Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Frontier FAs Have Beef, UA Pilots Asked to Take a Break

Cranky Weekly Review

Frontier’s FAs Don’t Like New Schedule Format

As Frontier shifts its scheduling model to have more out-and-back turns to improve its shaky operational reliability, its flight attendants are voicing their concerns over how it’s affecting their bottom line.

With the carrier’s new scheduling model, there are far fewer multi-day trips for FAs, leaving same day turns which can be less profitable. If an FA wants to work 12 days per month, and previously worked four separate three day trips, that meant just four commutes to and from the airport (whether by air or locally by car). But the new scheduling model would require as many as 12 commutes to complete 12 same day turns to get the same amount of work. FAs will also lose out on per diem (which is tax-free on overnight trips) and hotel nights.

The flight attendants have a point, but so does the airline. Who’s right? That probably depends on your perspective. Someone who flies Frontier with any regularity probably would appreciate the shift to a more reliable operation, while others may feel for the FAs. Regardless of who’s right, the most important thing is that we recognize the awesomeness that is Forest the Northern Spotted Owl.

United Brings One Back from Pandemic Playbook

United Airlines is asking its pilots to take unpaid time off in May due to delays in aircraft deliveries from Boeing. The carrier is concerned about excess staffing in the near-future and decided May would be the best month to offer the unpaid leave as springtime in Chicago is really unmatched.

It’s been a rough few months for United, with the FAA increasing its oversight of the carrier due to a series of non-fatal incidents. Late last year, United said it intended to receive 107 new aircraft deliveries in 2024, including 31 B737-9 MAXs, but at this point, any airplane delivery would feel like a win.

While it’s currently asking its pilots to accept some unpaid leave in May, United’s ask could extend through the summer. The carrier already said it would pause any new pilot hiring through the spring as it looks to limit overstaffing. As a last resort, United’s senior leadership has a plan to put any pilots who are not on leave — but don’t have anywhere to fly — in charge of Basic Economy passengers. The carrier has always felt that Basic Economy customers need a babysitter on board, and its now considering putting a pilot in the back, similar to an air marshal, but their only job will be to keep the Basic customers in check.

Spirit Adds Seven

Spirit added seven new routes today, including one from Boston and two from each of Newark, Baltimore, and San Jose. The Boston and Newark flights will begin in July, with the rest launching in June.

  • Boston: Kansas City (daily, launches July 10)
  • Newark: Chicago/ORD (daily, begins July 10), Kansas City (daily, begins July 10)
  • Baltimore: Sacramento (3x weekly, begins June 6), San Jose (CA) (4x weekly, begins June 5)
  • San Jose (CA): Portland (OR) (daily, begins June 5), Los Angeles (2x daily, begins June 5)

The new flights are on sale now for anyone willing to pay the carrier’s new route fee. For an extra $12 per segment, customers can buy seats on these routes for the first week after being announced. The fee is waived after the first week.

Boeing Opens Door to Compensate Alaska

Alaska Airlines reported in an SEC filing Thursday that its Seattle neighbor Boeing paid it $160 million in initial compensation to cover its losses after the carrier was forced to ground its B737-9 MAX fleet in January. The grounding came after an incident on Alaska Flight 1282 on January 5 — although in the chaos following the incident, Boeing isn’t getting enough credit for what went right on the flight: no one is pointing out that nine of then 10 doors stayed attached to the aircraft for the entire flight.

This payment will cover some of the “financial damages incurred as a result of Flight 1282 and the 737-9 MAX groundings”, but it won’t be the last payment. Boeing is expected to pay compensation to other MAX 9 operators including United. It is rumored that Spirit will be buying one MAX 9 so that it can get in on that sweet, sweet compensation too.

JetBlue Pilots Ready for Spirited Return to the Bargaining Table

Following the ending of JetBlue’s purchase of Spirit, its pilots smell blood and sent notice to the carrier of their intention to begin discussions for a new collective bargaining agreement.

The two parties came to an interim agreement during JetBlue’s attempted takeover of Spirit, as that was seen as the best-case scenario to help push the merger along. But that two-year interim agreement is not enough for the pilots union who believe they sacrificed their right to a new CBA to help the now-failed merger.

This will be an early test for new JetBlue CEO Joanna Geraghty’s pledge to return the carrier to profitability. Then again, any new CEO who didn’t pledge to return their company to profitability probably wouldn’t be hired as the new CEO. So who knows.

