Workin' on my bid...

December 13, 2008 3 Comments A+ a-

Every month, all over the world, you can hear a Flight Attendant say, "I'm workin' on my bid." You see her with her reading glasses on, a big stack of 8.5 x 11 paper with funny looking schedules on it. You see her on the jumpseat scrutinizing every single aspect of these papers. You see her make a big circle on some parts of the papers, and big, ugly, extra thick Xs on others. This is as she should--this is important stuff! It defines her days off, what time she goes to work, what time she gets off work, and where she'll lay her purdy lil' head at night when she is working. In short, it is her life for the next month.

And, her life is done by bidding and bidding is done by seniority--so, the longer she has been at Flyin' High Airlines, the better choices she will have for her upcoming schedule life.

There are a gazillion different reasons why a Flight Attendant bids what she bids. Each of us has our unique needs and desires for our work schedule. At my previous airline, I commuted from Washington, DC to Chicago to go to and from work. (Commuting is like driving once a week to get to your job, and driving home once a week, except you fly. Sorta....)

So, when I "bid" for my schedule for the following month, I would bid for a work week that started late enough on the first day so I would have enough time to fly to work that morning, and ended on the last day early enough so I could make a flight home. For instance, maybe the first day of my work week started at 11 a.m. Then, I would take an early morning flight to Chicago to get to work. Then maybe the last day of my work week ended at 3 p.m. Then, I would have enough time and flight options to get home that night. So, bidding a line that was commutable was the most important thing to me. People that live in their base city don't have to worry about that.

The next most important thing to me was the location and length of time for our layovers. I loved our layovers in Cleveland--they were long enough to have fun, and a lot of airline crews stayed at our hotel, so you always had something in common with the person sitting next to you at the bar. Or, there was a mall across the street, or the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame was walking distance. Or the Warehouse District. Or the Browns Stadium. There was just stuff to do that was easy to get to. Other people might bid away from this layover because the hotel needed to be renovated and the mattresses were terrible. Or, it was right on Lake Erie and freezing in the winter. Or, they liked working on one of our airplanes that didn't go there.

Others bid for layovers in their home city. I used to pick up trips that overnighted here in Washington. If I was lucky, I would get the trip that landed at DCA at 9:00 a.m. and go home until 6 a.m. the next morning. Of course, there is a price to pay when you have a sweet easy layover, like this one. To be done working at 9:00 in the morning, that meant my first flight was at 4:40 a.m. and meant I left the hotel at 3:40 a.m., which meant I got out of bed at 2:30 in the morning! Then, the next day starts at 6 a.m. and we would fly until 7 p.m. with very little down time.

Some people like to work nights and don't like working early in the day. I prefer it. Well, I don't like setting my clock for the wee hours of the morning, but it is a small price to pay to be done early and experience fewer delays. Having fewer delays means not having to explain 50 times that "I don't know if your plane will be there when we arrive." Delays creep...they start as a few minutes and build up to hours by the end of the day. No, thank you. I want to be done already.

I am so junior at my airline now (and will be--forever!) that I bid for days on and off. Where I end up on a layover, and what time I end up there, is completely in Screw Crew Scheduling's hands. They call me three hours before I am supposed to be at the airport and tell me where I'm going and what my schedule will be for the next few hours or few days--whatever they need. I could end up in Dubai or Rio de Janeiro (where it is hot) or Billings, Montana (where it is freezing.) I just have to go wherever they send me.


I just finished my bid for January. Our Flight Attendant calendars are 30 days long, so New Year's Eve is in January for us. Many senior Flight Attendants will be bidding for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day off. Personally, that holiday is no big deal--so, I don't care whether I work or not. I am trying to be home January 19th & 20th. My daughter Casey may be working as a banquet server at one of the Inaugural Balls, so I hope to be here for her.

You'd think that a Monday and Tuesday would be easy to have off. Not so fast--that Monday is a federal holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) and the next day is a local federal holiday--inauguration day. Couple that with a Saturday and Sunday, and end up with a four day getaway for someone.

Hopefully, me!




Blondie
Blondie

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Anthony
AUTHOR
December 14, 2008 at 12:39 PM delete

We don't have that sort of bidding over here :-( The short haul sector of my company gets to do some trip bidding, but not as complex as yours. On long haul, I only get 2 trip requests a year .... I get to choose the destination and date and I *might* get there :-(

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Blondie
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December 14, 2008 at 12:53 PM delete

Anthony--at my airline here in the UNITED States ;)--the bidding isn't good for any one who has less then 10 years. I wish I could have a destination/date thing like you do. It would give hope to a few of us!

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Anonymous
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January 2, 2009 at 11:48 AM delete

Has she been a banquet server before? I will also be a banquet server for the Inauguration and it will be my first time doing this!

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