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UAL vs SWA?  Haven’t had one of these measuring contests in awhile. Are the recent SWA problems anything to consider for those of us hoping to go there?

Edited by pelexecute

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I have friends happy at both, SWA would be a bit like Groundhog Day but I’m just guessing.

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2 hours ago, torqued said:

Thinking about the relationship between the Mx union and the company. Some other forums have suggested that SWA is trying to play hardball with the Mx union and that they’ll try the same tactics with Pilot’s union next contract. 

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1 hour ago, matmacwc said:

I have friends happy at both, SWA would be a bit like Groundhog Day but I’m just guessing.

I thrive on bland predictability! 😂

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3 hours ago, matmacwc said:

I have friends happy at both, SWA would be a bit like Groundhog Day but I’m just guessing.

Although the "regional airline flying on a major airline pay scale" thing isn't really my cup o' tea, I have a neighbor who has been at SWA for about 8 years now and he loves it.

Lives in base (Vegas), bids reserve, and at least during the non-summer months, doesn't appear to do much work at all.  Every time I go running past his house, he is out in his garage restoring a late 60s Mustang. He loves it and makes fun of me for (apparently) only flying nights and working too much, at that.

Different strokes.

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Although the "regional airline flying on a major airline pay scale" thing isn't really my cup o' tea, I have a neighbor who has been at SWA for about 8 years now and he loves it.
Lives in base (Vegas), bids reserve, and at least during the non-summer months, doesn't appear to do much work at all.  Every time I go running past his house, he is out in his garage restoring a late 60s Mustang. He loves it and makes fun of me for (apparently) only flying nights and working too much, at that.
Different strokes.
Living in base on SCR with any of the larger companies is going to net you a pretty good QOL no matter what equipment you're on, especially if you can settle in 30-60 min away from the airport.
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7 minutes ago, joe1234 said:

Generally, SWA is good for people who want to fly a lot, work hard, and earn a ton of money. UAL is good for lazy people who want the most time off possible while still earning a ton of money.

Do you work for Southwest?  Honest question only because I can't say I've ever "worked hard" at SWA.

Edited by FUSEPLUG
edit for auto-correct

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Point made...

Don't choose a company based on the current labor relations (Pilots, FAs, AMTs, etc).  That shit is so cyclical you'll never be able to keep up even when you work for the company.

Look back at the overarching theme of this thread.... go with the first company that puts you in class and do your best to avoid a commute. 

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If you read any of the threads at APC, everyone says you'll know if you picked the correct airline when you retire.  I'd pick based on:

1. first major that hires you

2. a second major that hires you that has a domicile where or closer to where you want to live

3. future plans (i.e. do you someday want to have a chance to fly a 787 to Sydney and make $350K for working 9 days a month or want the option to non-rev to Europe once in a while)

As a new hire at a legacy, I picked the first airline that hired me and stuck with it after another legacy offer because of the better possibility of option 3 and they were both pretty similar short commutes.

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4 hours ago, FUSEPLUG said:

Do you work for Southwest?  Honest question only because I can't say I've ever "worked hard" at SWA.

Isn’t that point of view kind of a relative assessment?  With one civilian job data point, how do you know?  Compared to those of us at other airlines, you may be working your ass off and not even know it. 🤣 😜

Edited by JeremiahWeed

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1 hour ago, JeremiahWeed said:

With one civilian job data point, how do you know?

One civilian job? Guess we haven’t met yet.

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Smokin nailed it with his response.  I guess you just have to ask yourself if you want the ability to fly WB international?  As someone who flew the 737 for a few years, I am happy I had the choice to jump off of that jet.  It's actually a pretty fun flying jet and very easy to hand fly, I just found it extremely archaic, uncomfortable and noisy...especially on 5+ hour transcons. 

I've since jumped to the 330 (all international) and I can't even begin to explain how much of a difference it is wrt to QOL.  It's like I work for entirely different airline.  Jets are always fixed, you're never in a rush, always start both engines on push, 3 to 4 pilots, 1 leg a day (between 7 and 14 hours), decent meal every leg, naps every leg (2-6 hours worth), no layovers shorter than 22ish hours, and 90%+ of the trips sign-in well after noon and sign out between 1300-1600 (if you're into commuting).  In months I bid a line, I usually can work my schedule to get 9-12 days of work worth 74-96 hours of pay.  When I've bid reserve, some months it was zero and one month they really busted my balls and worked me 13 days (outlier...average is ~6 days/month) for 72-80 hours of pay.  If you can sit reserve from your house, it's about as good of a gig as I could ever imagine.  I can sit short call from home, but often choose a line because I find it pairs better with my Guard schedule.  

