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What Brabus said above.  I'll add to it that I'm guessing nearly every airline has "base housing," or a town/burb where lots of pilots live.  I'm sure they have it at multiple bases as well, but an example would be Peachtree City in ATL.  Lots of guys say they'd never live in a place like that, while others absolutely love it.  

 

If you're not committed to any one location yet, I'd consider not buying (especially in todays ridiculous market) until you get hired at your desired airline.  If you start planting roots in one location that isn't a hub, you may just be commuting yourself to a life time of commuting.  Just about every major base has great locations and you'll make friends pretty much anywhere...and if you live in base, you'll actually have time to hang out with said newfound friends. lol.  

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If you are apart of an airline can you post which one and the pros/cons associated with it?  I know most of it personal preference but it’s good to hear opinions on why you like / don’t like it as much. 

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10 hours ago, Ryder1587 said:

If you are apart of an airline can you post which one and the pros/cons associated with it?  I know most of it personal preference but it’s good to hear opinions on why you like / don’t like it as much. 

Can't do that without a lot of information about you.

 

As an example, most consider AA to have the worst contract. And even if we had profit sharing like Delta, our profits were far below theirs.

 

But.

 

I'm the type who enjoys loopholes and technicalities, so our contract (and the associated chaotic operations) are fabulous for me. I don't want the maximum income, I want the maximum pay/hours-worked.

 

Depending on if you count deadheads (when you ride with the passengers) as working, in the last twelve months I've made 2.7 hours for every hour I flew (3.5 if you don't count deadheads). That's on a non-reserve schedule, so I chose my days off and never have to take a trip I don't want. 

 

Each contract will offer different opportunities. Are you the guy who just wants to get a schedule and fly it? Make the most money possible? Spend the most nights at home? Fly widebody international? Be closer to family? 

 

It's hard to even know what you would want to do when you haven't been in the industry yet, which is why most will tell you to just pick the airline that has a domicile where you want to live. If you'll live anywhere, then look at the seniority projections, but realize those are about as reliable as the weather.

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Priority - the airline that has a base where you want to live (within ~2 hrs to enable short call...for when you have to do that. Closer the better just for general drive time to work).

Secondary - The first major that gives you a job; seniority is damn near everything. If you don’t get your priority airline out the gate, maybe consider jumping if they call you later, to a certain extent...at some point your seniority at the first airline won’t be worth trading. I don’t know what that line is, maybe 6-12 mo? I know a few guys who jumped at the year point and are happy they did it. Either way, very personal choice and dependent on a lot of personal factors. 

The rest of the discussion on contracts, etc. is a little bit of an exercise in masturbation. Contracts will rise and fall, airlines will go from worst to best and back to worst, etc. You weather those falls with seniority and living the life you want (location, etc.)

Bottom line: Apply to multiple and take what you get...cross the “swap bridge” when you get there (if at all). 

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Any Southwest guys care to weigh in? They weren’t on my radar for a long time but they are slowly becoming a top choice due to the amount of days off and how dense the trips are. They seem to be the most different from the legacies. 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Ryder1587 said:

Any Southwest guys care to weigh in? They weren’t on my radar for a long time but they are slowly becoming a top choice due to the amount of days off and how dense the trips are. They seem to be the most different from the legacies. 

Sure, I’m currently 4th year. SWA wasn’t initially huge on my radar either, but looking back and knowing what I know I probably would’ve targeted it. My guess is that’s what most guys from the other majors would say about their own airline too!

Cons:
- You’ll fly a 737…kind of cramped, non-Maxes are noisy, old timey overhead panel, etc. It’s a bigger deal to some than others depending on personal desire for variety or something big or going to the other side of the world. 
- Current year 1-4 pay lags the other majors, then it is about equal year 5 and moves ahead (of narrowbody scales) after that. Still, it doesn’t reach senior wide body pay elsewhere. 
- Days can get busy…3-leg days are probably average, 2 or 4-leg days are common, and 1 or 5-leg days exist (somewhat rare). So in a same duty day you’re doing more briefings, more up-down, ears popping, etc. I find it helps the day go by quicker than droning, but definitely tough to catch up on the Netflix que—I mean study the FOM. 
- Generally younger and evenly spread pilot group, so retirements trickle compared to other guys. Upgrade seems to always be at 8 years, give or take.

- No long call reserve, and nobody in the pilot group who has to go back to the sims because they’re overdue on landing currency. The game for senior guys at other airlines seems to be minimizing time at work while still getting paid. At SWA it’s maximizing pay for the time spent at work.

