Tuesday, October 5, 2021
November 2021 Allocations
Good Day CLT Flight Attendants,
We had our monthly calls with the company concerning the trips for November and the improvements are continuing but we still have some major issues before our trips fully return to the pre-covid trip construction model. Our numbers break down with an active head count of 2,089 flight attendants. We have an additional 130 people to add to our ranks. This is about a 6% increase in head count, but we saw about a 9.7% increase in time. This means we will still have a staffing issue until some of the new hire classes start to graduate and come online. Limited staffing limits how the trips are constructed. With fewer people, they need to put more flights into an individual sequence to cover the increase in time.
We are scheduled to have 1,702 lineholders, 366 reserves (18.6%) and our line average will be set at 80. The reserve percentage is in line with past years and with the returning flight attendants eligible for reserve in November, the seniority for reserve was 2013. We expect the reserve numbers to be at a much higher percentage for December and January as the company has historically placed higher numbers in these months to cover the holidays. November has a few schedule changes on the 2nd, the 18th, and December 1st. Don’t forget daylight savings time on the 7th. We will maintain our banks of flights (except Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays). Thanksgiving is on the 25th and there will only be a few banks of flights on that day and not a lot of originating trips on Thanksgiving Day. This is consistent with how they have always scheduled this holiday. Expect the rush to hit on Tuesday of that week and pick back up on Saturday and Sunday. The November holiday is shorter, and we generally do not have the staffing issues that we usually see with the Christmas Holiday.
There was some shifting in our trip distribution:
- 1-days will make up 18% of our flying. This is slightly down from previous months.
- 2-days will make up 32% of our flying. This is also down from previous months.
- 3-days will make up 20% of the trips and had the largest increase in number of trips.
- 4-days are at about 8 % of the trips.
- 2/3-days will make up about 3% of the trips.
- 3/4-days are less than 1%.
- ODANS saw a nice increase and come in at 10% of our trips.
- There are a couple of Bullets/ all night turns but they come in at less than 1%.
- The red eyes are back strong, coming in at 5% of our trips.
The 1 days still have some 4 leg turns. There is still the problem with the sit times in the middle of these, but there were a few that did not have a long sit in the middle. The long sit times continue to be a problem with all of our trips. 24% of our trips have long sits in them. The computer is not programmed to be able to cut the sit time on one type of trip. The change has to be made on all trips. We have consistently asked for a reduction in the sit times, to back the max off from 3+45 to 1+20 but the company maintains they need that extra time in a duty day to allow a crew to operate on an additional bank of flights. This will help them cover more time with fewer people. Cutting the sit time is on our list of improvements we want to see.
The two days still make up the bulk of our flying. There are staggered departures making it easier to hold back-to-back trips. The 2 days are the workhorse trip where you see the most legs packed into a duty day and short rests. There are some high time ones and there are some reasonable ones.
The biggest shift we saw came with an increase to the 3 days. The company put in new duty day limits and has tried to set some new constraints such as limiting the number of legs in a duty period. These changes were made to improve the overall trip construction. The Optimizer likes to spit out 4 days. When they put more constraints on the system, the Optimizer went for the 4 days. To break up a 4 day, it is not an even split becoming two 2 days- it generally will make a 3 day and a 2 day. With the new limits, and to cut the number of 4 days, the system created more 3 days. Ideally, we would like to get more 1 days out of cutting up 4 days, but that’s not how the system is programmed. The result of keeping the 4 days in check was more 3 days balancing with 2 days.
The 4 days are a nice balance at 8% of the trips. There are some real gems here for those commuters and people who want to fly these. Like any type of trip, there are some stinkers too. One of the main problems with the 4 days is 67% of them are not commutable on one end or the other. This kind of eliminates them for flying commuters. We have asked repeatedly to return commutability to the 4 days, but the budget and manpower constraints are still limiting our progress on this metric.
There are still some 2/3 days with 30 hour sits in low frequency cities such as BUF, SYR, CMH, PVD, CLE, CHA, DTW, TPA. There were a small handful of 3/4 days. A good time to look for these trips is Thanksgiving. With such a limited schedule on Thanksgiving Day, there will be more 30-hour layovers on that day. It’s an easy way to pick up a trip and have the holiday off to spend with any relatives you have in those cities. Red eyes are also a good way to see some family over a holiday.
