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E-Lines: April 06, 2021

Date: April 6, 2021

Local Council Meetings in Advance of Spring 2021 Regular MEC Meeting

As a reminder, throughout the month of April, our Local AFA Councils across the system will be conducting Local Meetings which have been scheduled to coincide with the upcoming Spring Regular Meeting of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) that will be held April 20 – 22.

Despite our expectation that this meeting would be an in-person meeting held in Chicago, the increasing incidences of COVID-19 infections as well as some of the difficulties associated with travel and quarantine have made it unavoidable for us to have this meeting virtually.

We encourage all active Members to participate in our democratic process by participating in their Local Council Meeting. In a similar way, because of social distancing parameters and other shelter in place orders by location, some Local Council Meetings are only taking place electronically.

For specific inquiries regarding date, time, and the platform for your Local Meeting, please contact your Local Council directly.

United’s “Better Boarding”

Quietly, without much fanfare or attention, United announced a return to “Better Boarding” in last Friday’s United Daily.  Better Boarding is United’s reference to a return to the previous concept of preferential boarding of Premier’s first and ultimately the use of boarding groups 1 – 5.

United claims the current process of boarding from back to front, by row number, is viewed as “disorderly.” While it is not clear who is making this claim, if you were to ask any Flight Attendant who has worked this past year for her/his opinion, it’s anything but disorderly.  The current boarding process is viewed by most Flight Attendants as orderly, organized and easy to follow and which; the benefit is a faster boarding process that accommodates more passenger carry-on luggage.  Arguably, what it doesn’t contemplate is the wishes of United’s premier customers, as United characterizes in their statement, who “value early boarding.”

While we all recognize and value the feedback of our premier passengers, we are also faced with the need to distinguish the reality of our current circumstance; the majority of passengers on our planes these days are leisure travelers who in many instances are new to United Airlines and not premier level status.  In addition to the benefits of the more organized and expedited boarding process, most passengers now also remain in their seats, waiting to get up and retrieve their luggage row-by-row when deplaning.  Were you to survey a majority of Flight Attendants, we will tell you directly that we haven’t had this level of a “clean” boarding or deplaning process in a decade, and the feedback we’ve received overall from the passengers we care for daily is, “Why haven’t you done this sooner?”

As we stated initially, this announcement was not given a great deal of dedicated attention nor was AFA advised of the imminent return to zone boarding.  In fact, the decision was made without obtaining any feedback from AFA on the Flight Attendant view of this proposed change in procedures.    As we would expect the company to acknowledge, more than any other United employees, Flight Attendants spend more time with passengers, actually present in the cabin not only during the flight, but also during the boarding process. Rather than mess with the current success, why not solicit our feedback and consider the value of our perspective before announcing the change, not to mention implementation?

As of Monday, there were more than 140 comments on United’s post in Flying Together. The majority by Flight Attendants support the current procedures, while options offered by non-aisle working employees, suggest the return to be a better choice.  Apparently, there is something to be said about the “eye of the beholder.”

Special COLAs Awarded

On April 5th, the company processed requests for Special COLAs to those who had submitted requests.  If you bid for one of these options we encourage you to review your award.  Most notably and as a reminder, the interline travel exception for those on Special COLAs ended on March 31st.

Based on the interline travel agreements with other airlines, United is unable to extend interline travel to anyone who is not actively working or fully retired under normally published retirement guidelines after this date.  Because the deadline was last week, some of us on Special COLA are being caught off guard at not being able to secure interline travel.   This is not an error and is consistent with the information we published earlier this year when the announcement of the exception was made.

United Airlines 95th Birthday!

United Airlines came from somewhat humble beginnings when William Boeing founded Boeing Airplane Company in 1916 as an aircraft manufacturer. With successful releases of Boeing Aircraft models, the company transitioned into operating as an air carrier for mail. The first successful mail delivery was in 1919. By 1928 a subsidiary, United Aircraft Corp, was established to operate as a full-service airline.

Under this Corporation, our airline began to expand business operations through both acquisitions and mergers. Over the years the United Aircraft Corp included Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, Stout Air Services (operating as a passenger airline) and First Pacific Air Transport, and then expanded to include Varney Airlines.

After these acquisitions, United Air Lines was established as the parent company for all the subsidiaries transitioning from manufacturing, cargo and mail delivery to civilian and military transportation services.

In 1934 the Air Mail Act was passed that resulted in United breaking into multiple businesses and airmail contracts.  The Boeing Company would now facilitate the manufacturing of airplanes, while United Airlines company emerged as a commercial airline operation. United had already become one of the largest airlines in the U.S. because of the hub structure in effect at that time (SFO, SLC, DEN, ORD, IAD), and capitalized on these hubs to create a profitable mail carrier structure as well.

Of course, we’ve all been through our most recent merger, between United, Continental and Continental Micronesia Airlines.  While executing the merger took a substantial amount of time, we are now all benefiting from the synergies that come with merging not only the operations, but the rich diversity of the people who today make up the face of our airline.  Through the rich mix of history, culture and diversity United has evolved into the carrier we all have come to know today. Collectively, we join together on April 6 to wish the place we call home a very Happy Birthday.

