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On the Jumpseat 

Bill Baer, 

MEC Jumpseat Coordinator

The Leading Edge, Spring  1999

The OMC Task Team welcomed a new member at the April 16th meeting.  Captain John Winter, SFOFO Flight Manager, has replaced Captain Jan Kinda as the second management member of the Task Team.  Jan (pronounced "yawn") was a charter member of the Task Team and an individual with a genuine ESOP spirit.  Jan has gone back to a real job of flying the line, so if you see him in the trenches, please thank him for being the pilot-advocate he demonstrated himself to be on the OMC Task Team.

I had the honor of addressing the UAL-MEC at the regularly scheduled meeting in April.  A number of issues were discussed, followed by a question-and-answer session.  The questions posed were many of the same I hear from you, which makes it apparent your LEC representatives are in touch with you on jumpseat matters, or we 9 re all experiencing similar issues that arise in the course of either jumpseating or administering jumpseats on our aircraft.

Two years ago, I ran an article on OMC in a Q&A format.  The response to that article was very positive, so I'll briefly review the topics covered in my report to the MEC, both written and oral, and then respond to some of your most frequently asked questions. (This is a redacted version of the report.  You can obtain a complete copy by contacting your LEC representatives or an ALPA member of the OMC Task Team.)

B737-300/500 Installations: 
I'm going to try and put a positive spin on this.  Because of the current contract discussions, the second jumpseat installation request has been rolled into the Section 6 negotiations.  This was my first order of business with the MEC, and I asked if anyone objected to the MEC Officers pursuing this issue outside of Section 6. The MEC indicated we had already been given this direction through Agenda Item #504-Winter 1999.

Some pilots have asked why the company would agree to install the second jumpseat without us having to negotiate for it.  Our written proposal to the company outlined five key points to proceeding with the installation of the second observer seats.  In my last article, I gave you the United pilot's perspective involving ESOP culture that we had included in the proposal to the company.  Here is the first point of our proposal to the company:

A conservative estimate of increased passenger carrying capability with the additional jumpseat is 250,000 per year*.  If just 10% of our cockpit eligible employees were to relinquish their non-revenue positive space cabin seat in order to accommodate a paying customer, United would be able to reduce denied boardings (DBs) by 25,000 annually.  If we were to assume the cost United incurs with each DB at $100.00**, the annual savings to United would be $2.5 million.  Even if we halved these estimates, the seat installation would be more than paid for after just two years!

     * 158 aircraft x 4.5 average daily departures x 365 days = additional seats per year

     ** This is one half the lowest dollar estimate United incurs handling misconnected passengers as published in our Flight Operations Manual 01- 28.

As we have demonstrated, the second seat installation must makes good business sense.  A one-time capital expenditure of $2.2M will yield many years of investment return.  Remember, every time you relinquish your confirmed BP-3 to a revenue passenger, we all save money.  A BP-3 with a reservation cannot be denied boarding.

 Priority L-1, L-2, and L-3: 
The history and genesis of this policy was explained to the MEC.  A recent comment from a line pilot claims our policy is "short sighted".  The reality is that it's quite the contrary.  Look at the tremendous increase in the number of carriers included on all the major airlines' reciprocal boarding list.  Some, including US Airways, are now including all airmen eligible under FAR 121.547(United's old policy).  Outstation basing has now found its way from the freight carriers to the passenger carriers, causing many more pilots (and in some cases entire pilot groups) to become commuters.  We can all appreciate extending a professional courtesy to a fellow aviator while at the same time preserving the limited resource, and if you'll look at our reciprocal list, I believe you'll agree we've done a fair job of balancing those two agendas.

