Written by

John Carlos Metidieri, AFA Alternate Member to the Joint PBS Committee 

I recently began my 16th year in the service of envoy Air, inc.  It was only a couple of years ago that I was bidding around number 90 out of about 700 flight attendants based in Chicago.  For the month of August 2015, I bid number 120 out of only 475 active flight attendants.  Despite seeing a large increase in my company seniority over the past couple of years, I went from being in the 88th percentile of overall bidding seniority at my base down to the around the 75th percentile.

For someone who actually holds a line, perhaps a better way of looking at the numbers is by counting only those who typically hold lines of flying each month.  Under normal circumstances, this applies to about 80 percent of flight attendants at each base.  Using this perspective, I fell from bidding in the 84th percentile of bidding seniority down to the 68th percentile.

In plain English, it was two years ago that only about 15 percent of lineholders in Chicago were senior to me.  Today, nearly 32 percent of all lineholders in Chicago are senior to me.  My seniority relative to those also based in Chicago has taken a significant dive.  When it comes to monthly bidding seniority, my seniority number relative to those in my base is the only number that matters!

It is critical that Flight Attendants reassess where we stand in terms of bidding seniority and reevaluate the way we are bidding.  Many Flight Attendants are asking for that which we cannot hold.  The type of flying that we do in Chicago has changed dramatically.  We have lost longer stage length flying resulting in more trips with four legs or more per day.  The overall amount of flying has decreased dramatically.  Arguably the largest change in Chicago is that it is now the base of very senior flight attendants once based in Los Angeles and, more recently, Miami and San Juan where reserves ran many years in seniority. This trend will continue until the last of the Flight Attendants of New York have been displaced to their new domiciles.

If you need help in assessing your seniority level at your base for bidding purposes, use the math given below.  It helps to remove all inactive bidders in determining the overall number of flight attendants at your base.  For your actual base seniority number, only count those senior to you who are not inactive.  Remove those senior to you to determine your actual bidding seniority number at your base.

Overall Base Seniority (applicable to all flight attendants)

Step 1:            Take your base seniority number and divide that by the total number of flight attendants in your base.  If you are number 200 out of 475 active flight attendants, then you would enter 200 divided by 469.  In this case, the result is .43 when rounded to the nearest hundredth.  This immediately tells you that 43% of flight attendants are senior to you at your base.


Step 2:            Take the result from Step 1, and subtract it from 1.  1 minus .43 equals .57.  This means you are in the 57th percentile of all bidders at your base.

 Lineholder Seniority (applicable to only those who are at or above 20th percentile)

Step 1:            Take the total number of active flight attendants in your base and multiply it by 80% (written as .8 or .80).  This will give you the approximate number of flight attendants who can hold lines of flying each month.  If a base has 475 active flight attendants, approximately 380 flight attendants will hold lines each month.

Step 2:            Take your base seniority number and divide that by the number of flight attendants in your base who can hold lines each month.  If you are number 200 out of 380 flight attendants, then you would enter 200 divided by 380.  In this case, the result is .53 when rounded to the nearest hundredth.  This means 53% of all lineholders at your base are senior to you.  We can also use this result to know that 47% of lineholders are junior to you.

Step 3:            Take the result from Step 2, and substract it from 1.  1 minus .53 is .47.  This means you are in the 47th percentile of bidders holding lines at your base.  A little more than half of those holding lines of flying are senior to you.

We must come out of the mindset that we “have been here for ___ years” or that we “have always held ____ types of pairings in the past.”  Our total years of service or what we have held in the past are absolutely irrelevant!  Once again, our bidding seniority relative to the rest of Flight Attendants in our own bases it all that matters.  One who is somewhat near or below the 20th percentile should not be surprised to see that he or she has been awarded a reserve line regardless of how long it has been since he or she weas last on reserve.  Someone between the 20th and 50th percentile should not be surprised if he or she can no longer hold every weekend off.  Someone between the 50th and 75th percentile should not be surprised if he or she cannot hold weekends off and the best trips available on weekdays that they may have held in the past.

Flight Attendants junior to me have experienced a dramatically larger difference in changes to their seniority level than even I have experienced and continue to be unaware that such changes have occurred and believe that PBS is the sole reason for their dissatisfaction with their bid results.  The PBS Administrators will be traveling from base to base in the coming months to assist Flight Attendants with their bids.  I encourage each Flight Attendant who has been less than satisfied with their results to take advantage of all available resources.  It begins with knowing where your seniority level is relative to those in the same base with you.

You’ll need three numbers to asses your seniority level.  The numbers below are the numbers of active bidders from the most current seniority list from each domicile and the estimated number of those who can hold a line based on the most recent list.  You will need to view your number on your base seniority list and subtract those who are listed as inactive.

Domicile             Total Active Flight Attendants        Estimated Number of Lineholders

DFW                      356                                                     285*

JFK                         193                                                     154*

ORD                       475                                                     380*

 *The numbers presented here reflect the month of August 2015 and are expected to change each month with the gradual closing of JFK.

**The estimated number of lineholders is subject to change due to staffing levels.