Reducing Call Wait Times with a Focus on Us
June 3, 2022
The events of the past several weeks have presented all of us with unimaginable challenges and frustration.
We continue to hear from you about your inability to conduct the basic daily functions related to our work. Excessive call wait times to get through to Crew Scheduling and FAST to conduct routine tasks – calling off sick leave to return to schedule, to obtain staffing, to secure hotels to ensure rest, rescheduling after weather induced irregular operations, changes to Reserve assignments and the list goes on. And, today is only June 3rd.
We know that you have questions about what is being done to address the issues you are faced with daily. Over the course of the past several days, your AFA leadership has been engaged with United management in addressing as many of these issues as possible. These issues, while multi-faceted, generally fall into two categories; one more immediately impacted by the current operation and the others falling into some future planning aspect.
So, you might ask, what have we accomplished?
Working with the staff at the Hotel Desk, we’ve identified those cities where a variable staffing component was applied to flights that we now know are going to be full. The operational group at the Hotel Desk is working to secure hotel rooms in these cities, in advance of the operation of these flights, to ensure that hotel rooms for the variable staffing component are available as we move into the month of June.
As it pertains to the flights that will be operating in July and August where, based on current travel demands, we know the flights will be full, Crew Schedule Planning will be fully staffing these airplanes to ensure that hotel rooms are secured in advance of the operation of these flights. These positions will all be available for bid in the monthly bid package ultimately creating additional flying opportunities for all of us.
From an operational perspective, we share an understanding with management that no one should stay on hold for hours. In an ongoing effort to address the call volumes, scheduling management continues to hire and train new scheduling personnel. In addition while these individuals are transitioning into their new roles, management is working to find ways to ensure that calls are channeled where they should go especially if the calls are not operationally necessary. Crew Scheduling personnel are being offered overtime and double time to support the operation by working extra shifts to address the needs of the operation.
As a reminder, due to unforeseen issues with the return to service of the 777-200 aircraft equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines, there was a substantial pull down of the aircraft schedule for June. As a result, the Crew Scheduling Operations group started the month with more than 10,000 schedule messages identifying pairings throughout the month of June requiring repairs. Try as scheduling personnel might, the impact of the current operational needs is taking precedence and delaying action on the required repairs to the flight sequences.
In response, management continues to hire overtime to stay ahead of the game and make repairs as far in advance as necessary.
We continue our discussions daily with management in the operation to focus attention on the issues of the day and to ensure we fully understand management’s plan to address your needs and the needs of the operation. Discussions will continue next week on exploring options to:
- Automate calling in well, that is, taking ourselves off of sick leave.
- Exploring methods to communicate changes to our schedules efficiently and effectively
As it pertains to our current situation, we need to understand the best plan forward in order to navigate the current challenges. To this end, there are some things each of us can do alleviate some of the call volumes.
First, use the automation enhancements that have been put in place to enable routine transactions to be accomplished without the need for a telephone call:
- Utilize automation to place yourself on sick leave up to eight hours prior to departure.
- Utilize automation to “touchless” check-in for standby
- Utilize the available automation when blocking in at your home base from Reserve
- Utilize automatic deviation via Ellen when deviating on flights that operate later than your original deadhead (only).
Secondly, in support of operational priorities, be aware of the following answers to frequently asked questions:
Reserves at EWR, IAD and IAH who are arriving back to base after assignment, the plan is for scheduling to call you to inform you of your next steps. As a result of irregular operations in these cities it is highly likely that you will be second assigned on arrival due to irregular operations in those geographic areas.
If impacted by a cancellation or diversion, scheduling is asking that we refresh our view of our pairing to determine any reassignments. Where possible, acknowledge these updates via CCS to avoid having to make the call to scheduling.
Schedule adjustments to pairings beyond the current date are being worked in chronological order and you will be called by scheduling once the pairings are updated.
International variable staffing load positions will be filled subject to hotel availability in these cities. Several international cities are in a critically sold out condition
Issue related to trading will be focused on the following priorities:
- Straight pick up of pairing within three (3) hours of check-in
- Reversal of trades within one (1) hour of the transaction
- Review Section 7.G.3 and 7.I. for additional trading rules
Refer to the most recent edition of the Scheduling Scoop for additional suggestions the company makes to avoid call wait times at the Crew Desk and FAST.
It is time for management to Focus on Us. It is time for management to address these more recent and other outstanding issues that affect Flight Attendant quality of life and working conditions. As dedicated Flight Attendants, each of us consistently focuses on doing things that bring our passengers back. These efforts are clearly reflected in the Net Promotor Scores (NPS) and collectively, Flight Attendants have been recognized for our contribution.
It is important for each of you to have the opportunity to communicate your frustration, as well as your experience as a front-line employee. Many of you have asked how you can communicate your message that the company is falling short directly to senior Inflight leadership. We’ve developed a letter that you can sign to let them know how you feel about current quality of life and working conditions.
Join in solidarity and tell management to Focus on Us! Completed letters will be collected and delivered by the MEC Officers directly to John Slater.
FOCUS ON US
As a dedicated Flight Attendant for United Airlines, I consistently focus on doing those things that bring our passengers back. Our Net Promoter Scores (NPS) paint a clear picture of our proven track record and make it clear that we have earned the respect of the traveling public and United management. In return, we expect United management will make available to us the tools and personnel we need to do our jobs well. Management is falling short in a number of areas:
- Call Wait Times at the Crew Desk and Flight Attendant Support Team
- Joint Contract not fully implemented to include piggy-backing and midnight cut off
- Layover hotel and quality issues
- Reserve Pool Numbers restrict trading and schedule flexibility
- Rescheduling issues resulting from aircraft schedule changes
- Catering Issues
- Reciprocal Cabin Seat Agreements
Adding insult to injury, is the inconvenience we will experience as a result of the company’s ill-conceived plan to again realign CQ training months after you made a commitment to all of us following the last realignment that we would not have to go to training for another 18 months. This is unnecessary as there should be other ways this training can be accomplished.
If, in fact, good leads the way, then focus on us and make it possible for us to do our jobs consistently and well. We need these problems fixed!