Pros:

- 11 domiciles around the country (except the PNW) so odds of being able to drive to work are fairly high. 
- Company stability…the airline is run by real nerds who stay for the long haul. 2020 was the first year in its 50 year history it hasn’t turned a profit, and its financials are always well ahead of industry-standard.
- Job security: I’ll keep this as a pro because it’s still true SWA has never furloughed a pilot. But I’d caution that past performance doesn’t equal future success, and last year there was an uncharacteristic demand from the company for pilot concessions, which when we didn’t agree to, resulted in furlough notices going out. It’ll be interesting to see if it foreshadowed a more “traditional” labor relations posture than we’ve historically enjoyed moving forward.
- Trip trade market: since everyone is qualified on the same aircraft you’ve got a robust ability to trade or pickup trips with other pilots or with the company (some of that can pay time and a half). Picking up flying to make more money is usually pretty easy (except during pandemics). The flip side is the only way to decrease your flying is to hope another pilot wants to take your trip from you, which is tougher to do in July than it is February. 
- Culture-wise, I won’t get too rah-rah other than to say it is exactly as it looks from the outside. The work groups pretty much all get along and nobody takes themselves too seriously. I haven’t flown with anyone yet who I wouldn’t fly with again. 
- Being home: I think 50% of trips are 3-days, and the remaining are divided between 1, 2, and 4 days. Average line is 3-on, 4-off (x4) or 4-on, 3-off (x3) plus a random day for 13 total days of work. And you’re never more than 3 time zones away, so you can stay in touch with the family, get business done on the road, or get home quick if there’s a family emergency.

- No language barriers, NATS procedures, non-radar environments, ATC driving you into thunderstorms, etc.

All told, it’s not perfect or everyone’s cup of tea (especially if they’ve got the widebody international itch), but it’s been a joy for me and never nearly as bad as some of the warnings I’d heard. Definitely a great place to spend a 30+ year career!

Edited by Hugo Stiglitz
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4 hours ago, Ryder1587 said:

how dense the trips are.

Honest question: why is this ("density") an attractive attribute?

I completely understand the attraction to commutable schedules, as well as having schedules which both maximize pay and time off simultaneously. However, "density" implies a lot of work in a short period of time.

Personally, I want to do as little as possible for as much pay as possible in a given unit of time. I want to maximize my credit-hour density, and not my actual work density.  In other words, let's say we're talking about a 5-day stretch that is worth 35 hours of pay.  Credit being equal between the two, I'd rather do four (or three!) flights with three long layovers in that 5-day stretch than 4 legs per day with 4 short layovers.

My point is, "density" of work in and of itself isn't a measure of how to maximize the combination of pay and time off simultaneously.  System form, trip rigs, min guarantees, etc, are what really determine this over the simple math of how many legs per day you're completing.

 

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Priority - the airline that has a base where you want to live (within ~2 hrs to enable short call...for when you have to do that. Closer the better just for general drive time to work).


Shack. I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it is to be less than 40 minutes from both my base and my guard unit. I bid reserve on purpose; sometimes long/most of the time short. There are days I get 3-4 hrs notice. Sometimes (rarely) it's a 4-day trip. A lot of times it's a 2-day or a day turn and I am back in my bed that night. I've gotten the call while I was mowing the lawn or working on the car and I was able to wrap things up and take a shower and pack and get out the door with time to spare. If you have the opportunity to live near a very junior base you can move up in the ranks on reserve pretty fast because a lot of Pilots are looking to get the hell out of there and move somewhere else so they don't have to commute more. I've flown with Captains that run off the airplane and asked me to shut her down because they're trying to make it to the next terminal so they can get home that night. Some have to stay in a hotel that night because they had no way to get back home and they're flying home on their off days. I couldn't imagine living that way.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Hacker said:

Honest question: why is this ("density") an attractive attribute?

I completely understand the attraction to commutable schedules, as well as having schedules which both maximize pay and time off simultaneously. However, "density" implies a lot of work in a short period of time.

Personally, I want to do as little as possible for as much pay as possible in a given unit of time. I want to maximize my credit-hour density, and not my actual work density.  In other words, let's say we're talking about a 5-day stretch that is worth 35 hours of pay.  Credit being equal between the two, I'd rather do four (or three!) flights with three long layovers in that 5-day stretch than 4 legs per day with 4 short layovers.

My point is, "density" of work in and of itself isn't a measure of how to maximize the combination of pay and time off simultaneously.  System form, trip rigs, min guarantees, etc, are what really determine this over the simple math of how many legs per day you're completing.

 

Another way to look at it is efficiency. Most amount of work in the least amount of time. Bidding strategery will vary depending on seniority and a few other factors. At AA, I will bid reserve when I have vacation because I'll get more paid hours while flying very little if at all. I fly 777 international because I can work 12 days, 4 three day or 3 four day trips, or less, 9 days is possible with the right seniority, and making more than a domestic pilot flying 15+ days.  

