How do airlines schedule which flight attendants and pilots work on what flights?
If you think a computer might handle the bulk of this work, you might be right — at least at most airlines. But at Hawaiian Airlines, this process is mostly done by humans. And with so many employees living in so many places, as well as federal regulations governing how much flight crews can work, it’s a complicated process.
Luckily we have Brad O’Handley, senior director of crew planning and scheduling for Hawaiian, who was kind enough to explain to L.A. Airspace how it all works. Below is our interview, which we conducted via email. ( If you’d like to read my other chats with airline employees, check out earlier Q&As with Southwest Airlines flight dispatcher Mark Johnson and low-cost carrier flight attendant Kara Mulder.)
Brian Sumers: How might you explain your job to someone who does not know much about the airline industry?
Brad O’Handley: Crew schedulers are responsible for staffing all flights in accordance with the Federal Air Regulations (FARs), applicable collective bargaining agreements and company policy. In general, these rules limit the amount of time a crewmember can remain on duty and set minimum requirements for rest to ensure that crew members are not fatigued when operating their flights. We are also responsible for confirming that hotels and ground transportation to and from the hotels have been secured for crewmembers who will be laying over at an out-of-state destination.