Friday, May 7, 2021
New Onboard Threats
Flight Attendants faced the COVID-19 pandemic before it was even named. The Company told us we could not wear masks or face shields when the virus was just beginning to take a toll on our lives. We were then tasked with mask-wearing compliance on our flights. These new responsibilities have brought us a new reality of more onboard disturbances. Flight Attendants have been verbally abused, physically attacked, and disrespected by an alarming number of customers since the mask compliance has been put in place.
It is now more critical than ever to report every single security incident we experience on duty. As your Base President, it is my responsibility to be aware of these increasing threats to your safety and the need for us to expect more from the Company to protect us. Penelope and I will be meeting with the Company to discuss the current practices in place and to ensure the Company understands what is happening to us beyond a CERS report. I want to know what the Company has done to raise the bar in determining a customer’s suitability to fly, since it seems the new solution is to send them back in the air where the danger only is magnified.
Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, is dealing with civil unrest due to political tension over proposed tax reform. The demonstrations have reached a point of fatalities as a result of protesters and authorities clashing. The Company made the swift decision to ensure our crews were brought home safely and the affected flights adjusted to prevent putting crew members in harm’s way. Please keep a close eye on your CCI message for updates on pairing adjustments and to see if any protections apply. When safety & security incidents develop, we may not immediately post or send information to protect the confidentiality between the Company and APFA. Rest assured we are in constant communication with the Company to ensure our crew members are being taken care of and contractually protected. At this time, we have no information on how this may affect the flights long term, as this is a day-day issue. When we have information, we will gladly pass it on.
Flight Service Call at Sign-In
I have been getting reports of Flight Service calling Flight Attendants well before they are supposed to be at the gate to ask, “where are you?” We always want the Company to show concern when a Flight Attendant inexplicably doesn’t show up for a flight or pickup, but the Company does not have the right to question where we are until we are late, period. You are not obligated to answer your phone before or during a pairing unless you decide to, especially not just to ask, “where are you?”. When a Flight Attendant is not at the gate after sign-in it may compromise boarding time, so it is understandable for flight service to reach out, however, that should be the only time.
Foreign Destination Required COVID Testing
Earlier this week, our National President, Julie Hedrick was able to secure a letter of agreement to protect Flight Attendants who must take a COVID test before working a flight to any destination that requires it regardless of the reason. It is essential to remember the following to qualify for the incentive pay of sixty (60) minutes of pay-no-credit:
- You must test at an approved Company testing location
- To ensure that you receive the sixty (60) minutes of pay-no-credit flight pay, you should arrive at the testing center no later than 45 minutes prior to scheduled sequence report time. As long as you arrive at the testing center 45+ minutes prior to sequence report, you will receive the incentive pay, even if you do not receive the results until after your sequence report time.
- In order to receive the incentive pay, you must receive your test results prior to your sequence report. For example, if you choose to arrive at the testing center 20 minutes prior to report, you will only receive the incentive pay if your results are received prior to sequence report. Arriving at the testing site 45+ minutes prior to sequence report is a safeguard to ensure you receive the incentive pay even if you receive your results after sequence report time.
- You must complete the testing voluntarily (the Company does not set this up).
We are only required to test if you are flying to MXP if flight crews have traveled to the UK or Brazil within the last 14 days. If a vaccine becomes an acceptable method of entry and you have disclosed your vaccine status to the Company, you will not be eligible for the vaccine incentive.
The Letter of Agreement along with the hotline and a Q & A on COVID testing may be found here.
Tablets Continue to Deteriorate
I continue to get communications from Flight Attendants who, after charging their tablets to 100% find that their tablet is at either low or no battery once they need it onboard the aircraft. Please remember that, although the Company provided us this tablet, you should protect yourself when you deal with a tablet that you cannot use because of battery or other malfunctions. I have repeatedly told the Company that the tablet issues are serious, and this is one of our most important barriers when faced with an emergency in the air or on the ground. Please continue to ASAP these tablet issues to protect yourself and give the Company notice. I have sat in meetings with the Company where they themselves cannot get the tablets to function properly, so this is not something the Company is ignorant of.
Quarantine Restrictions Abroad
I continue to revisit the issue of Flight Attendants requiring to quarantine in their rooms or hotel properties at some of our IPD destinations. These are government requirements of the countries we serve. These are not mandated by the Company or APFA. I have received several message pertaining to pilots being given different instructions than Flight Attendants. The Company maintains that crew restrictions apply to the entire crew. Unless you have a document, please do not let rumor or social media be the source to bring this issue up. We are all adults and when we are abroad, we are responsible enough to make our own decisions about how we will make the layover work for us. Just be mindful that social media is not private, even when you are inside a private group or page.
EWR Returns to Employee Parking LOT F on May 10
As a reminder, as of midnight May 10th all Flight Attendants using the pay lot at EWR will be back to the Employee Parking Lot F. The bus is labeled SHORT TERM PARKING ABC and picks up on the lower-level East terminal every 10-15 minutes, 24 hours a day. The bus will only serve Terminal A. Those of you who do not have your vehicles registered for parking at EWR must go in person to the parking lot for new parking access with a signed form that you may obtain from flight service. This is controlled by the Port Authority of EWR, and the Company has no way to expedite the process for our flight crews.
