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The AFA Newsletter for US Airways Flight Attendants

In this Issue


January 31, 2007


  • Company Non Rev Letter to Employees

  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • Accessing The Hub

  • AFA Local Numbers

Dear Members,


During yesterday's State of the Airline presentation Doug Parker revealed the Company had made the decision regarding Date of Hire vs. First Come First Serve for non revenue boarding. Although the new policy is weighted toward seniority, the policy is, in effect, a hybrid version of both of the former policies.

The new policy is based on YEAR of hire rather than true date of hire.

The Company will be switching from SABRE to the former America West SHARES reservation system on March 3, 2007. The new policy will take effect on that date as well.

The SHARES system will sort non revenue boarding in the following manner:

First - Priority Code (SA1, SA2, SA3, etc)
Then - Within each Priority Code by the YEAR of Hire
Then - By time of check-in if there was more than one employee with the same year of hire on the list

In other words, time of check-in breaks the tie if more than one employee with the same year of hire is listed for a flight.

The policy allows for check-in twelve 12 hours prior to departure on the hub or four (4) prior to departure at an airport.

The Company states the reason the decision was made to use the year of hire instead of the exact hire date is because the SHARES system does not have the ability to recognize more than two digits. The Company states it would cost $300,000 to program the system to recognize more than two digits. I am assuming it can recognize the one digit I am currently displaying.


Flight Attendants who are on trips may not have the ability to check-in via either method until the completion of their trip.

The new policy places the Flight Attendants at a competitive disadvantage to other workgroups if check-in time determines boarding order.

The Union will be reviewing the policy with AFA attorneys.

Thank you,

Mike Flores, President
US Airways Master Executive Council


US Airways Announces New Boarding Priority for Non-Rev Travel
January 30, 2007

Dear US Airways Employee,

Today, after more than a year of suggestions, opinions, debate -- and a certain amount of soul-searching -- we’re at last announcing a new non-rev boarding priority policy that moves all employees to a seniority-based system. Clearly this was one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to address since the merger, primarily because it is so emotional and there is no right or wrong answer. A case could be made for seniority or first come/first serve and there is equal passion from employees on both sides of this issue. At the end of the day, we have tried to make a good decision for all of our employees given the history of both former airlines. 

The new system goes into effect in early March (at the same time we migrate to the US SHARES reservation system.) 

Here’s how it will work.

1)      It starts with priority code...
2)      Then year of hire...
3)      ...and finally time of check-in.

In other words, SA1 priority will board first. Within the SA1 class, employees will board based on the year they were hired. For employees who were hired in the same year, time of check in will dictate who boards first. (Note: Employees can check in 12 hours prior to flight time via the online Employee Travel Center or four hours at the airport. Employees can also check in online up to one hour prior to flight time or 30 minutes at the airport, although our airport employees would appreciate employees checking in earlier -- 60 minutes or more).

Today’s announcement represents a change for all employees, given that the current system on the East side uses year, month and date of hire. The Shares system, however, does not sort by day-of-hire - the closest it can get right now is seniority by year. The good news is that we have research on about 100 flights last year that showed there was virtually no difference between year of hire versus date of hire in terms of who actually got on the plane. 

So we next looked at questions of fairness - fully aware that "fair" is in the eyes of the beholder.  We gave a lot of weight to the fact that 20,000 of our employees worked for years in a seniority-based system.  It just didn’t seem right to simply take that away given the pay cuts, lost pensions, etc. that have occurred over the years. Also, many employees on the former US Airways side now must commute to work given the city they used to live in no longer has a job for them. It’s not as simple as picking up one’s family to start over every few years.  These employees commute to work and rely on the seniority-based system to enable their ongoing employment with our company.

We realize these reasons may ring hollow to the former America West employees - we know full well how much you have given and how many of you commute as well. In conjunction with today’s announced decision, we will also be providing one additional SA1P pass to all active and retired employees going forward. It is our hope that this will provide additional opportunities for non-rev travel when you really need to get somewhere - a benefit that is still terrific for all of us.

