From the Trip Services Committee: The Monarch Hotel in Taipei - 5/17/21
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From the Trip Services Committee: The Monarch Hotel in Taipei - 5/17/21

 

FDX MEC
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Fellow FedEx Pilots,
We have heard you loud and clear about The Monarch Hotel in Taipei through your DARTs and direct feedback. We have attempted to resolve this through both committee level interaction and the 5.B.4.b dispute letter sent on May 3rd. Since then, the conditions have not improved. I wanted to take a moment to share how we do our work and where we are in this process.
The MEC Trip Services Committee (TSC) works with FedEx Crew Travel Services (CTS) to ensure our pilots have proper hotels, ground transportation, and catering. One main aspect of our role with CTS is for our committee volunteers to inspect hotels sourced by CTS specialists and make recommendations on which hotels to contract. Another important role we fill is to meet quarterly with CTS to evaluate the adequacy of current facilities and to review catering and discuss possible modifications as provided in Section 5 of the CBA. Finally, the MEC TSC Vice Chairman, Jarrod Hatfield, and I interact on a nearly daily basis with the Manager of Crew Travel Services, the five hotel specialists, and the two catering specialists to solve more immediate problems. Through the years, we have developed a strong, respectful business relationship with CTS. 
As all of you all know, COVID-19 has caused havoc with all aspects of our life on the road as pilots. The TSC and CTS have worked together diligently to solve many problems throughout our system. Our goal is always to fix the problems at our level. When there is an issue that cannot be resolved with CTS to our satisfaction, CBA 5.B.4.b is currently the governing section. While this is not a “grievance” in the traditional sense under Section 20, it provides a process and avenue that requires an investigation, then meeting and discussion on options for dealing with the unresolved issues between the VP Flight Operations and the MEC Chairman.
With this framework in mind, let’s now talk about the Monarch Hotel in TPE. The government directed, non-contract hotel in which all crew members were laying over for the past year, the Novotel, was forced to close because of positive COVID-19 tests among its staff. The Taiwanese Government mandated a shift to the Monarch Hotel. Due to overwhelmingly negative reports from our crew members (including a member of the FDX MEC Coronavirus Working Group) that initially focused on the food options (or lack thereof), TSC engaged CTS. With no immediate solution to the food issue forthcoming, the MEC Chairman sent a letter to the VP of Flight Ops in accordance with the CBA on May 3. The Trip Services Committee and MEC Leadership were told that catering from our contracted in-flight kitchen in TPE would be provided at the time the crewmember wanted it based on his or her sleep schedule and would include some options available including a vegetarian choice. Unfortunately, the actual process has not proven to work that way. Pilots are receiving meals on a set schedule regardless of their rest with no meal options at all, and many times crewmembers do not know how long the meal has sat outside in the humid hallway. 
Furthermore, we continue to receive multiple negative DARTs concerning the uncleanliness of the rooms. Some reports included pictures of mold and stains. In addition, pilots are reporting a constant smell described from musty to diesel-like to even sewer smelling. I had a layover in the Monarch this week and observed these issues firsthand. I immediately reported them to CTS. Please take a moment to view the pictures below and read the DART narratives.
Through Insites and TSC’s interaction, Crew Travel Services have been completely informed about the deficiencies of both the Monarch hotel itself and the inadequate food options. We understand and respect that CTS and the Company are in a non-optimal situation dealing with the Taiwanese government, but it is their obligation to provide our pilots with proper layover facilities that allows our pilots the proper rest to move the freight. The process outlined in 5.B.4.b. allows the Company a set amount of time to respond to our concerns. While we wait for that time to pass, please continue to submit DARTs and pictures with your concerns. 
In Unity,
Jay 
Captain Jay Owen
Chairman, Trip Services Committee 
FDX Master Executive Council
Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l

Narratives and photos from DART submissions are provided below.
  • The Monarch hotel in TPE (first overnight here) at first glance appears unacceptable. Upon check-in and arrival to my room I had a window that wouldn't close. It was eventually fixed by maintenance. Following this, I noticed that there were urine droplets all over the seat of my toilet, along with feces still caked to the upper bowl of the toilet. Additionally, the floors were not vacuumed. I cleaned the toilet myself and decided to press on. However, the worst part of this layover, minus the above, is the availability and distribution of food. The food is delivered outside your room three times a day whether you want it or not... whether you're asleep or not. You have no choice over what sub-standard meal you receive that's provided by Eva Air catering. For example... I sleep on my home time zone (typically) and was asleep during the lunch delivery. I awoke at 1800L to find my lunch sitting in a hot, humid hallway (had been there for over six hours)... smoked salmon sandwiches, which I wouldn't even eat fresh as I do NOT eat raw fish or other meats (I don't consider smoked salmon properly cooked). This was my lunch for the day and I have/had no other way to get other food. I can deal with cleaning a dirty toilet (not ideal) that was shunned by a disgruntled or lazy hotel employee, but the food issue can be fixed... it's completely unacceptable to have pilots that can't eat while in a room lockdown environment. I don 't think it's acceptable to have the (only) food available delivered at set times for it to sit and go bad. I also don't think it's acceptable that one of the standard meals is primarily made up of something like smoked salmon. Even if it was something more acceptable, the lack of the ability to choose something is unacceptable.
  • The conditions in TPE are completely unsatisfactory. This is a fatigue issue. Most crewmembers are not awake during the times that food is delivered (8am, 11:30am, and 6pm). Crewmembers have two choices, forgo sleep for food or not eat. I woke up at 10pm. It will be 10 hours until I get the chance to eat since there are no other options. The seafood salad and lobster pasta has been sitting outside my room for 4 hours.
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