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Advice:

AA vs SWA.

I need to stay located for family in Phoenix and my priority is scheduling flexibility vs pay and I’ll be a TR reservist.

Any words?

SWA: Phoenix is fairly senior but prior to COVID the wisdom was that a new FO would hold any base they wanted within 6 months. With us hiring 1,500 new FOs this year, I hope that goes back to the norm.

Mil leave at SWA is about the easiest thing I have done. Fill out a form on your company issued ipad and you are done. No sending in orders or getting harassed by anyone. I am not even sure if SWA truly tracks the 5-year USERRA limit, unless you were to drop a long term AGR order or something.

As far as scheduling flexibility, SWA is pretty good. When I was commuting I would usually just give my whole schedule away and then pickup out of give away at my local base where I wasn’t senior enough to hold. We have something close to 6,000 FOs that all fly the same equipment as you and a good majority of them are greedy who will pick up your flying if you let them. I could clear a whole months schedule in about a day or so.

Pay lags behind the big 3 airlines in years ~2-4 but somewhat catches up according to what I’ve seen our Union post. Of course Capt upgrade is probably 10 years+ and that would still require you to commute to Oakland. We are in contract negotiations now and it seems like the pilot group is all pulling the same direction so hopefully we get some good meaningful improvements.

Hope that helps! I don’t come on here much anymore but I stop by now and then to check on all you guys. Let me know if you all have any questions!


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9 hours ago, di1630 said:

Advice:

AA vs SWA.

I need to stay located for family in Phoenix and my priority is scheduling flexibility vs pay and I’ll be a TR reservist.

Any words?

Can’t go wrong with either.  Lots of pros and very little cons to both.  

AA: upgrade is 4 years and decreasing (in general, PHX would take much longer).  PHX has been going to new hires.  PHX is only the 320.  If you can’t get PHX at Indoc, you could bid LGA/LAX 320 and subsequently get PHX 320 at your first vacancy bid, probably max 3-months after Indoc.  Lots of AA pilots living in PHX do 320 FO for a few years, commute to DFW/LAX 777/787 FO and/or upgrade to LAX 320 CA, then back to PHX 320 CA when they can hold it.  PHX 320 does a decent amount of Hawaii flying if that motivates you.  It’s relatively senior on the captain side but there’s so many retirements that the future will look much different.  Over half the seniority list is gone by 2026-2027 or so.  AA offers widebody options if that motivates you.  I don’t foresee a PHX widebody domicile, but who knows.  AA work rules (reassignments mostly) lag but that’s largely mitigated by living in base.  Best commuter policy in the industry.  Can drop to zero with surprising ease, the vocal minority who claims you can’t are either too lazy/scared to try or don’t know how.  AA has the worst, most incompetent management team by far.  That’s all relative though; AA mgmt is light years better than the toxic frauds across AD USAF that love to call themselves “leaders”.  
 

SWA:  10 year upgrade to sit reserve on weekends and holidays in OAK.  Much better balance sheet.  I’d say SWA management is better, but my SWA buddies say that the old Herb culture is long dead and the new mgmt is not good.  Better work rules that incentivize pilots to work hard.  SWA pilots are very productive and are compensated well for that.  You’ll work way harder as a SWA FO but be paid more for it.  Only the 737… it’s not a bad airplane but an entire career on it?  Yikes.  I have no idea how senior PHX is at SWA.  My buddies complain about a “Luke Mafia” and “Kernals” that think they’re still in the AF and can’t let it go.  I guess that could be a good or bad thing.  There are some threads on the SW forum of APC that would be worth a read.  I’d take that stuff with a grain of salt.

FWIW, apparently a dozen or so SW pilots left for AA over the past few months.  I’m sure some AA guys left for SW.  Grass is always greener type thing.  
 

 

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10 hours ago, di1630 said:

Advice:

AA vs SWA.

I need to stay located for family in Phoenix and my priority is scheduling flexibility vs pay and I’ll be a TR reservist.

Any words?

I'd lean toward AA and not just because I work there, but because it gives you more options.  As mentioned many, many times, our contract and work rules suck right now compared to others.  I foresee us finally solidifying a new one soon.  Doug is gone in a month and Robert "seems" motivated to get something on the books.  I will piggyback on the fact that the less-than-ideal work/scheduling rules get a little less annoying when you're in-base.  Add to that being a TR Reservist and the world is yours... kind of.  I hear the PHX to LAX commute isn't too bad if you have to deal with that for a while.  The only downside is that there aren't as many good trips out of LAX than other bases on the 320.

