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Reserve Preferencing: “Why didn’t I get my preference?”

Date: June 24, 2022

With the busy summer travel season often comes irregular operations. Additional pairings created during periods of irregular operations caused by misconnects or flight cancellations often drives negative Reserve coverage; in other words, situations where there are more open trips than there are Reserves legal and available for any given number of days.  The addition of this open time, in combination with a lack of available Reserves, often creates a situation where the Reserve Preference System is assigning open pairings to Reserves in a manner that accomplishes coverage of as much open time as possible.  As a result, one of the most common questions Local Reserve Committees receive during these times is, “I was number one for a ___-day trip. Why did the system not award my Reserve preference?”

While there are a few reasons why it may not be possible to award a Reserve a specific preference, the primary tenant of Reserve assignment process is that the system is designed and will always function to maximize coverage of all open positions.

1.   The Reserve Preferencing system will assign all open positions that can possibly be assigned to the Reserves who are legal and available, even if it means some preferences cannot be honored in order to do so.

2.   All available Reserves are eligible for assignment regardless of whether or not they have a preference on file.

More Open Assignments than Reserves Legal and Available
(Sections 8.D.6.d., 8.D.8. and 8.I.1.h.2.)

  •       When the number of open assignments is greater than the number of Reserves who are legal and available, the Company will designate those assignments that will be left uncovered. (In general, it will be those with the latest report times to allow as much time as possible to determine alternate coverage, if necessary.)
  • If the number of open assignments of a given length expressed in number of days is greater than the number of Reserves available in the corresponding day classification group, remaining assignments will be covered by Reserves available for a greater number of days. (Here again, it will generally be the assignments with the latest report times that are covered by Reserves in subsequent day-of-availability groups.)
    • o   In this case, Reserve preferences will be considered for assignment to those Reserves having Reserve availability with a length outside of day classification. However, a preference may not be honored if there is a Reserve available whose number of days of availability more closely matches the assignment.
  •        If there is a trip in open time and there are no Reserves who are legal and available in the originating sub-base of the pairing without assigning into day(s) off, the Company may use a Reserve from another sub-base in that geographical location. However, out-of-sub-base assignments will not be made by the Reserve Preferencing system. They may be assigned manually, either during the post-preferencing “clean-up” process prior to 1930 HDT or after 1930 HDT to Ready Reserves.

Preferences Not Honored
(Section 8.D.10.)

There are a few other circumstances that may prevent a Reserve’s preferences from being honored and/or may cause the Reserve to be assigned out of time accrued (TMAC) order.

A Reserve’s preference may not be honored:

  •       When there is an available Reserve whose number of days of availability more closely matches the assignment.
  •       When honoring a preference would result in decreasing the number of assignments or result in earlier departures being uncovered.

·        When a Reserve is in-motion (on a pairing) at the time the Reserve Preferencing system runs, the Company may deny a preferencing request for an assignment if the check-in time is within 1 hour of the conclusion of the legal rest associated with the projected arrival of the Reserve.

A Reserve may receive an assignment out of TMAC order:

  •         If they are the only Flight Attendant who is legal, qualified, and available for that assignment; or
  •         If it is the only assignment for which they are legal, qualified, and available.

As an additional reminder, In the event of a Reserve Preferencing system failure or a major disruption to the integrity of the operation, the company may process Reserve assignments manually in TMAC order, considering FIFO order, then the higher seniority as the tiebreaker, if necessary. In this case, Reserve preferences will not be considered.

Your Local Council is provided a report generated by the Reserve Preference System each evening that explains how the system accomplished open assignment coverage. If you ever have concerns regarding Reserve Preferencing assignments, your Local Reserve Committee should be considered your first point of contact.

Additional information concerning the Reserve Preferencing system can be found in the Reserve Preferencing Resources section of our website and in the Reserve Survival Guide.

If you have additional questions, please contact your Local Council.

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