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?