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E-Lines: April 02, 2021

Date: April 2, 2021

May Special COLA Bidding Closes April 5 at 8:00 AM CT

The deadline to submit for the May Special COLA (One-, Two-, and Three-Month Durations) is planned for Monday, April 5, 2021 at 08:00 Central Time.   The number of Special COLAs and the base locations at which they will be awarded has not yet been determined.  Also, the number of awarded two- and three-month Special COLAs will be limited.

Flight Attendants interested in these Special COLAs should submit their request via CCS under the “Leaves” drop down menu, then select – “Special COLA’.

As a reminder, these Special COLAs will include medical benefits at active employee rates.  Additionally, pay and vacation longevity are not impacted for step increases.  Also, once a Special COLA is awarded, it cannot be rescinded.

For more information on how to apply for a Special COLA in CCS, review Special COLA Overview section in the "COLA, Job share, and Multiple Month Partnership Overview" located on Flying Together > Inflight Services > Crew Scheduling.

Work Positions on Operational Pairings

Operational Pairings, which can typically be identified as pairings in the 8000 - 9000 range (most commonly in the 9000 range) are not seen often and when they present themselves can be a source of questions especially as it pertains to where those assigned these operational pairings work on the aircraft.  Information on the Established Staffing Guidelines provides additional support in obtaining answers to these questions.

Operational Pairings are positions created due to operational issues such as needing to re-crew a segment(s) due to weather delays/cancellations or perhaps replacing a position that became vacant due to illness down-line; or any other operational need that may occur.

Operational Pairings do not have work positions assigned to them and are considered unassigned positions, which will be determined during briefing.  If only one position is an Operational Pairing, the Flight Attendant assigned the Operational Pairing assumes the one open position that exists.  This most commonly occurs in an instance where, for example, a 737-700 aircraft having an FAA minimum of three (3) Flight Attendants is replaced by a 737-800 aircraft having an FAA minimum of four (4) Flight Attendants.  The base pairing will work the positions specific for that aircraft and an operational pairing will be added to the flight to ensure FAA minimum staffing requirements are met.

During briefing, when there are multiple Flight Attendants with Operational Pairings those Flight Attendants who have the Operational Pairing numbers fill the remaining open positions not covered by the scheduled crew in seniority order.

If all Flight Attendants working a flight have Operational Pairings, ALL positions will be filled in seniority order during briefing by qualified Flight Attendants.  With the exception of those work positions that are determined by the company and included in the monthly bid packet (Section 9.G.5.a.1.), work positions are also determined in seniority order.  Examples of these pre-determined work positions that are included in the bid packet are those assigned to language qualified Flight Attendants or the International Purser.

NOTE: Flight Attendants who assume premium pay positions (IP, Purser, LQ, Galley 757 or Widebody) will contact Crew Scheduling prior to departure if time permits. If unable, submit an Override Pay Exception via Help Hub at earliest convenience.

REMINDERS: Positions obtained through the bid award and trade process are NOT considered unassigned positions with the exception of the Purser position. Flight Attendants who pick up the domestic Purser position from Open Time CAN be senior opted out of the position by a more senior lineholder at the beginning of the pairing; provided the more senior lineholders’ pairing contains identical segments.

If there are multiple base-pairings assigned to a flight, the base-pairing that was originally assigned to the flight will work their positions. The remaining positions assigned Operational Pairings are filled in seniority order.

Operational Variable Staffing Pairings (9XI_ or 9XS_) are not included in the bid process and are added based on economy cabin load factors. These specific pairings are not considered unassigned positions and the Flight Attendant will fill the Work Position according to the pairing number on the Staffing Sheets.

  • 9XI signifies an International Variable Staffing Position
  • 9XS signifies a Domestic Variable Staffing Position

Flight Attendants are encouraged to reference the Position Bidding Supplement Guide, Established Staffing Guidelines, Staffing Sheets and the Bid/Work Position Matrices inside the Bid Packet Cover Letter.

COVID-19 Testing/Health Forms Requirement and Updated Country Restrictions Update

In two Scheduling Alerts from March 31, 2021 as well as an Safety Alert dated April 2, 2021, the company has provided an updated country restriction notice and clarification to some of the testing, forms, and restrictions in place for certain countries related to visiting, transiting, or originating from another country.  

As you may recall, there are some restrictions prohibiting crew members and passenger entry along with certain requirements for pre-departure and/or arrival testing related to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Beginning April 1, 2021, IAD will have pre-departure COVID-19 testing available for working crewmembers on flights to Germany.  The company has adjusted report times to accommodate for this testing prior to the trip.
  • The Australian Government will allow working crewmembers traveling to Australia to travel with their CPAP machine.  However, specific guidelines must be followed.  The company has created a document titled “Australia-CPAP Guidelines” in the “Content” app (Link>Content>COVID-19 Resources).
  • Effective April 6, 2021, COVID-19 testing will be required for Crew Members traveling to the United Kingdom. Most notably, these new procedures will include Flight Attendants based at LHR.

