Home > News > E-Lines: May 19, 2020

E-Lines: May 19, 2020

Date: May 19, 2020

NRSA Passenger Boarding Restricted when Loads Exceed 70% Capacity 

This past Saturday, May 16, 2020, United announced significant changes that will impact our current Non-Revenue Space Available (NRSA) travel benefits. Given there was no mention of these capacity restrictions on the Townhall call on Friday, many were caught off guard by the announcement of the program.

Effective today, May 19 through at least June 30, 2020, this company initiative is intended to assist with social distancing on board the aircraft and will have the broader impact on Non-revenue passengers once capacity reaches 70%.  Once the 70% point is reached, NRSA passengers will not be accommodated on the aircraft.

In response, AFA advocated strongly for commuting Flight Attendants and emphasized the impact such a restriction would have on the ability to travel to work and to maintain reliability. It was in response to this advocacy, that the company opted to provide positive space (NRPS) travel for all active Flight Attendants commuting to/from a work assignment, effective now through June 30.

Note: Additionally, the 70% cap does not apply to cabin jumpseats on mainline aircraft. United Express (UAX) aircraft will continue to operate with no cabin jumpseats during this time to ensure social distancing; the 70% cap applies to cabin seats and cabin jumpseats on UAX aircraft.

Flight Attendants commuting to/from work can book positive space by selecting Business Travel, not Personal/Leisure Travel under the Travel Type tab. 

  • When time permits, book your PS travel as early as possible (greater than 48 hours) 
  • Flight Attendants and pilots will be able to book in a window or aisle seat if they are available. If the flight reaches 70% load factor, Flight Attendants and pilots will be assigned a seat by the gate agent.
  • To preserve social distancing standards, Flight Attendants and pilots may be asked to relocate to another seat.
  • If you receive a notification that your flight is at 70% capacity, disregard as the message is intended for customers only.

Additional Details:

  • When a flight is 70% booked, we’ll do our best to notify customers 24 hours in advance with the option to change their flight, if desired. We’ll also offer this option at the gate. Then, if the flight boards to 70% of the aircraft capacity with revenue customers, NRSA travelers will not be cleared. 
  • If a flight is less than 70% boarded, NRSA travelers will be seated until capacity reaches 70%, trying our best to avoid seating employees in a middle seat or other previously restricted seats depending on aircraft configuration. Gate agents will still clear standby customers as they do today, up to 70%.
  • A flight could still go out more than 70% full of revenue customers – but once the 70% point is reached, NRSAs will not be cleared and seated.
  • We’re not restricting your ability to list – you can still list for any flight, any time.
  • You’ll see communications through employee booking channels, including employeeRES and the United app.
  • We should also be aware that as flights approach or exceed the 70% point, United management has explored and, in many cases, actual up-gauged the scheduled aircraft to a larger one in order to maintain social distancing and accommodate the additional revenue and non-revenue customers. 

Note: As a final travel opportunity the company has provided us the option to purchase a myUA20 discount ticket, as a great way to ensure yourself or your pass riders a guaranteed seat. With this purchased ticket you would have the option to not be subject to the 70% load capacity restriction.

Additional information regarding this new social distancing policy and your employee travel privileges can be found on Flying Together.

UAL Profit Sharing Summary Judgement 

After receipt of the arbitration decision in MEC 9-12, AFA Legal and the United Master Executive Council Officers directed a review of all legal options be completed with respect to further steps which could be taken to defend our agreements. After consultation with outside counsel, on April 29, 2019 the Association of Flight Attendants filed a lawsuit in federal court against United seeking to vacate the arbitrator’s award in MEC 9-12.

As we reported at the time, under both the JCBA and the Railway Labor Act the grounds for judicial review of an arbitration decision are very limited and we reported that having the arbitrator’s award vacated would be an uphill effort. 

The district court granted United's motion for summary judgment and denied the Union’s motion. Without speaking to the merits of the grievance, the court’s analysis indicated it was able to see an “interpretive route” to the Board’s conclusion in the case and found no reason to overturn the decision of the arbitrator.

Many hours of work and dedication were put into this case by our MEC Grievance Committee and AFA Staff attorneys despite the disappointing outcome. While deeply disappointed by this finding, we understood the effort was a longshot that was, by all means, necessary. We appreciate the continued dedication and efforts of all involved in defending our Contract.

Unemployment Benefits Under the CARES Act (COVID-19 Relief Act)

With the rapid approach of the start of June Special COLAs many of us have been seeking to obtain information regarding unemployment benefits. As part of the COVID-19 Relief Act enacted at the end of March, Congress increased by $600 the amount of weekly Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments that laid off and furloughed workers can receive through July 31, 2020. 

The CARES Act also extends the number of weeks of eligibility for long term unemployed people by 13 weeks to the current state term (normally 26 weeks) to a maximum of 39 weeks, temporarily eliminates work-search requirements and minimum work history (under normal rules, only those who have been employed for a year are eligible), and expands the categories of eligible workers to include self-employed and gig workers, in addition to traditional employees. 