In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to communicate this method in our usual ways -- AboutUS, and as it gets closer, US Daily and US News Now. Today, we are also sending a US News Now and a Q&A that may answer questions you might have, and provide more insight as to how we came about this decision.  Please keep an eye on awaCompass and theHub for details as well.

We’ve attached an FAQ that we think will be helpful to you.  Please send e-mails to if you have other questions or comments.

We’d like to thank everyone who offered constructive, useful, thoughtful feedback that helped guide us in this decision.  Again, I realize today’s announcement isn’t news that will be well received by everyone, but I do hope you can empathize with the difficulty in making this decision and that we can all accept it as the fairest way to move past this decision and towards our continued successful future.

Q:  How does this work at the gate?
A:  Let’s say several SA3Ps and some SA4Ps were booked non-rev for the same flight.
All of the SA3Ps would board before the SA4Ps.
An SA3P hired in 1983 will board before an SA3P hired in 2001.
And if 2 SA3Ps hired in 1983 were listed, the one who checked in at 8 a.m. would board before the one who checked in at 8:15 a.m.

Q:  This seems to heavily favor the seniority system of the East.
A:  This is a seniority based boarding process, which is what the East had. We looked at the fact that 20,000 of our employees worked for years in a seniority-based system.  It just didn’t seem right to simply take that away. So we struck a balance, although it’s clear that seniority is the main determinant. It was important to recognize that the East operation is heavily supported by commuters, and commuters can travel for work easier on a seniority based system.

Q:  I can’t believe you’re doing this.  West employees with less seniority than East employees will never get on an airplane.  And East employees - all they had left was their seniority and shouldn’t have to race to the airport to check in. 
A:  We are sorry you feel this way, but we think once you test the new boarding priority method, we think  you’ll really like it. (One employee with eight years’ seniority sent an e-mail in today saying she’s never had a problem getting on a flight).  This decision was made after a year of research that included surveys of other airlines, reviewing labor contracts, reviewing the feedback from and pulling some flight data over a sample period from both East and West flights to see how non-revs would be impacted by this change, and we think it represents an equitable solution. Please note however, that to make the transition a little easier, Doug mentioned in his letter that we will also be providing one additional SA1P pass to all active and retired employees going forward.

Q:  What does an additional SA1P get me if senior employees also have an additional SA1P?
A:  Flight loads and seniority boarding will continue to make non-revving about the same as it is today - it will still require some planning whether you have 50 years’ or five months seniority.  But for that very special trip where you and your family really want the highest possible space available priority, we have enhanced SA1P passes for employees and retirees. We’re adding one SA1P pass to your yearly pass bank this year and future years too. The pass for this year, will be added to your ETC profile shortly after Res migration.  That means you’ll now have three SA1 passes from here on out (a total of two per year for retirees).  Enjoy!

Q: What happens to my listing I made already for travel after this cutover?
A: Any fee-waived listings created prior to cutover should be re-created from scratch in the ETC.  Nothing will be lost other than a little of your time and doing so will ensure your proper boarding status both in priority code and seniority date.  Guest pass listings do not need to be re-created - they will migrate with their correct priority code and they will be boarded by check-in time.  Parent listings which have already been paid for and ticketed will need to be adjusted in order to retain the value of what has been paid and to create the proper boarding order.  We will have more information on how to do this a little bit later.

Q: How do I make sure I’m listed with my correct seniority?
A: Any listings created post-cutover via the ETC will automatically carry the proper seniority year in the listing.  SHARES is programmed to slot year-of-hire into the proper boarding order.

Q: Who was involved in this decision? Who can I give my feedback to?
A: All of senior management plus Employee Travel, Labor Relations, Human Resources, IT, Reservations and Airport Customer Service were involved in creating the new boarding method for non-rev travel. You can always send feedback related to any topic to us at

Q: What about Express/ parents/ guests?
A: Wholly owned Express (PSA and Piedmont) boarding method will be the same procedure as Mainline: boarding priority first, then year of hire and then time of check-in.
Parents travel at SA4P priority unless they are with you, at which time they would become an SA3P. They will be boarded by your year-of-hire and then time of check-in.

Guest pass travelers have priority SA7P and are boarded by time of check-in unless they are traveling with you.  They then jump to SA3P priority and your year of seniority. Time of check-in will always be the tie-breaker should there be two non-revs with the same priority and same year of hire on the same flight.

