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Travel The Complex and Competitive Ways Flight Attendants Choose Their Schedules

09:29  04 december  2021
09:29  04 december  2021 Source:   cntraveler.com

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A flight attendant 's schedule , especially in the United States, is based on a seniority bidding system. The longer you’re with an airline, the more say you have over where you go and when. To make it even more complicated, a flight attendant ’s seniority can change monthly depending on who’s on leave, out for training For those flight attendants senior enough to actually bid for a flight schedule , there are a lot of factors they consider when marking their preferences. Bidding for a schedule is one of the most stressful activities for crews. Generally, a bid takes place three weeks to a month in advance, so flight

Flight attendants submit their monthly scheduling choices in a process called "bidding," and the more seniority they have, the more they're able to determine which routes they fly and days they get to take off. Every new flight attendant at Delta flies six monthly "A days," or days they are assigned to be I haven't been a flight - attendant candidate for 35 years, but I do help recruit our new hires, so I know a thing or two about the process. Our culture at Delta is important to us, so we have to make sure those we hire can not only serve to keep our customers safe and comfortable on board, but also fit well

  The Complex and Competitive Ways Flight Attendants Choose Their Schedules © Getty

As a former flight attendant, the most common question I was always asked on board wasn't “Where’s the bathroom?” It was: “Is this your usual route?” That seemingly innocuous inquiry was always met with a deep sigh from me. How a flight attendant chooses their schedule is nowhere near that simple.

A flight attendant's schedule, especially in the United States, is based on a seniority bidding system. The longer you’re with an airline, the more say you have over where you go and when. To make it even more complicated, a flight attendant’s seniority can change monthly depending on who’s on leave, out for training, or on a special assignment. For the most junior or newest flight attendants, most airlines put them on “reserve,” meaning they don’t ever have a say in where they go—they’re sent on a flight whenever someone else calls in sick, or if the operation team needs them on board to avoid a delay or cancellation.

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Flight attendants are close knit, loyal to eachother, hard working, mature, un supervised, accountable, and tough, you may learn to love this life. In addition, you need to be able to accept responsibility even when you arent at fault. This is the most common way for flight attendants to get to their base. However, some flight attendants do not live near their base. When they are scheduled , they take a “deadhead” flight to their base. This does not involve working as a flight attendant , you are basically just a passenger.

The nature of work of flight attendant is very demanding. Following are the qualities that flight attendant should have in order to succeed. Good time managing: Punctuality is essential for flight attendants , in fact, you always have a plane to catch and you can’t miss it! You will have to be on time all the time. Patience: As a flight attendant you will have to deal with extremely annoying and sometimes rude passengers. Being patient is a requirement to everyone that dream having this job. First impressions are always the most important so have a clean look and a perfect uniform is essential.

For those flight attendants senior enough to actually bid for a flight schedule, there are a lot of factors they consider when marking their preferences.

Bidding for a schedule is one of the most stressful activities for crews. Generally, a bid takes place three weeks to a month in advance, so flight attendants are wondering what days they’ll need off in the next month, what events they already have planned, where they want to go, and who they want to go with. And they’re always concerned with whether their seniority can hold their preferences.

Additionally, flight attendants aren’t always able to bid for a specific route or flight. Single flights are built into a “trip” or a “pairing” of flights generally ranging from one to four days. Each day can have anywhere from one flight to five or six flights before overnighting. So if someone were to be interested in a specific route or departure, there may be four or five other flights that come with it, making it unattractive. Some airlines don’t let crews bid for specific multi-day trips; rather they pre-build full monthly schedules called lines and have flight attendants submit their line preference from their most desirable down to “I guess I’ll do it.”

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A flight attendant 's in- flight duties keep them on their feet most of the time. They stand, walk, push and pull equipment, kneel, bend, reach, stoop, and lift heavy objects from the floor to above shoulder-level heights. Flight attendants typically need to work quickly in order to finish all their tasks during the few hours in the Since flight attendants don’t get to pick their schedules , the spontaneous nature of the job often adds colour and interest to life. Delays are typical, long flights reach the destination eventually, difficult passengers have to exit at some point, and uncomfortable situations are not forever.