Edited by TreeA10
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Shack. I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it is to be less than 40 minutes from both my base and my guard unit. I bid reserve on purpose; sometimes long/most of the time short. There are days I get 3-4 hrs notice. Sometimes (rarely) it's a 4-day trip. A lot of times it's a 2-day or a day turn and I am back in my bed that night. I've gotten the call while I was mowing the lawn or working on the car and I was able to wrap things up and take a shower and pack and get out the door with time to spare. If you have the opportunity to live near a very junior base you can move up in the ranks on reserve pretty fast because a lot of Pilots are looking to get the hell out of there and move somewhere else so they don't have to commute more. I've flown with Captains that run off the airplane and asked me to shut her down because they're trying to make it to the next terminal so they can get home that night. Some have to stay in a hotel that night because they had no way to get back home and they're flying home on their off days. I couldn't imagine living that way.


I’m jealous bro. You’re living the dream
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3 hours ago, TreeA10 said:

Another way to look at it is efficiency. Most amount of work in the least amount of time. 

I want to do the least amount of work for the most pay in the shortest time period.  I don't understand the desire to do the "most amount of work" if the pay for less work over the same period is the same.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Hacker said:

I want to do the least amount of work for the most pay in the shortest time period.  I don't understand the desire to do the "most amount of work" if the pay for less work over the same period is the same.

Well it's not.

Narrow body example. I fly highly inefficient trips. 2-4 hours of flying for 10:30 pay, two days.

 

So to get a full month, I do 8 of those for 84 hours. 16 days of work, 16-32 flight hours, 8 nights away from home.

 

A highly efficient trip might pay 13:00 for a 2-day or 19:00 for a three day. So two of the first and three of the second equals 83 hours. 13 days of work, 78-83 flight hours, 8 nights away from home.

 

A third efficiency option are 8:00 turns (single day, two legs). Fly 11 of those, 88 flight hours for 88 hours of pay, home every night. Goes very senior.

 

I'm getting a much better pay/flight-hour, but pilots two and three get more days off. And a lot of guys I fly with who do just that will say "I don't mind flying the hours, I want more time off." More power to them. 8-hour turns are my hell.

 

What we want is not what they want. Thank God, because I wouldn't get what I want if the 12,000 pilots senior to me wanted it too.

Edited by Lord Ratner
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3 hours ago, Champ Kind said:

 


What are the reserve call out rules at SWA?

 

Blocks are usually 3 or 4 days. There’s a 14-hr daily availability period for early flights starting around 3am, and another starting around 11am that covers late ones. Have to make it to the airport within 2 hours if called during your period.

Trips are assigned based on how many days you have remaining, so if you’re the only one with 2 days left in your block and a 2-day trip drops, you’re getting it. You can set a “fly” preference (trips will be assigned by seniority) or “pass” preference (reverse seniority). Reserve days are rigged whether or not you’re used, and once assigned you get the higher of the reserve or trip rig. But unlike lineholders you don’t get reassignment pay, so you tend to get rerouted all over. Hopefully something we can fix…

Reserve utilization is high at SWA…it all depends on time of year and whether or not a pandemic is going on, but I usually wouldn’t get more than 3 or 4 days unused in a month. YMMV!

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Posted (edited)

Regarding the posts earlier about camaraderie, do crews hang out or socialize after work on a trip? I’m guessing the norm is to have dinner and a couple drinks in the hotel lobby.

How do you eat healthy when you’re always traveling from airport to airport and hotel to hotel? 

I understand airlines highly value those with FTU and UPT IP/EP experience. Do airlines value those with WO backgrounds as well? Which background/experience is more preferable for hiring managers?
 

 

Edited by Newb
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Regarding the posts earlier about camaraderie, do crews hang out or socialize after work on a trip? I’m guessing the norm is to have dinner and a couple drinks in the hotel lobby.
How do you eat healthy when you’re always traveling from airport to airport and hotel to hotel? 
I understand airlines highly value those with FTU and UPT IP/EP experience. Do airlines value those with WO backgrounds as well? Which background/experience is more preferable for hiring managers?
 
 

Can’t speak for every airframe, but in AMC WOs seem to initially spend a lot of time working in tactics and doing exercise planning, followed by a seemingly obligatory stint as Wing exec to “groom” them for command. Contrast that with an FTU or UPT IP, who’s going to do a lot of flying, with virtually all of it being IP time. From an hours perspective I know who wins out 6.9 times out of 7.


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1 hour ago, Newb said:

Regarding the posts earlier about camaraderie, do crews hang out or socialize after work on a trip? I’m guessing the norm is to have dinner and a couple drinks in the hotel lobby.

