12.08.17 – (LAA/LUS) – 401-K Catch-up/Update on Drug Testing Procedures/DHs from Co-Terminals/Dirty A/C Vents/Retirement Seminars/Uniform Reports

APFA Special Hotline


  • 401(k) Catch Up Contribution Reset for 2018 – LAA/LUS
  • Updated DOT Drug Testing Regulations – LAA/LUS
  • Deadheading to/from Co-Terminals & Satellite Bases – LAA/LUS
  • Dirty Aircraft Vents – LAA/LUS
  • Upcoming Retirement Seminars – LAA/LUS
  • Uniform Reaction Report Count – LAA/LUS

401(k) Catch Up Contribution Reset for 2018 – LAA/LUS

Flight Attendants over 50 are permitted to make an additional $6,000 in catch up contributions above the regular 401(k) contribution limits ($18,500 for 2018).

Most Flight Attendants will add their catch up contributions once they hit their regular contribution maximum during the year. Please be aware that the Fidelity system will not reset your catch up contribution percentage to zero at the beginning of 2018.

Flight Attendants who have a catch up contribution on file when the first payroll cycle runs in January 2018 will have both their regular and catch up contributions deducted from their paycheck, possibly leaving them with no take home pay, depending on the election percentages.

To make sure that catch up contributions are still deducted from your last paycheck of 2017, but not from your first paycheck of 2018, please be aware of the following election change deadlines:

LUS Flight Attendants: To change catch-up for 2018, the earliest you should take action in your 401(k) accounts is 12/25/2017. The latest you should take action in order to hit your first check of 2018 is 01/5/2018.

LAA Flight Attendants: To change catch-up for 2018, the earliest you should take action in your 401(k) accounts is 12/18/2017.  The latest you should take action in order to hit your first check of 2018 is 12/29/2017.

Election changes can be made online by visiting http://netbenefits.com/aa or by calling the Fidelity Service Center at 1-800-354-3412.

Ron Harris
APFA National Retirement Specialist

Updated DOT Drug Testing Regulations – LAA/LUS

This past month, The US Department of Transportation updated its drug testing regulations. These changes take effect January 1, 2018 and apply to all transportation workers—aviation, transit, and rail—who are already subject to federal DOT drug tests.

With this update, DOT has expanded the types of drugs it tests for. Beginning January 1st, you will be tested for four additional drugs—specifically semi-synthetic opioids:


Although new for the DOT panel, these four opioids were already on the Company panel.

There are two type of drug testing panels:

DOT’s testing panel: Employees in safety sensitive positions are subject to the DOTs testing (which now includes four additional opioids.)

American’s Company testing panel: All employees are subject to it (and it already includes the four additional opioids.)

Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication. These semi-synthetic opioids are sold under brand names such as OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid, and Exalgo, etc. When the changes take effect, DOT drug tests will screen for the use of these drugs:

Marijuana; Hydromorphone; Amphetamine; Cocaine; Oxycodone; Methamphetamine; Codeine; Oxymorphone ; MDMA/MDA; Morphine; 6-Acetylmorphine; Hydrocodone; and Phencyclidine

Under the existing DOT drug testing process, Medical Review Officers (MROs) determine whether there is a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result, such as taking a legally prescribed drug. With this update, if you test positive for a semi-synthetic opioid, your MRO will downgrade your positive result to negative if you have a legally valid prescription for the drug found in your system.

There are other important things you should know about how this rule impacts you:

    • There is no time limit on the use of a legally valid prescription. DOT recognizes that there could be an unintended hardship on you if a MRO was able to deny a prescription from being a legitimate medical explanation simply because it took you a longer time to finish taking the drug than expected. As a result, there’s no cutoff date after which the prescription for a drug you’re taking can’t serve as an explanation for a positive result.


    • MROs cannot deny your prescription from acting as a legitimate medical explanation for a positive test result simply because they believe your doctor should not have prescribed you that medication. But, MROs must review and take all reasonable steps to verify the authenticity of the records you provide, and may contact your doctor for further information to verify your prescription.


    • Before this rule, MROs were required to report to DOT and employers drug tests results and worker medication information if the MRO believed the information would cause the worker to be medically disqualified or pose a safety risk. Under this rule, before the MRO reports information about your prescription drugs to DOT or employer, the MRO must give you five business days to ask your doctor to call the MRO and determine if the medication can be changed to one that does not pose a significant safety risk. If the MRO determines a medical qualification or safety risk still remains, the MRO will report information about the drugs you’re taking.


  • Remember that while some state laws allow marijuana use, it is still prohibited by US DOT. If you test positive for marijuana, no prescription can downgrade your positive result to negative.

View the US DOT >>

Abby Alconcher
APFA National EAP Specialist

Deadheading to/from Co-Terminals & Satellite Bases – LAA/LUS

As reported in a recent JCBA Update Hotline; effective December 1st, 2017, all scheduled and unscheduled deadheads as well as deadheads between your base city and training will be A1D. As clarification, all co-terminal and satellite bases are considered bases for deadhead purposes. For example, if you are SFO based and you are deadheading to/from SJC (co-terminal), your deadhead will be A1D, just as though you are flying to/from SFO.

Dirty Aircraft Vents – LAA/LUS

Thanks to the efforts of Flight Attendants who have submitted reports to APFA regarding dirty air vents on A330 and A320 aircraft, the APFA Safety and Security department was able to convince the Company to begin pro-actively cleaning the vents on the entire A330 and A320 fleet. Thanks to all who submitted reports and photographs.

It goes without saying that this should be standard procedure on all aircraft, and APFA will continue to advocate for such proactive measures.

Should you encounter dirty air vents, please send the flight number/date/city pair and, most importantly, the tail number to safety@apfa.org. Photo documentation is also very helpful.

Upcoming Retirement Seminars – LAA/LUS

New Year’s Resolution #1 – Get Prepared for Retirement!

All of those resolutions you made about becoming more prepared for the future and being more organized are great! To help you get started on the right path, APFA is kicking off the New Year with retirement seminars in January and February:

These popular and informative briefings cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • 401(k)
  • Pensions
  • Retiree Travel
  • Medicare

The APFA Retirement Handout, “Good Slide!”, is distributed to each participant. The handout follows the slide show presentation, and also contains checklists and contact information to make sure you get everything you have coming to you.

You should attend your first Retirement Seminar no later than 10 years before you think you will retire, but it’s never too early to attend one of these meetings! If you’d like a copy of the “Good Slide!” handout, it’s also available for download from the APFA Retirement Page. The handout is updated throughout the year, and the most current version is always on the website.

LAA Flight Attendants can pull a pension estimate by visiting the Pension Service Center on Jetnet.

LUS Flight Attendants can request a pension estimate in the mail by calling the PBGC at (800)400-7242.

Guests (such as spouses) are also welcome to attend. Be advised that for seminars located within the secure side of the terminals, you will need to go thru TSA screening. For the DFW seminar, crew members with an AOA Yellow Badge can escort a guest through the TSA checkpoint.

For any seminar located within the secure side of the terminal, you can also request a gate pass for your guest from the ticket counter. Feel free to contact our department for further instructions or assistance.

All members, regardless of their base or seniority, are welcome to attend any seminar. Start the New Year off right and come learn about retirement!

Ron Harris
APFA National Retirement Specialist

Uniform Reaction Report Count – LAA/LUS

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