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I plan to apply to AA and move to DFW. Airlinepilotcentral paints AA as an unprofitable company with low morale, bad management, and high (secured) debt (although comprised of a newer fleet). I browse their forums with a grain of salt, but should I consider flying for SWA as well?

I’m open to moving to ATL, but DAL already seems to be ahead of the post-COVID hiring wave (for seniority progression considerations).

For (relative) job security, it seems AA is too big to fail, and their DFW base should remain open in case of a merger or bankruptcy. My goals are living in base, seniority progression, and job security (in that order).

Edited by Newb
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I’m still relatively new, so don’t claim to know that much, but I will say APC must be taken with a massive grain of salt. Many of the same individuals with non-stop doom and gloom messaging, how the company screws everybody, lots of 100% false info on there, etc. APC is not a great reflection of reality, and I think that applies to every airline out there.

AA’s financials are not nearly as good as others, but I think we’ve seen the legacies really are too big to fail at this point. So, if living in DFW is what you want to do with life, then yeah, go for AA and don’t look back. For SWA, I’ve heard good things from friends there for the most part, but I personally didn’t want to be stuck in a 73 for my entire career flying to meh places. Variety over the course of a long career was worth something to me (and to many people); seniority is also a relatively slow progression there vs. others from what my friends say (friends came from SWA to DAL). There will always be good things about an airline and there will always be things to bitch about; there is not a perfect airline out there and APC is full of shit 99% of the time!

 

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5 hours ago, Newb said:

I plan to apply to AA and move to DFW. Airlinepilotcentral paints AA as an unprofitable company with low morale, bad management, and high (secured) debt (although comprised of a newer fleet). I browse their forums with a grain of salt, but should I consider flying for SWA as well?

I’m open to moving to ATL, but DAL already seems to be ahead of the post-COVID hiring wave (for seniority progression considerations).

For (relative) job security, it seems AA is too big to fail, and their DFW base should remain open in case of a merger or bankruptcy. My goals are living in base, seniority progression, and job security (in that order).

I would ignore the crap on airlinepilotcentral. I stopped going there for gossip years ago for the same reasons brabus mentions.  I would try and take the advice of previous posts and try to get with an airline that will likely have a hub near where you (wife) plans to make a long term domicile.  And you are definitely advanced in your thinking if you are analyzing seniority progression and the relative age of the pilot group you want to join.  Better progression is about as critical as your commutability/live in base decisions.  

Low morale is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and a few anecdotal posts on some crap gossip message board doesn't override the scores of AA friends and random AA pilots I have met along the way who say the opposite. 

Debt, especially corporate debt, is so grossly misunderstood by laymen like us that it is laughable.  I could argue these two truths until I am blue in the face: 1) debt is bad and should be reduced  2) debt is good and airlines (and virtually all businesses and households) cannot function without it.  Unless the company is really on the verge of bankruptcy, leave debt analysis to the overpaid executive types. 

I think most of the major airlines these days offer pretty much equal job security.    

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6 hours ago, Newb said:

I plan to apply to AA and move to DFW. Airlinepilotcentral paints AA as an unprofitable company with low morale, bad management, and high (secured) debt (although comprised of a newer fleet). I browse their forums with a grain of salt, but should I consider flying for SWA as well?

I’m open to moving to ATL, but DAL already seems to be ahead of the post-COVID hiring wave (for seniority progression considerations).

For (relative) job security, it seems AA is too big to fail, and their DFW base should remain open in case of a merger or bankruptcy. My goals are living in base, seniority progression, and job security (in that order).

Been at AA going on 23 years and I'll say it is kind of a crap shoot.  You only realize the validity of your decision when you retire.  For instance, I was hired in early 99.  Before me was the Air Cal and Trans Carib purchase.  Reno happened just as I got hired.  Then along came TWA and then US Air.  TWA brought along the Ozark animosity toward seniority issues and US Airways brought the whole East vs America West seniority issues and then we wrapped all that up and dumped it into American Airlines.  So, lots of pilots had lots of expectations that didn't quite work out as planned and lots of pilots are still pissed off because "they were cheated."   I think I passed the 7000 mark on seniority list 3 times.

