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AFA Debrief: May 17, 2022

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Contents of Debrief for May 17, 2022

  • “Checking-in” Reference Continues to Cause Confusion
  • Self Help 101 – Again
  • United Announces Alphanumeric Pairing Expansion
  • VSL-B Part 1 - Participants and Benefits
  • AFA Board of Directors Meeting Wrap Up
  • An Example of Standing Together

AFA DEBRIEF – May 17, 2022

  • “Checking-in” Reference Continues to Cause Confusion
  • Self Help 101 – Again
  • United Announces Alphanumeric Pairing Expansion
  • VSL-B Part 1 - Participants and Benefits
  • AFA Board of Directors Meeting Wrap Up
  • An Example of Standing Together

“Checking-in” Reference Continues to Cause Confusion

Over the course of the past few weeks, based on conversations with Members, we’ve come to recognize that various references to the term “checking-in” have created confusion as it pertains to our responsibilities.  This is particularly the case as the term “checking-in” has been applied to different activities occurring at the gate at the start of a duty period or prior to departure of a flight. In point of fact, “check-in” has become confused with three distinctly different activities that occur at the departure gate:

Check-in is the contractual process that applies when we report for duty.

Consistent with the terms of our Contract, Flight Attendants are required to be at the departure gate at the designated check-in time for a given flight. At that time, the Flight Attendant filling the purser position on the flight should confirm that all Members of the crew are present. In the event any Member of the crew is missing, the purser is obligated to notify Crew Scheduling that a member of the crew is not present at check-in. If, in fact, the purser is missing, it is the obligation of the most senior Member of the crew to advise Crew Scheduling that the Purser is not present. This communication allows Crew Scheduling to prepare to timely provide a replacement crew member in the event any Member of the crew is unavailable. In fact, this is the exclusive method by which Crew Scheduling receives information that a member of the crew is missing at the designated check-in time and provides the lead time to position a replacement.

Letting the agent at the gate know we are available to board the aircraft is the professional courtesy we extend to our colleagues in Airport Operations to support our overall corporate on-time initiatives. It’s the way we establish rapport with ground staff and set the overall working together tone by which we will work during the customer boarding process.  Airport Operations personnel have no role in the Flight Attendant check-in process or reporting missing crew members at check-in time.

Scanning on (and off) the aircraft is the process whereby badges are verified at the departure gate and “scanned” into the system for the exclusive purpose of verifying that the FAA minimum crew complement is onboard the aircraft prior to the start of passenger boarding. It is for this reason that Flight Attendants should only scan their badges immediately prior to boarding the aircraft, not before. This system is the established safeguard to avoid an inadvertent violation of a FAR – boarding without the FAA minimum present on the aircraft.

The process of scanning on and off is not connected to our reporting for work. These systems are not connected to Crew Scheduling and are used only for the purpose of ensuring the required complement of Flight Attendants are on the aircraft for passenger boarding.

As a further clarification, in those instances where a crew works the inbound segment of a flight on the aircraft that will be used for their next outbound flight segment, Airport Operations personnel will come to the aircraft to verify the required crew is on the aircraft prior to passenger boarding and will check badges during that process.

If you have additional questions on the processes occurring at the gate, please contact your Local Council office for assistance.


Self Help 101 – Again

As the busy summer season kicks off, we are hearing more reports from Flight Attendants that an insufficient number of rooms have been contracted for by Procurement in several cities.  While we share in the excitement of United’s success and robust bookings returning, we do not wish to share in the frustration of being at a hotel, without a room when one is Contractually required. We have heard from you that this is not only happening during irregular operations, where management has repeatedly proven they have yet to implement an adequate strategy to support their operation and our rest; it is becoming more common on a daily basis in some locations simply because the number of layovers scheduled in some cities are exceeding the block of rooms for which United management has contracted.  To be clear – this is not acceptable.

