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Reminder - Avoid Passenger Staging or Holding on Jet Bridge

Date: May 24, 2022

Our Union is supportive of efforts to achieve operational performance metrics such as on-time departures and arrivals. While these are important metrics on which passengers base their decisions to purchase, there are limits to what other company personnel can reasonably ask Flight Attendants to do in order to achieve those metrics.  Early boarding is one such area.  This is especially the case when these requests distract us from our primary pre-flight safety responsibilities on the aircraft.  Safety – it’s our number one priority.

More and more we are hearing your reports of Airport Operations personnel telling you of some form of a “+1 program” as it pertains to passenger boarding.  Based on individual agent interpretations, these “+1 programs” would have us boarding the aircraft minutes before established customer boarding times.  We are hearing your questions asking what it is that the “Union has agreed to” as it pertains to early boarding of passengers.  We want to be explicitly clear – there is no agreement with the Union requiring Flight Attendants to early board passengers.  In point of fact, it is the understanding of the Union that passengers may be sent through the boarding door onto the jet bridge at such time so as to arrive at the threshold of the aircraft at the established customer boarding time.

We understand that some stations are consistently pressuring Flight Attendants to begin boarding early.  In some instances, it is being suggested that Flight Attendants who don’t agree to early boarding are, in some way, not team players.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As Flight Attendants, that we are taking the time to complete our safety checks, stow our luggage and preparing for the arrival of passengers is one of our strongest commitments to not only the on-time operation of our airline, but to the safety of the passengers in our care.

At the same time, we continue to receive inquiries about the acceptability of “passenger staging” on jet bridges being used to facilitate on-time departures.  As was indicated in the Quick Turn Article in the June 7, 2017 edition of Inflight Services Weekly (ISW), under no circumstances should a jet bridge be used as a passenger staging or holding area prior to boarding.

 

Using the jet bridge to stage passengers is unsafe and is to be avoided.  Our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) do not support this practice. If you encounter difficulties establishing boarding times with the Customer Service Representative (CSR), use your Crew Resource Management (CRM) skills to resolve the issue. The boarding process is to be coordinated between the Flight Attendant assigned to the Purser position and the CSR during the pre-departure INFORM briefing.

 

It cannot be stressed enough, from an overall safety perspective, all processes for boarding should be accomplished to ensure the first customer will cross the threshold of the aircraft at the established boarding time without the need for our passengers, indeed some of our highest status passengers, to wait on the jet bridge for the cabin to become available.

 

Our Contract provides for adequate boarding times based upon mutually agreed upon time frames for Flight Attendant check-in and subsequent boarding tines.   Section 6.R.2. of our Contract outlines agreed upon Flight Attendant check-in time, based on aircraft type:



 

As for passenger boarding, the following currently applies:

 

B737-700 & A319/320
(International & Domestic)

B737- 800/900 MAX
(International & Domestic)

Wide-Body
(Including B757-200/300)

:35 before Departure

:40 before Departure

:50 before Departure

 


As a reminder, it is important to continue to file an Inflight Safety Action Program (ISAP) report regarding any Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) violations caused by early boarding. It also helps to follow up with a call, a note, or an e-mail to your Local Council, advising them immediately if you encounter problems with early boarding.

 

We encourage all Members to advise our AFA Safety, Health & Security Committee if you see or are asked to deviate from our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) especially those leading to working conditions that may be unsafe for our passengers or that inhibit your ability to comply with FARs.

 

For additional information, please contact your Local Council Office.


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