  • Air France pilots are considering a strike later this month over the fact the French government is considering a new restriction that would prevent them from striking.
  • Air Malta, it’s been real.
  • Air New Zealand is updating some long-haul business class meals.
  • Avelo is the latest to enter the criminally underserved market between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area.
  • Brussels Airlines has turned an eye towards Africa.
  • Canada Jetlines is considering listing on the NYSE.
  • China Southern is growing. Probably.
  • FlyArystan received its AOC.
  • iAero will wrap things up tomorrow.
  • JAL flight 694 to Tokyo/Haneda on Tuesday proved that sometimes lightning does strike twice.
  • JetBlue operated its first flight between Boston and Paris this week, and marked the occasion by announcing its adding a second daily flight between New York/JFK and Paris on June 20.
  • LATAM is locked in a battle with the Chilean government over slots.
  • Oman Air‘s A330 era ended, and we’re all a little worse off because of it.
  • Philippine Airlines will begin serving Seattle on October 2 with 3x weekly flights to Manila.
  • Ryanair will resume flying to Israel on June 1.
  • Saudia is beginning a stopover program, allowing a 96-hour stay in Saudi Arabia on the way to Europe. Some groups are encouraged to not necessarily take advantage of this offer
  • Singapore will resume flying to three Chinese cities later this month: Chongqing, Chengdu, and Xiamen.
  • SpiceJet shows thyme and thyme again it can’t get out of its own way.
  • Spirit entered into a monthly credit agreement with International Aero Engines, an affiliate of Pratt & Whitney to compensate the carrier for grounded aircraft due to engine issues.
  • TAP reported a €177.3 million profit for 2023.
  • Turkish is canceling all of its flights to Israel until March 2025. But it is flying to Denver now.
  • WestJet Encore pilots voted to strike as soon as April 17. But they did so very politely.

If we agree the earth is about 71% water — which it is — and that water isn’t carbonated, couldn’t one say that — technically — the earth is flat.

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11 comments on “Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: Frontier FAs Have Beef, UA Pilots Asked to Take a Break

  1. Does Andrew think these up, all on his own…??
    Maybe have him proof read your blog in his spare time! Or, perhaps that’s a new airline – Froniter!
    I love it!!!

  2. “Saudia is beginning a stopover program, allowing a 96-hour stay in Saudi Arabia on the way to Europe. Some groups are encouraged to not necessarily take advantage of this offer”

    This stuff is gold, Cranky! ;D

      1. Saudia Arabia a “modern” country in the Middle East still doesn’t officially allow in Jews.

        1. thanks for clarifying, being Jewish myself, I thought that was the correct explanation, but wasn’t sure

  3. The pilots at Frontier aren’t thrilled with the changes either.

    Something that keeps being neglected in the conversation is how it affects the commuters, which make up a large part of Frontier’s flight crews.

    Every trip from home to work takes up part of the day and depends on available flights. Say a crew member flies 14 days in a month. If that was broken into two three day and two four day trips, that’s a total of eight commutes. Let’s also say that due to flight times, disruptions, or there just not being enough jumpseat availability that every other trip results in another night away from home, bringing it to a total of 16 days away.

    Now change it to a day trip model. Moving with all the same assumptions above – and we’ll make some of those day trips back to back – let’s say you’re now looking at twelve commutes per month. That’s an extra two days away from your spouse, kids, friends, and home life each month. All for less pay.

    It’s making a lot of simplifications, of course, but you get the idea. For a lot of us, it’s not just the pay issue. It’s that we’re now away from our families more than we were before. It’s a different job than what we signed up for.

    And as a last note, to stave off the inevitable “then why don’t you move to your domicile?” …yeah, we know that’s an option. But if they were places we wanted to live, we would’ve moved there by now. When you’ve signed up expecting (and receiving) X pay with Y days away per month and it’s suddenly changed on you, well, just about everyone would be upset about that. To blithely suggest that someone uproots their life for something they had no input on misunderstands the issue.

    1. “It’s a different job than what we signed up for.”

      There’s a simple solution…. find a different job.

    2. Commuting is a privilege, not a right. When I started my airline career, we were expected to move to base. Personally, the sheer number of commuters across the industry now make one of the best perks of the job (non-rev travel) much harder to use. It’s not what non-rev travel was supposed to be. Plus you also have reciprocal jumpseat privileges that allow you to commute on other carriers. I generally see Frontier commuters on my company aircraft. Since I’m not crew, I’d have to buy a ZED fare to get what you get for free.

      You might not like the changes that your employer has made. But last I checked Frontier FAs are represented by AFA. So you are working under terms your union negotiated and the membership voted to accept. In fact, there’s probably even a “commuter clause” in your contract. If the company has violated the contract with the new business plan, then your union needs to grieve it. Commuting days don’t count towards your contractual days off (I’ve negotiated with AFA in the past), so it’s unlikely there’s a grievance. In your next contract you might want to ask for a one time move benefit to get you to your base as a permanent residence. That would be my suggestion.

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