The red eyes were the best surprise in the packet. Most of the traditional red eye cities are available in November. There are some that take two legs to get out there, but even the mid-con red eyes are back. We saw the same Bullets as we have in the last few months, but only a handful of pink eyes.
There was a good increase to the ODANs. There are even some with 9+ overnights. ODANs are pure synthetic (Rig) time, and the computer is hesitant to allow synthetic time. But the ODANs serve a greater purpose to the company by cleaning up the “scraps” of late night flying and early morning departures out of small cities. The company has twisted the dial in favor of the ODANs and we saw a good increase in all bases. They have said they will work on bringing back the longer ODANs in the coming months. I know many people don’t like ODANs, no one likes to actually work this shift, but these trips seem to work with everyone’s schedule whether it be a reserve or a lineholder. Charters also add some flair to the schedule and there are a few sports and honor charters. Our ultimate goal is to have variety and balance to our trips to allow for more flexibility. ODANs, red eyes, pink eyes and bullets add that variety.
Last month we reported that they were experimenting on co-pairing flight attendants and pilots for a duty day. Between the hours of 1000 to 1900, this will expand in the Charlotte base for November. We have advocated for this and are glad to see this approach moving forward. The pilots have different limits on duty days and legalities. With our duty days not being pushed to the max, it puts us more in line with the pilot constraints making this possible. We did not see many duty days past the 12-hour mark, but more of them pushed to the 9-to-11-hour mark. We still saw long duty days on the first day of a trip followed by a short overnight. This has always been allowed in the programming where they try and limit the duty day AFTER a short overnight to no more than the previous nights rest. We have told them we want rest AFTER a long duty day and with people commuting in for a trip or having to leave their house early just to make check in, this rule needs to change. They have said they will monitor this and make improvements, if possible, in the future.
IPD flying has taken the greatest hit during this crisis. IPD made up most of the flying in several bases and they are still waiting on a serious recovery. Look at RDU as an example. We have LHR and are still sharing FRA for a month on, a month off to satisfy the 50% use it or lose it rules. We have gained HNL and hopefully we will get back our other flights when the summer season starts next year. RDU has made some small improvements with later departure times but the 0400 check in times are still in need of finding the right type of trip to be built into.
There have been some significant positive changes to the trips, but we did ask the question, “is this all we can expect moving forward?” We still have some real problems with sit times, rest and duty days. 24 percent of our trips have a very long sit/connections built in. While the sit times over 3 hours have come down, there are way too many trips with 2+40, 2+50 sits. Some trips have a long sit each day of the sequence. This sit time allows the company to add more flying into a duty day by scheduling you to more flying in a later bank of flights, but it also lengthens the duty day and cuts into rest. Shortening the sits will have a rippling effect of increasing rest but it also adds synthetic time to the system. Right now, they still have the staffing shortage and budget constraints to deal with, so the improvements will likely come in increments over the next year assuming demand stays high, and we continue to ramp up the system. All of this is still being driven by the Covid Pandemic.
November bidding timeline:
We are slowly making strides to return the system to pre-covid normalcy. We have more of our fellow flight attendants returning in December with new hires starting to come out of training in November. Hopefully, the company will continue the positive improvements instead of the lip service as we move forward. Justifying inhumane trips and inflating the reserve numbers last spring with excuses such as, “we have always had trips that were not desirable” or “our reserve seniority would have gone down by multiple years if people stopped calling in sick” are just not going to cut it. We need significant changes and the support of management to see us through to the end of this crisis. The positive changes in trip construction are a good start.
There are a lot of changes taking place right now, and it all can be overwhelming. Sometimes we can’t see the impacts or the toll the stress is taking on us. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to the APFA EAP reps. They are discrete and know what you’re going through. 1-817-540-0108 ext. 8701. We’re here to help.
Take care of yourselves and each other. ~ The Charlotte APFA Team
APFA CLT Base President