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PBS - Basic Understanding

Pairings and Pairing Pools

Paring, also known as a Sequence, is series of flight segments within FAR and contractual limits and encompasses one or more calendar days.

Our monthly bid sheet is made up of Pairings that are created by Manpower Planning each month.  PBS does not construct Pairings, it only allocates these already set up Pairings to create legal schedules for Flight Attendants.

Pairing Pools are a group of pairings that satisfy selected properties and preferences; also referred to as Pairing Set.  

Pairing Properties can both add and remove pairings from a layer's pairing pool.

Ex. 1  If you have all 3 days in L1 and then add 4 days, you will be adding more pairings to the pool.

3days-L1

When all 3 days are added there are 6016 pairings in the Layer 1 pairing pool.

3-4Days-L1.jpg

By adding the same pairing property but with all 4 days in this same layer, there are now 7472 pairings in the Layer 1 pairing pool.

Ex. 2  If you have all 3 days in L1 and then add Layover at City: DFW, you will be removing all pairings from the layer that do not layover at DFW.  Another way to think about this is that you are saying that you only want 3 day trips that lay over in DFW for this layer.

3days-L1

When all 3 days are added there are 6016 pairings in the Layer 1 pairing pool.

3days-DFW-L1

Now, by adding a different pairing property in the same layer, you are removing the 3 day pairings that do not layover in DFW, and there are now only 231 pairings in the Layer 1 pairing pool.

Pairing Properties vs Line/Days Off Properties

What are the differences between Pairing Properties, Line Properties and Days Off Properties?

First remember that PBS's amin aim:  Take pre-loaded pairings from the bidsheet and create legal lines for all flight attendants in seniority order.

So, there are two steps involved.

  1.  First, PBS needs pairings as a starting point.
  2.  Secondly, PBS needs to legally arrange the selected pairings on your schedule.

As a PBS bidder, you will create a bid of preferences for PBS to look at and honor to the best of it's abilities but taking into account legalities(first) and seniority(second).

Pairing Properties

To search and select pairings, you'll use the Pairing Properties on the Pairing Tab to build layers of pairing pools.

A few things to take into account with Pairing Properties:

  • All of the pairings in a layer are considered equal and fair game for PBS to use toward your schedule.
  •   You can express your preference of certain pairings over others by putting the preferred pairings in a higher priority layer.  There is no way to prioritize pairings within the same layer.

 

8hrTurns-red

For example, your plan may be to fly turns but you'd like to fly as many 8hr + turns as possible.

Your Layer one might have all 8hr+ turns.

But just in case that isn't enough for a complete bid, you might but 7:30hr+ turns in Layer 2.

With this strategy, you can see that there are 68 total pairings in Layer 1 with the 8hr+ turns.

In Layer 2, there are an additional 211 pairings for turns that are between 7:30 and 8hrs.

 

Any time you make a change to the pairing properties in your bid, this will adjust the number of pairings in the layer.

Line Properties and Days Off Properties

You will use these  to express how you would like PBS to arrange the pairings on your schedule.  Bidding these properties will not change the number of pairings in your pools or on your Layer tab.  However, be aware that you can bid Line properties that conflict with the pairings in that layer and you will not be awarded the conflicting pairings.

WB33-pairing4days-redX

Ex. In Layer 1 you have bid all 4 day pairings.  Also in Layer 1 you have bid the line property for Work Block Size min:3, max:3.

In this example you would not get any of the 1456 pairings from Layer 1 because you've only bid 4 day pairings but also bid that you won't accept anything other than a 3 calendar day work block - there is no possible solution.

Intro to PBS Video Walkthrough

  • PBS Navigation Menu Tabs: Pairing Tab - Days Off Tab - Line Tab
  • Generic vs Specific Bidding
  • View Pairing set (how to check what you are bidding) - never forget to do this.
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Mastering Layers, Pairing Pools, and a Full 7 Layer Bid

Video Walkthrough - Exploring the relationship between Layers and Pairing Pools

In the video below we'll delve into the essentials of PBS, focusing on the dynamic relationship between layers, pairing pools, and an effective bidding strategy.  We'll also touch on Minimum Average Credit per Duty and complete a sample full 7 layer bid focused on bidding turns.

