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2 hours ago, FLEA said:

my understanding is many days off are "reserve" and they are a bit tied down to go anywhere/plan anything. Am I wrong in that remark? 

Yes, you're wrong.

Off days are off days. Reserve days are work days.  Never the two shall mix without you intentionally deciding to do so, although some airlines have a (not) wonderful thing called "junior manning" in which you can be involuntarily assigned to work.

It differs from airline to airline, but they will all have a minimum number of days off per month regardless of what kind of schedule you are able to bid.

The suck is the highest at the regionals: the airline I was at had a minimum of 11 days off per month by contract, but I ended up bidding schedules that gave me closer to 14 or 15 days off per month.  At my current airline, I beat the contractually guaranteed min days off by one or so on average, which again is by choice based on the lines I like to bid and what my seniority can hold.  More senior pilots can beat that substantially while getting paid about the same number of credit hours.

You can obviously choose to fly on your scheduled days off to make extra coin, but just realize that it isn't like the military where you're "owned" by the man 24/7 and can just be randomly made to work on days you were previously told you'd have off.

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Delta or SWA

Southwest? That’s interesting. Even with the extended upgrades to left seat?


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2 hours ago, Duck said:

If maximizing pay at an airline was your primary goal, which airline seems to be the best? (Besides FedEx)

FWIW, FedEx has limitations on how much open time you can pick up every month that, by my understanding, other airlines do not have.

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Delta or SWA

By no means do I know anything about this. I am just surprised to hear SWA. I hear they work you to death for your coin. I realize that wasn’t the question posed. I just can’t imagine doing a 4 hop for SWA compared to a one or two hop for DAL which makes the same amount of money being the better route to make more money. Sounds like you would have to kill yourself to make a lot of money. If the question were:

Which airline allows you to maximize your pay and work the least? What would your answer be?
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Since Hacker brought up the Regionals, I'll add some more (current) information, since I think the incredibly recent turn of the Regional industry (read, last two years) is going to be the nail in the coffin for the Guard/Reserve side of the house.

 

I'm a Guard baby (Captain) and quickly got sick of only being able to snag 150-300 hours of flying time a year, due to the increased AD-Lite mentality of the Guard and all the extra admin duties and responsibilities that get thrown on you. I snagged a job at a Regional (that takes me an hour-and-fifteen-minutes to get to the employee parking lot) just after they more than doubled pay from what Hacker was talking about. Since that time two years ago, two-to-four other Regionals have jumped their pay WAY up... Endeavor is currently leading the way with $50/hr first year FO, $60/hr second year FO, and $93/hr third year CA pay. 

 

In 2018 I deployed for a couple/few months, took a two month AGR gig, and flew the line at the Regional as an FO... I live in my Guard city, take a short drive to the airline, and between the two gigs I made $100,000 and blocked ~700 hours... Let me reiterate, I'm an FO at a REGIONAL.

 

They're FORCE upgrading people here at like 18 months (due to the shortages), so by the time I upgrade to the higher money in a couple months, I'll already be able to hold a line in domicile, due to all the guys junior to me already being forced to the left seat. I was doing the math with the CA I'm flying with on this trip yesterday, and (assuming I do the minimum AFTP/RUTA count for 2019 and maybe another month's worth of Orders at some point, and then upgrade around April) I'll probably make close to $120,000. This guy's a LCA who drops trips every month and he makes $120K. Add the minimum amount of Guard work and you're pushing $150,000... at a REGIONAL.

 

Just wanted to throw that out there, because I keep trying to tell my leadership that THIS may be an even greater threat to our ranks than the imminent mainline hiring... I know we're losing senior IP/EP types, but what's going to happen when that trend continues, and then the young guys are bouncing AS WELL? No longer is it a huge pay-cut for the younger Lt's/Captains to hit the Regionals for the block hours. It's a pay bump (not to mention a GUARANTEED paycheck vs. Guard bumming), and it's infinitely easier to build those hours as well. I'm doing 85 block this month, and 90 next month. I was the high-time pilot in the Squadron at one point this year with 75 hours... in three months. 

