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N104HR
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Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:37 am

Good morning,

Long time lurker/reader of ANET for over 15 years but first time poster/member!

In the Delta emerging as a smaller carrier, post the current crisis, the idea was thrown out that perhaps DL will convert some stations to “4 Hour Rule” stations in order to save costs/employees. From my limited understanding from NW that meant particular stations were cross-utilized. Can any former NW employees or IAM gurus explain that rule to me? Such as what made a station qualify as being a 4-hour rule station, how work was designated (was it through leads/PSAs or management?) or was each job duty bid by seniority? Were 4-hour rule station agents paid a premium for this? I know many of these stations (such as LIT) were outsourced to 9E during the bankruptcy that occurred after the AMFA strike, but they also ended up becoming stations where the majority of service was on either XJ/CP/9E after they got rid of the DC-9-10 fleet.
 
nwadeicer
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:49 pm

I’ll try to make it short. At NWA if your station only had X amount of flights per either week or day, sorry cannot remember the exact phrase, you were deemed a 4 hour rule station. What that meant was the employees there were all crossed trained to perform both above and below wing duties. There was no increase in pay or anything of that nature.
I miss the Red Tail
 
FGITD
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:59 pm

Curious-why was it called the 4 hour rule?

Sounds very similar to the way most foreign stations work. A few flights a day, and usually everyone from the station manager down is trained in pretty much everything. Though of course also using a ground handler for the bulk of the work.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:03 pm

Here's a cut-n-paste of what I posted in the "smaller carrier" thread:

"Sure. So every flight had a ground time plus time alloted for both pre-arrival, and post-departure. If all of that time amount to more than 4 hours in an 8 hour period, the station was staffed with both ramp and gate agents (or 120 and 125 as today's equivalent). If not, then employees performed both AW & BW functions. These employees were covered under the contract covering AW employees, known as the "grey book" internally. Places like BOI, LSE, and VPS etc. fell under this designation. Just to muddy the waters a little bit, some stations had ramp service grandfathered in. BIL, MSO, RST, and FLL to name a couple.

To bring it back to today: My suggestion of returning to that would be a more efficient use of resources, while also possibly mitigating furloughs of mainline employees.

LAS and DFW were not staffed by DL prior to the merger. NW had ramp at both"


No extra premiums for being in a 4Hr. station. At NW, all work was led/directed by PSAs(or CSS's as they were known then) or Ramp leads.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
NW
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:08 pm

Our Delta station has done this on a limited basis in the past. We have employees that have worked both areas and then have crossed over when we need assistance. This was brought over the past few weeks and we were told no since the new uniform was launched that it goes against branding guidelines. And people say unions drive airlines bankrupt.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:27 pm

Some people are clearly not cut out to be "leaders." Sheesh.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
nwadeicer
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:54 pm

NWAESC wrote:
Here's a cut-n-paste of what I posted in the "smaller carrier" thread:

"Sure. So every flight had a ground time plus time alloted for both pre-arrival, and post-departure. If all of that time amount to more than 4 hours in an 8 hour period, the station was staffed with both ramp and gate agents (or 120 and 125 as today's equivalent). If not, then employees performed both AW & BW functions. These employees were covered under the contract covering AW employees, known as the "grey book" internally. Places like BOI, LSE, and VPS etc. fell under this designation. Just to muddy the waters a little bit, some stations had ramp service grandfathered in. BIL, MSO, RST, and FLL to name a couple.

To bring it back to today: My suggestion of returning to that would be a more efficient use of resources, while also possibly mitigating furloughs of mainline employees.

LAS and DFW were not staffed by DL prior to the merger. NW had ramp at both"


No extra premiums for being in a 4Hr. station. At NW, all work was led/directed by PSAs(or CSS's as they were known then) or Ramp leads.



