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MEC Reserve Report – February 2024

Date: March 11, 2024

MEC Reserve Report – February 2024

MEC Reserve Committee

 

March 11, 2024

 

The February System Reserve Meeting with management was held on February 29th, 2024. The meeting was held in person at the new Arlington Support Center in Arlington Heights, IL, with some attendees joining via Microsoft Teams™. Present for AFA were Matt Stegehuis, MEC Reserve Committee Chairperson, and Christopher Clarke, MEC Secretary-Treasurer. Present for the company were Martha Juarez, Manager – Inflight Scheduling Process Quality and Training, Samantha Washington, Matthew McKenna, Jeff Moore and Erick Diaz, Senior Managers – Crew Scheduling Operations, and Ted Ruckert, Manager – Labor Relations, along with other Crew Scheduling representatives.


March Move-up Outlook

Matt McKenna provided an update on the March Move-up outlook. A total of 134 Move-up lines (up from 93 in February) have been requested system wide with an expected 84:00-hour line average.

·       One (1) Purser line added to DEN, EWR, IAD, IAH, LAX, ORD and SFO.

·       Purser lines that are not awarded due to insufficient open time will be reallocated to the “FA” population.

·       Due to the low volume of language Reserves, no language Move-up lines were requested.

  

Update on Open IT Automation Issues

We asked Management for a status report on the below pending Reserve related Automation fixes. There have been no changes since our last meeting. We will continue to follow up on each and will provide an update once the items have been moved into the test environment, which is not expected until sometime in the spring.

1.     Work to Fix 35-in-7 Application in COSMOS.

Note: If a Reserve is improperly assigned over 35 hours, they should contact Crew Scheduling to get the legality resolved.

2.     Unassigned Pairings “Frozen” for Reserve Preferencing to be Released to Open Time at 1930.

3.     Difficulties Reported When Assigning Reserves Newly Transferred to GUM.

 

Follow-up: Advanced Release of Reserves for Potential 24-in-7 Violations

Prior to the meeting, we had initiated a discussion with management regarding reports that Reserves were being released days in advance of a potential 24-in-7 violation caused by the conjoining of two monthly schedules. Of particular concern was the inconsistency with which the releases were occurring; both in how far in advance it was occurring and which future day was being selected for release. We referenced previous discussions on the topic from 2021 where it was made clear that Reserves should only be released the evening prior to such a potential illegality.

 

With the creation of the newly established ‘FAR Mitigation Team’ within Scheduling, we asked what directive, if any, had been given to this group relative to resolving potential 24-in-7 issues. Erick Diaz, who leads the group, stated no specific directives were given. We are told the reason the releases are now happening earlier is that a “notification issue” that existed previously, whereby CCS priority messages alerting Flight Attendants to the ‘RLSD’ would not be sent if the code was assigned in advance, has since been “resolved.” Management stated we will likely see the advance releases occurring with more frequency due to the added focus on FAR mitigation as the company continues to grow.

 

We expressed a view that releasing in advance diminishes Flight Attendants’ ability to choose to waive or not waive the 1-in-7 legality at the end of the month. It also unnecessarily reduces the company’s multi-day Reserve profile during a period where Reserve coverage is typically tight, as these Flight Attendants are potentially assignable to trips that include a 24-hour period free-from-duty. And finally, the lack of consistency with which they are handling the potential legalities does not allow for Flight Attendants to properly plan for their upcoming days of availability. In one example we cited, a Reserve was released for a future day after the Reserve Preferencing process occurred but before the clean-up process concluded. This caused him to be considered for assignment in two (2) completely different day-of-availability groups within the same 1930 process.

 

Management committed to take the issue back and review ways they could provide “guidelines.” Needless to say, we will continue to follow up.

 

Consistency in the Assignment of pre-0500 Check-ins

We have recently learned of inconsistencies in the process for assigning pre-0500 check-ins to Ready Reserves; both in the timing of the assignments and in which day’s Reserve Availability list is used. On reviewing the process with management, it became clear our understandings were not completely aligned.

 

Management expressed an understanding that the assignment of these check-ins must be paused between 1500 and 1930 HDT each day to allow for the automated processing of Reserve Preferencing assignments. This is not the case. While it is true there must be a pause in making these assignments to ensure the integrity of the Reserve Preferencing process, the pause is only required while the Reserve Preferencing system is actively running; typically, between 1700 and 1730 HDT. Other than that timeframe, the assignment of pre-0500 check-ins for the following day should be continuous, as the intent is to provide Reserves with as much notice as possible of these early morning assignments.

 

Prior to 1930 HDT, pre-0500 check-ins for the following day must be made to Ready Reserves using the current-day Reserve Availability list. Once the next-day Ready Reserve list has been established, which occurs at 1930 HDT, it is proper for these check-ins to then be assigned using the next-day Reserve Availability list.

 

We will compile a more formal written understanding of the process to review with management and will report on the final product after our next meeting.

 

Follow-up: Pre-boarding Standbys Must be Assigned Pairing Before Door Closure

We continued our discussion from last month regarding the process of assigning a pairing to pre-boarding Flight Attendants prior to aircraft door closure. The issue of potential discipline given to Flight Attendants based on a complaint made by a Customer Service representative that we reported on previously has since been resolved. However, there still appears to be a disconnect between the various stakeholders: Inflight Safety, Crew Scheduling, Airport Operations and Local Base management.

 

Scheduling management reiterated our shared understanding that pre-boarding Standbys should be assigned a pairing prior to aircraft door closure in order to mitigate any possible legality or regulatory compliance issues. Samantha shared that there is an ongoing Safety Risk Assessment (SRA) regarding FAA minimums for boarding that includes a review of several factors, of which pre-boarding is one. They are currently working to develop a process to provide the names of pre-boarders to all involved at the station. In the end, all of this will become part of a broader Standby and Pre-boarding assignment process that will be rolled out to schedulers. We expect to have another update at our next meeting.

 

Follow-up: Assignment-from-Standby Issues

Following our discussion last month on issues related to assignments from Standby, management stated they had put out additional communications to schedulers reminding them to ‘slow down’ in order to ensure each step of the various processes are followed. They are also working to review and update the overall Standby process in a broader effort to improve work quality. We are supportive of this effort and will look forward to reviewing the proposed improvements.

 

Checking-in Early for Standby

A Local Council reported that a Reserve who attempted to check-in early for the assigned Standby report time was told to call back at the actual report time. This prompted the question: “How early is too early to check-in for Standby?”

 

Management expressed a view that it might be difficult to put “guardrails” on allowing Reserves to check-in early for Standby since the purpose of the report time is to know that they will have Standby resources physically in position at that specific time. After some additional discussion, it was determined that we should follow the timeframe programed into the CCS Touchless Check-in for Standby. In other words, Reserves may check-in up to 30 minutes prior to their scheduled Standby report time, whether using the designated phone located in the domicile or the CCS Touchless Check-in screen.

 

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