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MEC Reserve Report – October/November 2023

Date: November 10, 2023

MEC Reserve Report – October/November 2023

MEC Reserve Committee

November 10, 2023

The Combined October/November System Reserve Meeting with management was held on November 1st, 2023.The meeting was held in person at the Network Operations Center (NOC) in Arlington Heights, IL, with some attendees joining via Microsoft Teams™. Present for AFA were Matt Stegehuis, MEC Reserve Committee Chairperson, Rene Trujillo, MEC Reserve Committee Vice-Chairperson and Christopher Clarke, MEC Secretary-Treasurer. Present for the company were Samantha Washington, Matthew McKenna and Erick Diaz, Senior Managers – Crew Scheduling Operations, Jill Fox, Director – Inflight Crew Scheduling, Alex Savic, Managing Director – Crew Planning, Scheduling and Administration, along with other Crew Scheduling representatives.


November Move-up Outlook

We asked the company to provide an update on the November Reserve Move-up outlook. Management stated they had requested more Move-ups than had been built in October. As of the meeting time, 147 lines had been built so far system-wide out of 218 requested. They cited a surplus at several locations due to the planned influx of new hires throughout the month as a reason they were able to take more “risk” month-over-month (i.e., move-up more Reserves into lines of flying which lowers the overall Reserve profile). Given these circumstances, they stated they were also able to get some Move-up lines built at locations that do not normally see any, including satellite bases, as well as International Purser (FML) and Language Qualified (LS) sub-bases.

Follow-up: Update on Work to Fix 35-in-7 Application in COSMOS

We asked for an update on the work to correct how the 35-in-7 calculation is being applied in the COSMOS system. Management stated they had confirmed with the Inflight Automation team that testing will begin in December with a planned January deployment. They cautioned that the January date is contingent on the outcome of testing. We were assured Scheduling personnel will be involved in the testing phase.

Until we receive confirmation the programmatic updates have been successfully deployed, it is imperative Flight Attendants and Local AFA representatives remain vigilant in monitoring the 35-in-7 requirements. A Reserve’s time remaining before a potential 35-in-7 violation can be tracked using the “Avail 35/7” column found on the Reserve Availability list in CCS (see page 28 of the Reserve Survival Guide for more information). If a Reserve is improperly assigned over 35 hours, they should contact Crew Scheduling to get the legality resolved.

Follow-up: Consistency When Assigning Special Qualification Pairings to ‘FA’ Reserves

Following our discussion last month on the topic, the Local Council in GUM continued to report open International Purser (FML) pairings were being assigned to general population (FA) Reserves during the clean-up process that follows Reserve Preferencing assignments; again, in some cases, more than 24 hours prior to departure.

Management reaffirmed our understanding that Scheduling will wait until less than 14 hours prior to departure before assigning special qualification pairings out-of-sub-base (when qualified Reserves are not available). They confirmed the topic has been added to the daily briefing “huddles” and have also followed-up with the schedulers involved in the most-recently provided examples.

Scheduling Process When Assigning Reserves with Surrendered Passports

We confirmed with management that Reserves who have properly documented their surrendered passport in CCS will be bypassed without an assessed Missed Trip (MT) if they are next in order for an assignment that requires a passport. A message (MSG) is placed in the Master Schedule to note the reason for bypass. The Reserve remains in their position on the Availability list and continues to be eligible for other assignments.

While on the subject, management shared with us that a Reserve’s passport status is not immediately apparent to schedulers when looking at the Reserve Availability list. It is not until the scheduler attempts to place the assignment on the Reserve’s Master Schedule that it is flagged. Therefore, if a Reserve is inadvertently assigned a trip requiring a passport while their passport is still surrendered, they should immediately contact Scheduling.

Clarification of Process to Pick Up Int’l Purser Positions Assigned to ‘FA’ Reserves

As a result of our advocacy late last year, a manual process was developed to allow Flight Attendants who are not in the International Purser (FML) sub-base to pick up or trade with ‘FA’ Reserves assigned to an FML position. In recent months, however, the handling of this manual process was moved from Crew Scheduling to Inflight Administration (FAST) personnel. Perhaps due to the recency of this transition, there has been some confusion when Flight Attendants contact FAST for assistance. Specifically, it is reported that FAST representatives have been incorrectly redirecting Flight Attendants to contact Crew Scheduling.

At our meeting, management stated they have since followed up with FAST team leadership to confirm their understanding of this manual process. Management was also clear that it is the FAST team who handles all trade issues(see below topic). To further avoid confusion, we also asked if there is specific terminology Flight Attendants should use to better communicate the type of transaction they are requesting. Management suggested Flight Attendants simply state they are requesting assistance with a “mutual trade.” Please report to us any further difficulties.

Inflight Administration (FAST) Handles All Trades

As part of the discussion on the previous topic (above), management made clear that assistance with all trade issues is handled by the Inflight Administration (FAST) team. Scheduling no longer processes any trades. They do, however, still provide direction to FAST representatives on transactions that are dependent on operational need, as provided in the Contract; for example, trades inside 12 hours prior to check-in (Section 7.I.5.) or Reserves who wish to pick up open flying on days off to prevent drafting (Section 7.S.4.b.).

