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Self Help 101 – Again

Date: May 17, 2022

As the busy summer season kicks off, we are hearing more reports from Flight Attendants that an insufficient number of rooms have been contracted for by United’s Crew Accommodations Department in several cities. 

While we share in the excitement of United’s success and robust bookings returning, we do not wish to share in the frustration of being at a hotel, without a room when one is Contractually required. We have heard from you that this is not only happening during irregular operations, where management has repeatedly proven they have yet to implement an adequate strategy to support their operation and our rest; it is becoming more common on a daily basis in some locations simply because the number of layovers scheduled in some cities are exceeding the block of rooms for which United management has contracted.  To be clear – this is not acceptable.

Our Contract is truly clear on what steps we should take after waiting an appropriate amount of time. Beginning with transportation:

  • 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, because 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:

  • 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.
  • If this fails to fix the problem, call the Hotel Desk (Crew Accommodations), and ask for their assistance.
  • 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 your expenses and submit a company expense report for reimbursement.

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.

If possible, after you’re at the new hotel, attempt to call the Hotel Desk before you check out of the hotel and request that United take care of the hotel charges to avoid the need for you to be reimbursed.

If you are unable to do so, when you return from your trip, remember to file the appropriate expense (Concur®) report, and attach your receipts for reimbursement.

Ultimately it costs United less to adequately plan for a correct number of hotel rooms than need to reimburse us for hotel costs that we must secure at market rates, which may be seasonally high this time of year. While we shouldn’t have to self-manage this part of our job, we have the ability to do so, when management fails to provide for us, or when irregular operations create unforeseen circumstances.

The last thing we need from you is to make our Union aware of the problem and report it.

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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