A senior vice president at United Airlines chided the Association of Flight Attendants for seeking political opportunism in a memo to flight attendants.

United Airlines SVP Laments “Political Opportunism” From Flight Attendant Union In Dispute Over Crew Hold Times

Several flight attendants have shared with Live and Let's Fly a memo from John Slater, United's Senior Vice President of Inflight Services, that pushes back at what it describes as a coordinated effort by the union representing flight attendants to distort United's work.

Flight attendant schedule changes need to be confirmed by phone. It has been difficult to reach the crew desk.

The AFA daily has been briefed on United's efforts to reduce hold times.

“AFA leadership is well aware of the company’s efforts that have gone into attacking this problem because we’ve briefed them on our mitigation efforts daily. They also know this isn’t as much a crew desk resource issue as a volume-related challenge as a result of schedule modifications…”

The AFA failed to acknowledge the work United is doing to solve the problem, he said.

“While this, along with other challenges we are working through is certainly fair game for criticism, it’s disappointing that AFA has purposely chosen to omit references to all the work going on behind the scenes by the company to address these issues. Instead, they’ve chosen to use this situation for political opportunism.”

The last sentence deserves a response. The AFA has been contacted by Live and Let's Fly.

The problem is centered on the return of United's Boeing 777-200 jets with Pratt & Whitney engines which were grounded for over a year after a mechanical incident on a Denver to Honolulu flight The planes have recently been cleared to return to service and have caused scheduling changes.

“As explained in our communications, the primary driver of this challenge has been a combination of severe summer weather, post-bid schedule changes related to the delayed return of the Boeing, Pratt & Whitney 777s and adjustments to the Newark schedule. However, we know you want and deserve solutions, not excuses.”

Flight attendants could accept assignments electronically via crew scheduling software to avoid phone calls, if United's proposal is to be believed.

“With that in mind, last month we proposed to AFA leadership a solution that could significantly mitigate call wait times by allowing flight attendants to accept their assignment through CCS, eliminating the need to contact scheduling. The requirement for a flight attendant to call scheduling when a pairing is disrupted was a contractual provision created before this automation was available and all crew members had Links provided. This outdated process ties up valuable scheduler time making or receiving phone calls that could easily be communicated electronically.”

AFA didn't like this solution.

“On Friday, July 10, President Ken Diaz sent the membership a communication with their excuses for why the MEC turned down this solution claiming it wouldn’t aid call wait times. Of course, their unwillingness to test this solution guarantees that outcome. AFA leadership’s refusal to even test this proposal, which was temporary to get us through the summer months, exposes their hypocrisy about trying to find solutions that benefit flight attendants. If their intention was problem-solving rather than grandstanding, they would embrace this initiative that improves efficiency and the quality of life for their members. Their failure to act here is yet another example of their “all talk, no action” pattern of complacency.”

It was really bad.

It is time to work together, according to United.


While it is not in our interest to enter into public debates with the association, we also can't allow half-truths to go unaddressed. I don't excuse United for making crews wait, but the idea that United is ignoring the issue seems far-fetched.

The picture is of United Airlines.