The Basics: How Does PBS Work
There are three parts to PBS:
- Internet based software application that each flight attendant will use to set, edit, analyze and submit his/her individual preferences
- Used by crew planning to input monthly pairings, input pilot planned activities, and open/close bid periods
- Software application that does all the work behind the scenes and builds each individual schedule
- Tries to maximize each individual’s preferences when building his/her schedule from the remaining pairings
PBS Bidding Tips
Manage your expectations. Having realistic expectations will go a long way in making your life happier. “Expect the worst - Hope for the best”. While we are still in the current staffing crisis, don’t expect to get the number of days off you are accustomed too. Many of you have already experienced this - but hang on - it’s about to get worse.
Back up your bids. By backing up your bid you can cover yourself for some of what might happen to you as your desired trips become unavailable. In other words, let’s say you love overnights in DFW, so you selected and bid for specific trips with overnights in DFW. If you instead, or also, bid generically for overnights in DFW, it gives you a back up plan - assuming the DFW overnights are important to you, but your desired trips were unavailable.
Do not use High/Med/Low (automatic bidding) unless you have three or fewer bid options. Sometimes this rule can be broken, but in general, having only three levels to indicate your preference is not enough. Using points (manual bidding) would be preferred, but if you have never used points before, use caution, the math can surprise you. Consult the Help Desk to for assistance in getting started.
Confirm your seniority - look at the list of FAs in the Bid Packet. See where you fall.
Bid in the Correct Scope
There are three scopes that you are able to put bids in. Any bids placed in the regular scope only apply if you are awarded a regular line. Reserve options only apply when awarded a reserve line, and cdo options apply only when awarded a cdo line.
If you are near the cusp of lines, which can be determined by looking through the monthly bid pack, it is important to put parameters in both reserve and line scopes.
Other Options and Reserve Line Type
If you are bidding reserve remember to choose your preferences under the Other Options Tab. These are not available under your standing bid and must be entered monthly. You can choose your Ready Reserve block preference, first out- last out for cdo or non cdo pairing, and volunteer for ready reserve. Under the Reserve Line Type you have the option of P1 or P2. It will default to P1 if you do not change it. P1 is from 0400-1800 and P2 is 1000-2359.
Desire vs. Avoid
CAUTION! When you use desire it tells the Solver, “Give me as many of these as possible”. Is that what you want? Scores positively when granted, and does not score at all if not granted. Best used with “time off” requests.
When you use Avoid it tells the Solver, “Give me as few of these as possible, preferably none”. Scores negatively when assigned, has no effect on score if not assigned. Best used with “work related” requests.
Remember the mantra: Avoid Work! Desire Time Off*
What should you avoid?
Avoid Work, Avoid Pairing Length in Days Greater Than 2 (etc.), Avoid Consecutive Working Days Greater Than 4 (etc.).
What should you desire?
Desire Dates Off, Desire Weekends Off, Desire Days Off
Know what you are telling the Solver
For example, let’s say you like day trips. You might bid: Desire Pairing Length In Days equal to 1 day. What does this tell the Solver? Give me as many of these as possible! What might your schedule look like? The Solver will try to give you as many day trips as possible until it is forced to stop, for another reason, such as minimum days off! The Solver thinks you are satisfied… Are you? Instead, try Avoid Pairing Length In Days greater than 1. Isn’t this the same thing? Not exactly. Instead you’re telling the Solver give me as few of these as possible by using the word avoid. You’re not asking for more trips, you’re just asking that any trips you get not be longer than 1 day.
The Pairing Analyzer is a great tool to verify that you are indeed expressing your preferences properly. It gives each pairing a score based on the bid options you have chosen. You can glance through the pairings and verify that they rank in line with the trips you would hope to see on your line. Remember, the Analyzer does not tell you how likely you are to get a particular trip. It only sorts them for you so that you can verify the sort order.
The Pairing Filter enables you to narrow down pairings that have options you would like, such as length in days, credit value, start day, overnight location, and others.
How Do Bidding Options Score?
What is a Bid Option? Your indicated preferences are called bid options, such as “Desire Days Off”.
It is very important that you understand the way each bidding option scores. It is easy to inadvertently out-weigh something that is very important to you if you’re not considering each particular options scores.
Download our PBS Bid Calculation Sheet. This is a useful tool that you can print out and use each month when composing your bid. It helps you to illustrate how many times each options scores, so that it becomes more obvious to you when something is outweighing something else.
Let’s say you want April 17th off most, because your friend is getting married. You would like Wednesdays off because Survivor is on that night. Not a biggie but why not go for it, right? April 17th is most important so you give it the most points:
800 points -> Desire Specific Date Off: April 17th
300 points -> Desire Day off: Wednesdays
It seems clear to you that the 17th is more important than Wednesdays, right? Wrong! If you get every Wednesday off (there are four) they would score 1200 points. If the Solver is forced to choose between granting all your Wednesdays off, or April 17th, it’s pretty clear to the Solver that the Wednesdays are more important. You’ll might be watching Survivor every Wednesday but you could be flying on the 17th.
Download our [ PBS Bid Calculation Sheet ]. This is a useful tool that you can print out and use each month when composing your bid. It helps you to illustrate how many times each options scores, so that it becomes more obvious to you when something is outweighing something else.
Familiarize Yourself With the Trips in Your Domicile
Perhaps you like 2 day trips that start on Mondays. Check the bid packet, or use the Analyzer to see if there are plenty of those to go around at your seniority. Know what is available.
Don’t Put Everything at 1000 Points
This is a common mistake. It’s difficult to prioritize sometimes, but if you don’t, the Solver will do it for you. If you put everything at 1000 points, the Solver has no clue where to cut if it can’t give you everything you want. At that point it becomes a coin toss as to what stays and what goes. Wouldn’t you rather get to vote? If you are requesting late reports, and weekends off, rank them. If you can’t have both, would you rather have an early report on the weekend, or a late report on a weekday? Let the Solver know by assigning different points.