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I'd lean toward AA and not just because I work there, but because it gives you more options.  As mentioned many, many times, our contract and work rules suck right now compared to others.  I foresee us finally solidifying a new one soon.  Doug is gone in a month and Robert "seems" motivated to get something on the books.  I will piggyback on the fact that the less-than-ideal work/scheduling rules get a little less annoying when you're in-base.  Add to that being a TR Reservist and the world is yours... kind of.  I hear the PHX to LAX commute isn't too bad if you have to deal with that for a while.  The only downside is that there aren't as many good trips out of LAX than other bases on the 320.

Can you expand on contract and work rules?
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We have a lot of provisions that are not friendly to pilots, and heavily favor management. If you commute, the problems are exemplified... if you do what @Lord Ratner does, the issues are mitigated significantly.

Off hand: No double dipping, no reassignment premium pay except for actual time flown outside original sequence block in, Recovery Obligation for a sequence that has a Misconnect, Illegality, or Cancellation that extends to 0159 the day after for domestic, or +30 hours from block in for international, only 150% premium, premium is seniority based (great for those at the top), trips blocked for IOE rather than being bought off (can still be bought off, but less common), significant disagreements with Management on Notification rules, negligible profit sharing, a near incompetent IT team, Loss of License (LTD) monthly pay capped at 60% or $8k, whatever is less, 60 hours of sick time a year, no timeline to settle grievances so there are 100+ of them pending, and the company enjoys "Fly and Grieve" afforded to them by the RLA, etc.

 

All of these are largely Scheduling issues that can be fixed contractually. The other half of AAs problem are pilots who have seen the worst of the industry, and are 1) permanently jaded about life 2) constantly believe they should be made whole and are mad that it hasn't happened yet 3) refuse to learn how to manipulate our contract to their advantage 4) blame everyone else for not fixing their personal pet peeve (x6000 other pilots with their own personal pet peeve.)

 

Despite all the above, I still enjoy working here. If you live in a mega hub, you can make a lot of money by working very little comparatively. If a pilot gets wrapped on the Union forums or the Facebook groups... well, misery loves company... and there's several hundred vocal pilots who won't be happy until you agree with them on how awful everything is.

 

edit: still leaps and bounds better than AD, and I have more free time then I know what to do with. pilots having an entire second business is a real thing here.

 

Edited by xaarman
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A dude in my SWA new hire class (former AF pilot) did a year at SWA, leave SWA for American hated it and is now trying to get back to SWA.

All goes to show you that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Compared to AD any airline is better.

My best advice is whatever you do, live in base. Commuting sucks.


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8 hours ago, Duck said:

All goes to show you that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Compared to AD any airline is better.

Was AD with a guy furloughed from AA (~2006).  He’d been in class for the 72 panel on 9/11.  He had been in said class with a fellow new hire, who had come over from the left seat at a fledgling purple tailed cargo outfit.  No shit.

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A dude in my SWA new hire class (former AF pilot) did a year at SWA, leave SWA for American hated it and is now trying to get back to SWA.

All goes to show you that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Compared to AD any airline is better.

My best advice is whatever you do, live in base. Commuting sucks.


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Can you expand as to why he like SWA better?
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On 1/29/2022 at 9:09 PM, Duck said:

My best advice is whatever you do, live in base. Commuting sucks.

The pain of commuting depends on where you work and where you live.

Personally, they could not pay me enough to live in my base, and commuting is what makes the career worthwhile to both my family and I.

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2 hours ago, Hacker said:

The pain of commuting depends on where you work and where you live.

Personally, they could not pay me enough to live in my base, and commuting is what makes the career worthwhile to both my family and I.

This.  If none of the various airline domiciles are palatable for whatever reason, and you absolutely must commute, FedEx is the clear winner.  Getting paid to deadhead around the world to and from an airport of your choosing, while keeping the miles, can be a great deal.  You can do this at a surprising level of juniority.  Perhaps a UPS guy can chime in with their experiences… my impression is that it’s a better deal at FedEx, though.