Generally, if you take a leave or a reduction in hours as a result of the downturn, you will be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, the scale and scope of these benefits will vary depending on the state where you are based. 

For more information about the changes the CARES Act made to the unemployment insurance, we recommend this guide put together by our friends at the National Employment Law Project. Visit this website to look up eligibility requirements in your state. Unemployment benefits will be less than what your salary was, but these funds will be an important part of your new income.

The following information has been compiled courtesy of our AFA International Office staff.


July Special COLA and Job Share Opportunities

In response to the continuing capacity reductions into the July bid month, Special COLAs will be available starting the first day of the July schedule month as follows:

July 2020 One Month Special COLA


One month

July 2020 Two Month Special COLA

July – August

Two month

July 2020 Three Month Special COLA

July - September

Three month

Timeline for submitting bids and publication of Awards:

Flight attendants interested in these Special COLAs should submit their request via CCS under the "Leaves" drop down menu. Select - Special COLA.

If you are willing to accept a Special COLA of more than one duration, please indicate the one you prefer as they will be awarded at the same time.
Flight Attendants currently on a May Special COLA or June Special COLA overlapping into July can elect to extend their Special COLA by bidding for the two, and three-month options starting in July.

Bids Close

Tuesday June 2, 2020 at 8:00 AM Central Time


All Flight Attendants including those currently on a Special COLA

Awards Posted

Before July Bids Open and Prior to any Job Share Announcements


These Special COLAs include medical benefits at active employee rates. Additionally, pay and vacation longevity are not impacted for step increases. Flight Attendants awarded the July Special COLAs will be required to complete any overlapping assignments into the July bid month. 

Additional information on COLAs can be found by referencing our Contract Sections 15.B & 15.N. of our Contract and by 
Referencing the special COLA program information documents on Flying Together > Inflight Services > Crew Scheduling.

July Job Shares

After Crew Scheduling awards Special COLAs for July, Job Shares will be taken into consideration.

*Note: The number of Job Shares awarded will not be determined until after July Special COLAs are awarded. Job Share awards will be published prior to the opening of July bids. 

July Job Share Opportunities


Bids Close

Wednesday, May 20that 10:00 (HDT)

There is no contractual line minimum for flight attendants participating in a Job Share program. Flight attendants are guaranteed only for pairings or other activity within their schedule.

Once awarded a Job Share, use Help Hub (search keyword Job Shares) to submit the form designating how you would like to split your line award. 

Additional information regarding the contractual Job Share provision can be found in Section 16 of our Contract.  Details related to submitting Job Share requests can be obtained in the "COLA, Job Share and Multiple-Month Partnership Program Overview” document found on Flying Together > Inflight Services > Crew Scheduling > Partnerships, COLAs and Job Shares.

CARP Annual Funding Notice and FAQ
MEC Benefits Committee

In compliance with requirements under ERISA, United recently released the Annual Funding Notices for the Continental Retirement Plans (CARP).  The timing of the release of the information that was gathered in December 2019 has resulted in a number of additional questions driven largely by the volatility in the Stock Market. Additional information on the availability of CARP benefits and the development of these Annual Funding Notices compiled by the MEC Benefits Commitee is available on the Benefits Committee Homepage of www.unitedafa.org. Flight Attendants who are participants under the CARP plan who have questions are encouraged to visit the Your Benefits Resource(YBR) page on Flying Together. Using the tools provided on the company website, it is possible to model various retirement estimate scenarios and access additional information. 

Questions regarding CARP should be directed to United’s Benefits Service Center at 1-800-651-1007

Reserve Day Restoration Request - Available Now via Help Hub
MEC Reserve Committee 

June line awards were published on May 17, 2020.  Flight Attendants who were awarded a line with more than the minimum twelve (12 ) days off are reminded you can request restoration of the predesignated days of availability indicated by a “+” icon in the bid packet with a proportionate increase in their Reserve minimum guarantee for each Reserve Day of Availability restored. 

Reserve restoration requests are now being accepted through 2359 HDT on Thursday, May 28th. 

Requests to restore days must be submitted via Help Hub. To request restoration of your days of availability, go to Help Hub on FT or helphub.ual.com and search Restoration to locate the Reserve Restoration form. Restored days will also come with a corresponding increase to the minimum guarantee, up to a maximum of 78:00. 

Prolonged Processing Times to Restore Reserve Days of Availability (+)
MEC Reserve Committee

Earlier this afternoon, Flight Attendants were advised that requests for Restoration of Reserve Days of Availability are being processed as soon as possible and in the order restoration requests are received in Help Hub.

