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Standby Reserve Pre-Boarding – Identifying Safety & Security Risks

Date: August 10, 2021

Based on a variety of safety and security concerns raised by Flight Attendants, a joint taskforce comprised of representatives from AFA Safety Health and Security & Reserve, United Inflight Safety, Crew Scheduling and Airport Operations was formed and have been involved in a multi-department effort to identify potential safety and security risks which might arise when pre-boarding aircraft as a standby Reserve.

Issues first arise when it is unclear who has been assigned to work/pre-board the aircraft resulting in Airport Operations being unclear of who is to be on the aircraft caused by inconsistent communication between Crew Scheduling and Airport Operations representatives at the gate regarding who is pre-boarding.  Further complicating the issue is the question of whether or not the person(s) assigned to pre-board the aircraft are actually legal to take the flight.

Further complicating issues at the aircraft is the lack of access to important flight and passenger information via the My Flight app, such as “Special Service Requests” (SSRs) by those Reserves given a pre-boarding assignment but who do not have access to flight specific information.

And, at the most critical point just minutes prior to departure, there can be confusion about which specific Flight Attendant is being replaced and which Flight Attendants are remaining onboard to work the flight.  This confusion can result in too many people working the aircraft or, in the worse case scenario, closing the door of the aircraft without having the FAA minimum crew complement onboard the flight. 

As was announced in the August 4, 2021 Inflight Services Weekly, part of this concerted effort will include testing of proposed procedures that will be evaluated for implementation as part of an overall process improvement initiative. These tests may be conducted at various times and base locations over the course of the next several weeks.

If you are assigned to Standby Reserve at a base during a timeframe that has been designated to be part of this test, more detailed information about what to expect will be sent to your corporate (united.com) email address prior to your check-in. 

As always, we recommend that any safety or security concerns related to the Standby Reserve pre-boarding process be submitted in an ISAP report with a copy going to AFA.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact your Local Council Office to share those in our ongoing effort to improve this process.

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