UAL Jumpseat policy


Aug 19, 2002
I've run into an issue the past few days, and, as I know a lot of pilots read and post here I wanted to bring it up. It seems the newest thing for pilots is that unlimited omc's are now allowed on all UA flts. One month ago no pilots would allow any more omc's then their were jumpseats available on the flight deck. Now suddenly their is a contractual obligation to allow 50 omc's if their are seats available. While working a flt today, a pilot walks up to me, and asks if their are biz seats available to LAX. I say yes sir their are. He responds by saying, and I quote, I'll just take an OMC card so I don't have to pay, and sit there anyway. (The flight was booked very light) I have to say this kinda ticked me off, in two ways. The obvious, that if I were to fly, I would have to pay to sit next to that pilot. Secondly, pilots here, and on the line, like to talk about how we all have to work together, and how alpa has taken a leadership role in this crisis etc. Pass charges were reinstated due to the company taking a loss on the program. What kind of outfit is it, that takes a leadership role, and discusses pulling together, and then turns around and uses a loophole to avoid paying a minimal pass charge, costing the company money. I don't have any problem with the omc benefit in general. Pilots have access to seats that noone else in the company has, and, given their commuting nature, that is fine by me. Having 9 jumpseaters today for a 777 that had 2 jumpseats, with those pilots all sitting in business class, while a mechanic, gate agent, res agent, ramp agent, flight attendant, or even management, is paying to fly that same trip. Many are wondering how long it will take before service fees are raised on everyone else, to cover the costs of all pilots flying for free.
To the pilots here on this board, I am seeking your input on what the actual policy is, and your opinions on weather you agree/disagree that this is working together. Perhaps I am even mis-informed as to what the actual policy is, but as of today, pilots were walking around with a memo from ALPA stating that unlimited omc's were available. It quoted a passage from your contract, but I'm afraid I don't remember the section #'s.
Also, I am not bashing you guys, or inviting anyone else who responds to this thread to do so. I really am just curious as to what you guys feel about this, if you feel it is justified, if so how, and if not, what would a possible solution be? Thanks for your time.
edited to add...
One thing I forgot to say, is that in the past, noone wanted to OMC, unless their were no other seats available. Everyone wanted to write a pass. Now everyone wants to OMC. Another question to you pilots from me, is, are their any rules pertaining to what is proper use of a jumpseat, or is that something you are allowed to decide on at will. My example, a pilot trying to commute home vs. a pilot headed to HNL for the weekend. Is any one pilot more entitled to a jumpseat then another based on any factors other then seniority?
Speaking from a Pilot's perspective, I can say that ANY seat that I can get on these days will do. Since the 11th, it's gotten harder and harder to secure a "jumpseat" on another airline. What this person said to you was wrong, and it makes the rest of us look bad. I didn't even realize that United has "opened up" it's cabin. If they have, then congratulations are in order. We as Pilots, should not abuse the system. The airline I fly for will take Pilots AND Flight Attendants and although we have no other class but coach, if the plane is full, the 2 extra F/A jupseats are available first to Flight Attendants, then to Pilots. This system has worked great for us in the past, and I know I have shuttled more than my share of United Crews to JFK from Florida cities. You see, at one time, Pilots would depend on the cockpit jumpseat to get to work. Now we don't have that option, so the next best thing is the cabin seats. It's very simple. If there are empty seats, and you're going that way anyway, why not take an extra person? The favor will be, and should be returned somewhere down the road.

The unlimited jumpseqt for UAL pilots was new for us in our contract 2000. However, about the time the contract was implemented the pass charges were eliminated. Therefore, the OMC was not as attractive as using a WYO. The pilot you met that made the comment is another one of the 10percent that should not be allowed out in public.

As for the priority for a UAL flight amongst pilots it is basically just seniority. There are the exceptions in the event of the pilot needing to OMC for trng. or some other situations, but in the event it is a commuter versus somone on vacation then it is seniority.

To share a story from when I was a new hire. During the first six months of employment we did not get passes. We could buy ID90s or OMC but no passes. I was commuting home and another UAL pilot was commuting also. The flight was not full and he wanted the jumpseat to save the 6.00 pass charge. I asked if I could pay his pass fee (cash to him) if I could have the OMC as an ID 90 would cost me 30.00. He began to give me a hundred reasons why he did not want the 6.00 deducted from his paycheck (by the way he was a 747-400 F/O) So I had to spend 30.00 and can not look at him to this day without remembering his words to me "you should not try to go somewhere until you get passes". He did not know I could not aford to move to ORD in my first year or that I was living on crew meals and popcorn it was just black and white to him.

