PBS Holiday Bidding
December bidding is upon us. There are many changes to the distribution of flying throughout the system, so you may need to alter your bidding strategy. December flying is typically heavier in the last two weeks, for that reason, you may want to bid according to the possibility of holiday Coverage Needed Dates (CN). While your bidding strategy should always be based on a combination of your seniority and your objectives, in a holiday month you should be especially strategic due to not knowing if or where CN dates will be applied at your seniority.
Distribution of Open Time
Contractually, open time must be evenly distributed throughout the bid month; PBS is able to account for different bid behavior, or patterns and award coverage accordingly. As awards are processed in an unbalanced holiday month the system logic monitors the remaining open time. PBS will attempt to balance open time by limiting the amount of flying in either half of the month.
For example, December flying is especially concentrated at the end of the month. This means there is more flying the last twelve (12) days of the month than there is the first eighteen (18) days. On the other hand, January is a month where flying is more concentrated at the beginning of the month. Before each award, PBS will validate there is enough flying to build full lines for all of the remaining Lineholders. If the system determines that the un-awarded trips cannot build legal lines for the remaining Lineholders, it will begin to limit the allocation of flying to coincide with where the schedule demands the flying to be placed.
There are numerous factors that make each award unique. Planned absences, the previous bid month, legalities, application of contract waivers and available pairings are some of the many things that affect overall award results.
Bidding Holidays Off as a Lineholder
If having particular days off is important to you, the fewer restrictive properties you bid, the better. You may want to use the layer concept to indicate the priority of your day off requests. As you move through the layers, if you find you wish to bid a large number of days off with a particular type of trips, and your preference is to keep that type of trips, you would want to relax the days off in the next layer. If your preference is to hold the full set of days off and try to do so with another type of trips, then you should keep the days off bid in the next layer, but change up the pairing properties. Keep in mind that by your later layers you should have relaxed the number of days off you’re bidding, or bid specific trips you would fly on top of the requested days off.
Use caution if you request the same day(s) off in every layer; any pairing that is not bid for specifically that touches those date(s) will not be considered in your pairing pools. If you bid insufficiently, you will be awarded pairings from outside of your pairing pools. This may include any type of pairing on your requested days off.
If there is a chance your seniority will have required coverage dates over the holiday period, relaxing your day off bids will safeguard you by allowing PBS to award a more desirable trip that adheres to your pairing preferences versus awarding a leftover trip that does not. Keep in mind that a trip simply needs to touch the Coverage Needed date, including report and release time.
Coverage Needed (CN) is a term applied to a date in a bid month that occurs when not enough Flight Attendants bid to fly on that date. PBS will allow as many flight attendants to be off on a particular day (whether it is a holiday or not) as possible but will reach a point where it has to start forcing assignments to be able to cover all flying. PBS does not consider holidays any different than other days of the month and has to cover the trips that have been scheduled.
During the award process, PBS will continually look forward to calculate the number of duty periods on each day that have not been covered versus the remaining flight attendants who are legal to cover those positions. At that seniority and below, awarding is altered to maintain legalities and award pairings that touch the required coverage dates. If by layer 7, your pairing pools do not include enough pairings that touch the required coverage date(s), PBS will be forced to award from outside of your layers and award a pairing without regard for your pairing or line preferences. It will use your most relaxed line preferences or the system default settings and award coverage pairings.
Coverage Needed pairings, are labeled on your award as “CN”. They are a result of under bidding. PBS will select CN pairings from the leftover trips available at your seniority; it does this to maximize global satisfaction. With that in mind, comes the question…”Should I bid for trips that touch the holiday as a backup?” The answer is yes, if you have any possibility of CN days at your seniority, you should consider bidding a more desirable trip in a lower layer for back-up.
Multiple Coverage Dates
Often times, holiday months have multiple coverage dates imposed due to bidding behavior however, all required coverage dates are considered equal. PBS will attempt to use each flight attendant required to cover as many coverage dates possible. However, pairings awarded may not necessarily touch every single required coverage date because the system has to honor all legalities. In other words, the system may be required to award a less senior flight attendant a day off on a holiday in order to satisfy the most coverage dates while upholding the contractual and FAR limitations.
In a holiday month, it is crucial to understand your seniority and bid accordingly. If you are junior, you are very likely to work over the holiday. Do not try to avoid it in all layers. You have a way to get the best holiday flying you can, instead of having what is leftover assigned to you. It is best practice to bid for something in your final layers that you would like to fly over a period of time that you may not be able to hold off. If there is no way to avoid flying, at least you have given the system a list of more desirable options to choose from.
Holiday Bid Strategy
Coverage Needed dates cannot be confirmed until after the award process is complete. Holidays and weekends commonly become required coverage dates. Be realistic when determining whether or not your seniority may be required to cover a popular holiday and/or the dates surrounding it.