Of course, the other side of that coin is days away from home.  My FedEx buddies make a TON of money and have fantastic work rules… but are also gone way more nights than I am.  They deadhead in biz class to Australia, Paris, whatever, fly around, deadhead back, home a week to 10 days later.  That’s awesome if you’re a commuter!  On the other hand, I manipulate my schedule much like Lord Ratner, dropping all of my trips and rebuilding with easy turns and 1-1s, with lots of deadheads, and mostly for premium.  I drive to work.  Less than 20 nights total away from home in 2021, with 4 of those being for my annual sims.  I average less than 1.33333 (repeating of course) nights away from home per month.  I make less money than my FedEx buddies (by a lot in a couple cases) but, overall, I’m home a lot more.

A few of my buddies ended up moving to Memphis to gain access to the type of flying I do at my legacy (turns, 1-1s, etc).  They hate Memphis but it’s worth it to them for the QoL/pay bump being able to drive to work provides.  Some others live in Random City, USA and bid for a week of trips that “overnight” (overday would be more accurate) in their city throughout, so they’re home sleeping while the kids are at school or whatever.  That sounds exhausting but again, to each their own.  Certainly a niche for everyone.  

I know Hacker knows all this, more for those still on AD contemplating where to go.  Tons of pros and very few cons wherever you end up…. but most definitely a thousand times better than the AD USAF cesspool. 

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Good points in reference to commuting. I live near my guard base and when I go back to the airlines will be 2ish hours from domicile. I would never live in the cesspit of my domicile.


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For me, it seems the decision boils down to this (assuming I still enjoy my AD job during the second half of my career).

Join the airlines now and get the seniority number, or

Do 20 (or more) years of service, get the medical/retirement benefits, then get that seniority number….

So, is the $50K/year + Tricare worth 8 years of seniority? 
 

Also, I’ve always wondered, is there a person who regretted separating at their initial ADSC and wished they stayed AD? I’ve never heard the other side of the story (maybe because it’s rare, or people don’t want to admit making the wrong decision).

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32 minutes ago, Newb said:

For me, it seems the decision boils down to this (assuming I still enjoy my AD job during the second half of my career).

Join the airlines now and get the seniority number, or

Do 20 (or more) years of service, get the medical/retirement benefits, then get that seniority number….

So, is the $50K/year + Tricare worth 8 years of seniority? 
 

Also, I’ve always wondered, is there a person who regretted separating at their initial ADSC and wished they stayed AD? I’ve never heard the other side of the story (maybe because it’s rare, or people don’t want to admit making the wrong decision).

For your first question, depends how much you value Tricare. But let’s say you retire at 42, you’ll have 23 years til mandatory airline retirement. So you gain  $50k x 23 years = $1.15M. 

What you give up by spending 8 years on AD is the 8 years at the end of your airline career (before mandatory retirement). So those are 8 years you could’ve been a senior captain. $350k annually is a very low bar to clear for those types, so you lose out on $350k x 8 years = $2.8M (minimum). 

That’s why conventional wisdom is conventional. ARC gives a happy medium of still having Tricare and getting some type of retirement while starting on the seniority list ASAP.

I personally don’t know anyone who’s even remotely regretted leaving AD, even guys who start at regionals. Even during bitter contract negotiations when everyone’s mad at the company and the company is playing games, nobody would trade that for SAPR training and non-vol PCS/TDYs. The post-9/11 furloughees might have a different perspective, but can’t predict that kind of thing. Gotta take the plunge in life sometimes!

Edited by Hugo Stiglitz
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1 hour ago, Karl Hungus said:

Perhaps a UPS guy can chime in with their experiences… my impression is that it’s a better deal at FedEx, though.

FAR better commuter situation at FedEx. UPS has a similar “travel bank” but you only keep 2/3 & it expires if you don’t use it. You are not allowed to use travel bank funds to purchase a ticket unless you were authorized a ticket in the first place. Basically what this means is that the travel bank is only useful for covering the difference in ticket costs. Example: You have a trip that starts with a commercial from Louisville to Minneapolis. If you lived in Denver and had travel bank funds available you could use them to cover any cost difference in the ticket. That’s really it. Can’t even use travel bank to upgrade class of service. One of the biggest differences between Brown & Purple IMO and could be a factor if someone had a choice between the two.

On the flip side, if you are based anywhere outside ANC at UPS it is relatively easy to commute on a browntail and you are protected by the commuter policy if you had a confirmed seat and are bumped for some reason (only if on a UPS aircraft). ANC can be a bit trickier depending on where you live. It can be difficult if going through SDF thanks to the pure volume of people attempting to do that commute. West Coast generally has a lot of offline options available but no protection if you’re jumpseating and your plan falls apart. The good news is that the pay is good enough that you might not mind buying a ticket now and then to remove some of the stress.  
 

