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Variable Staffing Position(s) & Overstaffing

Date: September 29, 2022

Not too long ago, we provided you with a news article as it relates to variable staffing answering questions about how to assign jumpseat and work positions when the number of Flight Attendants assigned to work a flight exceeds the number of Flight Attendants required by the Established Staffing Guidelines (ESGs).  This is often referred to as overstaffing.

Recent publications to Pursers about staffing tests that are being conducted during the month of October are reportedly creating some confusion. 

As the International Purser / Purser, refer to the staffing sheet and assign the next jump seats in numerical numbers to identify where any Flight Attendants above the required ESG (overstaffed) will be assigned a jumpseat and where they will work.  If you have more than one (1) Flight Attendant above the ESG, the Flight Attendants whose addition to the crew creates the overstaffing will decide, in seniority order, will determine their work position and the corresponding next numerical jumpseat connected with that work position they will occupy.

As an example: On the B787-8 (78H) configuration: 28 (UPB) / 21 (UPP) / 194 (UE) for a total of 215 economy passengers.

  •       FAA minimum: 7
  •       Domestic Established Staffing Guideline (ESG): 7
  •       International ESG: 7
  •       International Variable ESG when the combined passenger loads in United Economy and (EU) United Premium Plus (UPP) is 172 or greater: 8

In a circumstance where a flight to a certain international city is full leaving the U.S. but not full returning from the international point, you could be (over)staffed at 8 when the passenger loads in economy (including UPP) is less than 172 passengers.  This constitutes overstaffing.  The Flight Attendant either assigned during the monthly bid with a pairing of 63XX or, if built in the operation with a variable position of 9XIX, would work the next numerical position on the staffing sheet which would be FA08. This is their work position and jumpseat, even if the passenger loads in economy are less the 172.

If the passenger count in economy or the premium cabin are light, as an International Purser / Purser, you can always ask for volunteers to assist in another cabin when the service is completed in their assigned cabin as no one is finished until we are all finished, and all passengers have been served.

However, what cannot be done is the assignment of the variable staffing position into an alternate cabin to “enhancement staff,” for example, the premium cabin.

Please note, the identifier on the staffing sheet stating “variable staffing position if UE loads are XX or higher” is there to indicate when you should receive the International Variable ESG position or when you would receive short crew pay if the variable Flight Attendant is not on board.  This should not be misunderstood to be an indicator that the position can be assigned to work somewhere else on the aircraft or to supplement staffing in another cabin.

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

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