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Impact of Operational Challenges

Date: June 26, 2023

It goes without saying, the events of the past several days caused by successive days of irregular operations, have impacted all of us. The levels of frustration are high and it feels as if there is no solution in sight – especially for those who have been on duty for extended periods of time.

Let’s call all of this what it is – unacceptable. We aren’t here to make excuses for the circumstances that are adversely impacting each of you. But, like it or not, we need to be involved in discussions with management in order to find solutions and that will provide each of you with some clear direction on what your next steps should be in a variety of situations with which we are being faced.

During our discussions to find solutions, we have expressed your frustration and anger to Inflight management. We’ve discussed the unacceptability of the current state of the airline and are pressing Inflight management to find solutions. Equally, Inflight management understands the frustration and has told us they are committed to doing all possible to find solutions in order to fully recover from the adverse weather. 

As of Noon CT today, Network Operations Control (NOC) is continuing to pull down the schedule due to weather and crew availability with plans to cancel a number of mainline and UAX flight after 1500. At the same time, the crew desk is working to update the pairings for more than 100 cancelled flights that are currently in the system. Because hold times are currently in excess of 3 hours as crew scheduling works to update crews in chronological order, we are working to find solutions to relieve some of the backlog. To this end, we have reached the following understandings as it pertains to irregularities in certain situations:

If you are just starting your duty day at a base and are unable to reach scheduling, seek the assistance of base management. Base management should have the contact information to seek assistance from Crew Scheduling to determine next steps. Remember, Section 7.Q.1. requires reassignments be made within four (4) hours of being notified of any loss in the pairing.

If you are just starting your duty day at a satellite location or downline location and are unable to reach scheduling, there is a need to recognize, while your flight may not be operating, there may be a need to reassign you to cover another flight that may be operating from the location but missing a crew. While the resources at the satellite are a bit different, the same language in Section 7.Q.1. applies in that you must be notified of any reassignment within four (4) hours of being notified of any loss. 

If there are a number of you at the location and all of you are on hold waiting for the crew desk, consider taking the initiative to compile a list of the names, employee numbers, pairing information and telephone numbers for those present in the station. Once that information is compiled, send it to InflightDutyManager@united.com who will work to route this information to scheduling personnel but also create the trail to establish the notification window.

Keep in mind, while this assistance from the IFDM will prove invaluable, the IFDM cannot be the answer when major disruptions occur. While the IFDM is a valuable resource to assist Flight Attendants during periods of adversity, the reality is that the structure of the IFDM Desk is set up with limited telephone lines and personnel. A large influx of calls to the IFDM will only serve to delay the handling of those emergency situations directly requiring the assistance of the IFDM. We should work to ensure the IFDM line is kept open for the processing of emergency situations.

If you are at a hotel and find your pairing has been disrupted such that you are without an assignment, do not leave the hotel. Remain in place until contact is established with Crew Scheduling.

If you are approaching the end of (maximum duty day) and are unable to reach scheduling, if in a base, consider approaching base leadership to make them aware of your status as well as beginning the process of self-help by locating a hotel room. To the extent you are able to cover the cost of the room and submit an expense report, don’t hesitate to do so. Recognizing that not all of us have the same ability to cover the cost of these extraordinary expenses, work to assist others if you are able to do so. Don’t hesitate to talk to base leadership and let them know that you require assistance with a credit card to cover the cost of the room. Also, reach out through FLTLINE to take advantage of the assistance available from the Supervisor on Demand (SOD).

Alternatively, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Hotel Desk prior to check out to request their assistance in covering the cost of the hotel room. They have the ability to reach out and provide payment via electronic means with most hotels and you may have more success reaching hotel desk personnel after a period of time passes.

With regard to the extended hold times, while many of us seek the reassurance that comes from receiving clear direction from scheduling, there is simply no reason for anyone to sit on hold for extended periods of time. In fact, holding can delay the processing of getting information to those who need it most timely. If you are just starting your day at base, the company must notify you of any reassignment within four (4) hours. 

We understand there is a desire for a clear, concise, single message that signals, “Do this, when this happens”, the fact is that each set of circumstances is different. Whereas someone just starting their day at home who loses FTM must be notified within four (4) hours consistent with the language in Section 7.Q.1.. Reassignments which result from 7.Q.1., 7.Q.2., and 7.Q.3., must comply with the provisions in 7.Q.4.. Reassignments which occur after leaving base must comply with 7.Q.5..

There is an absolute recognition by Union leadership and Inflight management that something must be done in order to permanently address these adverse situations resulting from irregular operations. Our advocacy as well as our discussions with management will continue to this end. If you have additional questions, reach out to your Local Council Office for further assistance.

(Updated 06.27.23)

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