I agree with posters above stating that living where you want is one of the major perks of the job. If you can manage to be domiciled someplace where you want to live, congratulations, you’ve basically won the lottery. But I wouldn’t let the prospect of commuting steer you away from a good job. The one thing I wouldn’t recommend is commuting to both an airline and an ARC job. 

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6 hours ago, Newb said:

 

So, is the $50K/year + Tricare worth 8 years of seniority? 
 

Also, I’ve always wondered, is there a person who regretted separating at their initial ADSC and wished they stayed AD? I’ve never heard the other side of the story (maybe because it’s rare, or people don’t want to admit making the wrong decision).

1. One thing most young folk don’t think about/realize (and I didn’t either until a Reservist educated me), is that once you turn 65, under current law you have to pay for Medicare part A AND part B, for Tricare to then kick in as your supplemental insurance (unless you have a qualifying disability). So for most people, Tricare for life (TFL) is really only the most financially beneficial between your AD retirement and 65. Unless of course you have a family member who is EFMP, etc that has a lot of expensive medical bills…obviously changes the math for some in that position. Also, are you gonna live/retire near a large military hospital/installation or in a city that has a lot of (good) doctors who will accept Tricare? (Why does San Antonio have so many retirees again?!—great town, not knocking it, just making a point).
 

Food for thought. 
 

2. Short answer, no, I’ve yet to talk with/run into anyone who regretted making the jump at their commitment. I’m sure for some the airlines haven’t cracked up to be everything they thought it would be, but even so, all of them have consistently said it’s been far and away better than staying in and in general didn’t regret it. Maybe there’s some out there, but I’ve yet to hear them be honest in admitting it if so. 
 

Edit: clarity. 

Edited by WheelsOff
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7 hours ago, Newb said:

Also, I’ve always wondered, is there a person who regretted separating at their initial ADSC and wished they stayed AD? I’ve never heard the other side of the story (maybe because it’s rare, or people don’t want to admit making the wrong decision).

Here are my thoughts: I missed the camaraderie of squadron life. I missed being around mission focused people coming together to get a job done. I missed running a mission in a complex, dynamic environment. (Part 121 flying is boring by design) My wife missed the built in support group. There is a lot I didn’t miss….the negatives are covered ad nauseam in other threads.
 

I haven’t looked back though. You’ve obviously done some research…the money is far better than AD. But it’s the QOL upgrades that make it truly worth while. When I’m done with a trip, I go home until the next one. Simple as that. No 2 hour post flight paperwork session & debrief. No additional duties. No exercises. No inspections. My time off is my time off. Period. I live where I want which means my wife and I are near family. My kids see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins far more than they ever could if I had stayed in. I lost a parent a couple years ago and have another dealing with MS. I’m very glad to have had the ability to spend time with the one that passed and to be around for the one with health issues. My wife has been able to put down roots & finally focus on her career. In addition to having a nice second income, it has been a boon to her sanity (happy wife, happy life). 
 

For all of those reasons, leaving the AF has turned out to be an excellent decision for me personally. I look back at my AD career with fondness, but it’s a chapter of my life that’s closed. That said, I know guys who tried the airline thing and said F that. Some personalities will not jive with the monotony, regardless of other benefits. Of course for many, this can be mitigated by buying an RV-8 & getting your upside down fix in your spare time (or taking up any number of other expensive hobbies…..currently researching carbon mountain bikes for when ski season closes). 

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Here are my thoughts: I missed the camaraderie of squadron life. I missed being around mission focused people coming together to get a job done. I missed running a mission in a complex, dynamic environment. (Part 121 flying is boring by design) My wife missed the built in support group. There is a lot I didn’t miss….the negatives are covered ad nauseam in other threads.
 
I haven’t looked back though. You’ve obviously done some research…the money is far better than AD. But it’s the QOL upgrades that make it truly worth while. When I’m done with a trip, I go home until the next one. Simple as that. No 2 hour post flight paperwork session & debrief. No additional duties. No exercises. No inspections. My time off is my time off. Period. I live where I want which means my wife and I are near family. My kids see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins far more than they ever could if I had stayed in. I lost a parent a couple years ago and have another dealing with MS. I’m very glad to have had the ability to spend time with the one that passed and to be around for the one with health issues. My wife has been able to put down roots & finally focus on her career. In addition to having a nice second income, it has been a boon to her sanity (happy wife, happy life). 
 
