Home > News > AFA DEBRIEF: November 19, 2021

AFA DEBRIEF: November 19, 2021

Date: November 19, 2021


  • United Moves Forward Returning Welcome Beverage Service Over AFA Objections
  • Safety and Security While on Layover – Let’s Look at the Full Picture
  • Trading Vacations
  • Thanksgiving Holiday Pay
  • Reserve Schedule December 2021 Timeline
  • Working Crew Members & Thanksgiving Holiday Buddy Pass Travelers
  • Welcome Class 2101



United Moves Forward Returning Welcome Beverage Service Over AFA Objections

Earlier this week,  Inflight informed Flight Attendants through a Catering Alert that Welcome Beverages are to be offered in the Premium Cabin on all mainline flights, effective November 23.

Lest our objection to the return of this service become mischaracterized, we want to say upfront, this is not about Flight Attendants not wanting to offer this service to passengers on the aircraft.  None of the employees of United Airlines more than Flight Attendants wants to return to a sense of normal on the aircraft, sooner rather than later.  As United management’s most recent metric, the Net Promoter Score (NPS), indicates, we are delighting customers as never before. This metric shows how, despite the challenges brought about by the proximity of passengers in the cabin, we are making all of it work.  In fact, United Flight Attendants have not only earned our reputation for delivering exceptional service, we have consistently expressed that we want to be proud of the service we offer but also promote, as we clearly have been, our reputation in being the best airline in the world where safety, in all things, at all times, is our collective number one priority.

But what we do, the expectation we set, must actually make sense, and not create a situation where it appears we’re providing conflicting direction to passengers or setting an example that seems to countermand the recommendations we have been executing against for the past twenty months.  Given the recent data from the CDC, the addition of this service does not seem to acknowledge the recent information on the average new daily coronavirus cases in the U.S.

“According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average of new daily coronavirus cases in the U.S. has surpassed 85,000, a more than 14 percent increase from a week ago.”

Testing of the procedures to return the Welcome Beverage to the cabin occurred in August of this year on two routes out of SFO.  We immediately raised our concern to management over the return of this service identifying the closer proximity to passengers that Flight Attendants would be placed in while shuffling around boarding passengers and their baggage in our effort to deliver this service.  Further, we expressed concern about the visual this will create for other boarding passengers as they walk on the aircraft seeing those in the premium cabins without masks on as they drink the Welcome Beverages.  This “visual” created stands in stark contradiction to the messages to which passengers have been exposed prior to boarding about the need to keep your nose and mouth covered with a mask due to federal regulations.  We have expressed concern that this will only present additional challenges for Flight Attendants seeking to gain compliance with the Federal Mask Mandate.

While the Welcome Beverage service proposed should be more efficient for Flight Attendants than the pre-pandemic pre-departure ground service where a broader selection of beverages, including alcohol, was served, we have serious concerns about the timing of the reintroduction of this service. As safety and service professionals, Flight Attendants understand the role we play in contributing to the experience and satisfaction of the passengers in our care, all of them.  From our expert perspective in the cabin, now is not the time to reintroduce this component of the service. 

Now more than any other time in our history, management uses data to drive and, dare we say, justify their decisions.  It is absolutely critical that all of us continue to report issues with passenger mask non-compliance, alcohol-related issues, as well as any other issues or concerns arising from this change in policy. If it is not documented, it is not a problem and, from management’s perspective, it simply does not exist.

Safety and Security While on Layover – Let’s Look at the Full Picture

The MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee acts on every report we receive from you through our reporting tool: https://unitedafa.org/reports/hotel/ and we also trend and track issues of importance that affect not only Flight Attendants, but all guests in hotels.  None of us are exempt from the numerous scams that proliferate around the world at any number of hotels, but knowledge is power.  Knowing about these scams creates awareness and provides us with a layer of protection we might not otherwise have. 

Guarding our whereabouts and those of the other Members of the Crew with whom we are traveling should be of paramount importance.  As we begin the slow and arduous return to “normal,” we must recognize the financial challenges that have affected many around the world.  As financial difficulties rise, some seek ways to take advantage of others for their own personal gain.   Collectively, we must guard against this for our well-being.

As an added measure of security, we should never discuss or share, no matter how innocent it may appear, our layover location to passengers or others not having a need to know where the crew is laying over. 

Once at the hotel, we register with the front desk. Unless you are planning to charge incidentals to your room, no credit card information should be requested, nor should you provide it unless you plan to charge items purchased within the hotel to your individual guest room.  In the same way, there should be no reason for front desk staff to contact your room to request a credit card once you have checked into the hotel.  You should be highly skeptical about any call from someone claiming to be a hotel representative asking you for credit card information.  Under no circumstances should you even consider providing this information in response to an unsolicited request.  Should the need arise for you to provide a credit card number to the hotel, we strongly recommend that occur only in the form of an in-person transaction with Front Desk staff.