 

Big AF, the Guard, and the Reserve have no idea... 

Edited by so.it.goes
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By the way, I know no one wants to STAY at a Regional, but my point is simply that you could do much worse than that as you build time for the big boy job.

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My experience has mirrored FUSEPLUG's, although my financial hole may have been a little deeper than others since I had an extra year flying at the regionals for $20/hour in conjunction with training pay and first year pay at my career destination.
It has taken a while to replenish the decimated savings account, re-acquire just some of the stocks/investments that were liquidated, and re-establish the retirement account contributions that were halted during that time.
Yes, the 2nd year+ pay is great, but there's a while lot of "double up to catch up" that has to take place which blunts the acute impact of that extra $$ coming in.  I am 2.5 years into my career job (on 3rd year pay) and, no kidding, am pretty much just now getting my pre-USAF-retirement savings and investments sorta back to where they were before the journey to the airlines.
I'm not complaining: I knew what the financial cost was going to be and prepared for it before leaving Big Blue, and the investment has been worth every nickel.  But, the recovery has taken longer than I expected it to, even with a substantial eventual increase in income over USAF O-5 pay.


Hacker,
Were your $ struggles at the regionals while drawing retirement pay? I saw so.it.goes’ post about regional pay increase, but was curious if your experience included USAF/ANG retirement pay.

I am getting ready to get current/qualified back in an a mil jet after toiling away in the RPA world for about 6 yrs. I am currently AD retirement eligible-hanging around mainly to get current/qualified again and I’m told I’m needed to help out a bit. Once c/q, I plan on applying to the airlines and not retiring until hired.


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1 hour ago, Hacker said:

FWIW, FedEx has limitations on how much open time you can pick up every month that, by my understanding, other airlines do not have.

Delta does as well....in some cases. There are ways around it. 

If you want to maximize your pay, especially early on, you will be working* a lot. 

 

*-on the road. None of it is really work. 

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Soooo....if someone was a new hire at SWA, and had a job offer at Delta, which one would the majority here pick and why?

Bases not considered.


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4 hours ago, FLEA said:

What does vacation time off look like in the airlines? I realize the money is good but the military actually gives a very generous leave package. Travel is my passion and I'm worried about having the money but not the ability to go anywhere. Yes, I realize airline dudes work less days but my understanding is many days off are "reserve" and they are a bit tied down to go anywhere/plan anything. Am I wrong in that remark? 

2 weeks off paid at delta the first few years. While on vacation, you can’t work...even if you wanted to  

 

As previously mentioned, off days are off days. 

 

The big big blue retirement check allows me to bid 3x 4-day trips a month when I choose to bid a line. That gives me weekends off all month, and a full 10 day stretch off somewhere in the month so I can actually get some shit done (or fish) 

I chose reserve over over this winter based on the manning tea leaves. So I still get 14 or so hard days off every month. Days that I’m on I just have to be able to get to Atlanta in 12 hours .... so pretty flexible. But since 1 Oct I’ve only had to “work” 6 days. 2 days of CQ and 4 days of short call (be within about 2 hours of Atlanta). The short calls were unused .... so after a 7 hr sit in/around Atlanta I went Home. 

So yes ... there’s absurd amounts of “time off” ... you’ll be able to have these cool things you’ve only heard about on AD called hobbies. They’re neat!

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7 minutes ago, Duck said:

Soooo....if someone was a new hire at SWA, and had a job offer at Delta, which one would the majority here pick and why?

Bases not considered.


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New guy flying will be similar at both .... narrowbody domestic multiple legs a day. 

At southwest, that will never change. 

If you’re fired up about widebody international, go interview with United. 

FedEx is a different animal, but worth consideration .... especially if you’re not a fan of the general public. 

Everyone is hiring .... it’s a good problem to have 

Edited by HossHarris

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14 minutes ago, Duck said:

Soooo....if someone was a new hire at SWA, and had a job offer at Delta, which one would the majority here pick and why?

Bases not considered.