Our Contract is truly clear on what steps we should take after waiting an appropriate amount of time. Beginning with transportation

  • Transportation: Section 5.D.4. of our Contract requires layover hotel-operated transportation to be available to pick-up Flight Attendants within 35 minutes of block arrival.
  • In those circumstances where transportation is contracted independently (“public limousine service” – in other words not a hotel van), the cut-off time is 45 minutes after block arrival.
  • If these wait times are exceeded, Flight Attendants may use other means of transportation to the place of lodging, i.e., self-help, and seek reimbursement.

Hotel: If, because of irregular operations, you arrive in a city where a hotel was not planned but becomes necessary after trying to reach the Hotel Desk, you may find yourself needing to use these Self-Help procedures to secure a hotel room for the night.

  • Additionally, Section 5.B.5. states if you arrive at a layover hotel and your room is not ready within 30 minutes after arrival you may use Self-Help and obtain other accommodations.
  • There are certainly other times you may also use Self-Help such as: no hot or cold water, no power, no heat or air conditioning, broken door locks, bugs or vermin of any kind in your room, no food availability whatsoever, noise that prohibits legal rest or any situation that threatens your safety or well-being.

If you encounter these or similar issues, take the following action to correct your experience:

  • Calmly attempt to resolve the issue with the people providing the services – the hotel or transportation company. Always ask to speak to a manager on duty.
  • If this fails to fix the problem, call the Hotel Desk (Crew Accommodations), and ask for their assistance. Call 888-4-UAL-VIP (888-482-5847) or select the hotel option from the Crew Scheduling Menu.
  • If you do not get resolution to your situation through these two avenues, go to another hotel and take a taxi, if necessary.
  • Ensure that you have the names of hotel and company representatives with whom you’ve spoken.  Get receipts for all your expenses and submit a company expense report for reimbursement.

Once settled into a different hotel, call Crew Scheduling and let them know where you are. Be aware that the Hotel Desk is not Crew Scheduling.

Don’t be afraid to act in your best interests.  United is responsible for our safety on layovers. If they do not respond, take care of yourself. If one of your flying partners is in trouble and doesn’t have the expendable cash or a credit card to take care of it, help them out if you can.

If possible, after you’re at the new hotel, attempt to call the Hotel Desk before you check out of the hotel and request that United take care of the hotel charges to avoid the need for you to be reimbursed.

If you are unable to do so, when you return from your trip, remember to file the appropriate expense (Concur®) report, and attach your receipts for reimbursement.

Ultimately it costs United less to adequately plan for a correct number of hotel rooms than need to reimburse us for hotel costs that we must secure at market rates, which may be seasonally high this time of year. While we shouldn’t have to self-manage this part of our job, we have the ability to do so, when management fails to provide for us, or when irregular operations create unforeseen circumstances.

The last thing we need from you is to make our Union aware of the problem and report it. Our AFA MEC Hotel and Transportation Committee meets with United Crew Accommodations monthly, to address problems and seek positive resolution. Our advocacy is strengthened when problems are documented and trended through our Hotel Reporting Form. Help us help you. File a report every time you experience a problem, conversely, or a positive experience.


United Announces Alphanumeric Pairing Expansion

Earlier this month, United scheduling introduced the expansion of numerical pairings to become alphanumeric or containing both letters and numbers. Management explains: “These pairing number ranges are used to differentiate the various work positions for each aircraft type in our fleet, and this information is contained with the bid matrices in the monthly bid packet cover letters.”

With the relatively quick introduction of this change to the pairing number, we are hearing this may be causing confusion.   We all need to understand that these are not “operational pairings” as are those which begin with an 8 or 9.  These [alphanumeric] pairings are to be used as an “overflow” range when all existing numerical pairings within that range have been utilized. The alphabetical character addition will replace the second digit of the 4-digit pairing. For a Chicago Pairing range of 0000-2999, the extended range would be 2A00-2A99, or for ORD: O2A00.

