Thursday, July 23, 2015
PBS Bidding and Awards
Clarification of the New Scheduling Process Labels
Before we get to the past week’s activities, we thought it was very important to offer some clarification on all the processes. There is constant and on-going confusion because everything is being called “PBS” when in actuality there are 4 different scheduling processes that do very different things. Calling all of these processes by the name of “PBS” makes it difficult to understand where some of the issues are happening and which process is the culprit of the issue.
PBS - Preferential Bidding System
This process is strictly how you get awarded your initial schedule for the following month. Once PBS finishes the award process, it does not operate again until the next open bidding period, which is the 10th – 16th of each month. PBS, as a computer based system, has been processing and awarding, in almost all cases, exactly as it was programmed and it is not the root of most of the issues. The issues, for the most part, experienced from PBS have to do with mis-bidding and/or the system constraints put on PBS by the Crew Planning headcounts and coverage requirements in each base. Bidding with PBS is a very, very different process from our previous Line bidding process and is very complex. It is not a system that can be learned overnight and each month can vary based on the flying in the base for the month and any holidays.
ISAP - Iterative Schedule Adjustment Process
This is a seniority based, post PBS award, nightly process that allows Lineholder’s the ability to trade/drop/pickup pairings from a pool that may come from open time or other FA’s that may be trying to trade/pickup.
ETB - Electronic Trade Board
This is a post-award, First Come First Serve scheduling adjustment process that gives great flexibility to share your requests with other FA’s in your base through public or private trade/drop/pickup requests. It functions in real-time and instantly allows you to trade/drop/pickup a pairing. The only time that ETB is not processing in real time is while the nightly ISAP run is processing at which time, ETB will queue the pairings until the morning and it will process them in the order received.
FA Reserve - Reserve Future Bidding Process
In the Crewportal, Reserves have the ability to bid in priority order their preferred pairings for the next day. This process gives Reserves the ability to bid for specific pairings that are in open time, bid generically or to conditionally Remain On-Call. A reserve’s AVL, Golden Days and Moveable Days are awarded through PBS; while the pairing assignments based on Daily needed coverage happens through FA Reserve.
TBS -Training Bidding System
The process used to bid for CQ Training. The award process for TBS is a seniority-based award allowing FA’s to bid for their preferred training dates. The bid is open the 2nd-8th of each month for training that occurs in the following month.
The Past Week:
When the PBS bidding window is open, it is always a very busy week followed by an equally busy, post-award period of helping FA’s understand their awards. The JIRC also worked on testing the Buddy Bid Follower Logic Change and Co-Terminal Pairing awards and ETB trading of those pairings.
Buddy Bid Logic Change
The final testing was completed for the Buddy Bid Follower’s capped hours. The determination was made that the logic change is functioning exactly as requested. To explain this a little more in depth:
Previously, a Buddy Bid Follower was defaulted a Target Credit Range (TCR) of 40 (the min. hours or the “floor”) all the way up to 110 (the max. hours or the “ceiling”). The ceiling was simply lowered to prevent Follower’s from being unnecessarily awarded higher time than the Initiator. This was done to allow the Follower to be open to any TCR that the Initiator set. Unfortunately, we saw a few instances where the Initiator was awarded 75-85hrs and the Follower (because their default range was 40-110) were awarded one or two extra pairings taking them all the way up to 110hrs. The JIRC felt this was a violation of the contractual 70-90 hours (or higher in a Flex month) default TCR. The change was made to the Follower’s default TCR of 40 hours minimum and 90 hours maximum, unless the Follower bids a TCR above 90. To make this clear, this is not creating a separate TCR for the Follower, it simply gives them the option to raise the ceiling of their TCR.
Initiator bids 75-85hrs
Follower’s TCR is 40-90hrs
Initiator bids 90-110hrs
Follower’s TCR is 40-90hrs
Initiator bids 90-110hrs
Follower bids 90-110hrs in Layer 1 with the Buddy bid
Follower’s TCR is 40-110
If you are Buddy Bidding and the Initiator is bidding for anything above 91hrs, the Follower may choose to include a bid in Layer 1 with the Buddy bid for any hours above 91 that they would like to be able to be awarded with the Initiator.
Co-Terminal Pairings in DCA
The addition of co-terminal pairings to the flying in DCA presented the need to make sure that PBS could search and award these pairings properly. The ability to trade these pairings in the ETB also needed to be tested and shown that ETB would properly recognize these pairings that originate in IAD.
In August, there is only 1 co-terminal pairing that operate with 3 Flight Attendants. Starting in September, though, these pairing will operate 2 times a day out of IAD so it was essential that we worked with the Company and IT to ensure that anyone bidding this pairing can be awarded it in seniority order, and that everyone has the ability to trade/pickup/drop this new type of pairing.
There was a live “Virtual” meeting hosted by the Company on Monday, July 19th. There were some very important topics discussed and quite a bit of information was shared. The JIRC was listening to the meeting and will be releasing a separate e-line in the next few days.
