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White Flag Pay – How It Works

Date: August 10, 2021

As we all have seen, United management has been using white and purple flag as a means of supplementing staffing in many cases preemptively to conserve Reserve resources.  In other instances, especially yesterday, the White Flag has been essential in replacing dwindling Reserve resources. 


With the increased usage of white and purple flag, there have been an increase in the number of reports from some of our Members that they are seeing irregularities in the non-payment of these premiums.

While the notice of White/Purple Flag availability is essential in notifying Flight Attendants of this option, that same notice contains a very clear and important statement which, when condensed down, advises Flight Attendants who are eligible for the incentive pay associated with the declaration: 

 “Flight Attendants straight picking up a pairing from CCS open time…”

Given the volume of open time, there have been greater opportunities for Flight Attendants to trade with open time. However, trading a trip in your line with a white/purple flag trip in open time is not straight picking up from CCS Open Time.

It must also be noted; White and Purple Flag indicators follow the pairing when directly traded to another Flight Attendant.  However, once a pairing with a White Flag indicator is traded via open time, the trip becomes ineligible for the incentive pay. This is because a trade with open time is not a straight pick up.  It is trading one open trip for another.

Some additional things to keep in mind when trading white flag pairings:

The company’s payroll system is not programmed to pay white/purple flag pay once a pairing has been traded with another pairing from open time.  This is less obvious when a Flight Attendant is picking the trip up from another Flight Attendant through mutual ads.  If, at any time during the chain of custody of the white flag trip, the white flag trip was involved in a trade with open time, the pairing is not eligible for white flag pay unless the pairing returns to the open trip file and is subsequently straight picked up.

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If you have additional questions on White Flag Pay, please contact your Local Council Office.

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