PBS Update May 2016
May Bid Awards Q&A
The AFA PBS Committee and your Local AFA Council 19 leadership received a number of questions this month about bid awards. Hopefully this information will help to understand the current state of staffing and bid awards. Remember, the company has 2 PBS members on the committee in addition to the 2 AFA PBS committee members.
Why were lines so high this month?
Besides the normal ramping up in flight hours for the summer, the SEA base experienced 15 flight attendants leave employment with the company or go ‘inactive’ (medical leave, etc) just prior to bids opening. When you take into account that each person would have potentially flown a May schedule of approximately 82tfp, the goal for May was 82.5tfp, this means over 1200tfp is not covered and must be accounted for during the bid award.
There’s no way to add new people to the base at the last minute to cover a situation like this. Consequently, the existing active crew in the base is required to fly more to cover that time.
The company is hearing our concerns over staffing levels. As a result, they have added a fourth initial class this year. Hopefully we will see additional staffing in the SEA base to help control the increase in premium pay trips in Open Time. It is our hope that the lack of premium pay equates to flight attendants picking up trips from the one ways. Hiring close to 300 new FA’s this year will hopefully help reduce the use of premium open time to cover a lean staffing model.
What is the ‘threshold’?
Seniority 1234 Category SEA-ALL FA JONES 098765
Minimum window < 76.5> Threshold < 82.5> Maximum window < 92.5>
The ‘threshold’ is shown on your ‘Reasons Report’ on the ‘Results’ tab in PBS. It is the goal set by program administrators (the PBS Committee) in order to achieve the correct staffing for that month.
There is a connection between the posted ‘base line average’ you see on the PBS Info Page each month and the threshold. The PBS Committee attempts to keep the threshold set as close as possible to the posted line average. Changing the threshold will alter the staffing for that month:
The higher the threshold, the more days people essentially have to work.
The lower the threshold, the less days people have to work.
During the summer schedule, the threshold is always higher because there is more flying to cover. This is true in all bases, not just SEA. Throughout the rest of the year, except for December, the threshold tends to be lower. Contractually, the threshold number has to fall between 78tfp and 85tfp.
Why was the low/minimum for a line raised this month in SEA?
In the example above you can see the ‘Minimum Window’ and the ‘Maximum Window’ as well as the “Threshold.” Historically, the low window averages 10tfp below the posted base line average. The AFA PBS Committee was asked by the MEC this month to try to refrain from changing the threshold. The threshold is the goal for everyone’s line and ideally is the same as the posted base line average. In the past the PBS committee may have adjusted that threshold number up or down, a bit, in order to achieve the company’s staffing numbers for lineholders and reserves.
Many flight attendants bid with the idea that the posted ‘base line average’ is the goal to consider when adding up the tfp value of the pairings they request. When the threshold number is kept as close as possible to the line average number this provides some consistency to the bidding process. You’ll know in advance what tfp number you need to reach to have the program ‘stop’ after awarding you the trips you want.
A consequence of not changing the threshold is that the low window number or high window number may need to be moved to achieve the company’s required lineholder/reserve ratio. The PBS Committee does not know in advance if that would be necessary to move numbers until the first bid run.
After doing the first bid run in SEA for May the PBS committee knew there was problem. Using the full 20tfp between windows (minimum window/maximum window) and the threshold at 82.5tfp (the same as the line average), the program was only was creating 247 reserves. The company necessity for May is 278 reserves.
Raising the low window to 76.5tfp (from 72.5), those FA’s with who may have received a very low line are now probably flying one more trip or receiving higher time trips. Adhering to the company’s request of 278 reserves, the higher minimum for a line equates to additional flying pushed onto lines. The result is fewer pairings/tfp left over and affects if someone may hold a line or is bumped to reserve. Moving the low window to 76.5tfp achieved the company’s desired number of 278 reserves.
Why was my line built all the way to 92tfp while others only 77tfp?
There will always be flight attendants with lower lines and flight attendants with higher lines due to the broad bidding window (20 tfp difference). The threshold, or goal, is an “average” and flight attendants will end up with lower total tfp or higher total tfp as a result. The line average is pulled down by bids that, for contractual reasons/Denial Mode/legalities, etc are unable to be awarded more pairings to reach the threshold.
The majority of lines are likely higher than the threshold because the program is designed to stop when you’ve reached or exceeded the threshold. Few if any stop at exactly 82.5tfp. For May, a majority of flight attendants exceed that number.
If your line hasn’t reached that ‘threshold’ or goal for the month then the program will attempt to give you one more pairing if legally possible. The total tfp for the month you end up with has a lot to do with the type of trips you bid and what your tfp total is when it tries to give you one more pairing.
If you bid turns and you are just short of the threshold, you end up with a line total just barely over the threshold because you were given one more turn. If you bid for multiday trips, and have not reached the threshold, you might end up on the high end of the bidding window. This is because that additional needed pairing is worth a lot more than a turn.
Some airlines restrict the window~ meaning a narrow tfp difference. Let’s say we have a 10tfp-bidding window like our fellow flight attendants at Envoy (formerly American Eagle). That bid awards take longer because it’s harder to find a solution that gets everyone into a small window. The Envoy FA’s also end up flying more pairings that they didn’t ask for. This is because the pairings they ask for don’t necessarily fit inside that small window when it gets to that last pairing to be awarded. They need a pairing worth less or worth more because that’s the only pairing that will ‘fit’ into that small window.
So in other words, the larger the window the better because it enables you bid accordingly and fit in the trips you asked instead of trips forced on your line that you didn’t want. But with the bigger the window, the more you’ll see a bigger spread between those with a lower line and those with a higher line, creating dissatisfaction among some bidders.
FYI, most Navtech customers have a bidding window from 15-20 flight hours (tfp-equivalent).
This is a lot of information and we realize that you will have questions. It is our desire to be as transparent as possible, even if that mean overwhelming you with information. We are here to help break it down, so don’t hesitate to contact us.
Seattle Officers, AFA PBS Committee, and Seattle Scheduling Committee.