Home > News > AFA DEBRIEF: November 12, 2021

AFA DEBRIEF: November 12, 2021

Date: November 12, 2021


  • Scheduling Action Addressing Medical & Religious Reasonable Accommodation Grants
  • Annual Enrollment - Wellness Credit & Spousal Surcharge Certification
  • Bad Day / Worse Day Trades
  • Group Universal Life (GUL) Auto-Enrollment
  • Pass Travel Enrollment
  • Holiday Buddy Pass Travelers for Working Crew Members
  • Keeping Layover Hotel Information Confidential 
  • IRS raises 401(k) contribution limits for 2022

Scheduling Action Addressing Medical & Religious Reasonable Accommodation Grants

As we reported earlier this week, today (November 12, 2021) United management will be acting on the schedules of Flight Attendants who were granted a Reasonable Accommodation (RAP).  The company will be placing those awarded a RAP on either a Personal or Medical Leave of Absence, for pairings departing November 16, 2021, or later.

Flight Attendants placed on Medical Leave of Absence will receive medical benefits consistent with Section 15.N. of the Contract and will be placed on direct bill and pay effective as of December 1, 2021.  Billing is generated on the 10th of each month.

Flight Attendants placed on a Personal Leave of Absence will have health & wellness benefits through the last day of November.  Effective December 1, 2021, these individuals will also be placed on direct bill and pay and will be responsible for the full cost of coverage for these benefits for the period of their personal leave of absence. Billing will be generated as of the 10th of the month for the following month’s coverage.

In both cases, Flight Attendants will continue to bid their 2022 vacations and will be paid for those vacation periods within 45 days of the scheduled vacation period in 2022.

As a reminder, Flight Attendants may elect to fly pairings that overlap the November 16th effective date of leave and will be placed on their respective leave of absence the day after completion of the pairing. In addition, Flight Attendants may elect to retire rather than be placed on the personal leave of absence – a status from which retirement is not possible.  In a similar way, you may complete any overlapping assignment and elect to retire, effective the day after the assignment, rather than being placed on personal leave.

We understand there are questions about the disposition of company property – that is the Link device, Crew badge, and/or parking tags.  We are pursuing from management information on how the company plans to address these items.  However, these plans have not been finalized.

We hope to have additional information early next week to share with you.

Annual Enrollment - Wellness Credit & Spousal Surcharge Certification

Each year during the annual open enrollment, many Flight Attendants who are not making changes to their annual benefit elections, choose to default their health and wellness benefits to the same coverage from one year to the next.  In doing so, you may have missed some options that could save you money, by taking advantage of the plan comparison tools that are available as part of the annual process.  If you have compared plans, or wish to make a change, there is still time.  Open enrollment is available through November 19, 2021.

You may review and compare plan information and make changes by calling the Benefits Center (UABC).  Likewise, if you have a spouse or domestic partner, you can take advantage of this later open enrollment period to verify if their coverage may be more beneficial or, if splitting your coverage instead of including them on yours, is the right decision.  

As we mentioned earlier this month, there are some key items that you need to be aware of as it pertains to this year’s Benefits Open Enrollment:

  • You will default into a medical plan for 2022 as provided for in our Contract if you do not make an active election.   So, be sure to look at all your available options and ensure you are picking a plan that is right for you and your family.
  • Credits and surcharges on YBR will reset if you do not actively pick a plan during the Annual Enrollment even if you had previously adjusted themThis year, you must certify eligibility for the wellness credit and to avoid the spousal surcharge.
  • For those in San Francisco who are in the Kaiser Northern California plan that was previously provided at no cost, in the absence of an alternate election, you will remain in the Kaiser plan and will be charged the applicable premium. 

Each of our circumstances are different, but we encourage everyone, regardless of what coverage options you may have selected to take the opportunity to review your choices and make sure they make the most sense.  

For questions regarding open enrollment, you can contact the United Airlines Benefit Center at 1-(800)-651-1007 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday-Friday.

Bad Day / Worse Day Trades

With the Reserve pool numbers in the negative range for the last several months, many Flight Attendants continue to struggle to adjust their flight schedules to meet their personal needs and family responsibilities. 

Whether Lineholders or Reserves, the pool numbers set by management, are impacting our ability to make changes to our schedule and based on questions we have received in our offices, we understand there may be confusion about the timing requirements for successful Bad Day/Worse Day trades.

By utilizing the contractual provisions for Bad Day/Worse Day trades, Members have yet another ability to adjust their schedules even in a negative pool situation. While we all rely on the Reserve pool numbers for trading, it is important to emphasize there are also timing issues that affect our ability to trip trade with open time especially if the trip being dropped occurs earlier in the schedule month.

Based on questions. In particular, we have received a number of questions about two items:  a 24-hour requirement or a requirement to call Crew Scheduling when attempting to facilitate a trade under 24 hours from the start of the desired pairing as well as the rejection of trades based on the timing of when the trade occurs.

Under the Contract, when Bad Day/Worse Day trading, some people are incorrectly assuming the trade is simply related to the “math” of BDWD trades.  In fact, there is a second component of the BDWD trade; that is, it matters where the trip being dropped is in the month in comparison to the trip being traded.  There are two specific contract provisions that address this:

When the trip being dropped occurs earlier in the month than the trip being traded for, the trade must be completed at least seven (7) days prior to the first day of the trip being dropped. This Section 7.N.5.b. parameter frequently results in trip trades being declined and this will occur regardless of the negative Reserve coverage pool levels.

Conversely, Section 7.N.5.a., states that if the trip being dropped occurs later in the month, its lowest Reserve Coverage Day can be no more than five (5) lower than the lowest Reserve Coverage Day on the trip being picked up.