I don't see myself going over to NB capt for a LONG time as I don't see the relatively small pay increase as worth it for the added work/responsibility.  Not all, but many of the guys I fly with plan on staying in the right seat until they can hold the left seat.  I've ran across more than few guys who bid over to NB capt only to come back to WB FO ASAP. 

Goodluck with your decision. 

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On 2/22/2019 at 10:35 AM, Hacker said:

 I have a neighbor who has been at SWA for about 8 years now and he loves it.

Funny about the 8 years. I had an 8-yr SWA guy in my FDX new hire class. He hasn't looked back. Tells us that the frenetic pace of constantly sprinting through his day is a young man's game, and he didn't want to wait a decade to upgrade. He's always reminding us how lucky we are to go right to widebody FO and put years back on our lives. Don't misread me...I'm not shitting on SWA. That company runs lean and profitable with a knife in its teeth, recently illustrated by breaking into HI. This mx union squabble will blow over. It's all just contract politics. 

My ONLY point in sharing that is the whole trash/treasure concept. It's impossible to say that one particular airline/domicile is the best. There are too many family/personal variables. Also, more power to those guys who take narrowbody CA @ 100%. I think they're nuts, and hope they're all senior to me. 

My ignorance of narrowbody schedules is bliss. I understand conceptually what they do by looking at bidpacks...I know enough that I'm not interested. As described above, I've become accustomed to changing into PJs, destroying catering, airborne naps, then at least a day (if not two or three) off the explore new places. 

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AA started building domestic trips for the 787 and I ended up with one sitting reserve.  I forgot how much I hated domestic flying.  Jet isn't ready to go, waiting on a ride to the hotel, swapping jets going through a hub while doing the bag drag and enjoying quality airport sit time, and hotels in crappy locations with limited food options.  International flying is really a different airline than domestic.

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17 hours ago, TreeA10 said:

AA started building domestic trips for the 787 and I ended up with one sitting reserve.  I forgot how much I hated domestic flying.  Jet isn't ready to go, waiting on a ride to the hotel, swapping jets going through a hub while doing the bag drag and enjoying quality airport sit time, and hotels in crappy locations with limited food options.  International flying is really a different airline than domestic.

What’s a typical month look like flying international? Three/four four day trips? I’m assuming the airlines give you a full day between legs?

I can definitely see how laid back it could be, you fly the one flight, take your crew rest, then fly the next trip home.

 

Edited by Bigred

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This month was 2 Hong Kong, 1 Madrid, and 1 London which flew into next month.  Hong Kong is 44 hours on the ground while most other layovers are 25-27 hours-ish.  My second Hong Kong trip cratered while we were in Hong Kong so I got an extra day and a half in Hong Kong, flew back to LAX instead of DFW and had to deadhead home.  While that sucked, the extra hours took me over our max and I got paid to NOT fly to Madrid.  Last month was 4  3-day London trips (Flight Standards bought one for training) and I picked up a HNL and took the wife.  I bid reserve next month because I have vacation and pay/trip strategery favors reserve.

You can put these trips back to back, i.e. get in from LHR on Monday and fly to Narita on Tuesday.  Time zone changes and weird hours make for challenges getting rest.  Some guys can do that but I'd rather have a day or two to relax.  Most brutal is to get in from a deep south trip at 6 am and then fly deep south again departing at 9pm that night.  Uh....hell no but, again, some guys do it.

Most international flights are 3 day trips.  Our deep south flights to Buenos Aires, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Rio, etc. boarder on 4 day trips because you depart late, 8-10pm,  and fly 10 hours to arrive just after sunrise.  Layover is long since you depart late in the evening on the 2nd day to fly home arriving 5-6am.  I fly out of DFW and there are many more options depending on which HUB you fly the trip from.  For instance, LHR (London Heathrow) is a 20 hour, 3 man crew out of DFW but is flown as a 15-16 hour, 2 man crew out of JFK.

4 man crews flying Asia out of mean you get two breaks inflight.  3 man crews mean you get one break.  How long?  Take the time remaining between 15 minutes after takeoff and 35-45 minutes prior to landing and divide that time by 3 or 4 and that is the length of the break.

