United’s new landing procedure sucks

As many United frequent flyers probably know by now, there has been a recent change in the landing preparation procedure. The AFA outlines this change as follows:

Flight Attendant OSAP reports have led to changes in procedures for landing, with the intention of getting Flight Attendants into our jumpseats sooner. United has changed procedures for both pilots and Flight Attendants to support this effort. Pre-landing activities previously accomplished after the captain’s prepare for landing announcement will now be done after the double chimes. Moving these activities to an earlier point in the flight means that, following the captain’s announcement, our sole responsibility is to take the jumpseat and securely fasten the seatbelt and shoulder harness.

These new procedures take effect immediately and will be published in the FAOM October revision. After the double chime indicating initial descent and start of sterile cockpit we make announcements regarding use of electronic devices and preparation for arrival, followed by pre-landing safety checks and inspections. Finish preparing the cabin for landing, including securing galleys, inspecting and locking lavatories where applicable and adjusting cabin lighting. Notify the cockpit as soon as possible if cabin preparation cannot be completed. When the cockpit announces, “Flight Attendants, prepare for landing,” take your assigned jumpseat with seat belt and shoulder harness securely fastened. We should all take heed of these new procedures to support taking care of ourselves so we can take care of others, crew and passengers alike, in the performance of our safety duties.

So basically, in the past, service would continue and you could keep your seat reclined until about ten minutes before landing, when the captain made the “flight attendants, prepare for landing” announcement. Now they’ve changed this policy so that service stops and seats already need to be put upright as the plane passes through 18,000 feet, which is usually well over 20 minutes before landing.

I’m fine with service ending sooner, but it’s quite frustrating to me that seats need to be put in the upright position so early, especially since United’s first class seats have to be among the most uncomfortable out there when in the upright position, thanks to the headrests extending down so far. This is especially frustrating on United’s shorter flights, where this makes a huge difference. On a 50 minute flight, that’s nearly half the flight that seats needs to be upright now, and we all know service doesn’t start till about 20 minutes after takeoff at the earliest. I’m not sure how flight attendants are expected to service a full 757 in about ten minutes.

Now I’m not trying to single United out here, since most airlines already have this policy in place. But I’m a firm believer in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” way of doing things. And in my opinion the system wasn’t broken. So why fix it?

Filed Under: United
  1. Let me add my voice to you here, specially frustrating is turning off your laptop or smartphone 20 minutes in advance, and sit around upright doing nothing!

  2. A few years ago coming into denver I had a flight attendant up and walking around about 50 feet off the tarmac.. her butt landed on the chair about 10 feet off the tarmac, and it was a race to make sure she had her arms in the harness before landing.

  3. So the lazy AFA can end their work early and spent more time socialize in the jump seat.
    Again, I think it’s not fair to the customer.


  4. Thanks Lucky for being spot on. I’ve been beat up in my opposition to the recent changes on the thread on FT, and it is comforting to know that you agree with me. “Aluminumdriver” even non-chalantly referred to me as ignorant…ugh.

  5. Just an excuse to take all service off short flights if you ask me. Anything less than an hour will be too short for them to bother. Shame on United.

  6. Extremely frustrating. One really gets the impression that it would be “safest” if all customers were caged (wearing diapers) for the duration of flights and tazered if questions asked – try taking economy to/from ORD. Bathrooms, drinks, snacks alcohol, walking around is for FAs. I just try to think of it as temporary prison.

    (I was surprised by Aluminumdrivers comments on FT on this).

  7. Oh, and it’s been suggested (I don’t think here) to bring chocolates/gifts to FAs unless you have a FA friend/connection. The similarities to prison guards are striking.

    This is unions gone amuck.

  8. Surely none of you are surprised that a Union is hiding behind safety rules to reduce work rules.

    I recently had this discussion with a FA on Southwest. Her point was safety was at its highest the later the FAs took their seats. If the FAs sit down 20 mins out and don’t get back up, many pax will recline their seats or pull items back out of their carryons. On the flip side if they make their final walk thru at 1,500 feet, almost the entire cabin will be compliant.

  9. I have to disagree with the majority of the posts here and Lucky’s piece. I agree with this new procedure. Perhaps it should be implemented for specific routes, but with such a large route network it is easier to just make it a blanket rule.

    Why do I agree with it? My home airport is DEN and we can have some really wicked turbulence on approach. Sometimes they know it is there and sometimes they don’t. For an example, a UA Express flight trying to land at DEN hit some nasty bumps and the FA ended up with a broken neck.

    Service is one thing, but safety is another. I don’t like to see the FAs up and around after the double chimes when we are on DEN approach. It is just too dangerous. A few minutes seated upright and without electronics isn’t going to kill or injure anyone.

  10. Simple enough solution. Make the procedure specific to DEN, ABQ, LAS, RNO, etc. Coming over the mountains in those places can lead to some chop. However, these flights are not operating in a vacuum so those ride reports from previous flights would let them know if it is going to be a problem.

  11. Just another handout to the unions. Remember the (union) carriers exist for the comfort and benefit of the employees first, then the customer.

    Is there any reason they can’t they just leave the decision up to common sense and defer to the captain? The DEN approaches might stop service a little earlier etc.

    As a side note, worst service and attitude EVER on my last 2 trips – ORD-IAD and ORD-LGA last week – all legs in first and IAD trip paid first fare – ugh…FAs were just sour at the world and never came back to clear or ask for refills. Not sure if these recent experiences are just coincidence

  12. I just noticed this week that Alaska implemented the same policy recently. My kindle has to be turned off 20 minutes before landing now, which puts me at a big disadvantage to those still reading paper books.

  13. I have a huge problem with this. I flew a Delta flight last week and sat there twiddling my thumbs for 25~ish minutes before landing when I could have my iPad out and reading an eBook. Meanwhile, the lady to my left had her 3lb hardback book out and reading. The hardback was likely to do much more damage if it fell out of her hands than my iPad was. …And please don’t get into the “electronic interference” argument possible with the iPad (and similar devices). btw: No one on that flight took out their earpieces (attached to iPods and similar MP3 players) during landing.

  14. You are all a bunch of whiny, snot-nosed first class, uppity, kiss my butt, arrogant twit wagons…let me guess(AND I KNOW EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE)–you are all the idiots that line up in the “special lane” an hour before they board so you can get on first and drink water and orange juice while people go by. This world would be a better place without many of you tools in it and wasting companies money on sitting there in the first place. BTW, you think you are all hot sh** but everyone is laughing at you…oh lucky you, you get a hot rag, a free glass of wine, a napkin over your tray and a microwaved meal…i agree the beds are nice, but that shorter flight crap, its your fault for booking it and get a grip–you are 35K feet in the air going 500mph….it could be a lot more uncomfortable then they make it….so with that said…BY THE WAY 90% of you have your company paying for it so stop bitchin…….Just in case you think im some bitter “coacher” you are wrong…i’m not…and the flight attendants and service people at united vomit in their mouths everytime you mention your status and try and pull rank……..your welcome and there’s THE TRUTH—–Your’s truly and a 1K’er as well for 10 years…and now they are crankin it to 120 segments…thats the only reason im leaving united and now that continental is a part of it you’ll be lucky if you ever see an upgrade again

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