  • If the trip you wish to drop is later in the month, Sections 7.N.5. & 7.N.5.a. will apply
  • If the trip you wish to drop is earlier in the month, Sections 7.N.5. & 7.N.5.b. will apply

And, all instant trading is determined by Reserve coverage, on the particular days involved in the trade. However, trades may still be accomplished using the Bad Day/Worse Day calculations set forth in Section 7.N. of our Contract. This language addresses trip trades involving trips on days which are blocked due to minimum staffing requirements.

The guide below outlines the contractual parameters that must be met to successfully complete a Bad Day/Worse Day trade and provides additional clarity when trading trips starting earlier in the month for trips which start later in the month.

Bad Day – Worse Day Guide

Questions about trading and Contractual legalities should be directed to your Local Council Representatives.

Group Universal Life (GUL) Auto Enrollment

Group Universal Life Insurance (GUL) is the voluntary life insurance product for all Flight Attendants negotiated by AFA and agreed to by the company for the benefit of Flight Attendants.

For Flight Attendants returning from Leaves of Absence (LOA), including those returning from Special COLAs, auto-enrollment in Group Universal Life Coverage (GUL), administered by Securian, will occur for those who did not elect to maintain coverage while on Leave or who had not previously elected this coverage. These individuals will be enrolled in Group Universal Life Coverage under the same conditions as a new hire Flight Attendant. With no requirement to provide Evidence of Insurability (EOI), Flight Attendants are automatically provided coverage at four (4) times their annual salary and $30,000 coverage for a spouse/domestic partner.

Additionally, if the Flight Attendant reduced her/his coverage below the default coverage limits, the auto-enrollment feature will “bump up” the coverage back up to four times the annual salary for the employee and $30,000 for the spouse or domestic partner. It is important that everyone understand, the coverage is automatic unless you act to decline the coverage during the first 45 days following your return to work.

Auto-enrollment will happen upon every return from leave regardless of previous adjustments or cancellations. If you wish to amend your enrollment/ coverage, contact Securian at 1-866-887-1043

Note: There is no refund for premiums paid until the cancellation of coverage is processed and a cancellation certificate, signed by the Flight Attendant, is returned, and received by Securian.  This must be completed during the 45-day window following return to duty.  You can obtain the cancellation certificate by contacting Securian directly.

Annual Pass Travel Enrollment

Pass travel open enrollment begins on November 15 and closes December 17, 2021 at 2359 CST.   All eligible employees with more than six (6) months of service can update their 2022 pass travel enrollment elections during this period.

As a reminder, you cannot make any changes after the enrollment window closes except adding buddy pass riders, if you do not already have the maximum.   For more information, go to the Pass Travel Enrollment page on Flying Together or you may contact the Employee Travel Team through Help Hub.

Holiday Buddy Pass Travelers for Working Crew Members

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the company announced that United Flight Attendant working crew members will be able to travel with up to two individuals using buddy passes at the crew member’s personal boarding priority of SA1P.

This applies to both Domestic and International travel beginning on November 21, 2021 through December 2, 2021 and again on December 15, 2021 through January 2, 2022. 

When the working crew member list buddies through the EmployeeRes system, they must check a box labeled “traveling with the working crew.”   This will ensure the buddy pass travel plans are booked in the correct boarding priority.

The company reminds the working crew member must notify the CSR in person when a buddy accompanies them at the city where the buddy is to be boarded and at the connecting city where there is an aircraft change.  If seats are not available, and the buddy pass riders cannot be boarded, they will travel at the unaccompanied buddy boarding priority of SA4P for adult buddy children, SA6F for extended family buddy or SA7U for a regular buddy.   The boarding priority must be changed prior to moving to the next available flight.

Keeping Layover Hotel Information Confidential 

We remind all Flight Attendants of the importance of keeping our layover hotel and transportation service information confidential. 

Do not “check-in” or post layover hotel locations on any social media network or provide hotel information to anyone who might ask, even when it may appear to be a simple innocent inquiry from a passenger.


Flight Attendants utilizing layover hotel facilities, nearby restaurants or attractions are cautioned to never mention our hotels by name or reference a location in the presence of strangers or employees of a facility. Flight Attendants are encouraged to review the layover safety tips available on unitedafa.org. Addressing our layover safety and security is a priority for our United MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee. 


If you experience an incident at a layover hotel that potentially compromises your safety, be sure to document the event by visiting the forms page, located on our website. By reporting issues allows AFA to have the necessary data to address and resolve the situation as soon as possible. Remember, if necessary, to contact the local authorities for any assistance. 

IRS Raises 401(k) Contribution Limits For 2022

In an ongoing effort to provide workers with the opportunity to save more for retirement, individual workers will be able to contribute up to $20,500 to their 401(k) retirement accounts in 2022, up from $19,500 in 2021 and 2020, the IRS announced this month.

The change is part of the tax code’s annual inflation adjustments and does not require Congressional action to implement. While the benefits of higher limits go mainly to the small fraction of wealthy people who are able to max out their contributions, knowledge is power.  For those of us who may be in a position to do so, we are pointing out the opportunity.

Catch-up contributions to retirement accounts for those age 50 and up will remain unchanged at $6,500. Including their regular contributions, people aged 50 and up will be able to set aside for retirement up to $27,000 annually.


NOV 15 – Pass Travel Enrollment Opens
NOV 16 – Round Two Vacation Bids Close
NOV 16 – Revision #38 for eFAOM/eFAAB available in Manuals App
NOV 19 – Benefits Enrollment Closes
NOV 25 – U.S. Holiday – Thanksgiving
NOV 30 – Link/Sled Recovery Protection Plans Closes
DEC 05 – Instant Vacation Trades Open
DEC 17 – Pass Travel Enrollment Closes


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