Who knows? Maybe you had the same moron ask for the OMC last week. Anyway please accept the apologies of a UAL pilot for the inappropriate behavior of a "brother"
If it makes everyone feel any better, we'll probaby lose the unlimited OMC portion of our contract soon, along with everything else.....
What a great way to divide your workforce!!! Special priviledges for one group! Deprive the other groups. Here is a company in bankruptcy letting all those people ride for free and not even cover the costs at all. And it does cost to move people from A to B.
What a great way to divide your workforce!!! Special priviledges for one group! Deprive the other groups. Here is a company in bankruptcy letting all those people ride for free and not even cover the costs at all. And it does cost to move people from A to B.

I have been told by a c/s agent the pilots and f/a's can also bump paying passengers off weight restricted flights.Everybodies pass priveleges should be the same no special treatment for one group or the other.Rumor I heard
was the pilots tried to negotiate bp-5's for themselves and family.
Unlimited jump seats for pilots. I did not know this was policy. I have seen nothing from ALPA verifying this is so.But then, no news from ALPA usually means its true.

Anyway, after a 29% paycut, its going to be hard for some of us pilots to afford the $10-$15 for a pass. Especially the senior pilots.

I agree its unfair to the other employee groups for pilots to ride for free when they have to pay. Our jumpseat policy is not the most rational in the industry. Ive always thought that if you are the OMC you should have to ride the jump seat, but thought limiting OMCs to the number of jump seats and allowing the use of a cabin seat, if available, was a good compromise and fair to the other employees. I never use OMC unless I will bump another SA and its available.

Before you get mad at the second paragraph, think "poor humor."
On 1/12/2003 3:01:41 PM oldpilot wrote:

Unlimited jump seats for pilots. I did not know this was policy. I have seen nothing from ALPA verifying this is so.But then, no news from ALPA usually means its true.


Here is the excerpt from the ALPA code-a-phone. For offline pilots, notice that unfortunately it applies to UA pilots only.

"* Since the Company reinstituted pass travel charges on Jan. 1, a provision of our collective agreement has significant impact on all pilots.

Page 239 of Contract 2000 states:

21-K-3 – Provided seats are available in the cabin, a United Airlines pilot may travel on OMC authority even if the ****pit jumpseat(s) are occupied. The pilot will be boarded in the cabin on OMC authority only after all other stand-by passengers (revenue and non-revenue) have been boarded. In the event the Company implements a policy of service-charge-waived employee pass travel, this provision will expire."
Just wondering,
It seems that my co has deals within the stations that ticket,res, maybe others with the station get special deals on other airlines that fly out of the same station. Pilots, F/A etc. are not on the list. Is this true at UA?

Just a few comments with regard to the jumpseat. However let me premise that I'm not starting a war or saying it's right or wrong. Just offering some perspective.

First as far as the cost, it is minimal. There is no extra paperwork or administrative cost because there are no service charges to keep track of. It's simply a matter of checking in to verify identity, and then it's captain's disgression. Also, the basic operating weight of the airplane includes the jumpseats. So there is no way that a jumpseater could affect revenue on a weight restricted flight, until you board more than the number of jumpseats on that flight. Jumpseaters (or OMC's as we call them) in the cabin are last priority, after all other SA's. So again, it would never affect a weight restricted flight or a revenue PAX. If there's a weight problem, the additional OMC's are the first to get bumped.

Now for the fairness. Long before pass priviledges ever became an employee benefit, there was the jumpseat. It was always captains disgression, and as per the FAA it could only be occupied by a qualified person. (ie: pilot, FAA, ATC person, etc.) This has always been a perk available to Joe Pilot practically since the beginning of commercial aviaion.

There are some that would argue that once the PAX are boarded, the airplane is under the full and complete authority of the captain, who is given wide lattitude by the FAA to operate and command as he sees fit. I'm sure this had some influence on those that negotiated the current policy.

Additionally, when negotiating a contract, everything is given a dollar value. This policy was no exception, so it is a clause that was paid for in some fashion along the way. As someone else pointed out, with the upcoming changes in our contract, this could easily be gone in the near future if the company sees it as an expense.

One more school of thought is that reciprocal OMC agreements between other airlines are negotiated between the company's unions. By allowing UA pilots to OMC with a seat in the back, it frees up 1 or 2 OMC's for off line pilots. This give us better negotiating strength with other carriers. There are some airlines that allow us far better OMC priviledges than we offer them. Jet Blue is one example. This allows us to reciprocate the favor better. There is the example of Delta that always comes to mind. For many years Delta did not allow jumpseaters even within their own company. As a result, most airlines did not allow Delta pilots on board either. The exception was TWA. TWA allowed Delta pilots on for years. Well, when Delta opened up their policy, guess who was the first on their list and even got preferential treatment.