COVID-19 Vaccination POD opens at IAH

Last Friday, April 2nd, IAH became the newest location to open a Point of Distribution (POD) for COVID-19 vaccinations. IAH is the third on the list following DEN in February and ORD in March. Following the initial guidelines for other locations, eligibility is limited to those who:

  • Live in the state of Texas, and
  • Are based at IAH or HOU, and
  • Are in active or inactive status (being recalled).

This is more good news, and a positive step in the right direction to offer vaccination to our first responders: Flight Attendants.

United emphasizes the fact that the state of Texas is responsible for determining eligibility.

Reserve Review

With the successful passing of the Payroll Support Program (PSP), Flight Attendants across the system are returning to the line. While as Flight Attendants our numbers seem flush with people eager to return to work, the reality is thousands of us still require requalification training.  Despite the numbers, because some of us lack the required qualifications, this may result in currently qualified Flight Attendants being utilized more than normal even with the reduction in typical flying, regardless of status as a lineholder or a Reserve.

Reserve Flight Attendants are encouraged to review and have a working knowledge of our Contractual Legalities. In the event of crew desk confusion or rushed short staffing situations mistakes may happen resulting in a Contractual Violation. Our Union and our Contract are here to support you as you work as Aviation’s First Responders.

The Reserve Survival Guide is one of the best tools a Flight Attendant working as a Reserve can have at their disposal. Contractual provisions are clarified and additional programing updates are deployed in CCS and other platforms, all of which may impact aspects of Reserve. You are also encouraged to refer to the One United updates on Flying Together and our unitedafa.org website for the most up to date implementation information.

If you have questions on any of the information contained within the Reserve Survival Guide, please e-mail the MEC Reserve Committee at reserve@unitedafa.org


We Applaud United’s Statement on the Integrity of Democratic Voting

Part of our Union’s job is to speak out when managements’ action or decisions do not coincide fully with our values as a labor Union, or that fail to support the priorities of our Membership.  As a result of our advocacy, we can sometimes appear to be at odds with each other.  However, there are also times when United’s view aligns with that of AFA.  When that happens, we need to recognize that as well.

Yesterday, United tweeted their support for a democratic vote, where every vote is properly counted and condemned legislation “that infringes on the right to vote of fellow Americans..” and went so far as to say that such infringement “is wrong.”

We are a diverse workforce. Our cultures, education, religious & political beliefs and backgrounds create a unique group of people that collectively increase our strength and solidarity. We all know the importance of our vote and how that responsible civic action can shape our nation. Regardless of our political affiliations, viewpoints or background, every American has a right to our vote. Legislation was recently passed in one location, and similar legislation is being considered elsewhere, that many believe infringes on the right of our fellow Americans to vote. The catalyst for this legislation is based on unfounded claims that the integrity of our nation’s election system is riddled with widespread fraud. These claims have repeatedly been proven false.

United and AFA stand in agreement on the principle that the leaders of both parties should work together to protect the rights of eligible voters by ensuring fair and equitable access to voting and the ability to cast and record their ballot. Engaging Americans in our democratic process will ensure more Americans vote and have their voices heard.

For too long, many American citizens have not had an equal opportunity to cast their vote. Our history is replete with examples of us collectively fighting for the right to vote.  We must come together to shine light on this practice and bring it to a swift halt. Failure to do so risks the ability for all of us to participate in the democratic process.

We applaud United for taking a stand to support what many see as right and equitable, and to join a number of other corporations and organizations who have voiced their objection to this regressive legislation as well. A corporate conscience is a risk, but we agree in this case, one worth taking. Well done, United.  Well done!

Spring Turbulence and Seat Belt Compliance Checks

MEC Safety Health and Security Committee

As Spring travel ramps up so does the potential for turbulence with the changing weather. As a reminder in advance of the anticipated challenges of Spring and Summer flying, our MEC Safety, Health and Security Committee shared information concerning seat belt compliance checks and provided guidance to ensure Flight Attendants are in compliance.

Misinformation spread via social media and in the workplace continues to wrongly suggest that these compliance checks are in some way discretionary in nature for Flight Attendants. These improper suggestions have created significant confusion in the workplace and Flight Attendants continue to seek clarification as to when (and if) Seatbelt Compliance Checks are required.

To avoid confusion, the use of seatbelts for cabin occupants two years and older is required on all aircraft during surface movement, takeoff and landing, in accordance with FAR 121.311. The flight deck is responsible for illuminating the Fasten Seat Belt sign. Flight Attendants are required to make PA announcements at regular intervals in those instances when the Fasten Seat Belt sign is illuminated during prolonged periods, or if passengers do not comply when the sign is illuminated.

In addition to the PA announcements, Flight Attendants are required to complete a cabin compliance check anytime the Fasten Seat Belt sign is turned on during flight, except if instructed by pilots to take their jumpseats, to remain seated or during periods of moderate to severe turbulence, as stated as part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

None of us can selectively choose to read or interpret a FAR or disregard eFAOM guidance. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the eFAOM are deemed as regulatory per FAA. The United Flight Attendant Manual is approved by the FAA which makes the information contained in the publication essential for compliance with FARs. Misrepresenting published communications places all of us at a disadvantage.

In addition, we’ve recently published a reminder on cart safety that we encourage everyone to review to ensure the best opportunity for each of us to protect ourselves in the event the need to do so arises unexpectedly.

If you have any questions, please contact your Local Council Safety Representatives for assistance.

Reminders and Quick Links

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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