Our policy has the flexibility, while maintaining objectivity, to allow us to revise a carrier's priority.  American Eagle is a good example of this.  When the four Eagle carriers merged into one airline with over 2000 pilots, 206 aircraft, and over 1500 daily departures through four of United's hub stations, they qualified as a major carrier and L- I priority as American Eagle. (Not as an affiliate of American Airlines)
Many of you will also recall several years back when Great Lakes began feeding Midway Airlines from Raleigh Durham.  We moved them to L-2 because they were no longer an "exclusive" United feeder carrier.  They were moved back to L- I when they terminated the agreement with Midway.  We do not want pilots flying feed for another carrier on a priority higher than other carriers who can provide a similar benefit to United pilots.

The dilemma is that United pilots have to compete for off-line jumpseats with a list of carriers at least as large as ours.  I can't stress this enough ... I represent United pilots.

Jumpseat Credit Programs:
An airline which rewards its pilots with cash for riding our jumpseat to reposition, in lieu of using a revenue ticket, will not be included on United's reciprocal jumpseat list.  But what do you do when a carrier establishes a "bank" system, where a pilot is eligible for a company-provided ticket, but opts to make "alternative travel arrangements" and establish a credit bank for future travel (or hotels, parking, etc.)? At the very least, you voice your opposition and make sure they are not competing for jumpseats with major reciprocal carriers that are not engaging in this practice.  Your MEC members have done an excellent job balancing the needs of the United pilots with the message we want to send to these carriers and I thank them for their support.

Customer Service and OMC Processing: 
At the OMC Task Team meeting of April 16 several representatives from WHQCS were present to discuss OMC administration from their perspective.  Issues involving aircraft access and OMC cut-off times were discussed.  Every United pilot should review the OMC procedures outlined in basic Apollo ( sign on in Apollo, type HOW OMC and enter, command MD will move the screen down to the next page and MU will scroll up).  This is the information the CSR's have to work with.  In some instances it is not in agreement with our FOM or agreed policy.  We know this and will continue to impress upon WHQCS the need for everyone to operate the OMC policy the way it was intended.  How can you help?  Be patient with the gate CSR, ask to review the HOW OMC with them if time is available, and please report any problems you are having to either Erin Kullander or me.

IAM representatives Dave Hora and John Johnson, speaking on behalf of the UAL Dispatchers, requested some assistance from the OMC Task Team.  They expressed concerns over the dispatcher's OMC priority of "G" when on an FAA-required FAM ride.  We explained that previous experiences involving dispatchers being displaced by non-certificated air-men would most likely not be a factor with E-OMC, but we will continue to monitor this.  They also requested our assistance in obtaining reciprocal jumpseat benefits with two major carriers that presently do not extend jumpseat courtesies to UAL dispatchers.  I have spoken with the Jumpseat Representatives from both of these carriers and they have not been successful in revising their policy.  Flight Operations management will be sending a letter to both carriers requesting UAL dispatcher inclusion on their authorized list.  The two carriers are American and US Airways, so if you happen to have a dispatcher from one of these carriers on your jumpseat, please mention that the privilege is not reciprocal.

Two bulletins concerning OMC are current and should be posted at each domicile.  The OMC bulletin dated 10/98 explains flight deck access and compliance with FAR 121.547. The second bulletin dated 3/99, concerns "two letter" airline codes now contained in the FOM.

 I've only touched on a small number of issues your UAL- MEC and OMC Task Team are involved with.  We encourage anyone with a comment or concern to contact us, as we do not proactively seek to revise, alter, or amend OMC policy, but rather act as "suggestion specialists", reviewing your input to make improvements.

I recently asked an FAA representative, who owns the cockpit jumpseat?  His reply was the seat is installed on the aircraft because it is an FAR.  However, he also said the FAA will hold the captain of the flight responsible for determining eligibility, and thus the captain can refuse access to anyone, including the FAA, if it is in the interest of safety.  So I asked again, who owns the jumpseat?  He thought for a moment and said "United"... now that's what I call detente!

  Adhering to our FOM guidelines for Flight Deck Access will ensure you are compliant with FAR 121.547. If an individual does not clearly fall within one of the proscribed categories we have established to OMC, they must be denied.

All jumpseats are local.  Be safe and thanks for another successful quarter of jumpseat activity.