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Review of Flight Time vs. Holding Time following a Diversion

Date: April 26, 2022

Irregular operations resulting from spring and summer weather are a direct result of the impact of weather on the operations of our airline. As undesirable as irregular operations can be, they are a part of our daily life during the season of thunderstorms. As a result of irregular operations, diversions to airports at destinations other than those intended on the flight’s route do occur.

Depending on what happens at the station where we land, time spent on the aircraft with passengers at the diversionary point can be classified as either holding or flight time depending on the circumstances we find once we have landed. Understanding holding and flight time within the context of a diversion can significantly reduce not only our frustration but that of the passengers in our care. 

Section 2.P. of our Contract provides for the circumstances under which flight time continues to accumulate following a diversion/unplanned stop. In the application of the language in Section 2.P. – Flight Time, the following represents the language of the Settlement of a prior grievance asserting a misapplication of these provisions when flights have diverted:

  • “Normal unloading point” includes any gate position with or without a jet bridge where aircraft typically park to load/unload passengers at a particular airport even if that place is not the intended destination of the flight in question.
  • “Operational reasons” includes but are not limited to mechanical issues, refueling, weather, or the removal of an ill or disruptive passenger.

Clarification Scenarios:

  • When an aircraft returns to a “normal unloading point” at the departure airport, holding time will apply.
  • When an aircraft makes an unscheduled stop for operational reasons and the aircraft parks at a place, which is not a typical unloading point, and passenger access/egress is prohibited, then flight time shall continue uninterrupted.
  • When an aircraft makes an unscheduled stop and parks at a standard unloading point which eventually becomes its unloading point, and governmental authorities require passengers to remain onboard to wait for customs and/or immigration facilities to become available, then holding time will apply while awaiting passenger egress.
  • When an aircraft makes an unscheduled stop for operational reasons and governmental authorities deny permission for passenger egress, then flight time shall continue uninterrupted until the plane departs for the scheduled destination. It may be necessary for the Purser/International Purser to follow up with Crew Scheduling to ensure pairings that qualify for continuous flight time are appropriately updated.

Should you have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact your Local Council Office for assistance.

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