The following changes will be applied beginning with the June schedule month:

  • International single paring starts: 6000
  • International language qualified pairing range starts: 7000
  • Domestic language qualified pairing starts: 7600

You can refer to the June Bid Package Cover Letter for examples and a more detailed explanation or the May 4 – ISW.

While you’re reviewing the pairing changes, it is also a good time to take a few minutes and read through the entire Cover Letter. There is an abundance of valuable and helpful information including training, Reserve, and vacation relief; as well as end of the month legality processes.


VSL-B Part 1 - Participants and Benefits

Our MEC Benefits Committee continues to receive questions and concerns regarding the “terms” of the VSL-B company sponsored program. The VSL programs provide enhancements over and above your Contractual benefits and it is important that we have a clear understanding that United management did not negotiate the terms of the VSL Programs with AFA.

However, we continue work with management to gain an understanding of what participants should expect and how those electing VSL-B will transition to retirement on August 31, 2022.

In the meantime, we refer participants to several resources, and we strongly suggest you review the Release all participants were required to sign. The plan documents and details along with the FAQ are available from Help Hub: helphub.ual.com (enter VSL A and B)

VSL-B participants may be eligible for Retiree Medical (PM-UA), or Retiree Bridge Medical (age 60-65 PM-CO/PM-CMI). Please refer to our Contract, Section 29.F. (pgs. 232-239).

We advise everyone to review the Retiree Checklist as this document contains many details affecting all Retirees. The Checklist is located at: helphub.ual.com. (Search Flight Attendant (FA) Retirement.

The Benefits Committee will continue to pursue an orderly process for retiree insurance open enrollment following the 8/31/22 “active benefits” end date. We will continue to update VSL-B participants as we pursue dates and processes for your transition to Retirement.

We thank you for your service to Our Company and Our Union. We congratulate each of you and trust the next chapter in your lives will be filled with good health and joy.


AFA Board of Director’s Meeting Wrap Up

This past week, our Master Executive Council (MEC) Officers, Local Executive Council (LEC) Presidents, and other LEC Officers and some Committee Chairpersons attended the 49th Annual AFA Board of Directors (BOD) meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joined by representatives from other airlines that make up AFA, they conducted the business of our Union at the international level. It’s worth noting that this is the first in-person meeting of the BOD since 2019.

A total of nine advance agenda items were submitted for consideration by the Board at this meeting. Each Local Council held a Local Council meeting prior to the BOD meeting to discuss these agenda items and to gain Member feedback. You can find a list of these agenda items and complete language on the AFA BOD Meeting website along with the action taken on each these agenda items.

In addition to the consideration of agenda items, AFA International Officers elections took place at this year’s BOD meeting. As your directly elected representative, your Local Council President voted on your behalf for our International President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer.

Sara Nelson was re-elected as President; Keturah Johnson was elected as Vice President and Dante Harris was elected as Secretary Treasurer. Our congratulations to them all and we wish them success in their upcoming term.

For more information about this AFA Board of Director’s meeting, please visit our AFA International office website at AFA BOD Meeting.


An Example of Standing Together

Thirty-seven years ago today, United Airlines pilots struck over management’s demand for a B scale.  And for 29 days, United pilots stood unified in defiance of then notorious United CEO Dick Ferris.  The majority of United Flight Attendants struck in solidarity with the pilots.

Despite whatever disagreements may have existed at the time, it cannot be denied that the solidarity and sacrifices of those United employees helped protect the careers of future generations.

The ALPA Battle Star pin which represents solidarity, courage, and dedication to protecting the pilot profession was given, some would suggest earned, to each of the pilots who stood the line for the duration of the 29-day strike.  Most importantly, the ALPA Battle Star is a reminder that when unified, we can collectively overcome great challenges.

 

Reminders:

MAY – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
MAY – Mental Health Awareness Month
MAY 30 – U.S. Memorial Day Holiday


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