What he said... Much better than my half assed attempt...!
I miss the Red Tail
 
N104HR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:33 pm

NWAESC wrote:
Here's a cut-n-paste of what I posted in the "smaller carrier" thread:

"Sure. So every flight had a ground time plus time alloted for both pre-arrival, and post-departure. If all of that time amount to more than 4 hours in an 8 hour period, the station was staffed with both ramp and gate agents (or 120 and 125 as today's equivalent). If not, then employees performed both AW & BW functions. These employees were covered under the contract covering AW employees, known as the "grey book" internally. Places like BOI, LSE, and VPS etc. fell under this designation. Just to muddy the waters a little bit, some stations had ramp service grandfathered in. BIL, MSO, RST, and FLL to name a couple.

To bring it back to today: My suggestion of returning to that would be a more efficient use of resources, while also possibly mitigating furloughs of mainline employees.

LAS and DFW were not staffed by DL prior to the merger. NW had ramp at both"


No extra premiums for being in a 4Hr. station. At NW, all work was led/directed by PSAs(or CSS's as they were known then) or Ramp leads.


Any chance there is an online copy of the grey book? Would be neat to look through in this day in age.

NW wrote:
Our Delta station has done this on a limited basis in the past. We have employees that have worked both areas and then have crossed over when we need assistance. This was brought over the past few weeks and we were told no since the new uniform was launched that it goes against branding guidelines. And people say unions drive airlines bankrupt.


Well we know it is all about “the brand”. I’m personally not a fan of cross utilization, but understand the necessity in some situations in very small stations. DL would likely save a lot of money with going to 4 hour rule in many stations with reduced service.

Regardless of personal feelings, I think most everyone could agree that NW was certainly the king of efficiency when it came to operations and had been for a long time. A sense of pride in efficiency always seemed to be conveyed by management and rank/file alike. Ed is from that original ATL camp. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out. It is certainly not Mr. Anderson’s Delta anymore.
 
FGITD
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:38 pm

Very interesting. Thank you for the explanations.

It was always fun when doing training or other programs alongside our partner airlines. (I've always worked at international outstations rather than big domestic hubs) They'd usually be surprised that one person knows operations, ramp, ticketing, sales, etc. And we in turn would be shocked by the army of rampers, check in agents, and so on, all plying their one function. But of course we had 3 flights a day vs their 150. It's all relative!
 
bhill
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:15 pm

FGITD wrote:
Very interesting. Thank you for the explanations.

It was always fun when doing training or other programs alongside our partner airlines. (I've always worked at international outstations rather than big domestic hubs) They'd usually be surprised that one person knows operations, ramp, ticketing, sales, etc. And we in turn would be shocked by the army of rampers, check in agents, and so on, all plying their one function. But of course we had 3 flights a day vs their 150. It's all relative!


Hang on..."above and below the wings..." Does that mean personnel at the check in desk wearing a spiffy clean uniform are gonna be ground guiding aircraft and chucking bags around? And policing the cabin?
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nws2002
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:33 pm

Most G4 outstations have cross utilized agents. Many will have the ticket counter agent close the counter at 45 mins prior to departure and then pickup the final bags from the bag room and go to the ramp to assist with loading the aircraft.
 
FGITD
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:42 pm

bhill wrote:
FGITD wrote:
Very interesting. Thank you for the explanations.

It was always fun when doing training or other programs alongside our partner airlines. (I've always worked at international outstations rather than big domestic hubs) They'd usually be surprised that one person knows operations, ramp, ticketing, sales, etc. And we in turn would be shocked by the army of rampers, check in agents, and so on, all plying their one function. But of course we had 3 flights a day vs their 150. It's all relative!


Hang on..."above and below the wings..." Does that mean personnel at the check in desk wearing a spiffy clean uniform are gonna be ground guiding aircraft and chucking bags around? And policing the cabin?


for us it would be divided up by shift. One day you'd be above, next day you'd be below, or some variation.
 
DDR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:45 pm

Didn't the original America West, way back in the day also do this? In fact I think In the beginning, flight attendants also were trained as ticket agents and did both?
 