Again let me say that all of this is purely for the sake of giving different possible perspectives. Thanks to all for not turning this into a "pilot bashing" thread. The bottom line is that the jumpseat is, has, and always will be a benefit to pilots. (and dispatchers, and ATC personel, etc.) If there's an open seat in the back, most captains will allow the OMC to sit wherever they want, usually with the concurrence of the Purser. And the possiblity exists that the OMC could sit next to an employee who paid a service charge. It has always been that way. Now the question is will it be 1, 2, or more. I bet that having more OMC's than jumpseats is more the exception than the rule though.
One final comment about OMC's. Irecently had a CSR try to deny me access to the jumpseat because I shoud up less than 20 minutes before departure. There was still plenty of time to get on without causing a delay.

Just a reminder, the 20 minute rule does not apply to OMC. The jumpseat is strictly captain's disgression right up until the door is closed. I don't know of any captains that would take a delay for an OMC. But it is still his/her call.
Thanks for the replies everyone. I did attempt to ask my question without taking the typical pilot bashing tone that often appears on here. I was wondering if I or the pilots I dealt with were wrong about this policy. Thanks to all for the clarifacation. I would agree with ualdriver that this probably won't last long, as a lot of folks are freaking out over it, and "supposedly" the FAA has some sort of issue with this policy. (I have no idea what that issue would be) I would say, giving everything else that is going on, it's probably not best to let something so small become a dividing issue. Just my opinion anyways. Thanks again all.
>>Just wondering,
It seems that my co has deals within the stations that ticket,res, maybe others with the station get special deals on other airlines that fly out of the same station. Pilots, F/A etc. are not on the list. Is this true at UA?

I don't know for sure. I can say with certainty that in DEN we get no deals with any other carriers. No local agreements. I have heard that line stations sometimes do this, but, couldn't say how it works.
I agree completely that the 20min cutoff does not apply to omc's.

I also, do not have a problem with omc's ending up in the back. I do feel that is their is 1 jumpseat on the flight deck, and one guy omc's and ends up in the back, that's not a big deal. My point of contention was that allowing as many online omc's to travel as their are empty seats in the back, is not right. IE 5 omc's on a 737. That is what I was specifically wondering about. As for that being the exception more then the norm, it's only recently popped up in the last few days, so I don't have a lot of history to use to backup or challenge that statement. You may be right.

One of the original reasons I wanted to bring this up, was that, when pass charges were reinstated, a lot of folks came on here to whine about it. I wasn't one of them, as I really don't have an issue paying what we pay to travel, even on a csr's wage. I am trying to be reasonable, and, using my reason, figured that it wasn't right for the company to take a loss on flying my butt to vegas for the weekend, considering the situation we are in. Some of the pilots on this board were the first to jump in on this subject saying basically "Deal with it. it's what we need to do to survive" I agreed with that sentiment. Then this came along, and I must say I found it to be a "Do as we say, not as we do" scenario. That's why I wanted to ask the same folks here about it, to see how you all felt about it, as opposed to the folks I am seeing on the line every day.

I too am glad this hasn't turned into a pilot bashing thread, as, it was never intended to be so. I think we have enough of those threads already

I definitely see your point, that it suddenly seems like pilot's have unlimited free pass travel.

I think that most pilots make use of the jumpseat when commuting to and from work, as opposed to a vacation with family. Before free passes, OMC was the method of choice. Now it's heading back to that trend. So on some frequently commuted routes, like ORD-ATL or maybe LGA-ORD, etc. you would see a higher frequency of multiple jumpseats. Also, since 9/11 we can no longer actually occupy a seat on the flight deck off line. So many UA pilots who may have used Delta or American for example, have migrated back to UA. I know I will always try to stay online than risk getting bumped off a full flight offline. So this may account for the increase in OMC's.

Another benefit of the jumpseat is that it potetially opens up a seat for another SA. So sometimes the benefit works both ways. I know that in the past, whenever I wrote a pass, I also always offered to use the jumpseat if it would help a more junior SA get a seat.

Again, I do understand how it looks to you and other employees. I don't really have a solution. In the pilot's defense, I can say that our jumpseat authority has been severely hampered since 9/11. By nature of our job, a high percentage of pilots do commute, and many rely on the jumpseat to get to work and keep our Airline operating efficiently. Opening up the empty seats helps make up the difference of what was taken away by terrorist.

I do strongly object to the attitude, lack of professionalism, and insensativity of those few pilots who show up and proclaim to have special priviledges that other employees don't. I guess in the end what's needed is a dose of humility on everyone's part, and some understanding on both sides of the issue. We all come from different backgrounds, have gone through different sacrifices, chosen different paths, and have different jobs. We also each provide an important function to this airline, and therefore are all on the same side.

Hopefully we can get through the tough times while building team work between the different employee groups through patience, tolerance, and understanding.

United Will Stand!

PS,. I commend you for seeking information and opinions, rather than casting judgements. Thanks!