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Self Help 101- Your Rest Matters

Date: July 20, 2021

We are all relieved to see our industry once again booming with the return of summer travel.

Flights are full and our days are long as we are pushed hard to meet the needs of the seasonal demand. Summer travel is always known for throwing curve balls, severe weather in one region can pose a significant impact to United’s route network resulting in cancellations, diversions and delays. Based on what’s happening on one day, the irregular operations that follow has Flight Attendants scrambling for support from a network that hasn’t fully recovered from the pandemic.

Our Contract provides protection to ensure when things go wrong that we have solutions at our disposal to place our needs, safety, and rest first. Unfortunately, we have a long history with United often being “caught unaware” and understaffed at Crew Scheduling and/or the Hotel Desk, and then we’re forced to endure excessively long wait or hold times after an already long day.  While everyone needs to work together in these scenarios, Flight Attendants out on the line, waiting at the airport for hotel information or transportation that is delayed when they already have minimum rest, may need to intervene on their own behalf to provide for their own needs.

Transportation: Section 5.D.4. of our Contract requires layover hotel-operated transportation to be available to pick-up Flight Attendants within 35 minutes of block arrival. In those circumstances where transportation is contracted independently (“public limousine service” – in other words not a hotel van), the cut-off time is 45 minutes after block arrival. If these wait times are exceeded, Flight Attendants may use other means of transportation to the place of lodging, i.e. self-help, and seek reimbursement.

Hotel: If, as a result of irregular operations, you arrive in a city where a hotel was not planned but becomes necessary after trying to reach the Hotel Desk, you may find yourself needing to use these Self-Help procedures to secure a hotel room for the night.

Additionally, Section 5.B.5. states if you arrive at a layover hotel and your room is not ready within 30 minutes after arrival you may use Self-Help and obtain other accommodations. There are certainly other times you may also use Self-Help such as: no hot or cold water, no power, no heat or air conditioning, broken door locks, bugs or vermin of any kind in your room, no food availability whatsoever, noise that prohibits legal rest or any situation that threatens your safety or well-being. 

If you encounter these or similar issues, take the following action to correct your experience: 

  1. Calmly attempt to resolve the issue with the people providing the services – the hotel or transportation company.  Always ask to speak to a manager on duty.
  2. If this fails to fix the problem, call the Hotel Desk (Crew Accommodations) and ask for their assistance.
  1. If you do not get resolution to your situation through these two avenues, go to another hotel and take a taxi, if necessary.  Ensure that you have the names of hotel and company representatives with whom you’ve spoken.  Get receipts for all of your expenses and submit a company expense report for reimbursement.
  1. Once settled into a different hotel, call Crew Scheduling and let them know where you are.  Be aware that the Hotel Desk is not Crew Scheduling.

Don’t be afraid to act in your best interests.  United is responsible for our safety on layovers.  If they do not respond, take care of yourself.  If one of your flying partners is in trouble and doesn’t have the expendable cash or a credit card to take care of it, help them out if you can. 

When you return from your trip, remember to file the appropriate expense report and attach your receipts for reimbursement.  Alternatively, you may attempt to call the Hotel Desk the next morning before you check-out of the hotel to request that United take care of the hotel charges and avoid the need for reimbursement.

To be clear, if any Flight Attendant feels they are unsafe to perform their Flight Attendant duties efficiently and safely, due to a lack of adequate rest, they are encouraged to review the company’s Fatigue Risk Management Program and act accordingly. 

We will continue to reiterate our expectation to management that provisioning of hotel rooms remains the company’s responsibility. Self-help is not only allowable per our Collective Bargaining Agreement; it is strongly recommended that you seek self-help to ensure adequate rest and to protect your safety. Our AFA MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee meets with United Crew Accommodations monthly, to address problems and seek positive resolution.  Our advocacy is strengthened when problems are documented and trended through our Hotel Reporting Form.  Help us help you.  File a report every time you experience a problem, conversely, or a positive experience.

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