The past forty-eight hours have been a difficult time for many of our IFCs. We can’t even begin to express how disappointed, frustrated, and truly sorry we are to hear that some of you were unable to contact Crew Services and receive hotel and/or transportation accommodations. There were IFCs on duty for over twenty-four hours, some were stranded, and others had to sit on the jumpseat to make it back to base. Thom McDaniel, Transport Workers Union (TWU) International Vice President, reached out to JetBlue Leadership to request a complete accounting of the contributing factors of this event and the impact to our IFCs.
Although the stories pouring in are indeed shocking, they are, unfortunately, not new to us. This has happened too many times in the past. When we signed up for this job, we were promised that once we fulfilled our duties, Crew Services would provide for our safety, security, and comfort off the plane. This is now just another of many experiences where this didn’t happen.
We understand an IROP disrupts. We do not understand why certain failures continue with each passing IROP, while IFCs are left to deal with the consequences. In fact, these failures are unacceptable, and we are asking the company to take these events seriously, now, and for future IROPS.
JetBlue refuses to invest in the infrastructure of Crew Services, and we continue to operate on software that was created in the early years of this airline. Management continuously promises upgrades and fixes to basic programs to benefit our workgroup, which we have yet to see.
While the weather may not be predictable, the lack of schedulers during a disruption is an avoidable mistake that creates even more havoc. Our Crew Services department hasn’t grown, despite the growth in our Pilot and Inflight Crewmember population. There is no valid excuse for a lack of Crew Services during an IROP. JetBlue’s Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) should lay out a plan for IROPs, and a team of professionals in Crew Services should be of adequate size to find solutions.
Our Pilots are represented by a union contract that establishes ramifications for the company should management not adhere to the procedures. This may have helped them secure solutions quicker than our Inflight Crewmembers. This is another reason why we need our own legal and binding agreement to hold the JetBlue management accountable if they fail to satisfactorily resolve these issues.
In the meantime, we ask the Company to immediately consider the following:
- Acknowledge the lack of communication that resulted in our workgroup remaining on duty past acceptable limits and sleeping in airports and on airplanes.
- Place Duty Leads and other Crew Service members on the “sysopscrewcoordinators” email system and allow for that email to also handle hotel and transportation accommodations during IROPS.
- Be PROACTIVE when severe weather is imminent by staffing Duty Leads, and more Crew Services, whether in-person or online, to accommodate an influx of calls for crew recoveries.
- Make the SOP easily available, and ensure it is always closely followed during any IROP disruption. Require base Supervisors to be available 24/7 in-base, to back our Crew Services staff.
- Immediately begin the process of upgrading our own scheduling infrastructure to allow improvements in communication during these disruptions.
- Provide additional compensation to our affected Inflight Crewmembers who were required to go above and beyond the call of duty in this and any future disruption.
It is time for real solutions to these real issues, NOW.
Please submit any irregularities you experience at the website, so we can track them and investigate further. Your TWU/JetBlue IFC Health & Safety Committee will ALWAYS answer the call for our Inflight Crewmembers, today and in the future, as we work to make our profession and airline safer and better for everyone.
Chair, TWU/JetBlue IFC Health & Safety Committee