Base Training Availability
If you have any questions about your award or how to create a different bidding strategy, the Trainers in each Crewroom will continue to be available until the end of the bidding and award cycle in November. Beginning in August, the Crewroom will be fully staffed from the 10th – 22nd “peak period” of each month. The 1st – 9th and the 23rd – 30/31st are the “non-peak periods” of each month and as such, there will be a limited number of Trainers available in each base. The Flight Attendant Resource Center (FARC) will continue to be available during the peak and non-peak times:
FARC – (480) 693-8232 or (800) 327-0117 option 2, 8.
Hours: Monday – Friday 0500 – 1900 PHX/0800 – 2200 EST
*Note: Once the August Award has been posted, if you feel you have received a mis-award, you must present it for investigation no later than July 23rd at 1200 HDT. Any mis-award questions must be directed to the FARC – (480)693-8232 or (800)327-0117 option 2, 8.
Understanding Your Award
How PBS awards
: A very simplified explanation for how PBS awards your line is that it tries to find a feasible “solution” to your bid requests in Layer 1. If it can not award a complete line because of legalities, the pairings you requested were all awarded senior, or because it has not reached either your Target Credit Range OR the Required Minimum Line Value at your seniority. If it can not find a solution in Layer 1, it will move to Layer 2, and so on and so on.
Pairing properties only bring pairings into your pairing pool in the layer in which they are used. (Most of the) Line properties are accumulative so as you move down in your layers and you make your Line properties, like TCR, less restrictive PBS may be able to award a line of pairings from a previous layer.
This shows us an FA whose award was finished in Layer 4 but all of their pairings were awarded from Layer 1, 2 or 3. In Layer 1 they had a Line constraint of a minimum of 5 days in between work blocks. There were pairings in Layer 1 they could hold but PBS could not create a legal line of those pairings that had at least 5 days between the work blocks. In Layers 2 and 3, they requested a minimum of 4, then 3 days between work blocks, respectively. Again, there were additional pairings their seniority could hold but PBS still could not find a combination of those pairings along with the minimum days in between so it continued to Layer 4. In this layer the FA lowered the line constraint to a minimum of 2 days off between work blocks and now, PBS was able to find a feasible solution to award them a legal line. The pairings themselves were bid in Layers 1, 2, and 3 but the Line Properties did not provide PBS a solution until they were relaxed enough in Layer 4.
It is important to understand in what layer your Pairings were awarded and what layer PBS had to go to in order to award those pairings based on your Line properties. This information is important to help you continue to refine your bidding strategy. If your award every month is coming from LN, this means you have too many constraints in place and PBS has to go outside your layers in order to finish your award. When this happens, Pairings may still come from your pairing pools but all Line constraints such as TCR, work block size and requested days off are no longer considered.
Tip of the Week: Waivers and Relaxing Constraints
Be sure and use the correct Waivers when bidding in PBS.
-If you want more than 6 days in a row, use Waive 24 hours rest in domicile.
-If you want more than 35 hours in 7 days, Waive 37 in 7.
-If you want to Multiple Pairings, Waive Minimum Domicile Rest
Relaxing Target Credit Range and Days Off
If you are not getting the results you want with your PBS Bid, try relaxing your days off restrictions as you get down into lower layers:
Bid the days off you want in the first Layers and then start relaxing them as you get down to the last few Layers.
The same goes for Target Credit Range; don’t be so restrictive! Relax those numbers to give PBS a chance to give you a Line without going past your Layers! PBS is solely based on seniority and if you are not sure if your seniority cannot hold low time, it is recommended that your last layer be open to the default range.
Remember that the default TCR is 70-90hrs so your lowest layers should include at least a portion of that range to ensure PBS can award you the pairings you want, even if it has to give you more hours than you want.
Reserve Tip of the Week: Trading Days Off
As a Reserve, the ability to trade days off with another Reserve is limited to trading through a process similar to ISAP called Reserve Trading Days Off. This process is available from screen 39 in Catcrew.
Important tips to remember when trying to trade days off
1. All legalities MUST be upheld with any days surrounding an attempted requested day off. You can never try and drop a day that puts you on-call for 7 days. You can never try and pick up a day that will make you available to the Company for less than 3 days.
2. Reserve Trading Days Off does NOT have a “Persist” function so you must re-enter your bid daily before the processing begins each night at 2000 HDT.
3. You are not trading days with any particular person so even if you have found someone who may be willing to give up the day you want to have off, if someone senior to you has bid for that day off they will be awarded it. This is very important to understand and the reason to remember to put your trading days off bids in each day in order to give yourself the best chance of being awarded the day off that you want.
If you have any questions or need any help entering bids in the Reserve Trading Days Off, the Trainers in each base or the FARC are happy to help.
Training Bidding System
As a final note this week, there were quite a few people who were awarded CQ Training a month early because they accidentally had the “Allow Early Award” option selected in TBS.
If you do not wish for your CQ Training to be awarded early, log into the Crewportal, select the Bids/trade/claims tab, select Training Bidding. Once in TBS, select the Standing Bid tab. If the Allow Early Award box is checked as shown below, uncheck it.
Laura Albert – PHL and DCA
Scott Barnes – PHX and the FARC (Flight Attendant Resource Center)
Emily Arner-Brown – CLT
About the JIRC:
The Joint Implementation Resolution Committee (JIRC) is a committee that was created by the current contract (the Redbook) to oversee the implementation of PBS.