Q:  So if I’m hearing this right, my mother, traveling without me, will probably never get on an airplane again - check-in time was about all we had.
A: That’s not true. Parents traveling alone still travel at SA4P priority and will carry your seniority whether or not they travel with you.

Q: What if two people for the same year are listed for the same flight?
A: You start with boarding priority status (SA1P through SA6P).  Then, since the seniority year is the same, priority will go to the non-rev with the earlier time of check in.

Q: Some of the feedback you got in the past year is that some employees don’t have access to computers and live far away from the airport.  Or they travel internationally.  This is going to be really inconvenient for people who can’t check in on-line.
A:  There is still the option of checking in at the airport up to four hours prior to flight time. Our research shows that the chances of another non-rev with your same year of hire trying for the same flight are slim.  However, if you want to give yourself the full advantage of check in time plus seniority, computers are available virtually everywhere nowadays -- hotel lobbies, internet cafes, libraries, etc.

Q: How early can I check in? 
A: Maximum allowable check-in time is 12 hours prior to flight time on the web.  Check-in at the airport is kept to a maximum of 4 hours prior to flight time. Minimum check-in time is 30 minutes domestic, 60 minutes international for employees without baggage to check. For those who need to check bags, an additional 15 minutes should be added to those minimum cutoff times. Minimum check-in online is one hour prior to flight time.  After we migrate to one Reservations system in March, all employees will be able to check in for all flights (East and West) online 12 hours prior.  This is not something you can currently do for East flights.

Q:  Are we going to go through this again if we merge with Delta? Some of those employees are so senior my 50 years with US Airways looks like six months in comparison!
A: It is still too early to tell what would happen if we merge with Delta, so we are moving forward with this decision, as promised.

Q: First my workgroup gets shafted on profit sharing and now everyone in Phoenix and Las Vegas is going to bump me because I’ve only been here a couple of years. What’s the silver lining here?
A: This is going to require a little more planning for less senior employees, especially in hub cities, but experience with non-revving generally - especially as capacity comes out of the airline industry -- is that either everyone gets on the plane or no one does.  There was no ‘perfect’ solution here - this system seems to be the most equitable solution for all.

Q: If we’re going to have to be better planners, will the ETC show us year-of-seniority on the PBTs?  So that I don’t waste a lot of time listing for a flight that has 15 employees with 100 years’ seniority?
A:  We are looking to see if the ETC has that functionality, and is something we will study.  Right now it will only show boarding priority.

Q: I thought we were supposed to be a low cost carrier. Why are we adopting a non-rev boarding system like the so-called legacy airlines?
A: Both methods (seniority and first-come, first-served) have strong points as well as weak ones (depending on where you fall in the seniority lineup). Not all low cost carriers board by first come first serve.  Southwest and jetBlue do, but other carriers - like Air Tran and Frontier - utilize a seniority based system.

Q: This sounds like an at-the-airport nightmare, with our agents having to sort through priority, seniority and time of check-in.  How confident is management that this will launch smoothly?
A:  US SHARES is completely capable in handling this system, in fact, it does it today for several airlines. The agents will not have to perform manual entries at all. 

Please give the system a chance to work.  Although it represents a change, airlines have been dealing with seniority-based travel for years, and non-revs of all seniorities are still able to use their travel privileges.  

Thanks to those of you who registered your opinions.  Please be assured that all opinions were taken into consideration.  If you have questions or comments, please talk with your department leadership or send them to


Accessing The Hub: 
Logging in the first time your user name is u0(zero) and your five digit employee number. Your initial password is the first five digits of your social security number. Questions about the Hub? Please contact the EDS Help Desk at 336-744-6000 for assistance. More information can also be found HERE.

AFA Local Numbers

Council 40 PIT 724-695-3329
Council 41 DCA 703-212-8090
Council 69 BOS 781-289-8454
Council 70 PHL 215-492-0840
Council 82 LGA 315-736-3483
Council 89 CLT 704-527-0325

New Hotline Number Toll Free: 866-USA-AFA2
US AIRWAYS Benefits Information 800-872-4780

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