PBS: April 2016 Pairings Report

Dear fellow Flight Attendants,


As we have recently advised our Flight Attendants in several messages, we will be co-paired with our pilots for the month of April.  I have stated before that I would advocate for this practice so long as (1) we have respectable variety in the flying and (2) that the pairing values were high enough to operate in the PBS environment.


Both the Company and the AFA representatives of the Joint PBS Committee agree that the CDO operation would bring back variety and allow for pairings to be stronger.  Until this coming month, the Company was previously unwilling to build this style of operation due to the heavy numbers of CDO falling into Open Time which, in turn, when awarded to a reserve crewmember causes them to be unavailable to Crew Scheduling for a full day upon their return to domicile.  We have advocated for CDO for a very long time.


Please be mindful, though, that the CDO operation is back on a trial basis!  We realize that our members have the right to bid for whatever flying they wish to be awarded, but we ask for consideration on behalf of the entire workforce in that if you do not intend to keep the CDO award on your schedule… that you please consider selecting something else to fly.  (The leaders of ALPA are requesting the same consideration of their members.)  The more CDO we have in our operation, the better our variety and strength of flying become!  This means if the CDO relaunch is successful in terms of not burning through staffing, the Company would likely be willing to increase the number of CDO lines which result in better variety and pairing strength for all.


As always, there are some pairings that Flight Attendants may wish to avoid for their schedules.  Please see General Reminders below.


Base Specific Information



There are no CRJ pairings available for bidding in the month of April.  These aircraft are based in ORD.  Because we are a co-paired operation (at least for April and hopefully much longer beyond so long as we retain a healthy CDO operation), Pilots and Flight Attendants from ORD must be assigned to these pairings.  If you have your entire bids centered on this aircraft, it is critical that you redo your bids accordingly.  Any “Award CRJ” preferences, if no other aircraft are in those same preferences, will simply result in the statement “No Pairings Available” in your Reasons Report.  PBS will simply skip to your next preference.  In an “Award” preference, ALL PARTS of the bid must be “true” or it will not draw pairings from the available pairings pool.


For the month of March, the average daily credit on the EM4/ERD is 4:41 hours.  On the E7M, the average daily credit is 4:26 hours.  The strength of E7M flying will continue to increase as more of these aircraft are brought into the operation.



All CRJ pairings will be returned to the ORD operation for the month of April.  The aircraft are all based in Chicago.  With a co-paired operation, only ORD Flight Attendants will fly with ORD pilots.


For the month of April, the average daily credit is 4:24 hours on the EM4/ERD.  The average daily credit on the CR7 is 4:37 hours.  The CRJ value is down by a full hour per day from last month!  This means if you have an “all CRJ” bid for purposes of getting maximum days off, do not be surprised with fewer days off in your bid award.  Those wishing to have maximum days off should be bidding either by “Average Daily Credit” or “Total Pairing Value” without requiring specific aircraft types.



Minimum Credit Bidders

Last month, we had a number of people ask, “Why do I have a line with more than 75:00 hours if I was awarded Minimum Credit?  A “minimum credit award” means an award between 65:00 hours to 91:00 hours.  In most cases when this “overage” occurs, a bidder uses a general bid.  The 2nd to last pairing might bring the total award up to 64:30 hours.  Since this is still 0:30 minutes short of 65:00 hours, PBS needs additional hours.  Instead of finding the lowest value trip to finish the award, it simply reads the next bid.  Let’s imagine the next bid requests an LAX overnight.  This type of pairing involves a lot of high time Aspen flights.  As a result, pulling the pairing with such flying results in finally going over 65:00 hours… often by 20:00 hours for a grand total of more than 80:00 hours.


We suspect that many people simply have “Minimum Credit” in their bids simply to give themselves the best chance possible at holding a line.  For these people, the total award actually does not typically matter.  They’re happy that they have a line.


So how do I receive a Minimum Credit award that actually reflects a minimum credit line?

There is an easy way to do this and a hard way to do this.  Let’s start with the easy way (which is the recommended way unless you are among the most senior of your base).  If you are able to be awarded a Minimum Credit award and you honestly care only about having as little over 65:00 hours as possible, enter a bid with nothing but “Conditions” (only if you require any beyond “Set Condition Minimum Credit”) and “negative” preferences (which are your “Prefer Off” and “Avoid” preferences).  In other words, just tell PBS what you do not want to see in your schedule and it will work from whatever is left over.  “Award” preferences are those which catapult a bidder way past 65:00 hours because of having another bid in which captures a high value pairing.  If you bid in this manner, PBS will find just enough credit to finish your line and move on.  This is also a good bidding technique if you are not awarded Minimum Credit and want as little flying over 75:00 hours as possible.  The only “Award” you should see on a bid entered corrected is the unnumbered “Award Pairings” at the bottom of each “Start Pairings” bid group that is always there.  That is simply a programming feature to instruct PBS to finish your schedule.