- Judy at EWR Airport 718-476-4320
- Evelyn Sumbana at LGA Airport 718-476-4320
- Karen Bravo at JFK Airport 718-487-7882
APFA Live Chat
If you email or call us and do not get an immediate response, it may be because we are assisting other flight attendant’s immediate attention beyond a contract question. Please familiarize yourself with the live chat feature on the APFA website.
- Live Chat is now available on weekends and holidays from 0900-1700 CT
- Live Chat is resuming in the evenings Mon-Fri 1500-2300 CT
- Live Chat may be accessed on the home page of APFA.org
- We accrue 4.5 hours of SK per month for every month we are available 15 days or more in a contractual month (Paid Activity)
- We also accrue SK if we are available for less than 15 days a month but are paid 40 hours or more.
- Once you have 1,500 hours in your SK bank you will no longer accrue sick hours
- On the 1st day of each contractual month, SK hours are available in your bank
**Please remember that all SK calls have a beginning and an end date, so when you call in SK, you must tell the scheduler the length of time or trips you are calling in sick for. If you need to extend, you will need to call scheduling back, it is not automatic, nor do we call in to clear any longer.
Alcoholic Beverages in Main Cabin
In late April the Company announced their intent to return alcoholic beverage options along with food to the main cabin. In the meantime, we continue to see a rise in customer misconduct and assaults on Flight Attendants, this decision is not only premature, but irresponsible. I have asked our local Flight Service to provide me with any new or adjusted policies the Company has in place to keep unruly customers out of our cabin and the air with other customers who are deserving of a pleasant experience. Flight Attendants must be included in these decisions because we are the ones who deal with the ramifications of intoxicated customers who pose a threat to the safety of the flight and all onboard. I plan on keeping my stance on this issue loud and clear with the Company and on the Board of Directors.
NYC On-Demand Courtesy Shuttle Service
Tomorrow is the last day this important resource will operate for NYC Flight Attendants. There is still time for you to email Samuel Maher and Frank Morales to tell them what this service means to us and our colleagues. The Company has decided to end a critical safety net for Flight Attendants at a time when crime is rising in NYC with certain minority groups being the focus of these crimes. We travel between two states and three airports, at any hour of the day including 1-5 AM, just to make report on a reserve pairing or a pairing we were assigned by seniority. We understand what it takes to work out of a city like ours, but we don’t understand why the Company would make a decision that can only expose us to risks and crimes. I assure you that I will not stop advocating for this important resource our base must continue to have. Please email and remind our colleagues to do the same, Thank You. I will update the base as soon as I have information on the outcome.
New Routes & Route Adjustments
Today we begin new service from New York – Tel Aviv, Israel. This is an exciting time for New York as we have faced what seemed like a forgotten city as the Company grew everywhere but New York.
As some of you know, our Hebrew speakers experienced a very unpleasant start with their Hebrew qualifications not acknowledged in the initial PBS run due to a Company error. As a result, a position 10 was created on the 777-200 to accommodate the speakers for this month, while not having to remove a non-speaker to make space for them. Thankfully, with the help of our JCBA HDQ team, we were able to rectify part of the problems with a few minor issues left. If you fly with one of our Hebrew speakers, please welcome them as an important part of our family.
Later this year our JFK-LAX trans-con market returns to all A321T, and I expect the Company to return the aircraft to 6 BID positions. I am closely monitoring this.
You are the first to know via this base brief, that I intend to speak to the Company about restoring our staffing on our IPD/Transcon flights to previous levels. I understand the Company made this decision with their own interest in mind, and now I am requesting this with our safety in mind. We are dealing with too many assaults, extra work of policing mask wearing, and now soon the re-introduction of alcohol into our cabins that will make things more difficult. Our staffing levels should return to:
- 777-200 to return to 10 BID positions
- 777-300 to 12 or 13 BID positions
- A321T 6 BID positions
APFA filed a Presidential Grievance over the staffing changes late last year. The daily CERS reports alone prove the need for an immediate return of pre-pandemic staffing on our wide-body aircraft and trans-con markets. This is not just a service issue; it has become a safety issue.
- In June we begin new service New York – Athens, Greece
- In September we begin new service New York – Delhi, India
- LGA Airport will also see an increase in new routes as of November of 2021
Vaccine Incentive Program
Please remember that once you report your vaccine status to the Company, they are no longer obligated to remove you from service with pay to self-quarantine. You have until August 31, 2021, to report your vaccine status and participate in the vaccine incentive program.
No VLOAs for the June Bid Month
There are NO PAID or UNPAID voluntary leaves of absence being offered for the month of JUNE. Please prepare for this to be the case through the summer months of 2021.
When the Company makes the decision to relocate Flight Attendants from a usual hotel property to a property closer to the airport as a result of any situations that may arise at a specific city, we not only encourage it, but we expect it. We understand that the temporary location may not be ideal, and we welcome feedback so that we can pass it on to our Hotel Chair at APFA HDQ. Your feedback helps us with discussions with the Company about the choices they make under these circumstances. Please understand that when we are dealing with a security issue, time is of the essence and your safety is your priority. Nonetheless, we expect the Company to always make decisions considering our health, rest, and basic needs while away from home.
As Flight Attendants we are expected to jump into roles that sometimes do not come with our training, but our natural ability to resolve and care.
Please Fly & Stay Safe.
Christian M. Santana
APFA LGA Base President
APFA LGA Base Vice President
Proud to Represent New York-LGA
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