A flight attendant 's primary job is to keep airline passengers and crew safe. They respond to any emergencies that occur on the aircraft and make sure everyone follows Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Curious about this high-flying career? Let's take a closer look at how to become a flight attendant and the training and certifications that flight attendants are required to get. Become a Good Hiring Candidate for Airlines.

Both destination and layover length also play a large role in a schedule bid. For example, after a day of five flights, a 10-hour layover doesn’t sound very restful before another day of three flights. And to some, a 24-hour layover in Cancun, Mexico, is the holy grail, but to others it’s bottom of the barrel because it’s not high-value in terms of compensation. (Most crew don't get paid for layover time, only for hours when the plane is in flight.)

Most airline bidding systems allow crew members to put in personal preferences such as avoiding red-eyes and layovers less than 10 hours, flying through specific hubs or focus cities, limitations on how many flights per-day are flown, what position a crew member works on the plane, and even selections such as award layovers in cities like Paris or Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Some even allow crew members to avoid working with specific coworkers while also allowing them to request to fly with their closest friends. After the bids are in and the schedules are awarded, the trading period opens where flight attendants can drop and swap flights with each other. It’s not uncommon to offer money to entice others to take undesirable trips off their schedule.

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Question: Are flight attendants allowed to have tattoos? I know it’s probably dependent on which airline but I have been thinking seriously about becoming a flight attendant , but I have an arm sleeve and a leg sleeve, so I’m afraid that would be an instant no. Answer: Yes! Question: Do flight attendants get to have vacation on the job? Answer: Kind of! Sometimes you get super long overnights and you’re able to have time to explore the city! Question: How long were you on reserve for before having a more set schedule ? Answer: I think it was about 6-7 months if I remember correctly!

Our in- flight department has neatly 24,000 flight attendants , so I do understand and anticipate some challenges, however, I never encounter so many issues with my coworkers in my past 16 different careers. The other issue is unique to our company, because we are not unionized and there are a significant number of flight attendants who wholeheartedly believe in a Union. When seeing families put their nannies or maids in economy class but they themselves be in business/first class. It just makes me sad and I wish the nannies/maids also had the chance to sit there with their ‘’families’’.

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Flight attendants may band together, sometimes referred to as a “cartel,” and hoard the more desirable trips on their schedules as a means to barter for better layovers or trips with their friends. “I like to buddy-bid because when you’re with your friends you can make a flight fun no matter the destination,” says Aimee LaMay, a flight attendant based in Florida. “Even if it’s an undesirable destination, you’re with your friends and you have some time to catch up and explore.” LaMay says she does try to avoid flying to certain destinations because of constant airport delays. “I have two girls at home, and I like to know that I’ll be home when I tell them I will be. I avoid airports known for delays.”

Being a flight attendant during a pandemic has added even more specifications to crew members’ monthly bid preferences. Kelly Tamford, a flight attendant based in Las Vegas, says she’s currently avoiding flights to specific regions due to an uptick in unruly passengers. “I have found that New Yorkers just get it, they put their mask on, and we don’t need to constantly ask and remind them to wear it. So I prefer working those flights,” she says.

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Tamford isn’t alone: Many flight attendants are now thinking about the sensitivity to mask mandates in and around a given destination before placing a bid to travel there. “We used to be on the lookout for emergency situations and passenger needs, but now it seems to be that we're always wondering who is going to fly off the handle and throw a punch," says Stephen Michaels, a flight attendant in Chicago. "I can't even express how bad it's gotten.”

Crew members that didn’t get furloughed—voluntarily or involuntarily—at the start of the pandemic also found that their layover bid preference became the equivalent of being downgraded to coach from a first-class seat. In cities that typically have lots to do in the span of a layover, most tourist attractions, restaurants, and the best hotels were all closed. “You could be in New York or Wichita, it didn’t matter,” LaMay says. Many airlines found it difficult to locate layover hotels for pilots and flight attendants, and most crews relied on food delivery services instead of dining in restaurants—or even had to purchase coolers and pack food from home.

But the scheduling headaches due to the pandemic are far from over. As air travel continues to make a resurgence and airlines are quickly increasing flights, they’re doing so faster than flight attendants—some of whom will need training sessions to re-certify their skills—can return to the air. So the next time you're boarding a flight, be sure to give the cabin crew an extra warm smile: They've been through weeks of stress just to make it on the plane.


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