Scheduling issues from another perspective....


Sep 12, 2002
I just got done reading the rather venomous post from ual-crewdesk-man and the rather venomous responses from the pilot group to that post... thought I might offer a perspective from a different airline as I am a USAirways crew scheduler....its facinating to me that we deal with many of the same misunderstandings and jelousies over here...
Contract Knowledge.... neither myself nor any of my collegues, nor the rank and file US pilots negotiated it, but we sure do have to live with it and abide by it. It''s my job to know the scheduling portion, and I do. I do not begrudge pilots who are not 100% versed on every aspect of it, but I do understand the frustration of being challenged on every single aspect when all I am trying to do is cover a trip. I think it is important to note that it is probably not up to the UAL schedulers to interpret phrases like any availible pilot .... their supervisors and managers tell them how to interpret it.
Calling pilots at 0200.... we do it over here to. Hate it. Its the worst part of my job. I do it because I have to. If I do not, I will see a claim in my mailbox from a pilot( I am claiming trip 9999; if I had been called at 0200 when the trip opened, I could have gotten there for it, instead of 0700 when I was called.....) Get more than 3 of those in a year and I''m ''disciplined''. Wish there was a way to fix this. Its a safety issue.
Calling pilots on off days.... we do this to. Hate it also. 2nd worst part of my job. Do it because I have to, because if I don''t flights will cancel and I NEVER want that to happen on my shift...
Pilots'' attitude.... I too have gotten an earful of the ''go eat a donut, your job doesnt matter, I have more responsiblity than you can imagine'' stuff.... what a bunch of condescending crap. I certainly respect what a pilot does as a professional. Show me the same courtesy. At the same time, I will say that 95% of the pilots show me that respect. And after Sep 11th last year, the response from US pilots was phenomenal. During the resulting operational nightmare, I recieved hundreds of calls from our pilots, saying ''I''m in uniform, I''m at the airport....what do you need me to do?'' The general attitiude was ''the *******s aren''t gonna keep me down!'' Truely extraordianry, and something that will always stay with me.
Management.... I find it interesting that you all over here blame that whole merger mess for the current state of your company. We over here at US do to, specifically Wolf and Gangwal''s 18 months of inaction trying to get the merger approved while the rest of the industry passed us by. Coincidence that the two principles in that merger are now the two airlines struggling the most? I seriously doubt it. I also find it interesting that Wolf, Gangwal, Goodwin et all are no longer with their respective carriers. What a nice little mess they left behind....
Sep 11th.... I can remember every second of my shift that day, almost like it was in slow motion. Funny how the rest of the year seemed to go by in a blur. I thought there were very few worse places to be than an airline operation center that day, but as bad as it was in Pittsburgh, I can''t even imagine what it was like in Chicago. To all of you, my prayers and most postive thoughts go with you. You all have shown remarkable resilence over the past year... here''s hoping for a better 2003 for all of us.


Aug 20, 2002
I agree with you. The problems of crew scheduling and the pilots are generally isolated to individuals rather than groups. I think that can be said for every employee group at an airline. The 10% always seem to make the most noise and cause the most problems while the rest of the group performs in a professional manner.

As a line-holder pilot I am probably only in contact with the crew desk on average 3-4 times a year. With the current situation in the airlines of furloughs and no movement in seats the pilots that are on reserve may be there because they have now become junior on a piece of equipment due to the cuts below them or they have been forced to down bid and still found themselves on reserve. These people have been and will continue to be on reserve for a long time. The lack of any upward movement or people coming in behind them (new hires) can really play on ones physce. For them the ringing phone becomes the enemy. Many times when I fly with pilots that are on reserve almost everyone of them will make the statement, if they would staff the airline properly then I would not have to be called out. They have linked the crew desk with their lack of quality of life. I suppose everyone wants someone to blame for the situation they are in.

I for one am not an attorney and the only guidance we are given with our contract is to, read on your own. As for the crew desk they are given classes on the contract and have 3 ring binders dedicated to specific interpatations of the scheduling portion. For the fall back if something is in question as to the legality then the fly now, grieve later portion is the save all to get you to the airport. As a former grievance committee person I know that the only penalty for such a grievance for the company is an order to cease and decist any further types of violations. Unfortunately they will still occurr so it becomes a no-win situation for the pilots. You can not get a monetary compensation for contract violations, occasionaly you will get a day off restored but that is about it.

Finally, the problems that occurr with assignments and the crew desk are universal to the industry. At UAL if we can not get over the blame game and rise above the childish finger pointing to rally around our own futures then everything that we have accomplished in the past will be for nothing. We had a strike in 1985 that caused great animosity, it took along time to piece the airline back together after that. If you do not get over the summer of 2000 and the US air debacle and the wasted money on Avolar then you should step aside and deal with your own issues elsewhere. The only people that should be building United now are the ones that want a future and can see the past as the past and not a continuing hurdle to jump everyday.


Aug 20, 2002

I agree completely. As someone who used to work in Crew Scheduling (when I was at TWA), I can attest to the fact that these problems/complaints exist at every airline. I think there is a natural tension that will always exist between crewmembers and crew schedulers due to the nature of their relationship. There are many grey areas in crewmember contracts that the company interprets one way and the crewmembers interpret another. They're not everywhere, but they do exist. Crewmembers have a difficult and stressful job. I would never say otherwise. However, crew schedulers also perform a very difficult job that is almost always thankless due to the fact that rarely does anyone find out about the quick thinking of a crew scheduler that was able to cover a trip and avoid a major delay or cancelation. Do they make mistakes at times that violate the contract? Of course they do. They're human like everyone else. But I don't for a second believe that they blatantly and deliberately violate the contract day in and day out. They follow the contract according to how they were taught to interpret it.

But you're right, Mags. If we're ever going to change the culture at this company and turn things around, we're going to have to put aside past gripes, complaints and blame-assigning and realize that we all have tough jobs to perform under very trying circumstances and the only way we'll succeed is by working together. We should learn the lessons from past mistakes. But we shouldn't re-hash or re-live them every day.