Understanding the Basics

  • Key Point: Layers and pairing pools allow you to prioritize certain trips over others.
  • Caution: Without preferences, the system will still consider legalities and create a schedule for you - but it will use all trips from the default pairing pool with no particular preference.
  • Tip: The power lies in understanding and putting in your preferences to tailor the bids to your needs.

Navigating Layers and Pairing Pools

  • Key Point: Layers organize preferences for pairings, however each trip in a particular layer is considered equal and fair game for PBS to add to your schedule.  PBS will try to honor pairings from your earliest layers first, going to the next layer only if it is unable to complete a schedule in the earlier layer.
  • Caution: Bidding insufficient number of pairings by Layer 7 may cause the PBS to go outside of your preferences and find pairings from the default pairing pool at your base.
  • Tip: Regularly check the layer tab for a comprehensive overview of your bidding choices.

Crafting a Bidding Strategy

  • Key Point: Sculpt your bid by gradually refining preferences, starting with your most desired prerences in Layer 1.
  • Caution: Be mindful of duty periods and legalities to avoid impractical bids.
  • Tip: Learn to relax your bid preferences in later layers.  You can repeat much of your bid from an earlier layer, but exchange a more strict earlier preference for a more expanded option.  For example, for high time turns:
    • In Layer 1, bid Duty period:1 and  Min Avg Credit per Duty: 7hrs but know this is very restrictive and may not yield many pairings in the pool.
    • In Lyer 2, you might try Duty period:1 but with Min Avg Credit per Duty: 6hrs to include more pairings.

Layer-by-Layer Bidding

  • Key Point: Each layer refines the bid, pushing the rest of the default pairing pool pairings to subsequent layers.
  • Caution: Adjust preferences in later layers to accommodate evolving strategies or relaxed properties.
  • Tip: Regularly check the pairing set after making changes to ensure the pairings displayed are in alignment with your goals.

Provide Enough Preferences and Pairings to Complete Your Bid

  • Key Point: The final 7 Layer bid reflects your preferences for PBS to use to create your bid.
  • Caution: Understand that the bid packet continues beyond layer seven, providing fallback options for PBS to use if you haven't bid enough.
  • Tip: Always use 'View Pairing Set' to check the pairings you have bid and ensure that you have bid enough options that you can hold at your seniority by Layer 7.
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View Pairing Set Button

ChristmasTree

Utilizing the View Pairing Set will give you more details about the pairings you have added to your pool and allow you to review the details of each pairing and remove any pairings you do not wish to have in your pairing pools.

Below is a description of what you'll see after clicking 'View Pairing Set':

ViewDetails

Caution - Don't Skip a Layer

The example below, the flight attendant added 54 pairings/positions in layers 1-4. Because the flight attendant stopped bidding after layer 4, all additional pairings were added to layer 5pairing pool. If you skip a layer all together, leaving it completely blank, PBS will create the pairing pool for the layer, by adding all of the available pairings (excluding ODAN, Red-Eye and satellite pairings). It will treat the skipped layer as if it was a bid layer, and it may complete your line at that point. Skipping a layer is different from having a zero in a layer.

ZeroPairings

Duty Period vs Pairing Length

Pairing Length = the number of calendar days a pairing touches.

Duty Period = the work period calculated from report time to release time and can overlap more than one calendar day.

A Duty Period is the time spent working that includes all flight segments, ground time between flight segments, deadhead segments and/or training.

Problems can arise if your thinking assumes a 2 day trip is also 2 duty periods.  It can be, but and ODAN and an all-nighter turn would also both be considered 2 day trips, but with only 1 Duty Period.

3day-2DP

In this example you'll see the sequence touches 3 calendar days.  It also had 3 duty periods. (need to get screen shot and elaborate on this example)

3day-2DP

The sequence in this example touches 3 calendar days.  It departs on Friday July 28th at 19:42.  It lands back in MIA on July 30th at 8:37am encompassing July 28, 29 and 30th.

However it only has 2 Duty Periods:

  • The first Duty period has 1 leg, departing MIA at 19:42 on July 28th and landing in SFO at 22:44.
  • The second Duty Period departs SFO on July 29th at 23:54 and lands in MIA at 8:37am on July 30th.

