During the two-week pause of Recurrent Training (RT), management has redesigned the program with the assistance of a vendor that was contracted to help facilitate the process changes. Many of those changes were solidified through an alpha test of the redesigned RT 2020 and subsequent beta test over the past week. AFA leadership participated in the tests along with senior Inflight Instructors and a small group of line Flight Attendants.
Management sent an “RT Improvement Plan” email (February 8, 2020) on Saturday that outlined what Flight Attendants can expect for the relaunch of RT on Monday, February 10. Not surprisingly, many of you had questions or concerns about that communication.
Summary of and commentary about the RT Improvement Plan
Hands-on time has increased from 90 minutes with no time allocated for emergency equipment to 2.5 hours including doors and emergency equipment.
However, 2.5 hours is still not enough because of resource constraints. Once one factors in the number of students, instructors, drills, etc., an individual FA will likely have only a few minutes for any particular door drill. The Master Executive Council (MEC) strongly believes management should allocate more hands-on time.
Thirty minutes of hands-on training is now available before the start of every RT class.
AFA has lingering concerns with the emphasis on voluntary uncompensated training outside of negotiated training hours. This is not an acceptable long-term solution due to the totality of the circumstances.
Scheduled open houses to allow for voluntary practice time on equipment.
Same objection as above: Voluntary uncompensated training outside of negotiated training hours is not an acceptable long-term solution.
The completion packet has been streamlined by condensing the number of drills from 31 to 20.
Condensing is good, but AFA has advocated for more trimming where allowed by regulation.
The instructors are again able to provide direct feedback after unsuccessful drill attempts.
Direct feedback should never have been eliminated in the first place. The MEC believes this is an epic fail on management’s part.
Instructors audited the program content for accuracy.
Excellent! However, who thought it was a good idea to not have the instructors audit the program content for accuracy before now?
Upgraded the RT website to enhance the user experience.
The upgrades are subtle, so the MEC questions how much this will actually enhance the user experience. However, we do appreciate the effort.
Pre-class material, videos, and classroom content has been audited to ensure accuracy.
Is it painfully obvious that quality assurance is extremely under-resourced in Inflight Training?
Topics still being actively explored
Separately, the Master Executive Council (MEC) has taken part in several meetings with management this past week for continuing discussions about the evolving RT situation. A key discussion occurred on Thursday with Vice President of Inflight Ron Calvin, VP Labor Relations Jenny Wetzel, VP Safety & Security Max Tidwell, VP Flight Operations John Ladner, MD Inflight Operations Michaela Littman and MD Labor Relations Carmen Williams.
Topics of particular interest that are still being actively explored:
- Revamping the “Special Track Training” program. (A Flight Attendant is currently put into Special Track Training following the third unsuccessful attempt of any drill evaluation.)
- AFA’s grave concerns regarding potential termination of employment following a fourth unsuccessful attempt.
- Whether self-correction during drill evaluations was possible. Management committed to clarifying with the FAA and to report back as soon as possible.
Management intends to submit a proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration for a redesigned Special Track Training program early this week that will hopefully resolve the first two issues above. The FAA has up to 16 working days to accept or reject the proposal. In the interim, AFA and management have agreed to not allow any Flight Attendant to proceed to the fourth drill attempt; affected FAs are currently being pay protected, but this doesn’t lessen the emotional impact.
Accountability and oversight
AFA has asked management to disclose which specific changes to the RT program were required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a result of its audit of the Inflight training program last fall and which changes were management’s discretion. The parties will continue that conversation this week. Additionally, the MEC is scheduled to meet with one of the FAA Cabin Safety Inspectors assigned to Alaska Airlines this coming Wednesday.
We anticipate publishing another RT update in the coming days pending any new developments.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Matt Cook, Terry Taylor, Mario de’Medici, Melissa Osborne, Tim Green and Brice McGee