In January, United announced that it intended to furlough 688 flight attendants, but the carrier planned to keep the 688 flight attendants by transferring them to its Continental unit. Continental is owned by United thanks to a merger, though both still remain separate in many ways.
While this would have struck many as the obvious answer, moving staff to the Continental side is not as easy as it may sound. Although the two merged in 2010, flight crews are still separated by former affiliation. For example, former Continental Airlines flight attendants only fly planes that used to be part of the Continental fleet. At the moment, it is not known when they will be fully integrated.
When the airline announced it planned to transfer flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA spokesman, Christopher Clarke, told USA Today that furloughed flight attendants have been hired as far back as 2006, but moving back is a major issue due to seniority, which governs layoff protection, bidding for vacations, and the most desirable trips. Mr. Clarke also said that the union must approve the deal to allow them to cross over to Continental.
Plus, moving to the Continental side would mean a pay cut for the transfers.
“Allowing flight attendants who wish to work the opportunity to do so is definitely the right thing,” Sam Risoli, the airline’s vice president for in-flight services, wrote in a letter to flight attendants announcing the offer in January.
Over the weekend, United’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Services, Sam Risoli, released the details to fix the problem. The carrier plans to re-balance the number of flight attendants at several of its hubs. Although, this does not mean that the flight crews will begin working together yet.
Two-hundred United subsidiary flight attendants from Chicago, 200 from Denver, and 200 from Los Angeles will move. Three-hundred-fifty will be moved to United’s JFK base, and 100 will be moved to Houston IAH. One-hundred-fity other flight attendants will be moved to San Francisco.
Two-hundred-fifty Continental subsidiary flight attendants from Houston and 50 from Cleveland will be moved. Fifty flight attendants will move to Chicago, 25 to Denver, 75 to Los Angeles, 25 to Newark, and 125 will move to San Francisco.
The changes go into effect when it’s time for October 2014 bidding.
The moves will make scheduling flight attendants much more efficient because it will help cut down on the number of deadheads, reduce the per diem, and hotel costs. Additionally, it will increase the quality of trip trading and line averages.