We have pilots upgrading to Captain with seniority numbers 10,000+.  Sounds good but you need to ask why do the more senior pilots not want the job?  I'm a wide body FO with a 4200-ish number and have no desire to jump into that narrow body domestic mess plus I just got paid to sleep 7 hours on the jet plus had a nice seafood dinner in Madrid on my last trip. So, what kind of trips do you want to fly and what sort of upgrade opportunities will you have at your airline of choice?

I'm based at DFW and it is a very senior base so it will take you longer to upgrade from narrow to wide body or FO to CA.  Had a  Miami based 10,000+ seniority number FO on his IOE on my last trip, also.  (Just looked up FO seniority numbers for DFW and our junior wide body FO is actually @10,100.)  Those opportunities come quicker if you are willing to commute.  I commuted for 6 months when I first got hired and haven't done it since.  However, I fly with a lot of commuters so it is doable.

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6 hours ago, Newb said:

My goals are living in base, seniority progression, and job security (in that order).

Without "job security', your other goals are unreliable. 
 

As a pilot who has been furloughed twice, I put job security first. 

Edited by HuggyU2
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5 hours ago, JS said:

Debt, especially corporate debt, is so grossly misunderstood by laymen like us that it is laughable. 

This. I'm not an airline pilot, so I can't speak to the intricacies of the situation with any sort of inside knowledge. However, the "hurrr durrr debt too damn high" aspects are certainly as nuanced as @JS said. On a similar macro note, Ford was putting it all on the line circa 2007 by taking on a boatload of debt securitized by everything not bolted down and was widely derided for doing so...until 2008 rolled around. Their debt was high, but they utilized it smartly and shored up the company while GM and Chrysler both went bankrupt/required massive bailouts while F has sailed along just fine and greatly increased the quality of their products.

AA has operated similarly (it seems...again, I'm looking from the outside in) to F in the mid-aughts and bought new iron/invested in growth with a lot of that debt while the other major airlines stayed more financially secure, but riding aging fleets that will eventually have to be replaced. So, they may be fine now, but they will be forced to make similar costly investments; likely through taking on more debt themselves. 

Lastly on debt: inflation helps quite a bit. The debt payments are (relatively...again, things get complicated) fixed and they're able to charge more for flights, which should mean higher revenues used to pay down debts that have stayed the same price. The same goes for houses/cars/the government/etc.; you take out debts with a fixed repayment and, as years progress, those payments (should be) an ever-dwindling portion of your income.

Whether this is the exact case for AA, I don't know. I'm no expert. The higher debt load could sink AAL (wasn't it AMR in the past?), the company that runs AA. But, as others have said, AA is basically TBTF and, even if they go through Ch 11, they'll be bailed out and re-emerge on the other side largely intact, just under a new name. Sure, they'll probably use the opportunity to bang pilots over the head for pay rates, but it's not overly likely they fold as a whole and you're out on the street. At least from my nosebleed-seats view.

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TBTF is not a good way IMO to look at a potential employer. Under a bankruptcy re-org, union contracts will be forced to reset, so yes, you’ll still be employed, but it will be for a paycut.

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When getting my type rating, our FAA examiner told us from his experience something to the effect of “all it takes is one big furlough to derail an otherwise good career progression at your airline”. YMMV, but that comment stuck with me. 

Sounds like Huggy/TreeA10 would agree to varying degrees based on their experiences.

And I’m not insinuating that there’s gonna be a big furlough upcoming at any of the legacies…like most here I have a lot of friends at all of them, and for everyone’s sake I certainly hope each company can weather any storms they may have on the horizon.