 

2day-1DP

This all-nighter sequence touches 2 caledar days, July 5th and July 6th.

However it only has 1 Duty Period:  It departs MIA at 19:50 on July 5th and lands back in MIA at 7:18am on July 6th.

DP1-PL2-2

Similarly, this ODAN is only 1 Duty Period, Departing MIA at 22:18 on July 28 and returning at 9:13 on July 29th.  However it would be considered a trip with 'Pairing Length: 2' since it touches 2 Calendar days.

Video Walkthrough - Navigating Prefer Pairing Length and Prefer Duty Period in PBS Bidding

The video below aims to clarify Prefer Pairing Length and Prefer Duty Period in PBS with a hands on walk through. It's essential to discern the difference between these preferences for effective bidding. Let's delve into understanding and applying these preferences!

Differentiating Prefer Pairing Length and Prefer Duty Period

  • Key Point: Prefer Pairing Length focuses on the calendar days a trip spans.
  • Caution: Each number (e.g., Prefer Pairing Length 1, 2, 3) represents the number of calendar days touched by the trip.
  • Tip: Use Prefer Pairing Length to control the duration of your trips.

Understanding Prefer Duty Period

  • Key Point: Prefer Duty Period relates to the time from sign-in to release.
  • Caution: A duty period can span multiple calendar days but involves a continuous period of working.
  • Tip: Consider how many duty periods you prefer in a trip for a more nuanced bidding strategy.

Applying Prefer Pairing Length and Prefer Duty Period Together

  • Key Point: Consider scenarios where your preference for Pairing Length and Duty Period aligns.
  • Caution: A multi-day trip may have fewer duty periods than days, so be strategic.
  • Tip: Experiment with combinations to find the right balance between trip duration and work hours.

Example - Long Layover in a Three-Day Trip

  • Key Point: Combine Prefer Pairing Length 3 with Prefer Duty Period 2 for a long layover in a three-day trip.
  • Caution: Ensure the layover aligns with your preferences for rest and relaxation.
  • Tip: Review pairing results to confirm the desired layover is present in the selected trips.

Example - Maximizing Work Hours in a Three-Day Trip

  • Key Point: Combine Prefer Pairing Length 3 with 3 day duty periods as well as a higher than the 5 hour default Min Avg Credit per Duty for higher time three-day trips.
  • Caution: Selecting too high of a Min Avg Credit per Duty with pairings that span across multiple duty periods may cause you to have few or no pairings in your pairing pool for that layer.  Be strategic and check your working using 'View Pairing Set' - every time.  
  • Tip: Customize preferences to ensure each of the trips in your pairing pool  meets your minimum credit requirement.
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Understanding Work Blocks

WB-size-6day

6 day work block.  Here the work block contains two 3-day pairings (469 & 467) touching a total of 6 calendar days, spaning from the 12th through the 17th.

This full 24 hour calendar day off is required to begin the 6 calendar day work block that follows on the 12th through the 17th.

This full 24 hour calendar day off is required to end the 6 calendar day work block that preceded on the 12th through the 17th.

Work Block

Simply a group of calendar days in a row that you are working before having a day off.

  • A work block can be a single sequence or made up of more than one back to back sequence.
  • A lot of the way PBS builds your schedule is based on Contractual and FAR legalities limiting Work Blocks and many, many of the properties in all tabs will be affected by work block settings.
  • This is one of the most important concepts to grasp from PBS and also the source of many disappointing awards if not fully understood.

Work Block Size

By default is 1 to 6 days, but you can use the Work Block Size Line property to set a range different from that default.

* if you are looking for a work block greater than  6 days, you'll still need a 24 hour break on a layover at some point within your workblock and would need to use the following waiver button on the Line tab of your PBS bid.

The Confusion

  • Since the default size is 1 to 6 and a work block can have 1 or more pairings within it, some flight attendants have been confused when using the Minimum Days Off between Work Blocks property under the Days Off Tab. Some have interpreted the button to mean minimum days off between trips, but that is not the case.  If you are bidding 3 day trips only and would like to ensure that you have at least 2 days off between trips, you would need to include a Work Block Size: Min 3, 3
  • Another confusing concept related to Work Block Size is related to the fact that you cannot bid a work block size that is more restrictive than in the previous layer.

