Truncated Domestic Schedule into November 2020

The unpredictable nature of the change impacting the airlines flight schedule continues to introduce a level of uncertainty around the long-term schedule of the airline. In response, Crew Planning made the decision to not have more than three-day domestic pairings project into the November 2020 month.

Late Cancelations to the Schedule:

CSC asked the company how the recently announced policy of last-minute cancelling flights with load factors below an established level was affecting Crew Schedule planning, if any. Tim stated that last minute changes to the schedule are very costly and conversations with the Finance Department were ongoing.

As part of Crew Schedule Planning ongoing evaluation of costs, there was a consideration of returning to a model where pairings would be built involving only the same equipment type. It was considered because it would thought there would be a cost reduction because only one-crew would be affected when an aircraft was pulled from service. The result of the studies conducted indicated that our airline was too large and the schedule too dynamic. Our fleet does not operate in a way that supports the construction of efficient pairings by aircraft type. Isolating aircraft to specific pairings results in a loss of efficiency and increases overall cost. For this reason, any such initiative was abandoned.

Spanish Language Qualified Flying Changes: SFO/MEX and LAX/GUA-LAX/SAL:

CSC noticed an absence of domestic Spanish language qualified flying from SFO to MEX and LAX to GUA & SAL and asked the company if a deliberate decision had been made to assign this flying at an alternate location. Tim explained that the flying, which normally was assigned at LAX and SFO had been included in multi-day pairings at IAH as part of the “best flown solution.” CSC asked if there had been any changes to the pairing construction parameters in the optimizer that would have driven this change in assignment. Tim explained that the October best flown solution assigned the flying at IAH without any changes to parameters. We suspect the reason for the change is to support the number of Flight Attendants assigned at IAH. In addition, this drove changes to the Spanish language qualified flying at IAD and EWR.

Flight Attendants Requiring RQ in October:

CSC sought to understand the number of Flight Attendants who would require RQ in October to better understand the impact on Flight Attendant schedules. Tim stated that currently they are projected between (900-950) requiring training which was reduced just over four hundred (400) by those who put in for Special COLA. The company expects its training liability to be manageable. Jason also reported that the percentage that would not be able to be awarded schedules should be relatively small given how quickly the FAST team is working on scheduling training. 

RESERVE LINES:

For the month of October, the company has decided that all bases with utilization (line averages) in the high eighties would have twelve (12) day off Reserve lines, with the remaining bases staying with all sixteen (16) day off lines. Only twelve (12) and sixteen (16) day off Reserve lines will be offered as follows:

CSC again inquired into how the company plans to address the 7-day pairings being flown in SFO and London should Reserves be necessary given the company is not requiring seven-day availability. After an evaluation of all the destinations to which these pairings are being flown, it is the company’s position that options exist to deadhead Reserves from other locations or to draft using additional Flight Attendant staffing above the augmented FAA minimum. No Reserve schedules will be built with Reserve blocks having more than (six) 6 consecutive days of availability anywhere on the system.

Important Recommendation Information

When submitting your recommendations in AFLYER, please remember to save what you submit as:

LSC Final”. This will let CSC and the Company know that you have submitted your recommendations for review and finalization.

In addition, please remember when finalizing your solution, the lines at the bottom of the solution are to be LOCKED. This will indicate which lines will be used, if necessary, to provide the hours for the self-adjustment process. For further clarification, list the specific line numbers in the comments section on the finalization screen in AFLYER.

Company Quota Files

We have received a number of questions from some Local Schedule Committees who, after receiving a copy of the quota file from their Schedule Planner, are asking CSC about why they cannot submit lines that are similar in value to those contained in the quota file. In some cases, these lines have values considerably less than the 71-hour minimum.

By way of explanation, it is important to understand the purpose of the quota file. The purpose of the quota file is for the company to demonstrate to the Local Schedule Committee that the target set by the company was mathematically attainable, that is feasible. For the company to send to an LSC a quote file with lines that are not legal – that is, having values above 71-hours, indicates that the company is not certain the target they have established is mathematically attainable given the value of the trips, the number of lines, and the target utilization. 

Local Schedule Committees cannot attempt to use the quota file to justify that the company must accept lines with values below 71 hours nor can we assert the company must accept our recommendations which include lines with values below 71 hours. It is incumbent on Local Schedule Committees to submit legal recommendations because that is what is required under the Contract. Further, the company retains the right to reject recommendations that reduce utilization or increase the number of Flight Attendants needed at any domicile location.

If you are unable to attain the quota established by the company, please contact a Member of CSC for assistance in determining if the target is mathematically attainable. It may be necessary for the company to revise the quota and CSC will work with you in making that determination.

Contract Compliance Information

Local Schedule Committees should continue to construct lines of flying using patterns appropriate to the line average for the crew complement and the company’s established targets. The 95-hour flight time maximum limitations shall not apply to line construction. Priority will be given to scheduling pure lines of flying. Please continue to submit patterned lines even if the value of the line exceeds 95 hours. Contact Central Schedule Committee should you have lines rejected by the company or if you have questions or concerns. CSC makes every effort to review all pairings, including weekend and exception pairings, during the domestic DSL review process. We recognize the volume of trips we are all working with has grown exponentially and it is easy to miss errors. We bring this to your attention to heighten your awareness this might occur and ask your cooperation by completing a review of your DSL.

CSC reminds all Local Schedule Committees of the need to review the relief lines of flying published by the company as soon as possible to ensure that they are indeed contractually compliant and represent the recommendations of your Local Schedule Committee. Local Schedule Committees are responsible for ensuring the relief award complies with the language of LOA 12 of the Contract and that line averages for the domicile are consistent with the provisions of Sections 7.A.3. – 5 of our Contract. 

We remind all Local Schedule Committee Chairpersons that as soon as possible after reviewing the DSL, when you submit Line of Flying recommendations, the Local Schedule Committee Chairperson should make recommendations to the company as to the sequencing of trips for Relief and Reserve move-up lines. These recommendations are to be considered in the construction of lines. Please copy CSC in on these recommendation letters. 

Pursuant to Section 7.A.3., lines of flying must be constructed so the average of all lines at each base is not less than sixty-nine (69) hours. We emphasize the Local Schedule Committees must review the line averages for the primary and relief lines as a whole. If you find the line average of the primary and relief lines falls below sixty-nine (69) hours, please contact a member of Central Schedule Committee immediately.

We remind all Local Schedule Committees, Section 7.A.4. requires that domestic and international lines of flying shall be constructed so the average at each domicile is no more than 88 hours credited flight time each month. Should averages in the primary bid package approach this 88-hour maximum, we remind you of the importance of monitoring the average of the vacation relief lines to ensure compliance with the Contract.

Note: While flying assigned to Guam is considered International for pay purposes, for compliance with Section 7.Y.2.a, block hours assigned do not count toward the international domicile cap since Guam is a US territory.

CSC reminded the company this report is required under the Contract. Recent retirements and the department reorganization has resulted in the reassignment of this work. Mackenzie Ness is now responsible for creation of these reports and will provide July and August reports shortly.

Timeline for Building October 2020 Schedules

Note: While flying assigned to Guam is considered International for pay purposes, for compliance with Section 7.Y.2.a, block hours assigned do not count toward the international domicile cap since Guam is a US territory.

CSC reminded the company this report is required under the Contract. Recent retirements and the department reorganization has resulted in the reassignment of this work. Mackenzie Ness is now responsible for creation of these reports and will provide July and August reports shortly.

Timeline for Building October 2020 Schedules

October 2020 International Flying Summary

Share this page:

More News