Scams to Consider

Hotel policy regarding the protocol as it pertains to placing calls to guest rooms varies between properties.  In some instances, only the name is needed.  In others, the name and room number of the guest must be provided before the call is transferred.  In others, calls may be transferred without additional verification.  These protocols are typically applied when calls are received from outside the hotel.  However, within the hotel, instructions for room-to-room dialing are clearly delineated on the room telephones.

We are learning of recently developed scams in which a person having intentions to steal your personal financial information will call your room advising they are calling from the Front Desk of the Hotel and will proceed to generate questions about your personal information and may even request you provide credit card information often claiming they wish to “verify” the information on file.  If you receive such a call, simply hang up and contact Front Desk staff.  If they insist that they must have this information, we strongly recommend you conduct that transaction in person, with staff at the Front Desk, in person.

As a refresher, the company and the Union have agreed to the terms of the AFA Contract and Hotel Standards which include:

  • Personal check cashing or ATM on property. *
  • In-room phone activation and room access without credit card.
  • No service charge associated with toll free (i.e., 800) calls.
  • May require credit card imprint for signing privileges to cover incidentals. (This transaction should occur only with Front Desk staff.)
  • Ability to access services with cash.

*The parties may mutually agree that an ATM within reasonable walking distance satisfies the requirement.

A second, popular scam is modeled after the ‘pizza flyer scam’ that occurred in recent years in Orlando, FL.

Victims of these scams, using flyers found in the hallway of the hotel or delivered under their guest room door, use the information from the flyer to place what they believe to be a legitimate order for food.  In point of fact, the flyer is a scam intended for one purpose only – to secure the credit card information from an unsuspecting guest.  Once they have that information, they are in a position to immediately begin ordering items using the credit card information. In some cases, sub-standard food is delivered, and credit card charges begin appearing some time later.  In others, no food is delivered and the charges to the card begin almost immediately.

While there is no information that would suggest any of our Members have been victims of these scams, our objective is to alert you to the possibility.  While many may question why we have implemented standards by which our contract hotels must operate, we’ve done so in an effort to ensure the continued safety of our Members. 

Please continue to use our reporting system to let us know about concerns and issues you encounter with your layover hotels or transportation. The company does not share with the Union reports filed using United Voices or Help Hub.   It is for this reason that we strongly recommend you provide information to AFA via our internal reporting forms found on the MEC website at www.unitedafa.org.  

Trading Vacations

The Second Round 2022 Vacation awards are now available in CCS. Beginning November 24th, the vacation trading period starts. Flight Attendants will have the ability to trade days based on different criteria.

Flight Attendants can modify awarded vacation periods using the following options:

  • Open Time Trades by Seniority
  • Instant Trades with Open Time
  • Flight Attendant to Flight Attendant Trades
  • Fly Through (Non-Operational & Operational)
  • Vacation Slides (Operational) 

Open Time Trades by Seniority: After the annual vacation award, all available vacation days remaining will be published and the Open Time Trades by Seniority trade window will open on November 24th at 0800 (HDT) and will close on November 30th at 8:00 (HDT).

To submit a trade request, from the myVacation page in the “Scheduled Vacation” section, select the drop-down arrow to expand the period that you want to trade. Select “OT Trade by Sen” to display the “Open Time Trade by Seniority” page. The “OT Trade by Sen” option is only visible while the trading window for Open Time by Seniority is open.

The “Open Time Trade by Seniority” page will allow you to make your selections. The chart on the following page explains all of the fields in the “To Trade Away” section. After entering your options, select “Save Request” to continue working on the request and submit it at a later time. The message “Request Saved Successfully” will display at the top of the page to confirm that your choices were saved. Once you are ready to submit the request, select “Submit Request.” Remember, just selecting “Save Request” does not submit your trade request. 

We encourage Flight Attendants to visit our Vacation Bidding microsite to review the procedures for trading vacation days prior to the opening date to ensure they are able to accurately complete any desired trades.

Thanksgiving Holiday Pay

Our Contract provides that Flight Attendants receive additional pay for flight assignments flown on designated holidays as outlined in Section 2.Q. in our Contract.  

Flight Attendants based in the United States and Guam who fly on Thanksgiving Day will be paid holiday pay as set forth in Section 4.I.

Holiday Pay is calculated using a formula that considers the number of credited hours flown during the holiday pairing and the time away from home during the holiday pairing.  A Flight Attendant’s hours away from home begins at the pairing check-in time and ends at the conclusion of the scheduled debriefing time upon return to the home domicile. 

In an effort to assist you with understanding how to calculate holiday pay, please review the following examples shown in a previous AFA publication.

Additionally, when a birthday holiday falls on any other holiday, a Flight Attendant will receive pay for both holidays with pay calculated in the same manner for each of the holidays.

Additionally, Flight Attendants, Lineholder or Reserve, who report for duty on a holiday and whose trip scheduled pairing is subsequently affected by one of the following events will receive holiday pay based on the following stipulations.