Ex.

Layer 1 you are bidding satellite pairings and are not senior enough to hold more than just a few pairings.  You've decided to not bid a work block size in Layer 1 meaning the default of 1 to 6 will be used.

Layer 2 you are bidding to complete your award with 3 day Europe trips and you only want one trip separated by a day off.  You've decided to bid Work Block Size:  Min 3,3.

This strategy won't work:  Layer 1 had a range of 1 to 6 days, while Layer 2 had a more restrictive range of 3 to 3.

Problem Work Block Size Examples that won't work

No work block bid in 1st layers
min 3, max 3 bid later layers

In Layer 1, there is no work block size bid, so the system uses the default of 1 to 6 days.  In this case the bidder is saying OK to a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 day stretch of days working.

However, in L2 through L7, the bidder is saying that ONLY a 3 day stretch of days working is acceptable.  

This strategy will NOT work.  This bid is more restrictive in L2 through L7 relative to L1. Because workblock size accumulates from layer to layer, it is not possible to 'undo' the 1, 2, 4, 5 or 6 day work block previously agreed to in L1 and possibly already awarded.

Min 3, Max 3 bid in first layers
no work block bid later layers

In Layers 1 through 3, a strict work block size of 3, 3 mean ONLY 3 day work blocks will be accepted (no more, no less).

However in Layers 4 through 7, has put in no work block size bid so the system will use the default of Min 1, Max 6.  In this case, the bidder has RELAXED the work block size to allow for 1, 2, 4, 5 or 6 day work blocks.

This strategy will work.  The bid from L4-L7 has relaxed the strictions from L1-L3.

Applying Prefer Pairing Length and Prefer Duty Period Together

  • Key Point: Consider scenarios where your preference for Pairing Length and Duty Period aligns.
  • Caution: A multi-day trip may have fewer duty periods than days, so be strategic.
  • Tip: Experiment with combinations to find the right balance between trip duration and work hours.

Example - Long Layover in a Three-Day Trip

  • Key Point: Combine Prefer Pairing Length 3 with Prefer Duty Period 2 for a long layover in a three-day trip.
  • Caution: Ensure the layover aligns with your preferences for rest and relaxation.
  • Tip: Review pairing results to confirm the desired layover is present in the selected trips.

Example - Maximizing Work Hours in a Three-Day Trip

  • Key Point: Combine Prefer Pairing Length 3 with 3 day duty periods as well as a higher than the 5 hour default Min Avg Credit per Duty for higher time three-day trips.
  • Caution: Selecting too high of a Min Avg Credit per Duty with pairings that span across multiple duty periods may cause you to have few or no pairings in your pairing pool for that layer.  Be strategic and check your working using 'View Pairing Set' - every time.  
  • Tip: Customize preferences to ensure each of the trips in your pairing pool  meets your minimum credit requirement.
WB-size-6day

6 day work block.  Here the work block contains two 3-day pairings (469 & 467) touching a total of 6 calendar days, spaning from the 12th through the 17th.

This full 24 hour calendar day off is required to begin the 6 calendar day work block that follows on the 12th through the 17th.

This full 24 hour calendar day off is required to end the 6 calendar day work block that preceded on the 12th through the 17th.

Work Block

Simply a group of calendar days in a row that you are working before having a day off.

  • A work block can be a single sequence or made up of more than one back to back sequence.
  • A lot of the way PBS builds your schedule is based on Contractual and FAR legalities limiting Work Blocks and many, many of the properties in all tabs will be affected by work block settings.
  • This is one of the most important concepts to grasp from PBS and also the source of many disappointing awards if not fully understood.

Work Block Size

By default is 1 to 6 days, but you can use the Work Block Size Line property to set a range different from that default.

The confusion:

  • Since the default size is 1 to 6 and a work block can have 1 or more pairings within it, some flight attendants have been confused when using the Minimum Days Off between Work Blocks property under the Days Off Tab. Some have interpreted the button to mean minimum days off between trips, but that is not the case.  If you are bidding 3 day trips only and would like to ensure that you have at least 2 days off between trips, you would need to include a Work Block Size: Min 3, 3
  • Another confusing concept related to Work Block Size is related to the fact that you cannot bid a work block size that is more restrictive than in the previous layer.

