Back in April inflight management implemented mixed pairings to help drive better efficiencies, as they understood them. Since then, Kieran Whitney, our former Managing Director of Inflight, has moved back over to Alaska. The downside of this is that Kieran was the only member of inflight management who we feel understood the inner workings of Jeppesen (this is the software program we use to create the bid pairings) and how the optimization program works. With Kieran’s departure, numerous others have stepped in to take his place and make the final decisions for our pairings. We do not believe that any of these individuals have the required working experience in Jeppesen to make the best decisions for our work/life balance needs within the Jeppesen system. Due to the complexities of this programming, it requires someone extremely adept in the system, before making determinations on how to best build our pairings. Callie von Borstel, AFA Crew Planning Liaison, was required to attend Jeppesen training before she could even begin to work within the program.
Inflight management claims that they knew mixed pairings would mean other “changes to the flying experience” for each of us. They also claim that, together, the AFA scheduling committee and division leadership “have been working to minimize adverse impacts”. Given they have limited our ability to build the pairings due to cost features and other blocks they have included into the Jeppesen system, we do not agree that they have been working to minimize adverse impacts.
In April, to adjust to the change, management added additional ground time in SEA and PDX where the majority of the swaps occurred. They requested a 70-minute connection time be built into the system. We were comfortable with this “buffer” for the first month or two as flight attendants acclimated to the AC changes that might occur, got reacquainted with both AC types, and for safety. We see this as time we are not being paid. Most of us are still working harder and sitting longer. Because management has reiterated that there have been no delays due to mixed pairings, we reduced this connection time back down to 55 minutes for both PDX and SEA. Just a quick side note, before mixed pairings the connection times were set at 40 minutes in PDX and 55 minutes in SEA, consistent with pilot connection time.
Diana and Dee Dee met with the MEC on Tuesday to discuss their concerns with the June pairings, because we had reduced the connection time, they believe this will upset the June operation. We maintain that after 18 months we were finally able to build our pairings with no more than a two hour sit in PDX and SEA and ninety minutes in all other stations. We are limited by management in pairing construction by two factors, synthetic and total real cost. Synthetic is the percentage of all costs used for building pairings. Our solution stayed within all parameters and we feel improved some of the “flying experience” we have been dealing with in the last two months.
When we compared our final run in June to the final run in May, we were able to reduce DHs, overnights, duty days and minimally increased our average block time. While we continue our grievance against mixed pairings, we felt any improvement, no matter how small was important for our members.