I went with SWA.  Would do it again.  I'd explain why, but you said bases can't be a consideration.  😏

Reference your upgrade question - speculation is that number could drop to 6-7 years in the future.  SWA had a hiring lull starting around 2009.  It really didn't pick back up until 2014.  The theory is that 2014 and beyond hires may see the 10 year upgrade figure decrease as they work through guys hired between those years.  Additionally they are really ramping up upgrade training this year which will also play a big factor if that continues.

Congrats if this is your situation.  Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

Edited by FUSEPLUG
Edited for clarity
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34 minutes ago, herkbum said:

 


Hacker,
Were your $ struggles at the regionals while drawing retirement pay? I saw so.it.goes’ post about regional pay increase, but was curious if your experience included USAF/ANG retirement pay.

I am getting ready to get current/qualified back in an a mil jet after toiling away in the RPA world for about 6 yrs. I am currently AD retirement eligible-hanging around mainly to get current/qualified again and I’m told I’m needed to help out a bit. Once c/q, I plan on applying to the airlines and not retiring until hired.


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The other thing to plan for money wise is there will be a lot more fingers in your pie (sts). 

You may be able to get your gross pay back to “normal” on year 2, but a lot more come out of it. 

Union dues (2%), health insurance ($600/mo if you don’t have tricare), out of pocket health care costs (significant),  vision, dental, life insurance, retirement contributions (your choice, but should be significant). 

No BAS, BAH. 

I have tricare (retired) and still only pocket about 60% of my gross airline paycheck. 

Edited by HossHarris
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The other thing to plan for money wise is there will be a lot more fingers in your pie (sts). 

You may be able to get your gross pay back to “normal” on year 2, but a lot more come out of it. 

Union dues (2%), health insurance ($600/mo if you don’t have tricare), out of pocket health care costs (significant),  vision, dental, life insurance, retirement contributions (your choice, but should be significant). 

No BAS, BAH. 

I have tricare (retired) and still only pocket about 60% of my gross airline paycheck. 

Maybe it varies with different companies. BCBS with AA is a little over $200 a month for a family, comparable to Tricare RS (I am using TRS because copays are less). Between medical, dental, vision, life insurance, accident insurance and a dental savings plan, I don't pay more than $265 per month in benefits excluding union dues, which are 1% or 1.5% during negotiations.

 

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Between SWA and delta I would pick delta. Less work per work day, more options for airplanes, flights, upgrades, locations, retirement benefits. Plus you can drop trips without recourse at delta. Don’t have to be on mil leave or pick up a trip. Not a fan of PBS but being able to drop a trip with zero recourse is pretty huge.

Again. I’m not employed by either. And what I said may be 100% wrong as I am not there. That is just what I have heard in airline job search. Delta seems to be the better airline to work for a situation like mine. All the above considered took SWA off the list for me. Not going to apply there unless the other 5 don’t hire me after interview.

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38 minutes ago, Duck said:

Soooo....if someone was a new hire at SWA, and had a job offer at Delta, which one would the majority here pick and why?

Bases not considered.


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I'm at SWA because that's where I got hired first. Honestly, If I were beginning my airline career, I'm not entirely sure which I'd pick. Because I'm established, I wouldn't consider going anywhere else.

The things I like about SWA: Financial fitness. SWA is absolutely killing it, and barring a disaster, I'll likely never need worry about my employment or company growth. Never a bankruptcy or furlough. I'll never need worry about retraining to a different fleet type. New aircraft incoming. The company culture is fantastic. Always within a couple time zones of home. 3 day trips. Line bidding with open time and trip trade/giveaway: I get about as many days off as I want or I can load up my schedule and make some serious cash. A Captain last July worked his schedule to over 400 tfp (approx 340 hours of credit) to make over $90K in one month. An outlier, but possible.

The things I think would be nice at Delta would be the opportunity to fly widebody international if I so choose, maybe better commutability to bases. Most times I enjoy 12-18 hour overnights, but would sometimes like a long layover at a nice international destination. As Guardian said, the days you work, you're putting in full days at SWA. Sometimes 4-5 legs a day. Not sure about Delta.

The range of earning opportunity is so wide with so many dependent variables at either place that I don't think you can make an accurate generalization about where you can make the most money. I think the average pilot at both places look at their paycheck and think "Not ing bad at all."