Ex.

Layer 1 you are bidding satellite pairings and are not senior enough to hold more than just a few pairings.  You've decided to not bid a work block size in Layer 1 meaning the default of 1 to 6 will be used.

Layer 2 you are bidding to complete your award with 3 day Europe trips and you only want one trip separated by a day off.  You've decided to bid Work Block Size:  Min 3,3.

This strategy won't work:  Layer 1 had a range of 1 to 6 days, while Layer 2 had a more restrictive range of 3 to 3.

Here is a table of more vs less restrictive work block sizes

3. If you are looking for a work block that is more than six days in a row, you will likely need to use these two waivers:

  • Waive 24 Hrs Rest in Domicile - Even by waiving this you will still need 24 hours rest after working 6 days in a row, but this waiver let's you use 24 hr layover rest to count.  Therefore you could get 3 consecutive 3 day IPD trips (work block: 9) if  one of the trips has at least a 24 hour layover.
  • Waive Maximum 30 hrs in 7 Days - Even with a 6 day work block, consecutive trips can easily add up to more than 30 hrs in 7 days so if you are looking for a larger work block it is a good idea to use this waiver.

There's a lot going on in each layer and you can go from very simple to extremely complex in your individual layer bidding strategy.

First and foremost, layers are the only way that you can express preference in PBS, so each layer should be crafted with this in mind.

Each layer will have a pairing pool constructed through the use of pairing properties or adding specific pairings.  It's important to realize that each of these pairings in the pool, are all considered equal and fair game for PBS to use.  If you would prefer to fly one set of pairings over another, you would need to separate those out into separate layers.

Secondly, each layer also gives you the opportunity to make changes to your Line Properties and Days Off properties.  As you relax these properties in later layers, it allows PBS to still prioritize pairings from the intial layers but with rules for arranging them on your schedule that were bid in later layers.  You may have been too restrictive with your Line properties in Layer 1 to complete an award, but in Layer 2 you relaxed some of those properites and PBS may now be able to finish.

Ex.  In Layer 1 you have bid turns and 2 day pairings and a Work Block Size of 3,3 with the intention of getting a some mix of a turn and a 2 day in each work block.  However, you can't hold turns at your seniority and PBS was unable to create any 3 day work blocks using just the 2 day pairings that you could hold.

In Layer 2 you have expanded your Work Block size to 3,4 allowing the possibility of a 4 day work block.  PBS will still prioritize your Layer 1 pairings and now has the flexibility to put two of those back to back and create a 4 day work block, but still using pairings form Layer 1.

Result: In this case you could get a Layer 2 Award with 4 day work blocks made up of 2 day pairings from Layer 1.

When bidding in PBS an important tool to use is the Layer Tab. This will give you an overview of the pairings you have selected in each layer and an opportunity to see if you have added pairings to each layer. As a general rule you should be adding additional pairings and/or positions to each layer. By checking your layer tab, you can quickly review if you have added pairings and/or positions. If you see a "0" next to any layer you have not added any pairings or positions to the previous layer.

Another feature of the Layer Tab is the View Pairing Set. This gives you the opportunity to review the pairings you have added to your pairing pools in each layer. Using this feature will allow you to also remove any individual pairings that you do not want to have in your pairing pools. If you find that you are removing a large number of pairings in you View Pairing Set this is a good opportunity to review your existing properties. Review what these pairings have in common and adjust your properties, such as Avoid Layover at City, to remove the pairings, rather than doing it one by one. Below is an example where the flight attendant successfully added pairings in each of the seven layers.

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APFA Headquarters
1004 West Euless Boulevard
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M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

Currently, no scheduled events...

APFA Headquarters
1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

M-F: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Call APFA

Contract & Scheduling Desk
M-F: 7:00AM - 7:00PM (CT)
Phone: (817) 540-0108

Chat APFA

After-Hours Live Chat
M-F: 3:00PM - 11:00 PM (CT)
Sat-Sun: 9:00AM - 5:00PM (CT)

APFA Events

Currently, no scheduled events...

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