Of the 3 things listed in priority order (living in domicile, seniority progression, job security), I used to rank the companies I applied to in that exact order also. In the end I actually ended up turning down a job with an airline in domicile with great progression in favor of a different company that’s historically been a LOT more stable (but is still gonna have great seniority progression), even though I’m now gonna be a forever commuter. As they say, won’t know if that was the best choice until I retire. Unfortunately for 95% of us there isn’t an airline that perfectly checks all the squares in our order of preference. 

Edited by WheelsOff
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27 minutes ago, WheelsOff said:

Of the 3 things listed in priority order (living in domicile, seniority progression, job security), I used to rank the companies I applied to in that exact order also. In the end I actually ended up turning down a job with an airline in domicile with great progression in favor of a different company that’s historically been a LOT more stable (but is still gonna have great seniority progression), even though I’m now gonna be a forever commuter. As they say, won’t know if that was the best choice until I retire. Unfortunately for 95% of us there isn’t an airline that perfectly checks all the squares in our order of preference. 

i made the exact same decision.

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20 hours ago, Newb said:

I plan to apply to AA and move to DFW. Airlinepilotcentral paints AA as an unprofitable company with low morale, bad management, and high (secured) debt (although comprised of a newer fleet). I browse their forums with a grain of salt, but should I consider flying for SWA as well?

I’m open to moving to ATL, but DAL already seems to be ahead of the post-COVID hiring wave (for seniority progression considerations).

For (relative) job security, it seems AA is too big to fail, and their DFW base should remain open in case of a merger or bankruptcy. My goals are living in base, seniority progression, and job security (in that order).

You’ve got the living in domicile part figured out, so you’d probably be right to just go with your gut and not overthink it…even though we all do. As far as forecasting the future there probably isn’t a more stark comparison of company financials than between AA and SWA, and yet the sense here at SWA is that we struggled just as much as everyone else and don’t have anything to show from our $16B pre-pandemic war chest…might as well have bought those 300 Dreamliners! 
There’s no harm in applying to all three and seeing what you think. Worst case you get some bonus interview practice. FWIW I had SWA maybe #4 or 5 but changed my tune after digging into it post-interview.
I’m not pitching SWA over others, but since most of my mil buddies close the door on it because it lacks the cool factor I’ll offer up my standard spiel: in my 5-year experience all the knocks I’ve heard have pretty much been overblown (except for the long upgrade). Schedule flexibility, time off, and ability to make extra when desired has been surprising. I’ve had no missed Christmases/anniversaries/birthdays (even first year), which is kind of the reason I left the AF in a nutshell. My AF years were my time for strapping into cool machines and putting pins on maps, but now my QOL criteria is less about enjoying my time at work and more about maximizing my ratio of dollars to days off. Not saying that can’t be found elsewhere, but just bringing it up to answer your question on whether you should at least consider SWA. 

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9 hours ago, WheelsOff said:

“all it takes is one big furlough to derail an otherwise good career progression at your airline”. 

Or a merger where your position on the new seniority isn't what you would expect.  

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On 9/6/2022 at 8:02 AM, JS said:

Debt, especially corporate debt, is so grossly misunderstood by laymen like us that it is laughable.

 

19 hours ago, FDNYOldGuy said:

The debt payments are (relatively...again, things get complicated) fixed

Good example. Corporate debt is not fixed. People often assume that corporate debt works similar to an auto loan or a car loan, but in reality it has a term, and usually a shorter term like 3 to 5 years. The corporation doesn't make payments on the principal, they only pay the interest, then at the end of the loan the entire loan is paid off.

Where it gets problematic is companies like American pay off the debt by taking out a new loan, and basically just roll the debt forward without paying it down. 

 

So the real question isn't can you afford the amount of money you have loaned out, but can you afford the payment at the new interest rates? With a fixed rate mortgage. You know what your payments will be for the next 30 years, but that's not the case with corporate debt.