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - T.R.

Edited by torqued
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3 hours ago, Hacker said:

Yes, you're wrong.

Off days are off days. Reserve days are work days.  Never the two shall mix without you intentionally deciding to do so, although some airlines have a (not) wonderful thing called "junior manning" in which you can be involuntarily assigned to work.

At all 3 of my airlines (1 regional) the only way they could work you on an off day via "junior manning" is if you actually answered your phone.  At Delta our JM is called inverse assignment and can be quite a good deal.

 

2 hours ago, Hacker said:

FWIW, FedEx has limitations on how much open time you can pick up every month that, by my understanding, other airlines do not have.

Same at DAL.  It's pretty high though and there are ways around it.  Some guys want to get rid of the loopholes but there are so many whores out there I don't see it changing.  On the flip side, one of the nice things available to us is the ability to drop your entire schedule.  I drop my schedule every month I bid a line because I'm not senior enough to get the trips I want during the initial bid.  Then I just pick up  trips I like as the month goes along.  It's a gamble but I've had 100% success on getting plenty of hours for the month.   Doing this generally allows me to fly the same number of days but make quite a bit more.  Realize this strategy is subject to good staffing levels which isn't always the case on NB aircraft...almost never a problem on the WB.

 

2 hours ago, Guardian said:

Which airline allows you to maximize your pay and work the least? What would your answer be?

Way to many variables, and can change wildly based on your fleet within an airline.  For example, I was recently able to work 9 days for 74 hours of pay.  This is nearly impossible to do on any of our narrow body fleets. 

I left one legacy for another based strictly on my ability to sit short call at my house (ie...not commute).  This is worth so much more than any amount of money.  Apply everywhere, take the first offer, then decide.

 

1 hour ago, so.it.goes said:

Just wanted to throw that out there, because I keep trying to tell my leadership that THIS may be an even greater threat to our ranks than the imminent mainline hiring... I know we're losing senior IP/EP types, but what's going to happen when that trend continues, and then the young guys are bouncing AS WELL? No longer is it a huge pay-cut for the younger Lt's/Captains to hit the Regionals for the block hours. It's a pay bump (not to mention a GUARANTEED paycheck vs. Guard bumming), and it's infinitely easier to build those hours as well. I'm doing 85 block this month, and 90 next month. I was the high-time pilot in the Squadron at one point this year with 75 hours... in three months. 

Shack.  We've recently had 3 relatively junior guys split to the regionals so they can get their Total time up ASAP.  All of them were mid-level Captains or junior majors....we just don't get many hours in the fighters.  I just had another friend call me yesterday and ask how to go about starting the process of applying to the airlines (likely a regional due to their low hours).    

 

1 hour ago, Duck said:

Soooo....if someone was a new hire at SWA, and had a job offer at Delta, which one would the majority here pick and why?

DAL for me because I've already flown regional flying and the 737...putting them together for the rest of my career sounds terrible.  Having options in types of flying is key for me...now that I'm flying on a WB, I can't imagine not having this option.  It's like an entirely different job. 

Edited by SocialD
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3 hours ago, herkbum said:

Were your $ struggles at the regionals while drawing retirement pay? I saw so.it.goes’ post about regional pay increase, but was curious if your experience included USAF/ANG retirement pay.

Yes, I was drawing O-5 retirement pay, which was in the neighborhood of $30K per year.  Add that to the $16,800 I made my first year at the regionals and I was still undershooting the cost of living for my family of 4 pretty substantially.

That being said, I am a big fan of mil guys who aren't able to get directly to the majors going to the regionals. I found it to be (outside of the pay) a great professional experience for a lot of reasons.  I re-hash this on APC posts all the time, but I'll say it for the record here, too: none of us are "too good" for a spin through the regional airlines if we intend on making it a career after the military.

Edited by Hacker
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Yes, I was drawing O-5 retirement pay, which was in the neighborhood of $30K per year.  Add that to the $16,800 I made my first year at the regionals and I was still undershooting the cost of living for my family of 4 pretty substantially.