As this information will continue to evolve, the company reminds Flight Attendants they have created a tool to find the most-up-to-date information on Flying Together>Coronavirus: Latest Updates>International Restrictions.

United Updates “UMNR” App and Adds “Help Hub” link in CCS

United updated their “UMNR” app on April 1, 2021 and, as a result, the current version will no longer function.  The updated “UMNR” app has been pushed to your Link device and no functionality within the app will change.

If you encounter a technical issue with you “UMNR” app after April 1, 2021, please contact United’s technology service desk at U.S. phone number (847) 700-5800.  If you have questions on the UMNR policy or procedures, contact the IFDM for assistance. Also, additional resources regarding the “UMNR” app can be found in a User Guide for this app in Flying Together.

This past week, United made access to Help Hub available directly from CCS with a link that can be accessed from the “Other” tab on the CCS landing page. It is intended to make connecting to the online portal easier when searching for answers to policy questions and when making service requests to a variety of United departments that support employees.  Some examples include the Employee Travel Center, Digital IT Service Desk, TakeOff Learning and Payroll. 

IRS 2021 Tax Deadlines Extended & Exclusion of Unemployment Compensation

In continued response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that individuals have until May 17, 2021 to meet certain deadlines that would normally fall on April 15, such as making IRA contributions and filing certain claims for refund.

Additionally, Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until October 15, 2021.

The American Rescue Plan, which was enacted late during the tax filing period on March 11, 2021, excludes from income up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation paid in 2020.  This means you don’t have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. If you are married, each spouse receiving unemployment compensation doesn’t have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. Amounts over $10,200 for each individual are still taxable. If your modified adjusted gross income is $150,000 or more, you can’t exclude any unemployment compensation.  This late in the year exclusion, while well intended to assist those most impacted during 2020, has created some additional complications in completing tax returns because these exclusions were not “built into” the 2021 tax forms.   This additional time to May 15, 2021 will enable tax preparers and individuals the ability to report the exclusion of these amounts from income.

It is important that we understand, the postponement of the federal tax filing deadline to May 17, 2021 applies only to individual federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2021, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details.

Earlier this year, following the disaster declarations issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the IRS announced relief for victims of the February winter storms in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. These states have until June 15, 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. This extension to May 17 does not affect the June deadline.

For more information on this or other questions, check the IRS’s FAQs and its page devoted to coronavirus issues.

AFA Voluntary Supplemental Insurance Benefits Enrollment Closes April 16

AFA, through the vendors with whom we have relationships, routinely surveys the insurance marketplace to ensure our Members have an opportunity to consider valuable and competitively priced products.

We are pleased to offer enhanced plans to all United AFA Members in partnership with Allstate Products through Design Benefits, and Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC) products through National Group Protection.

  • Enrollment is now opened and will close April 16, 2021. 

For more information regarding coverage and other questions for the insurance providers, please visit our website at review the supplemental benefits information on our MEC website.

Interline Travel Exception While on Special COLA Expired March 31, 2021

The Interline travel exception for those on a Special COLA 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.

Easter – A Season of Hope, Renewal and Optimism

This Sunday, millions will celebrate Easter.  Perhaps, this year we can draw parallels from how different religions and cultures recognize this day with the spirit of hope, renewal and optimism.  As the world moves forward toward global stabilization and recovery from COVID-19, as vaccine production increases and we move towards a better future, we can all identify with the spirit of this day.

The Jewish faith observes Passover, which recognizes the end of slavery of the Israelite people in ancient Egypt.  For Christians, this is a celebration of the glorious resurrection of their Savior, Jesus Christ.  With a spirit of community and optimism, hopefully all people can look to Easter as a time for new beginnings and renewal of hope.

Both individually and collectively we have all been through so much this year.  We most definitely have had our share of dark days, and could use more optimism.  Throughout these challenges, we have persevered.  On behalf of the United Master Executive Council and all of our Union volunteers, we extend our best wishes for your health and hope this season.

Reminders and Quick Links

April 5- Special COLA Bidding Closes 0800 CT
April 5 – Easter Paid Holiday U.K.
April 10 – The Association of Flight Attendants- CWA Scholarship closes
April 16 – Voluntary Supplemental Insurance Benefits Enrollment Closes
April 18 – Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation Scholarships
April 29 - CQ 2021 Trimester CBT 2 Due
April 30 – Joe Beirne Scholarship Closes
May 17 – Federal Tax Filing Deadline

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