UpNAWAy
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 7:32 pm

Yes HP was cross utilized everyone at one point even FA's, but in the late 90's I recall doing a daytrip PHX-BUR and noticed a young lady in shorts wing walking and then unloading bags. After my meeting a few hours later she was at the ticket counter and then later the gate, with a different shirt on but still shorts.. I specifically asked her is she was the one this morning unloading bags and I found out they all did everything.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 7:46 pm

nwadeicer wrote:
What he said... Much better than my half assed attempt.

Ha! Thanks. :)

Any chance there is an online copy of the grey book? Would be neat to look through in this day in age.


I did a cursory search when posting earlier, but came up empty. FWIW, the language I paraphrased earlier is actually from the ramp contract. That one, I do have. Happy to post the article if someone can explain how to post a picture. Don't be afraid to dumb it down.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
drdisque
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 7:55 pm

bhill wrote:
FGITD wrote:
Very interesting. Thank you for the explanations.

It was always fun when doing training or other programs alongside our partner airlines. (I've always worked at international outstations rather than big domestic hubs) They'd usually be surprised that one person knows operations, ramp, ticketing, sales, etc. And we in turn would be shocked by the army of rampers, check in agents, and so on, all plying their one function. But of course we had 3 flights a day vs their 150. It's all relative!


Hang on..."above and below the wings..." Does that mean personnel at the check in desk wearing a spiffy clean uniform are gonna be ground guiding aircraft and chucking bags around? And policing the cabin?


Most of the time it was the opposite - the guy or gal working the check in desk was in their overalls or winter parka.
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:10 pm

As a passenger....who cares what they are wearing. I'd rather have them dressing in outdoor/ramp appropriate gear.
Plus, thats how it is any many of the smaller DCI outstations.

I'd gather have the person scanning boarding passes be the one out there marshalling the aircraft off the gate.
 
NW
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:23 pm

I see how this can save money but how will this save jobs? Cross utilization will reduce the amount of employees needed to run a station. Is the idea with the current delima to convert to 4 hour rule vs. outsourcing the entire station, thus saving some Delta jobs?

As mentioned earlier this was suggested in my station to deal with the current short staffing due to so many above wing employees that are taking voluntary leaves. Once they all return though we will once again be overstaffed for quite some time I believe.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:29 pm

NW wrote:
Our Delta station has done this on a limited basis in the past. We have employees that have worked both areas and then have crossed over when we need assistance. This was brought over the past few weeks and we were told no since the new uniform was launched that it goes against branding guidelines. And people say unions drive airlines bankrupt.


I'm guessing that's a local interpretation - and people in Atlanta are going to be a lot more... pragmatic as the money runs out.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:42 pm

NW wrote:
I see how this can save money but how will this save jobs? Cross utilization will reduce the amount of employees needed to run a station. Is the idea with the current delima to convert to 4 hour rule vs. outsourcing the entire station, thus saving some Delta jobs?

As mentioned earlier this was suggested in my station to deal with the current short staffing due to so many above wing employees that are taking voluntary leaves. Once they all return though we will once again be overstaffed for quite some time I believe.


I suggested as an idea for after 9/30, and in lieu of layoffs. We farm out a lot of work; why not bring some of that inhouse and save some jobs while we’re at it?

Near term, you’re correct, and my station is in the same boat (short of AW agents). Several BW people here took SNAPP training and can work bag drop if need be. We’re also expected to help with turn cleans as needed.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
NW
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Mon Apr 20, 2020 11:04 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
NW wrote:
Our Delta station has done this on a limited basis in the past. We have employees that have worked both areas and then have crossed over when we need assistance. This was brought over the past few weeks and we were told no since the new uniform was launched that it goes against branding guidelines. And people say unions drive airlines bankrupt.


I'm guessing that's a local interpretation - and people in Atlanta are going to be a lot more... pragmatic as the money runs out.


I think you're right. I assume this manager was quoting guidelines during normal times when the airlines were making billions of dollars.
 
N104HR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 1:12 pm

Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).
 
tommer419
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:25 pm

N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).