Like I said, it's crazy how much things have changed so quickly.

Two other things I forgot to mention about the Regionals: Big bonuses (some with strings, some without), and a paid-for ATP/CTP course. Gone are the days when you have to go drop serious coin on the big rating.

As stated, I'm not saying I want to be here forever (hope to be gone in a year), but it's not a bad gig. Big caveats to that: Live in/near domicile, and do research on Reserve rules. Those two things alone can be the difference between being content and being miserable... I've seen it within my squadron first-hand.
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Like I said, it's crazy how much things have changed so quickly.

Two other things I forgot to mention about the Regionals: Big bonuses (some with strings, some without), and a paid-for ATP/CTP course. Gone are the days when you have to go drop serious coin on the big rating.

As stated, I'm not saying I want to be here forever (hope to be gone in a year), but it's not a bad gig. Big caveats to that: Live in/near domicile, and do research on Reserve rules. Those two things alone can be the difference between being content and being miserable... I've seen it within my squadron first-hand.


The ATP is the reason I’m looking at possibly doing a stint in the regionals.



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10 hours ago, FLEA said:

What does vacation time off look like in the airlines? I realize the money is good but the military actually gives a very generous leave package. Travel is my passion and I'm worried about having the money but not the ability to go anywhere. Yes, I realize airline dudes work less days but my understanding is many days off are "reserve" and they are a bit tied down to go anywhere/plan anything. Am I wrong in that remark? 

Flea, at AA, vacation time increases the longer you are with the airline and tops out at 31 days.  The vacation bidding system sucks but allegedly is going to change.  You also manipulate the system with PVD (Personal Vacation Days) and trip drops to build time off.  Lots of ways to skin the cat to build a window to travel.

As far as travel goes, if you can tolerate dealing with the unknowns and frustrations of flying standby, you can easily go places.  Over the last year, the wife and I have gone to Ireland and Spain for 5 day visits.  For longer layovers, the wife has flown standby with me to Paris, Santiago, and Hawaii.  Lots of options on places to go but passenger loads can sometimes be unpredictable.

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6 hours ago, torqued said:

The things I like about SWA: Financial fitness. SWA is absolutely killing it, and barring a disaster, I'll likely never need worry about my employment or company growth...The company culture is fantastic. 

What is this "company culture" you speak of?

In all seriousness:  I hear this about SWA all the time.  Can you elaborate some more and provide some specific examples?  I'm particularly curious since once of the attractions of the airline industry (in any company) is the "show up, fly, leave airport, don't think about work until the next trip" mentality, so how good could a culture really be (or matter) if you're making good coin to fly airplanes anyway.

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Flea, at AA, vacation time increases the longer you are with the airline and tops out at 31 days.  The vacation bidding system sucks but allegedly is going to change.  You also manipulate the system with PVD (Personal Vacation Days) and trip drops to build time off.  Lots of ways to skin the cat to build a window to travel.
As far as travel goes, if you can tolerate dealing with the unknowns and frustrations of flying standby, you can easily go places.  Over the last year, the wife and I have gone to Ireland and Spain for 5 day visits.  For longer layovers, the wife has flown standby with me to Paris, Santiago, and Hawaii.  Lots of options on places to go but passenger loads can sometimes be unpredictable.


I'd add to that that if you're flexible with your ROUTE to a destination, that helps as well. I'm with one of the AA Wholly-owned regionals, so have full AA Non-Rev bennies... My wife and I have hopped all over, and we've taken the kids many places as well. We were batting 1000 until an ice storm trying to get back from a London-Paris trip. Stayed an extra day in Paris (poor us), and struggled to get the four of us home once stateside, but I don't mind the process when you factor on what you're getting. Business class both ways, and between the eight legs for the entire trip, we would have spent $40K... Yes, that's a correct value.

I'm heading to London again in a couple weeks just to watch a soccer match... It's awesome.
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When it works, non-rev sure makes the world a small place.  Wedding in Portland Saturday and lunch with a buddy in Times Square Sunday?  No problem.  Just got back from a wedding in a small NE town a couple hours ago.  Took some flexibility, but my only expense was parking.  

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