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MEC Reserve Report – March 2024

Date: April 30, 2024

MEC Reserve Report – March 2024

MEC Reserve Committee

 

April 30, 2024

 

The March System Reserve Meeting with management was held on March 20th, 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, Rene Trujillo, MEC Reserve Committee Vice-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.


April Move-up Outlook

Matt McKenna provided an update on the April Move-up outlook. A total of 80 Move-up lines have been requested system wide (down from 134 in March) with an expected 84:00-hour line average.

 

·       One (1) Purser line each added to IAH and ORD.

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

·       No language Move-up lines were requested.

 

 

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

To address concerns raised at our last meeting regarding the advanced release of Reserves due to a potential 24-in-7 violation at the end of the month, and in particular, those that address consistency for Flight Attendants, management stated they have been working to establish some guidelines for schedulers. They plan to communicate these guidelines to schedulers as part of their recurrent training, which starts May 2nd. Erick Diaz reviewed the guidelines through a regulatory lens, while Samantha looked to create a process that could be deployed consistently. Management will share a detailed overview of these guidelines with us at our next meeting.

 

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

Management provided an update on the effort to ensure pre-boarding Flight Attendants have a pairing assigned prior to aircraft door closure, in order to avoid any possible legality or regulatory compliance issues. Samantha informed us that the Safety Risk Assessment (SRA) has been closed for now as pre-boarding has been combined with the issue of FAA minimum crew requirements.

 

They have also been working to settle the overall procedure for pre-boarding, with a specific focus on how to communicate to the various stakeholders the names of the Flight Attendants who will be pre-boarding and those who will be operating the flight. Currently, Inflight Scheduling and Airport Operations (AO) use different electronic communication systems; AO uses the same “EZ Chat” found on Flight Attendant Link devices, however this is not considered a regulatory compliant method of communicating this information. Therefore, they have established the following preliminary process to ensure the local base and station are aware of the expected pre-boarding Flight Attendants:

 

1.     Inflight Scheduling will communicate with the Station Operation Center (SOC) Supervisors on who the pre-boarders are and whether they are a “possible go” or an absolute “no go” for taking the flight.

2.     The SOC Supervisor will add the names to Volare and, due to some gaps in the system, will also make a phone call to the gate with the names of pre-boarders and status (possible go/no go).

 

Relative to door closure, it was made clear that Inflight Scheduling ultimately has no authority or visibility on aircraft door closure. However, Samantha stated that it is Inflight Scheduling’s process to have a pairing updated in the Flight Attendant’s Master Schedule at the time they are assigned to work the flight; that is, before a call is even made to the Flight Attendant to inform them of their working status. She acknowledged that there are still clearly gaps in that process, but stated they will soon be providing a detailed walk-through on Standby procedures to Schedulers (which will include pre-boarding). We will continue to follow up until a formal process is in place for all departments.

 

Lack of Notice of Assignment from Standby

We shared with management examples from the past month where Standby Reserves were never contacted to be informed of their assignment to pre-boarding or to a pairing. In each case, the Flight Attendants only became aware of the assignments when they began receiving EZ Chat notifications from the assigned flights asking, “Where is the Standby?”

 

Management acknowledged that this is not an acceptable method of notification and stated this would be included as part of the overall Standby process walk-through described above.

 

Follow-up: Availability Following Release from Standby (OSB)

We presented management with recent cases where Reserves who had been assigned to Standby as part of the 1930 process were improperly returned to the Ready Reserve availability list at the conclusion of their Standby period. This is a topic that we have addressed previously in our meetings and in an article posted on the MEC website. Although we share a common understanding, management acknowledged it may be a good time to review the expected process with schedulers since there are many new people working on the floor who may not be as familiar with this nuance. As a reminder, here is a brief summary of the understanding:

 

·       If assigned directly to Standby during the 1930 process (Reserve Preferencing or clean-up), the Reserve has no further obligation to be available for contact once the Standby assignment is completed. Scheduling should place the ‘RLSD’ code on the line following the “Off Standby” code (OSB).

·       If assigned to Ready Reserve during the 1930 process then later assigned to Standby, it is proper for the Reserve to be returned to the Ready Reserve availability list for any remaining availability in the calendar day (following a period of legal rest).

 

When to Contact Scheduling After Calling in “Well”

We asked management about apparent confusion among FAST personnel related to Reserves returning to availability following a period of Sick Leave. Section 8.F.4. of the Contract provides for how Reserves shall be assigned, depending on when they call in “well” relative to the Reserve Preferencing and clean-up process. In some cases, Reserves were not being properly assigned due to a lack of communication between FAST and Scheduling. Management committed to follow up with FAST leadership and will provide an update next month.

 

Consolidation of FAST Workgroups

As part of the previous discussion, we were informed that in mid-April all FAST workgroups will be merged and staffed by a single vendor, InterGlobe Technologies (IGT). Their work distribution will be managed by Senior Manager of Inflight Administration, Dorothy Castronovo.

 

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