 

Generally speaking, if there is time, crews get together for dinner and beer at night.  On long layovers (30+ hours) I've rented cars and and went sightseeing (Glacier National Park, among others) with the Captain.  I was trying to get a 48 hour Paris, to try to get up to Normandy, then that bitch rona showed up and ruined everything.  On one trip the Captain reached out to me before the trip started and we set up an whole day on a long Boise layover.  We rented a car and went up into the mountains, rented 4-wheelers and had a blast.  Ended the day at an awesome brew pub near the hotel.  Then there are the slam-clickers...boooo!!!! 

 

Back to the general camaraderie part....one of my now good friends was someone from my indoc class.  We ran into each other a few years ago and figured out we live like 3 miles from each other.  Just had lunch with him today.  He flies in the Reserves so we have that other common ground as well. 

 

1 hour ago, Newb said:

How do you eat healthy when you’re always traveling from airport to airport and hotel to hotel? 

 

Domestically, I try to keep to 3 day trips max.  I'll cook some food to make 2 meals on the road, then I pack fruit, nuts and cliff bars to get through the day.  I also take a Black Rifle company pour over kit, grind up some coffee before I leave the house and I make my own coffee each the morning before pickup. Plenty of options out there for flight kit bags that double as a cooler.  

Internationally, I'd take a meal for the leg over and have the FAs warm it for me.  If carry whatever dried food International rules allow.  On the return leg, I'd usually either bring leftovers from the layover or hit up a grocery store and buy some stuff for a meal.  You can eat relatively healthy on the road it just takes some discipline and a little extra work.  

 

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22 hours ago, Newb said:

Regarding the posts earlier about camaraderie, do crews hang out or socialize after work on a trip? I’m guessing the norm is to have dinner and a couple drinks in the hotel lobby.

How do you eat healthy when you’re always traveling from airport to airport and hotel to hotel? 

I understand airlines highly value those with FTU and UPT IP/EP experience. Do airlines value those with WO backgrounds as well? Which background/experience is more preferable for hiring managers?
 

 

Varies on the crew, timing, location, etc. That being said, I've been to numerous dinners out with the entire crew, including flight attendants. Best have been Paris, Madrid, and Santiago. Lots of just pilots dinners, pubs, museums, tours, and hikes. Same sort of stuff happens on domestic trips but the international stuff sounds cooler. So, yes, crews do get together socially. 

I've taken the wife on lots of domestic trips with a long layover and a few international trips. Scored major points taking her to Paris and the Palace of Versailles for Valentines Day. 

Eating healthy gets tricky. Make good choices and don't eat everything that someone puts in front of you. The really dedicated guys bring their own food. I'm not that dedicated. 

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I've never seen a flight attendant after the shuttle dropping us off.  I think it is intentional that the FAs usually stay in different hotels in my airline.  Domestically, I had dinner or a beer with the captain probably 2/3 of the trips.

Eating healthy is very do-able.  As has been said, the first day or two you can bring food from home.  Other days I have walked to grocery stores and bought food for the next day.  The biggest problem with eating healthy is not necessarily the food you eat, but the volume.  You go out to dinner three nights in a row.  Almost every dinner I've ordered has been far more food than I would have eaten for dinner at home.  Chances are you won't be hungry later if you only eat half the burger and fries at the local pub.  I am very deliberate when eating on trips and didn't gain a pound the first year.  I also always packed running shoes and any layover >12 hours I used a run to explore the local area.

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15 hours ago, Smokin said:

I also always packed running shoes and any layover >12 hours I used a run to explore the local area.

You can’t go wrong with white new balance shoes. Appropriate for all occasions!

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While you're right that they look great and go with everything, especially a tucked in shirt and braided leather belt slung low to support the beer belly, I wouldn't wear them because I'd hate for someone to think that I'm pretending to be a captain when I'm really just a lowly flip switching FO.

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Don’t forget the cellphone holster. Also, remember your black dress socks are always approved for wear with any footwear, especially aforementioned white newbalance’s, but also with sandals and even flip flops. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, di1630 said:

How many vacation and sick days does an airline pilot get per year?

ALPA makes comparisons each time a company is in negotiations.  Here's a public one:

http://www3.alpa.org/portals/alpa/jetblue2/files/JetBlue Contract Comparison March 2015L - web.pdf

start around slide 20.

edit:  To understate it, vacation doesn't work anything like active duty leave.  If you don't have a trip on your schedule, you go where you want to go.  Want 2 weeks in Hawaii in June?  You'll only get paid for those 2 weeks if you bid and are awarded official vacation, but there are 1000 ways to get those 2 weeks free.  Once you have some seniority, there's almost no reason you can't do what you want when you want.  Only question is whether you're getting paid for those days off or not.

Edited by nunya
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