 

 

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In what situation, no matter how individualize or niche, would it be preferable to be at a regional instead of major?  I only know what I've read in this thread, so pardon the ignorance.  But, let's say I don't care about the money so I don't want/need to be a WB CA.  Instead, if my primary motivation is the travel benefits, and I would rather fly as seldom as possible, and when I do fly, to fly the shortest legs possible, would it make sense to go regional?  I'm thinking doing so would allow me to gain seniority quickly since most people are heading to the majors asap, allowing me to pick lines, flights, schedules, that matched the above desires that much sooner.

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6 hours ago, Bigred said:

What’s a typical month look like flying international? Three/four four day trips? I’m assuming the airlines give you a full day between legs?

I can definitely see how laid back it could be, you fly the one flight, take your crew rest, then fly the next trip home.

 

Another perspective from the dark world of cargo (777 aircraft):

My March trip leaves 19 Mar for 13 days including my commute home.  So, I leave on a Tuesday morning and I'll be back home Sunday midday just shy of two weeks later.  I get it - not everyone would want that.  There are plenty of shorter trips available if someone wanted say, two 6-day trips with a week off in between or even more trips (four 3-day trips).  I prefer to minimize my commutes.  As a result, I'm off 15 days in a row before the trip from 3 Mar-18 Mar.  If I had worked the first two weeks of Feb, I could have had 4 weeks off in a row without using vacation.  I'm working as an FO (as opposed to bidding a Relief FO trip), so I will fly a mix of long and short flights.  I usually try to bid for an international deadhead to start the trip (and maybe one at the end of the trip if I get lucky) and one revenue flight each day I fly during the trip.  If I wanted all long-haul flights on the trip, I would need to bid an RFO trip.  Those trips typically have a deadhead (always on pax carriers, never our own aircraft) every other leg.  The RFO works as part of a 3 or 4 pilot crew, has a layover and then deadheads to another city to meet up with another crew in need of additional pilots and so on.

An added bonus of bidding the FO trips (if you know who the LCAs are  i.e. Instructors) is you can also get bumped if they need that trip for training new pilots.  You purposely bid a trip with them knowing they're going to get a student.  So, your two-week trip gets "bought" and you get paid to stay home for the month.  If you still want to work that month, you can pick up an extra trip or trips (maybe over the same days you planned to work originally) and double dip (even more, if your extra trip is being paid as draft - 150%).

Day One I deadhead on AA in business class to Paris - I leave from my home airport to fly to France without having to commute to my domicile to start the trip and have some extra money left over for a private car to take me to the airport.

Arrive Paris, 24 hours off

4-pilot crew Paris to Guangzhou, China (12:01 block hours)- 29 hours off

2-pilot to Osaka, Japan (3:17 block) - 50 hours off

2-pilot to Seoul, Korea (1:51 block) 33 hours off

2-pilot to Guangzhou (4:03 block) 27 hours off

4-pilot to Cologne, Germany (12:54 block) 62 hours off

3-pilot to Memphis (10:15 block)

I get in to MEM around 0500, so I'll grab a nap in one of our hub sleep rooms (private, single bed, private showers available) and then use more extra travel money to fly home on AA with a real ticket (they'll upgrade me to first class) and another private car to take me home.  Should walk through the door at home around 1400.

 

We do our rest periods on the 3-pilot crew the same as TreeA10.  3 equal periods.  With the 4-pilot crews, we do 4 breaks (two each) as he said, but the two breaks may not always be equal.  Some guys like one short break and one longer (short, long, long, short).  So, a typical 13-hour flight would start with the two RFOs taking a 2 hour break while the flying crew works.  Then the flying crews rests for 4-hours, RFOs rest for 4-hours and the flying crew gets another short 2-hours right before top of descent.  Longer flights closer to 14-15 hours usually just mean the shorter breaks get longer.  Not too many pilots I work with have much luck sleeping longer than 4-hours at one time during the flights.

 

That trip pays 86:21 in credit hours.  Actual blocked flight hours 44:21.  So, it works out to just over 6.6 pay hours per day on the trip, which at my pay rate is $1513 per day.  Really efficient RFO trips can average up 8-9 pay hours per day and as a result tend to go very senior.

 

One other thing - We're allowed to check in to our hotel up to two days early with a deadhead on the front of a trip if we wanted.  So, I could take my wife, get her a business class ticket with my frequent flyer miles on my Paris deadhead flight.  Leave two days early and we get to Paris two days before my scheduled layover starts (so, really 3-days before I have to work).  The day I go to work from Paris, she starts making her way home on another FF mile ticket.  Since I have extra travel money (cheaper ticket from my home airport than the one FedEx planned to buy from Memphis), I can also expense the two extra days of hotel against my travel bank.  End result is a 3-day mini-Paris vacation that only cost me some frequent flyer miles and the expense of ground transport to get her back to DeGaulle and to my house after her flight home.

