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Deadheading Pilots Will Have Upgrade Priority Over Elites

Deadheading Pilots Will Have Upgrade Priority Over Elites

Old Oct 8, 20, 11:33 am
  #1  
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Deadheading Pilots Will Have Upgrade Priority Over Elites

As part of United's agreement with ALPA to avoid furloughs, deadheading pilots will now be entitled to positive space first class/business class on all flights (not just those over three hours) and if waitlisted, trump even Global Services members in terms of upgrade waitlist priority.

Here's the pertinent language of the new contract:
When On-Line deadheading on a Basic Flight, a Pilot shall be booked positive space in First Class, if available at time of booking. If First Class is not available, the Pilot shall be booked as outlined below, but shall be upgraded automatically (in seniority order within Status and ahead of all upgrading passengers) if a First Class seat becomes available. However, a Pilot shall not be eligible for such automatic upgrade if the deadhead booking occurs at or within three (3) hours of flight Departure, in which case upgrades will be processed in accordance with Section 5-C-1-d.

There's more in the contract, which I unpack on my blog here (disclaimer). I also compare and contrast the old contract with the new one.

Yes, this is only for pilots deadheading to an assignment (on-line deadheading), but this is still bad news for MileagePlus elites and another devaluation, IMHO.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:38 am
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As you touch on in your blog post, this is going to raise the ugly spectre of shenanigans.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:42 am
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My upgrades never clear anyway, so this doesn"t really affect me. Where it might get interesting is downgrade priority, if there"s an equipment change do the pilots get bumped?
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:44 am
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Ouch. So part of the cost of salaries and benefits for pilots is being pushed to UA elites (versus all customers, shareholders, etc. if they were instead compensated in money rather than upgrades). I don't see how this avoids furloughs at all. In fact, to the extent that it discourages high elites from flying UA, it would seem to make furloughs be more necessary.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:52 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Ouch. So part of the cost of salaries and benefits for pilots is being pushed to UA elites (versus all customers, shareholders, etc. if they were instead compensated in money rather than upgrades). I don't see how this avoids furloughs at all. In fact, to the extent that it discourages high elites from flying UA, it would seem to make furloughs be more necessary.
I think of it as UA imposing involuntary concessions on Premiers to get the pilot's agreement to voluntary concessions. Both parties wanting the seats are getting hit one way or another. I'm not sure how much this will affect me on my usual flight patterns.
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Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Oct 8, 20 at 1:00 pm Reason: speling
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:57 am
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Isn't deadheading fairly rare anyway? Seems a reasonable compromise to cut pay and get another perk.

And quite frankly, I'd prefer my pilot, if he had to deadhead to fly my plane, to be as comfortable as possible.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 11:57 am
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Expect more of this across the industry. Carriers have $0 for wage concessions, so they have to find other things which don't cost cash. Whether this impacts UA net revenue 24 months from now when the market -- hopefully -- recovers, is not a current worry.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:04 pm
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I'm more surprised this wasn't already the case.

Deadheading pilots on AC are guaranteed J, and they will downgrade paid J to make space, even if the "deadhead booking" occurs at the last minute.

That being said, I've only heard of one case where someone was actually downgraded for a pilot, and they were not paid J. And I've never missed an upgrade on AC where there were any pilots in J.

I doubt this will have much of an effect.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:10 pm
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
Isn't deadheading fairly rare anyway? Seems a reasonable compromise to cut pay and get another perk.

And quite frankly, I'd prefer my pilot, if he had to deadhead to fly my plane, to be as comfortable as possible.
They had to put something in the agreement to get enough non-junior pilots, who were not going to be furloughed, to vote for it.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:29 pm
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Can someone crisply define deadheading in this context? I understand deadheading if UA has to move a pilot due to IRROPS. But if a pilot lives in Singapore and operates out of SFO, are they deadheading to get to work and then again to go home? Or if they live in BOS and chose to fly from EWR every other day, are they deadheading to/from EWR in J every other day?
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by spartacusmcfly View Post
Can someone crisply define deadheading in this context? I understand deadheading if UA has to move a pilot due to IRROPS. But if a pilot lives in Singapore and operates out of SFO, are they deadheading to get to work and then again to go home?
Beleive deadheading is travel from their base assignmenet to their flight assignment. Also, repositioning travel for company reasons. Travel to/from the base where they live is personal travel.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Oct 8, 20 at 12:37 pm Reason: more
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:41 pm
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As a 1K who can't get PP-supported upgrades to clear in the middle COVID, I feel sorry for these pilots, who are getting their hopes up for nothing.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Beleive deadheading is travel from their base assignmenet to their flight assignment. Also, repositioning travel for company reasons. Travel to/from the base where they live is personal travel.
Given how the schedules and frequencies have been cut so much but minimum service has been maintained, there appears to be a lot more deadheading these days.

I would love to know how common it actually is, though.
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Old Oct 8, 20, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Given how the schedules and frequencies have been cut so much but minimum service has been maintained, there appears to be a lot more deadheading these days.

I would love to know how common it actually is, though.
It looks like all of us are about to find out...

David
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Old Oct 8, 20, 1:12 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Beleive deadheading is travel from their base assignment to their flight assignment. Also, repositioning travel for company reasons. Travel to/from the base where they live is personal travel.
Interesting. So here are the UA pilot bases:

KSFO - San Francisco International Airport / San Francisco CA
KLAX - Los Angeles International Airport / Los Angeles CA
KORD - Chicago O'Hare International Airport / Chicago IL
KDEN - Denver International Airport / Denver CO
KIAD - Dulles International Airport / Dulles VA
KEWR - Newark Liberty International Airport / Newark NJ
KIAH - George H. Bush International Airport / Houston TX
KCLE - Cleveland International Airport / Cleveland OH
PGUM - Guam
Airpor

So when a SF pilot chooses to fly EWR-JNB, they get to fly SFO-EWR-SFO in J? Not sure that's a good thing for transcon customers...especially on the redeye.

Or is it difficult for a SF pilot to secure EWR-JNB unless they are EWR based? Does base trump seniority for pilots?
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