Wednesday, February 2, 2022
2022-2023 Vacation Bidding
Good Day CLT Flight Attendants,
Every year, the Company creates the annual vacation matrix outlining the distribution of vacation days for the next “vacation year.” The number of days allotted to the matrix and how they are distributed are outlined in JCBA Section 8 – Vacation. This section of the Contract governs how a Flight Attendant accrues vacation, the number of days they have, how they are paid, bid, awarded, traded, and even the amount of buyback.
The Contract states that the Company will offer a minimum of 5.5% of the vacation days for buyback. Last year, that was all they offered. This year they offered it to anyone who wanted it. This year, about 13.7% of the vacation was bought back. Under a thousand Flight Attendants had this option last year systemwide. The year prior, over four thousand Flight Attendants participated. Last year’s matrix was disappointing and driven by several financial liabilities for the Company. This year, the Company was looking to try and return to more pre-pandemic levels of vacation distribution. Comparing last year’s matrix to this year’s matrix shows huge improvements. We decided to do a side-by-side comparison to 2019-20. This would give a more realistic view of pre-pandemic matrix compared to what is being offered for next year.
The number of days available for vacation in the matrix are driven by headcount, accrual and how much buyback was taken. From 2019-20, our headcount remains down and many of our Flight Attendants have returned from leaves where their accrual was limited. About 3% less Flight attendants took advantage of the buyback compared to 2019-20. Even with the addition of the extra vacation day offered for the vaccination incentive, the overall matrix had significantly less days due to the headcount and accrual factors. 43,952 days are available for bidding next year as opposed to 54,229 in 2019-20.
Here are some things to remember about vacation and a side-by-side comparison of 2019-20 and 2022-23.
- Vacation is accrued from January to December. You bid it in February and use it from May until April.
- Contractually, the Company must place a minimum of 3% vacation time into every month except July, August and December must have 4.5%.
- The Filler Day matrix is the same as the main matrix. Carry forward days are included.
- The Company did not exercise the right to use the minimum of 3% but they did use the 4.5 in July and December.
<click image to enlarge>
As you can see the Company is still placing too much time at the end of the year. About 32% of the total vacation is in the last three months. Historically, this has always been the case, there is less flying in these months, so it is possible to award more vacation. You can also see where they remain hesitant about putting vacation in the summer months where the flying will be at its peak. Last year they had the contractual minimums in June, July, and August. They did increase in June and August, but we are still below pre-pandemic levels. We have always advocated and will continue to advocate for more vacation time in the summer months. We had argued back in 2019 for more vacation in May. This year they allocated more time to acceptable levels.
September, October, and November have always been high vacation months. Once again, this is due to the reduction in scheduled flying. This year has slightly less time than pre-COVID levels. The Company remains hesitant to return to pre-COVID levels. Statistics in 2020 and 2021 in these months may be driving the hesitancy.
December is a month we will always fight over. With the month divided by “half month logic” and the increased demand during the holiday, the Company has always been stern on keeping to the minimums. We continue our argument for more vacation at the beginning of the month. The matrix is broken down by day of each month. When we looked at the actual days over the holiday, they were significantly lower. 2021’s incentive program showed that staffing needs are not an issue with the proper holiday incentive.
January, February, March, and April have the most vacation days, with the lion’s share going in February. We voiced our concerns over this as a large amount of vacation placed at the end of the year puts strains on PBS credit ranges, increases the reserve numbers, and generally plays havoc with the systems. We continue to ask this time to be distributed elsewhere in the year, but the contract drives how much vacation is allowed and gives the Company the right to distribute where they want it.
One of the positive aspects to this grid is something we have been pushing for. The smoothing of days within a month and at the end and beginning of certain months. This would allow more Flight Attendants to hold seven days’ vacation but split it between two months. For instance, three days at the end of September and four days at the beginning of October. You would get the max pay for vacation days for the block of 7, but if you needed to bid down to reserve, the seven days would not affect the rotation requirements, or you could more evenly disperse your vacation. There are certain months where this is not possible because of holidays such as December to January or June to July. Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Halloween also make this difficult. The matrix this year had more smoothing between the months. When we looked at the matrix in the past, we might have seen the days evenly distributed throughout the month and then see a stretch of days with little vacation. These were usually “unofficial” holidays such as Mother’s Day or the Super Bowl. The matrix still had these, but the days were pretty evenly distributed compared to previous years.
We advocated for moving the days to months, such as May or October at the end of the vacation year. This would allow more smoothing, with more vacation time being pushed into the beginning of June and more into September and November. The company is receptive to smoothing, and this grid was reflective of this. We hope this becomes the norm for future grids.
The final grid did move some days between the months and a handful of days we added to July, December, May, and April. Overall, the grid is a massive improvement over last year, but we still have a ways to go before we get back to pre-pandemic levels.
Vacation bidding opened January 31, 2022 and runs until March 15th, 2022.
If you elected to keep your vacation day from the incentive to bid in 2022-23, it is visible in the Vacation Management System (VMS) under the annual tab.
Log into the Crew Portal > Monthly Bids > Vacation > Annual > Summary
*Note- Your extra Vacation Day is ONLY visible under the Annual tab in VMS.
Once you are on the landing page (summary) under the annual tab, you will see the extra day under the net accrual section of the AVBA Summary page.
If you have questions on your accrual or number of days in each round, you can send your inquires to [email protected] or call the Vacation Support Desk at 1-800-VIP-CREW, #8.
Take care of yourselves and each other.
The Charlotte APFA Team
APFA CLT Base President