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E-Lines: March 26, 2021

Date: March 26, 2021

Onboard Service Enhancement Response

In today’s message from John Slater to the Inflight Team, John addresses AFA’s recent communication on the subject of mask compliance suggesting that AFA “elected to omit some important facts” as it pertains to Onboard Service Enhancements.  While it is not our intent to enter into a public discourse on either subject, for the record, we want to clarify that our article wasn’t about Onboard Service Enhancements.  Our article was about mask compliance and AFA’s acknowledgement of the difficult situation many of you are telling us you are facing on a daily basis.

Let’s be clear. It’s fair to say that Flight Attendants, more than anyone else in the company, want to return to the pre-COVID service days onboard the aircraft.  We want to deliver the full services that passengers expect of the world class airline for which United is known. There is no denying the fact that long haul services to the Hawaiian Islands from the East Coast, or points in the interior United States, require food services in order to address the physical needs of the passengers in our care for the duration of these flights.

And, Flight Attendants applaud the efforts of Inflight management in the development of technologies to reduce touchpoints by using credit card information the customer has provided securely to United Airlines for that purpose.  These are positive developments that serve all of us, customers and employees, well. 

We don’t disagree that this is a highly competitive industry and it goes without saying that each one of us is fully prepared to engage in the competition, but we’re all acutely aware of the questions at the foundation of the issue; Is this the right time to introduce this level of service on every flight?  Are we jumping in too soon to our own detriment?  These are legitimate questions.

To the point we were calling out in our prior article, it’s about how the introduction of these services are creating challenges and, in some cases, conflicts on the aircraft.  Each one of you understand the point we were making.  Rather than cover the issue you already know well, for illustrative purposes, we think it might just be best to hear about the overall concern in the words of a Flight Attendant working the line, in her own words:

“Is there any clarification on what flights will be selling food and liquor? This is so insane. We struggle with the mask policy now. Every day —Someone complains. This man won’t wear his mask over his nose. “Sir please keep your mask up” which he only puts up when you are walking by his seat.  

“It’s exhausting. I’ve seen people with a can of Pringle’s sit and eat one chip at a time with the mask off. A can of peanuts, same thing for almost the entire duration of the flight. I’m eating! Every single flight I’ve had, they ask to buy liquor. Every one. Doesn’t matter if it’s 0700.

“Liquor and food sales or masks. Pick one....”    Enough, well said and in her own words.


May 1-2-3-month Special COLA Deadline Extended to April 5 at 8:00 AM CT

The deadline to submit for 1-, 2- or 3-month Special COLAs, effective for the May bid month, has been extended to close on Monday, April 5 at 0800 CT.  If you are interested in these programs, you should submit your request through CCS.


Line Trade and Reserve Restoration of Days Off

We have received questions from some Flight Attendants about the proper sequence that should be used when completing a line trade involving a Reserve schedule having more than the Contractual minimum twelve (12) days off and when there is a desire to restore Reserve days of availability and the corresponding Reserve minimum guarantee.

While at one point we thought it would be possible to trade the line after restoring the Reserve days of availability, we are learning that the established automation processes do not support the line trade after the days of availability have been restored.  The system does not recognize the line as a “clean” line and therefore, the trade cannot be processed.

For this reason, when trading a Reserve schedule having more than twelve (12) days where you also plan to restore Reserve days of availability, you should trade first and then restore days of availability within the time frame required by the contract – no later than three (3) days prior to the schedule change.

As an additional reminder on line trades, Flight Attendants must be in the same base to be awarded a line trade.  To further review the restoration of reserve day availability, please see our FAQ document for additional details.


United Virtual Chat

United Airlines Virtual Chat (UAVC) technology has gained some momentum over the past few weeks. Currently the chat may be used for Crew Scheduling (24/7), FAST (hours vary by department) and HotelOps (7 days a week, soon to be 24/7).  You can access the chat through CCS and work to address issues without a phone call.  Additional information is available in your company mail.


Martin Walsh – Labor Secretary Confirmed

This past Monday, the Senate confirmed Martin Walsh, the mayor of Boston, and a former leader of the city’s powerful building trades council, as Labor Secretary. The vote was 68-29.  This confirmation fills the last leadership role for the 15 Executive departments in President Biden’s cabinet.

In a statement, Mr. Walsh said, “I have been a fighter for the rights of working people throughout my career, and I remain committed to ensuring that everyone – especially those in our most marginalized communities – receives and benefits from full access to economic opportunity and fair treatment in the workplace.”

The nomination, and confirmation, deserves praise and enthusiasm for having such a supportive leader, with whom many Union labor groups have a good relationship. With his relationship with Biden, we are optimistic that he will be well positioned to put labors concerns front and center with the President. One of Mr. Walsh’s top priorities as Labor Secretary will be re-energizing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which critics have accused of failing to protect workers during the pandemic.

We are encouraged by this confirmation and look forward to having such a strong advocate for Labor in this role, and look forward to some much-needed positive change.


Scheduling Options for Extended Layovers and Updated Country Restrictions

The company announced in one of two Scheduling Alerts this week that the combination of stringent COVID-19 restrictions worldwide and a reduced flying schedule that has resulted in longer than normal layovers, and in some locations, requires the crew to self-isolate for the duration of their stay in the country.  Based on feedback we’ve received from some of you and the advocacy of your Union leadership, the company will offer some scheduling options for those who do not want to fly these types of a schedule which require long periods of self-isolation in the hotel room.

First, the company would like for us to follow one of the contractual options that include:

  • “Leverage” trip trading options within CCS
  • Submit a “PTO” request either 15 or 5 days before your trip
  • Submit a “DATV request

If, after these three options you still have the pairing, the company will allow you to request a drop (management drop) for this trip without pay. This action must be completed at least three days prior to the start date of the affected pairing.  The company has made it clear that if a request is submitted within the three days of the pairing, that it will not be processed.