In theory, this sounds like a great idea. However, as a vendor BW employee in a DL station, I’d get quite a kick out of the AW DL agents *trying* to do what we do. Many would refuse out of principle, and those that remain aren’t rampers for a reason. It would be a disaster. Cross functional employment is great if you start the employees that way, but take a 30 year agent who has done nothing but ticketing and put them outside and you’ll have a rather laughable ramp crew.
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:09 pm

Fair point...But in theory, that 30+ year employee may also have enough seniority to stay inside. It's also worth noting that many of the cross-utilized stations at NW were pretty senior.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
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NWAESC
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:11 pm

N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations.


There are definitely opportunities there, if it comes down to it.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
N104HR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:50 pm

tommer419 wrote:
N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).


In theory, this sounds like a great idea. However, as a vendor BW employee in a DL station, I’d get quite a kick out of the AW DL agents *trying* to do what we do. Many would refuse out of principle, and those that remain aren’t rampers for a reason. It would be a disaster. Cross functional employment is great if you start the employees that way, but take a 30 year agent who has done nothing but ticketing and put them outside and you’ll have a rather laughable ramp crew.


Well at that point, wouldn’t said 30 year agent have the opportunity to system-bid into a different station or a hub (like ATL for example) where being cross utilized will never work? Those agents would have to pick their battles. They’d still have a job..
 
mhkansan
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:53 pm

Many regional outstations are cross utilized. I am in a "customer service" position that also oversees ramp and RON cleaning sides of things at MHK.
 
N104HR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 6:49 pm

mhkansan wrote:
Many regional outstations are cross utilized. I am in a "customer service" position that also oversees ramp and RON cleaning sides of things at MHK.


Right but these were stations that regularly saw multiple mainline flights a day. In fact, many of them saw only mainline flights but they were spaced apart.
 
dmanonice
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:38 pm

N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).


That would assume that DL has spare equipment to bring to the stations (tugs/carts/belt loaders etc) as unless they negotiated the use of the equipment from the vendor that they just kicked to the curb. Otherwise depending on the station the GSE start up costs alone would be relatively high not to mention the training costs to get the AW agents trained on BW procedures so they can work safely.

It's certainly an idea in theory but logistically, the cost of re-positioning equipment or procuring it out right and training costs certainly go opposite to the idea of saving money.
Mike
 
alasizon
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:22 am

dmanonice wrote:
N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).


That would assume that DL has spare equipment to bring to the stations (tugs/carts/belt loaders etc) as unless they negotiated the use of the equipment from the vendor that they just kicked to the curb. Otherwise depending on the station the GSE start up costs alone would be relatively high not to mention the training costs to get the AW agents trained on BW procedures so they can work safely.

It's certainly an idea in theory but logistically, the cost of re-positioning equipment or procuring it out right and training costs certainly go opposite to the idea of saving money.


Moving GSE right now is also a big hassle since many carriers are using their GSE as collateral against loans rather than fully leveraging their aircraft fleet.
Airport (noun) - A construction site which airplanes tend to frequent
 
N104HR
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Re: Info on 4 Hour Rule at NW

Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:37 pm

dmanonice wrote:
N104HR wrote:
Obviously cross-utilization could cut jobs in some stations, but in others it may save or even create. For example in stations where DL has a vendor doing BW, with the reductions in flights it may make some sense to drop the vendor in favor of having a something setup like the 4-hour rule stations. Especially considering that their outstations already do not have designated, bid work areas (e.g., you bid to work BSO or gates or ticket counter).


That would assume that DL has spare equipment to bring to the stations (tugs/carts/belt loaders etc) as unless they negotiated the use of the equipment from the vendor that they just kicked to the curb. Otherwise depending on the station the GSE start up costs alone would be relatively high not to mention the training costs to get the AW agents trained on BW procedures so they can work safely.

It's certainly an idea in theory but logistically, the cost of re-positioning equipment or procuring it out right and training costs certainly go opposite to the idea of saving money.


One would assume they still own the DGS equipment? No union rules to get in the way with the transfer of equipment. I know that at MEM, there still are hoards of GSE equipment sitting around that you can see the white paint flaking off with red Airlink paint revealing itself from the days of Pinnacle or gray paint revealing the days of Northwest. But they have bumper stickers that say DGS on them.

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