Frequently Asked Questions

How Lines are Built
Last Updated 6 years ago

Your AFA Scheduling Committee has receive many inquires on how the monthly lines are built. The following serves as a simple guide to the line building process.

Step 1:
Line Building begins each month at headquarters in Miramar. While the dates the build occurs varies, it is usually done in two (2) consecutive days. For this guide, we are going to call the Flight Attendants that go to Miramar to build lines: builders.

When the builders arrive in Miramar, Crew Planning gives them printed guidelines for that bid period's lines. The guidelines include how many mixed, A320 chaser, and A321 chaser lines to build, for each base, and the average credit hours for each. The guidelines must be followed or the builders risk their final build being rejected. On occasion, Crew Planning allows some leeway. For example, some times the builders are allowed to build two or three extra lines if there are enough pairings and reserve coverage for that bid period.

The pairings are built by Crew Planning before the builders arrive in Miramar. Crew Planning loads the line building program with the pairings, and the line building begins.

Step 2:
The builders build each base and aircraft type separately. They usually start with turn lines, then redeye, then 2-day, then 3-day, and finally 4-day. In this step, the builders build true lines (lines with all the same type of pairings, e.g. a line with only turns is a true turn line).

In all cases, the builders try to keep a pattern for the lines. (e.g. all morning shows vs. all afternoon shows, or 4 days on with 3 days off)

Step 3:
After the true lines are built, the builders are left with a pot of leftover pairings. The builders then use those remaining pairings to build enough lines to meet the guidelines required by Crew Planning.

This step usually generates lines with 4-days and 3-days, or lines with 4-days and 2-days, etc. The less and less pairings available, the more mixed a line will be. (i.e. redeyes, day turns, and multipe-day trips all mixed together).

Step 4:
Despite that, there is usually still some pairings left over in the pot. Crew Planning requires that there be no more than 100 credit hours' worth of pairings in each pot. The builders then have to find slots in the already built lines to place those pairings, in order to reduce the pot to less than 100 hours.

Unfortunately, this step sometimes dismantles true lines. For example, this is when a 4-day line might have a random redeye turn in the middle of it, or a turn line have a 3-day in the middle.

The results of Step 3 and 4 can usually be seen during the bidding process. Where lines with lower numerical numbers are true lines, and as the number increases they become more of a mixed bag. (e.g. Line 001 may be a true turn line while Line 100 may be redeyes with 4-days).

Step 5:
The lines are submitted to Crew Planning for review. They visually scan the lines and see if they meet the guidelines requested in Step 1. If they do not, or if they are unsatisfied, the builders may have to dismantle more lines in order to better meet the guidelines. Once both parties are satisfied with the preliminary build, the builders leave.

Step 6:
A final headcount is made for each base. Crew Planning may change the lines that the builders made. Yes! That's correct! As long as the lines meet contractual and FAR requirements, the preliminary build and final build may not the same. Then, the bid packet is compiled and published.

Common Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions

The Union has a final say on how pairings are built. False!
Each month, Crew Planning constructs the pairings and sends them to the Scheduling Committee for review. While we are reviewing we are looking for Contract and FAR violations. If these violations don't exist, the pairings are placed into the pot for your Scheduling Committee to use to build the lines you see in the bid packet.

The Union has a final say on how lines are built. False!
While the builders do construct the lines, they are required to meet certain guidelines requested by Crew Planning. Even after the lines are built by them, Crew Planning may still modify them after the preliminary build.

What plays the biggest role during line building?
Pairings! And their occurrence and patterns. Pairings at the beginning of the month may not be same as the ones at the end of the month. There are other factors about pairings, however.

Let's use DFW as an example: if you are DFW-based you'll notice the amount of turn lines have decreased. One factor in that is, our flying in DFW has decreased as well. If Crew Plan was to make more turn pairings out of DFW, they would not be able to get Flight Attendants out of the base to operate other flying. In other words, there would be too many flight attendants, and not enough hours or flights for them to operate.

Does the Union have any say on how pairings are built?
Each month when the Scheduling Committee meets with Crew Plan, suggestions are made for next month's pairings. While it is not a guarantee or contractual requirement that they implement the Union's advice, Crew Plan has been fairly reasonable and implemented many of our suggestions.

Why isn't the company required to abide by Union input?
There is no contractual requirement for them to. We are only required to work together during the pairing and line construction process.

What contractual requirements are there?
Section 8.D. of the CBA references contractual requirements for pairings. Section 8.E. references the requirements for lines.

Who builds the reserve lines?
Reserve lines are strictly built by Crew Planning.

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