We need to recognize that both PTO and DATV are hard earned Contractual rights that allow us a finite amount of opportunities throughout the year to exercise specific schedule flexibility benefits. With the changes to flying, trade restrictions and Reserve utilization, the value of these negotiated schedule flexibilities have increased incrementally. This is one situation that points out the value of these provisions.

Also, in a Scheduling Alert from March 25, 2021, the company has provided an updated country restriction notice and clarification to some of the restrictions in place for certain countries related to visiting, transiting, or being from another country.  

As you may recall, there are some restrictions prohibiting crew members entry who had been in certain countries within the 10-day period prior to working a flight into one of the restricted countries.

As these restrictions continue to evolve, scheduling will conduct a “look-back” of all Flight Attendant schedules before they work a flight into a country that has implemented restrictions on crew entry.  When a conflict is identified, the Flight Attendant will be removed with pay, subject to reassignment, which is different than the “extended layover in locations requiring self-isolation” company policy.

And any Flight Attendant who trades into or picks up a trip to a country that, because of having been to a restricted country in the prior 10 days is prohibited from entry, will be removed from the trip without pay.

If, because of your line award, you are impacted by one of the “entry restrictions” described above, you will need to contact crew scheduling whereas, if you are scheduled for an “extended layover in a location requiring self-isolation”, you are required to make a Help Hub request at this time.

The company reminds Flight Attendants they have created a tool for you to find the most-up-to-date information on Flying Together>Coronavirus: Latest Updates>International Restrictions.

For more information, please review both Scheduling Alerts this week.   You may also contact your Local Council Office for more information.


COBUS – COVID-19 Vaccination Opportunity for Licensed Registered Nurses

With the difficulty many Flight Attendants (and others) continue to face in obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination, AFA advocated for, and was successful in reaching an agreement with the company to help provide an opportunity for all United employees, systemwide to receive a vaccine.  After the Union was contacted by Flight Attendants with nursing degrees who wanted to offer their service and training skills in providing vaccinations to United workers, our Union reached an agreement with management to provide this opportunity to employees. 

The agreement provides for up to 20 qualified COBUS Flight Attendants who are licensed registered nurses, per base, to administer these vaccines on behalf of United Airlines.  These employees would be administering the vaccine provided to United for United employees.

While the process is just beginning and United does not yet have the vaccine, this is an important first step taken on behalf of our Members and a victory for our Union. If you are interested in this opportunity, we encourage you to read the details and qualification criteria and apply.


JFK Service Begins March 28

After a delayed commencement, United is set to return to JFK airport this Sunday, March 28.  The initial schedule will be small to start: currently anticipated to be: SFO-JFK and LAX-JFK five times per week.  Service will operate out of Terminal 7, and for now, using a 767-300.  It’s an exciting return to this airport, and we are all hopeful this endeavor will be a successful one, returning United to a traditionally lucrative premium trans-continental market.


Women in History – Sara Nelson

When it comes to Aviation and Labor initiatives there is no one better equipped to lead than International President Sara Nelson. We know her as our Union sister, but to the rest of the world, she is known as “America’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant. “

Sara Nelson joined United Airlines in 1996 and quickly got to work in her local Union. If you’ve never heard her tell the story of why she became involved in Union work, it’s a good one; be sure to ask her to relate it to you. After her start in Boston, Sara moved to the MEC level as Communications Chairperson.  Within a very short time, our Union was faced with one of the greatest challenges we had faced to date: United’s bankruptcy.  Sara’s honest, forthright and direct style of communication was pivotal in keeping our Members informed and engaged in our fight to protect our Contract. Sara continued her upward momentum to become the International Vice-President, ultimately being elected to the Office of the AFA International President.

Sara will be the first to tell you she became involved because she wanted to see change. No one could have anticipated just how much positive change she would fuel for our profession, and for the labor movement as a whole.

“We have more in common than that which would ever divide us” has been Sara’s Philosophy and is the platform from which she leads with within our ranks, as well as securing common ground in Washington. Sara has built bridges and mended unlikely fences throughout our government and their agencies, always advocating for Flight Attendant priorities.  The respect and relationships she has built in D.C. have ensured AFA-CWA and Flight Attendants across the country have a strong seat at the table when our jobs, safety, and security are being discussed. Her ability to bridge the gap between political parties has ensured our ability to push our initiatives forward to success.

Sara’s Union history is filled with long fights and securing major wins but her most recent fight, to ensure passage of the Payroll Support Program (PSP), is perhaps her biggest to date. Sara, alongside our AFA Legislative Affairs Team and countless volunteers, secured payroll support (PSP) not once, but three times. She was at the forefront of discussions to make sure that federal funding went directly to payroll and to restrict stock buybacks or executive bonuses. The successful passage of PSP meant thousands of Flight Attendants and aviation workers would keep their jobs and remain tied to their health insurance during a global pandemic. The accomplishments we’ve discussed here only scratch the surface, the ways Sara has strengthened our Union and worked to secure and better the lives of Flight Attendants everywhere are long indeed.

Women: Join Unions, Run Unions. Sara is a prime example of women in leadership and United AFA is proud to honor her as we close out Women’s History month.


Reminders and Quick Links:
March 28 – JFK Service Begins
April 5 - Special COLA Bidding Closes 0800 CT
April 5 – Easter Monday Contractual Holiday U.K.
April 10 – The Association of Flight Attendants- CWA Scholarship closes
April 18 – Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation Scholarships
April 29 - CQ 2021 Trimester CBT 2 Due
April 30 – Joe Beirne Scholarship Closes

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