The complicated way to bid Minimum Credit (which is really only recommended for use by the most senior of Flight Attendants) is to have multiple bid groups in which you handpick pairings that you know will add up to 65:00 hours (and not a minute less).  You might pick several pairings per set of workdays you wish to work in case some of your chosen pairings go to senior bidders.  At the end of each Bid Group (except for your very last), you’ll enter an impossible avoid to ensure that PBS does not just finish your schedule with random pairings you did not ask for.  The type of impossible avoid we have been teaching reads as follows: “Avoid Pairings if Pairing Length < 5 Else Start Next Bid Group.”  PBS clearly cannot avoid all 1-day, 2-day, 3-day and 4-day pairings.  So what does it do?  It “Else Starts Next Bid Group.”  In each new bid group, you’ll bid for one more hour than the previous bid group.  Because this is a pretty complicated bidding method, it is extremely advisable to see me in the Chicago crew lounge or John Grace in the Dallas crew lounge for instructions on how to assemble this type of bid if you haven’t done one like this before.  If you decide to see us, we urge you to consider having your pairings selected in advance as other Flight Attendants are attempting to take advantage of our assistance as well.


When only four day pairings remain

It is strongly recommended that, whenever you have a situation in your upcoming month where you’ll only have (5) or less consecutive days in between duty periods, you use the waiver “Waive Minimum 2 Days Off.”  From time to time, we see junior Flight Attendants who are awarded a reserve schedule because PBS had no way to find space to add the last 4-day pairing that would have completed their schedule.  In other words, say you will finish a carry-in sequence on the 3rd day of the month.  You have (5) days off before you have a training event.  You cannot be scheduled for (7) consecutive duty days.  You also cannot have only (1) day off in between duty days.  That is, you cannot contractually only have (1) day off unless you waived your contractual rest requirement of needing (2) days off wherever you would be awarded (1) day off.  If you are of the seniority to not have to otherwise use waivers to capture leftover flying that could be clumped together in one part of the month, simply request your days off that you would like to have and you (generally) should not see less than (2) days off in any other part of the month unless you are more junior at your base than you previously believed.



Because we have some variety in our flying, do not be surprised if you see an occasional pairing in your award that is of a length different from what you’ve asked to fly or that you’ve otherwise not seen in your awards before.  For example, someone who fell just short of a line by 7:00 hours might see a day trip or a two day trip thrown into the schedule just to get them over the minimum requirement of hours.


Generally speaking, seeing the average daily credit of pairings higher than 4:41 per day gives me high confidence of finding the line between line awards and reserve awards.  Seeing the average daily credit of pairings higher than 4:13 gives me fair confidence that we should (for the most part) find the line between line awards and reserve awards.  When the number falls below this point, I become very nervous at the increased probability that the line between line awards and reserve awards will be difficult to find!  As such, Flight Attendants would be well-advised to pay very close attention to their bids and ensure that they are bidding accordingly to receive pairings worth enough credit to create a legal line of flying.


Not all pairings are going to create line awards!  Flight Attendants in the top 1/2 of their base seniority lists who keep their bids simple and generic should enter a preference that reads “Avoid Pairings if Average Daily Credit < (less than) 3:45.”  Those who bid pairing by pairing numbers or are pretty specific about what they are requesting are not typically affected by the low value pairings.


As always, on the 18th of each month, I will begin working on projections for the upcoming month based on bids as they are entered at that time.  The accuracy of this picture will be affected by the fact that not all bids will have yet been entered.  We certainly do not want to rush our flight attendants during the bidding process simply to increase the accuracy of this report.  If you can confidently enter a bid that you think you will use by the 18th, it will certainly move us in the direction of acquiring a more accurate picture of where people are falling in terms of their seniority numbers.  Please check your emails by 12:00 pm on 19MAR15 for another report which may or may not have an impact on the way you enter your bid!


Take care of each other and fly safely!



John Carlos Metidieri

MEC Bid Planning Committee Chairperson

Joint PBS Committee Member

Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, AFL-CIO