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Early Boarding

Date: July 6, 2021

Operational and weather delays, often associated with summer flying, and the corporate drive on maintaining our operational performance may lead to requests for Flight Attendants to early board the aircraft.

The time we have prior to customer boarding is designed to facilitate completion of our required safety duties as well as to provide us with the ability to prepare for the arrival of passengers on the aircraft.

Having the ability to complete safety checks and a crew briefing, without passengers actively boarding, reduces the potential for mistakes made while rushing or being distracted when addressing a customer’s needs.

Our Contract provides for adequate boarding times based upon mutually agreed time frames by AFA and Management.  Section 6.R.2. of our Contract outlines agreed upon Flight Attendant check-in time, based on aircraft type. 

Since check-in now occurs at the aircraft, Flight Attendants are expected to be scanned in to board the aircraft at check-in time, subject to aircraft availability.

The following are the established passenger boarding times, by aircraft type:

Passenger Boarding:

B737-700 & A319/320

International and Domestic

B737 800-900 Max

International and Domestic


Including B757-200-300

:35 Before Departure

:40 Before Departure

:50 Before Departure

Some Flight Attendants report feeling pressured to board the aircraft earlier than the specified boarding times, at times, even when FAA minimum is not on the aircraft.  

It is important to remember, in some cases, not all Members of the crew have the same check-in time. For example, some positions originate at the base whole others may involve the 2nd, 3rd or 4th duty period of a pairing where there is a reduced reporting time.  

Our role as Flight Attendants is passenger safety and service.  We are obligated to comply with all Federal Air Regulations to ensure the safety of passengers in our care. By regulation, we have an obligation to ensure the FAA Minimum Flight Attendant crew complement in on the aircraft for customer boarding. Ours is a commitment to safety – in all things, at all times.

There should be no circumstances where Flight Attendants are ever pressured into boarding a flight early or in the absence of the FAA minimum crew complement.  

While there may be unusual and very limited circumstances where additional time may be required for boarding (i.e. large number of customers with disabilities requiring wheelchair assistance, etc.), you are not required to board (nor should you) without the full FAA complement. In an unusual instance where additional time is needed to board in order to accommodate the special needs of customers, you should not be pressured to board nor should we unreasonably withhold our concurrence to do so provided we have met all of our safety responsibilities.

  • If you find yourself in a situation where you are being pressured to board early, consider first trying to resolve the issue with the employee(s) from whom you are feeling the pressure.
  • If you are unable to do so, as we always do, reach out to Employee Assistance/Professional Standards in order to avoid involving management in the situation.
  • If you find yourself in situations where you are repeatedly asked to board early, we ask that you provide information to your Local Council to ensure AFA is aware and that steps can be taken to address the issue.

Click here to file a LEC Worksheet or contact your Local Council for more information.


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