Trip Cancels with no Reassignment:

  • A Lineholder or Reserve, who reported for duty on a designated holiday and whose trip cancels and where no reassignment is made involving that day, will receive holiday pay based on the number of hours from report to release (minimum of 2 hours).   This equates to double time pay for the time on duty.   Since there is no flight time to generate an automatic pay file, a Flight Attendant must submit a pay claim to the company via Help Hub for this holiday pay and any additional pay factors pertinent to the activity of the duty period.

En Route (Mid-Sequence) Sick Leave:

  • In the event of a Flight Attendant becomes ill mid-sequence of a holiday trip, they will have their holiday pay calculated on whichever is less between the scheduled time away on the holiday or the actual time away on the holiday.

Deadhead Deviation:

  • If a Flight Attendant is authorized to deviate or deadhead home early, holiday pay is the lesser of the scheduled or actual time away from home (TMA) and hours away on the holiday.

Drafting from a Pairing with Time on a Holiday: 

  • A Flight Attendant who is drafted from a pairing which includes time on a holiday to a pairing that does not include holiday pay, will be pay protected for the scheduled time on the holiday of the original pairing.  The scheduled holiday pay must be converted to its flight hour equivalent and added to the flight hour value of the pairing in which it occurs. This total flight hour value must be compared with the value of the drafting pairing and the Flight Attendant is paid the greater of the two values.

Please refer to the following resources for more information regarding Holiday Pay:

Understanding Holiday Pay

Understanding Holiday Pay (Section 4.I.)

Reserve Survival Guide page 92

Holiday Pay Parameters

Holiday Pay (including Birthday Holiday) Parameters Should Your Trip Cancel

How does Deadhead Deviation Impact Holiday Pay?

Reserve Schedule December 2021 Timeline

If awarded or assigned a Reserve schedule for the December 2021 bid month, there are various deadlines that must be met as part of the schedule development timeline.  Many of these processes occur during the period between bid awards and into the first week of the new month.

Of importance, unique to the December schedule month is the Reserve Christmas Wish List.  It should be noted that the first date on which official requests that will be considered during the December schedule month can be entered is December 1, 2021.

Review the calendar specific to the December 2021 Reserve Flight Attendant Schedule Month.

Working Crew Members & Thanksgiving Holiday Buddy Pass Travelers

As we approach the upcoming holidays, we have recently started to receive some questions about the use of the “traveling with working crew” option in employeeRes™.

Under United’s Working Crewmember Pass Rider Policy, Flight Attendants and Pilots may accompany their eligible pass riders (enrolled friends, children, and parents) for boarding priority purposes on all flights where they are a working crewmember.

A working crewmember may not accompany buddy pass riders, which includes adult children using buddy ePasses, extended family buddies, and regular buddies except when specified by the company.  (Typically, this occurs around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.)

As announced by the company, during the Thanksgiving holiday, United Flight Attendants who are working crew members will again be able to travel with up to two individuals using buddy passes at the crew member’s personal boarding priority of SA1P.

In order to take advantage of this boarding priority for buddies who are traveling with crew members, when listing through employeeRES, employees must check the box labeled “traveling with working crew” to ensure buddy pass travel plans are booked at the correct boarding priority.

Working crew members must notify the CSR in person when a buddy accompanies them in 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 or the buddy pass riders are not senior enough to be boarded in available seats, they will travel at the unaccompanied buddy pass classification (SA4P for adult buddy children, SA6F for extended family buddy or SA7U for regular buddy). The boarding priority must be changed prior to moving to the next scheduled flight.

If you have questions, contact the Employee Travel Center through Help Hub and track the progress of your request.

Welcome our Newest Members - Class 2101

On November 18, 2021, AFA welcomed the first graduating class of 2021. Class 2101 will begin their careers at our Denver base and will be available to fly starting December 1, 2021.  

We look forward to welcoming our flying partners to the line as they begin their new careers!

Over the course of the next several months as our newest Members join us on the line, we remind everyone of the importance for each of us to support our newest flying partners as they transition into their new careers and our profession.  Assimilating into our industry and the associated responsibilities of our job can be an overwhelming experience.  The mentorship and friendships formed are critical to their success as they began their new career.

As a reminder, when a probationary Flight Attendant has questions about our Contract and work rules, please direct them to their Local Council and Reserve Committee for assistance. We want to ensure they are receiving the most accurate and vetted information as we work to support them and set them up for success in their new career.


NOV 16 – Revision #38 for eFAOM/eFAAB available in Manuals App, effective December 1, 2021 
NOV 19 – Annual Benefits Open Enrollment Closes at 2359 CT Tonight
NOV 25 – U.S. Holiday – Thanksgiving
NOV 30 – Link/Sled Recovery Protection Plans Closes
DEC 05 – Instant Vacation Trades Open



Share this page:

More News