It is believed some of the recent confusion has been caused by Schedulers who improperly continue to assist Flight Attendants with trades, while others correctly refer Flight Attendants to the FAST team. To help with this, management stated that as of September, new scheduler classes do not include instruction on the processing of trades.

Potential Sick Leave Trips Improperly Covered in Advance

On two (2) separate occasions in October, Local Councils reported Scheduling had improperly built in-base operational pairings intended to “proactively” cover potential Sick Leave trips for the next-day. In both cases, Reserve coverage was not an issue, nor was the flying being moved under the provisions of JCBA Section 7.G.2.

Management confirmed this is not correct and should not be occurring. As provided in Section 13.B.1.e. of the Contract, the trips of Flight Attendants who are on Sick Leave will not become open earlier than 8:00 hours prior to scheduled departure. Until that time, Flight Attendants may call in “well” and work the trip. Covering these positions in advance with operational pairings could actually diminish Reserve coverage for the location unnecessarily. Management committed to follow up with the schedulers involved.

Post Meeting Addendum: Just days after this conversation, a Local Council reported yet another occurrence of this issue. We immediately contacted management who had the operational pairings cancelled. If you see this happen moving forward, please let us know as soon as possible.

Reserves Returned to Base After Midnight on a Day Off Are ‘RLSD’ for Remainder of the Day

Section 8.I.1.m. of the Contract provides Reserves who return to base past midnight on a scheduled day off shall be given the remainder of the day off and shall have their day off restored in accordance with Section 7.R. After reporting some apparent confusion on the part of a scheduler, we asked management to confirm the proper coding used to ensure the Reserve is given the remainder of the day off in these cases. Management explained the process is to use ‘RLSD’ starting one minute after the debrief time until the end of the calendar day (23:59).

Scheduling Must Resolve End-of-Month 1-in-7 Issues if Requested

Despite numerous conversations with management on the subject over the years, we still occasionally hear from Flight Attendants who report difficulty getting end-of-month 1-in-7 legalities resolved, as provided in Section 8.I.2. of the Contract. Management appeared to share our frustration. They stated they would like to add the topic as part of the regular communications that come out to schedulers each month, hopefully acting as a monthly reminder of the company’s obligation to fix these issues when contacted by Flight Attendants.

Process and Timeline for Assigning Flight Attendants with ‘RA’ Days

We asked management to explain the process and timeline used to assign Flight Attendants who have “Reserve Adjustment” (RA) days. Management provided the following explanation:

  1. Starting on the 23rd of the prior bid month, the Flight Attendant may call Scheduling to pick up a trip over the RA days or on other days during the month.
  2. Prior to the Reserve Preferencing process that occurs at 1700 HDT the day prior to the RA day(s), the Flight Attendant may call to be assigned an open pairing.
  3. The Flight Attendant may participate in the Reserve Preferencing process by placing preferences on file in CCS>Reserve>Reserve Preferencing.
  4. If not assigned during preferencing, the Flight Attendant may be assigned during clean-up. If assigned, Scheduling will need to contact the Flight Attendant because no CCS Acknowledgement message is sent.
  5. If not assigned during preferencing or clean-up, the Flight Attendant will be released (RLSD) by 1930.

Criteria Used When Determining Whether to Move Flying

We asked management to explain the criteria used when determining whether to move flying from one Domicile to another, under the provisions of Section 7.G.2. of the Contract. Management stated they first look at the available Reserve resources at the location compared to the amount of Open Time. They then consider potential disruptions (such as weather), potential Sick Leave trips and other issues that could impact the available resources. Management went on to say that the need to move flying occurs more often out of satellite bases with limited Reserve coverage.

Request to Review ‘Reserve Duty’ Curriculum Taught at Initial Training

We shared with management a report that some of the information being taught in the “Reserve Duty” class that is part of Flight Attendant Initial Training may be outdated or obsolete. We asked if anyone at Scheduling had visibility into the current lesson content and/or had been asked recently to review the lesson for accuracy. Management conceded they have not reviewed the lesson since implementation of the scheduling provisions of the JCBA in 2018. We suggested a review of the current lesson is in order and asked to be involved. We were referred to Training Center leadership to start the process. We will follow up.

Reserve Christmas Wish List (RCWL) Updates for 2023

Following the regular System Reserve Meeting, we met with representatives from Inflight Administration and Inflight Automation, as well as designated Scheduling personnel, who have been involved in an effort to streamline and partially automate the processing of Reserve Christmas Wish List (RCWL) assignments.

As a matter of background, the method used in previous years was a manual process that was extremely labor intensive and time consuming for schedulers. Last year in particular, which included several days of irregular ops throughout the system and involved schedulers who were not as experienced in the process, saw challenges that resulted in the inability to ensure all possible “wishes” were granted. After debriefing together at our meeting in January of this year, both the company and the Union agreed that something had to be done to improve the process moving forward.

After months of work, the company presented a proposed programmatic solution that would dramatically reduce the time required to process RCWL assignments. While there are a couple of outstanding questions and additional work to be done, we were extremely encouraged by what was shown. We will continue to get updates in the coming weeks and will provide more detailed communications toward the end of the month.

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