We understand the frustration that many of you are reporting waiting for this process to be completed in order to conduct other scheduling transactions or trades.  We share in your frustration especially given the recommendation from the Union for the company to build some of the Reserve schedules with the contractual twelve (12) minimum days off simply to avoid the computer work involved in processing the restoration and the resulting frustration while waiting for this work to be done.   

The company’s Reserve parameters for June established that all Reserve schedules systemwide would be built with 16 days off and a corresponding Reserve Guarantee of 61:32. Now, while Flight Attendants wait for these days to be restored to enter in trades and other scheduling transaction, Crew Planning representatives are spending an inordinate amount of time working to restore the days of availability and Reserve guarantee for Flight Attendants who would have preferred to bid full schedules with twelve (12) days off.

Further complicating this effort are the ongoing “work-from-home” procedures in place for employees due to efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the recent Willis Tower closure due to flooding, coupled with the extremely high volume of Flight Attendants submitting requests, the company has informed us that processing times for Reserve (+) day restoration will likely be impacted.  While promises have been made that this process will be completed prior to the start of the June schedule month, we are very focused on reminding the company of the importance of the 23rd date and to ensure this process does not impact trading. 

While we know you seek to adjust your schedules, Flight Attendants should exercise caution when processing day off trades to ensure they do not move “+” days that they intend to have restored to days of availability or enter into trades that will create other legalities when restoring the days of availability, for example, 1:7. The restorable designation is tied to the specific location in the schedule and not the OFF day itself. Said another way, you cannot trade a restorable day until the day is restored. An OFF day designated as restorable (+) that is traded from its original location to elsewhere in the schedule will no longer be a restorable day.

Review our FAQ document on restoring Reserve (+) days to include the most current information. If you have additional questions not addressed here, please contact your Local Council Reserve Committee.

Master List of CCS Codes Including Standby Reserve Codes
MEC Communications Committee

Flight Attendants seeking the description of the CCS codes seen on our Master Schedule are encouraged to review the List of Master Codes guide provided on our website, unitedafa.org, in Content Locker on your Link and on Flying Together > One United > Reference Guides. 

This Master list includes the short and full description of the codes as well as the locations within CCS where the code is visible. 

Note: Pay Register Codes can be found in the back section of the Pay Guide.

Flight Attendants seeking clarification of a code not found in the provided resources should contact their Local Council Representatives. 

“Virtual” Meeting of the United Master Executive Council by Zoom™ - May 29, 2020  

There will be a virtual meeting of the United Master Executive Council May 29, 2020, 8am – 12Noon (CT). Due to the unforeseen effects of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting our ability to congregate in a central place, the system-wide shelter in place orders, and limited travel options, the MEC meeting will be conducted virtually, utilizing Zoom™.


By action of the United Master Executive Council, participation at the meeting will include the Members of the United Master Executive Council, elected Local Council Officers, including Council Representatives and all MEC Committee Members and AFA Staff Attorneys.

Advance Agenda items have been posted in the MEC Meetings section of www.unitedafa.org

Union Dues Obligation while on Special COLA Exceeding Ninety Days

Under the AFA Constitution and Bylaws, when a Flight Attendant takes an unpaid leave of absence which exceeds ninety (90) days, she/he has a dues obligation for the first ninety (90) days of the leave of absence. Flight Attendants currently within the first 90 days of a Special COLA are encouraged to contact AFA Membership Services at 1 800-424-2401 X707 regarding payment options or questions. 

Note: The AFA Constitution & Bylaws controls the duration of any dues obligation and may be subject to change based on any changes made to those Bylaws.

Additional information can be found on Unitedafa.org.

TUMI™ Luggage Repair During COVID-19 Crisis
MEC Uniform Committee

The COVID-19 crisis has affected our industry in many ways, including the opportunity to have any needed repairs to your TUMI™ luggage. TUMI stores around the nation are beginning to reopen. Stores that provide repairs can be found on following official Tumi Store list. If the repair store near you is currently closed you have the option to use the online repair form and ship your repair to a Local TUMI authorized repair site.

Every company issued Tumi luggage piece comes with a five-year warranty. The warranty covers zippers, wheels and handles. However, any changes to your luggage made by anyone other than TUMI® voids the original TUMI® warranty and will not be eligible for repair.

Note: if you have swapped bags with another Flight Attendant and the bag was registered by the previous owner, you will need to re-register your new bag with your information.

Free College Summer Classes Begin June 1 - Earn a Degree from Home 
Union Plus

If you’re looking to continue your education during these uncertain times, Union Plus is here to help. With Union Plus Free College, brought to you in partnership with AFSCME, you can work toward an associate degree or certificate completely online, for free. 

If you’re unemployed, furloughed or laid off, don’t worry — you and your extended family members are still eligible to enroll in Free College. We’re also adding extended registration and semester dates, as well as additional financial aid options for education-related costs. Summer classes start on June 1, 2020.
Get started by calling 888-590-9009 or enroll on line


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