You also need to remember that effectively no one thought inflation was possible. Other than a few pundits, Michael Burry types, and Perma bears, the entire corporate, political, and investment class assumed inflation was dead. Most importantly, the Fed has spent the last decade quite literally attempting to increase inflation and failed to the point they believed that unlimited quantitative easing and interest rate repression would have no negative impacts, and certainly not inflation. I think at this point it is obvious that they were wrong.

 

So why does that matter? Because a company like American Airlines (and 25% of the Russell 2000) are "zombie" companies, meaning that they had no realistic path to paying down their debt. That was all well and good when their debt could simply be rolled forward into a new low interest loan. But interest rates are rising, and the corporate bond market, especially the junk bond market, is teetering on the edge of some pretty severe rate increases. Companies are going to fall like dominos when that happens.

 

But the good news is that AA is too big to fail. Usually means chapter 11 bankruptcy, some concessions to the contracts, some furloughs, but otherwise a remarkably stable career compared to what regular folks went through during the great financial crisis.

Edited by Lord Ratner
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32 minutes ago, Danger41 said:

What’s the deal with radiotelephone operator license? Do you need to have it with you or just pay to play for it?

You need it with you.  They ask for it every CQ.  Just put it in your airline "war wallet" with your passport, medical, pilot certificate, yellow fever shot, COVID shot (likely if not already for some countries), etc and forget about it until somebody asks for it.

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35 minutes ago, Danger41 said:

What’s the deal with radiotelephone operator license? Do you need to have it with you or just pay to play for it?

Get rich scheme for someone along the way. Pay to get your “I wanna be airline pilot” card and you have to carry it with you during flight. 

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1 hour ago, TreeA10 said:

In 23 years, nobody has asked for it. 

Had a delta CA ask to see it, along with my medical, company ID, and ATP...when I was jumpseating on a 71.  Then he asked why I wasn't in uniform.🙄

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3 hours ago, brabus said:

Even his own CO allows business casual…but not surprised he didn’t know that. Douches exist everywhere. 

I’ve had less than a handful of bad experiences offline jumpseating. All of them were on Delta. Not shitting on them. The vast majority there are good dudes. It does seem like there is a contingent of captains there who are really enamored by their own authority though. 
image.jpeg.4515ffd7e14e06cab176f7042dcba0c7.jpeg

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53 minutes ago, Prozac said:

I’ve had less than a handful of bad experiences offline jumpseating. All of them were on Delta. Not shitting on them. The vast majority there are good dudes. It does seem like there is a contingent of captains there who are really enamored by their own authority though. 
image.jpeg.4515ffd7e14e06cab176f7042dcba0c7.jpeg

It’s the hat.

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5 hours ago, FourFans130 said:

Had a delta CA ask to see it, along with my medical, company ID, and ATP...when I was jumpseating on a 71.  Then he asked why I wasn't in uniform.🙄

 

 

Asking for the docs isn't a big deal.  I actually show up to every JS with them all out and ready to show, as this is what I was taugh by my LCA when I was at AAL.  But the uniform part, thats dumb...I'm guessing an ATL guy?  

 

 

54 minutes ago, Prozac said:

I’ve had less than a handful of bad experiences offline jumpseating. All of them were on Delta. Not shitting on them. The vast majority there are good dudes. It does seem like there is a contingent of captains there who are really enamored by their own authority though. 
image.jpeg.4515ffd7e14e06cab176f7042dcba0c7.jpeg

 

Yes sir, there are plenty...as with most things, a vast majority of the time, it's an ATL Captain.  

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Yes sir, there are plenty...as with most things, a vast majority of the time, it's an ATL Captain.  

Sure, I show up documents in hand…but only a few people take more than a cursory glance. One was an old DAL 75 CA, and the other couple have been regional jet CAs. Like yes, I’m trying to sit in this tiny CRJ jump seat just for fun.
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