Edited by JeremiahWeed
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On 2/25/2019 at 2:16 PM, Bigred said:

What’s a typical month look like flying international? Three/four four day trips? I’m assuming the airlines give you a full day between legs?

I can definitely see how laid back it could be, you fly the one flight, take your crew rest, then fly the next trip home.

As you can already see it depends wildly based on what airline, what aircraft and even what base (here at DAL anyway).

My category mostly has 3 and 6 day trips, though we occasionally see a few 7-9 day trips.  The 7-9 day trips usually have DH days on both ends, so guys deviate from them and knock off 2 days while still getting paid.  As a super junior guy in my seat,  my typically awarded line is 2 x 6-day trips (12 days worth 68-72 hours of pay).  Each 6-day trip is 4 legs of flying with 3 layovers (22-30 hours each), the middle one is somewhere in the US and the other two somewhere in Europe.  Since I don't particularly care for 6-day trips, after the schedules are published, I drop them both (or give them away to other pilots) and go fishing in the open time (uncovered trips).  What I usually end up with for the month is 4 x 3-day trips (12 days worth 85-95 hours of pay)...sometimes I just do 3 x 3 days (9 days worth 63-74 hours).  If you're ok with wild swings in pay from month to month and/or willing to accept the occasional "low month," it's a great strategy (I live locally)!  When I say low months, I mean still 4-5k more than you'd make as an AD O-4. 

On months I bid reserve I usually work O-6 days (non-summer months) and 3ish to 12 (summer months) for 72-80 hours of pay.

- Up to 12 hours - 3-man crew (1CA/2 FO) with 3 even breaks...same math as tree.

- 12+ hours - 4-many crew (2 CA/2FO) with 2 breaks per pilot.  Usually short/long/long/short like was mentioned above.  Short being 2-2.5 hours and the long being the remainder (usually 3+ hours).

- Unless it's a odd, "one-of" type event we don't do 2-man crews across the Atlantic (under 8 hours).  Always staffed with 3+.

 

19 hours ago, otsap said:

In what situation, no matter how individualize or niche, would it be preferable to be at a regional instead of major?  I only know what I've read in this thread, so pardon the ignorance.  But, let's say I don't care about the money so I don't want/need to be a WB CA.  Instead, if my primary motivation is the travel benefits, and I would rather fly as seldom as possible, and when I do fly, to fly the shortest legs possible, would it make sense to go regional?  I'm thinking doing so would allow me to gain seniority quickly since most people are heading to the majors asap, allowing me to pick lines, flights, schedules, that matched the above desires that much sooner.

 

I would not get into the job for the travel benefits.  Load factors are extremely high an even when they look good, they can change at a moments notice.  Went to bed one night with my preferred flight having 60 open seats...woke up and the flight had been subbed with a smaller jet and was now oversold.  This is not necessarily a "one-of" type thing.  If it's just you (and/or a adventurous significant other), it can be great!   

That said, as a guy who has flown for a regional and now DAL, I can not think of any situation where going to the regional would be a better choice.  

Edited by SocialD

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13 hours ago, JeremiahWeed said:

Another perspective from the dark world of cargo (777 aircraft):

My March trip...

...after her flight home.

That whole post looks glorious!

....almost there....

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16 hours ago, otsap said:

In what situation, no matter how individualize or niche, would it be preferable to be at a regional instead of major?  I only know what I've read in this thread, so pardon the ignorance.  But, let's say I don't care about the money so I don't want/need to be a WB CA.  Instead, if my primary motivation is the travel benefits, and I would rather fly as seldom as possible, and when I do fly, to fly the shortest legs possible, would it make sense to go regional?  I'm thinking doing so would allow me to gain seniority quickly since most people are heading to the majors asap, allowing me to pick lines, flights, schedules, that matched the above desires that much sooner.

That is an interesting question I've never considered.  I'm really having trouble thinking of one.  Only thing I can come up with is the  scenario is that you like where you live, don't want to commute, and there is a regional domicile you can drive to, very quickly.  That's about it.  Even with that, regional contracts are at the whim of the majors they contract with, so that domicile could disappear at a moment's notice.

I agree with Social about travel benefits.  You'd always have higher priority on your own metal anyway, if you wanted to travel beyond where your regional goes.  If travel is your thing, there is a lot to be said for cargo, and getting miles for deadhead.  ACMI for that matter.  Or big picture, I make enough money that I can just buy the damn tickets.

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