For all of those reasons, leaving the AF has turned out to be an excellent decision for me personally. I look back at my AD career with fondness, but it’s a chapter of my life that’s closed. That said, I know guys who tried the airline thing and said F that. Some personalities will not jive with the monotony, regardless of other benefits. Of course for many, this can be mitigated by buying an RV-8 & getting your upside down fix in your spare time (or taking up any number of other expensive hobbies…..currently researching carbon mountain bikes for when ski season closes). 

This is a great summary, and second how boring 121 flying is but it is easy work overall. Until you get the captain that wants to pontificate on how the passengers prefer when you use the archaic autopilot methods for comfort blah blah blah yeah, Jim…they don’t care.
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Don’t discount the boring flying. It’s dreadfully boring. It’s seriously the worst part of the job. 
 

on the pro-20 year retirement side:

-the $50k+ per year just for breathing makes it a lot easier to deal with airline stuff … especially the first 4-5 years when that’s a significant portion of your total income. Furlough … meh. Drop a trip every month for Qol … meh.   You have a house payment and groceries as long as you’re breathing. That’s not nothing. 
 

-Tricare … “standard” is effectively free. Similar coverage (at delta) costs about $800/month for a family. Also good as long as you’re breathing (assuming congress doesn’t fuck us). That’s not nothing. 

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1 hour ago, HossHarris said:

Don’t discount the boring flying. It’s dreadfully boring. It’s seriously the worst part of the job.

The other way to look at it is that it is the best part of the job.

I'm happy with it being completely devoid of anything approaching excitement. Another way to put that is "safe".

I go look elsewhere outside of work to scratch the "fun flying" itch, and I can control the frequency and intensity of that exposure to risk.

 

Edited by Hacker
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5 hours ago, WheelsOff said:

Unless of course you have a family member who is EFMP,

This was the core reason I stayed in to 20.

Plus, the ability to put my special needs kid in line for a portion of my pension through SBP.

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11 hours ago, Hacker said:

The other way to look at it is that it is the best part of the job.

I'm happy with it being completely devoid of anything approaching excitement. Another way to put that is "safe".

I go look elsewhere outside of work to scratch the "fun flying" itch, and I can control the frequency and intensity of that exposure to risk.

 

 

Hacker Johnson is right!  Although I don't really consider it boring because I genuinely enjoy flying pretty much anything I can get my hands on, boring is good in your money maker career.  With the exception of CT HABFM rides with a bro, leading a 4vX DCA ride will never be topped wrt to fun/excitement/challenge.  However, as you get older, planning/briefing/debriefing those rides loses it's luster, especially when your neck/back give out, the .gov cuts your flying hours causing more sims and you have to listen to yet another speech reminding you not to rape someone.  Considering my last 4 deployments have been absolutely worthless with no real sense of satisfaction or feeling of making a difference, the idea of being a part of team working toward a goal has long died with me....so I may be a bit jaded lol.  Anyway, boring allows me a lot more time off and way more money to do the things I consider fun/exciting.  Like was already said, use the extra cash to buy an RV-8 (better yet, a Stearman) for fun flying. 

Edited by SocialD
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On 2/1/2022 at 8:56 PM, HossHarris said:

Don’t discount the boring flying. It’s dreadfully boring. It’s seriously the worst part of the job. 
 

on the pro-20 year retirement side:

-the $50k+ per year just for breathing makes it a lot easier to deal with airline stuff … especially the first 4-5 years when that’s a significant portion of your total income. Furlough … meh. Drop a trip every month for Qol … meh.   You have a house payment and groceries as long as you’re breathing. That’s not nothing. 
 

-Tricare … “standard” is effectively free. Similar coverage (at delta) costs about $800/month for a family. Also good as long as you’re breathing (assuming congress doesn’t us). That’s not nothing. 

There’s a lot of peace of mind “$50K per year for breathing” can offer you.  I was diagnosed with and beat cancer as a young Capt.  The AF paid for every dime of my initial and ongoing treatment and has allowed me to continue flying to this day.  There are A LOT of medical issues that can torpedo your ability to maintain a FAA medical certificate.  It’s nice knowing that when I retire in 4 years my family will be taken care of if something happens (medical, furlough, etc) that prevents me from making a living in the airlines. 

Edited by Runr6730
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On 2/2/2022 at 10:11 AM, SocialD said:

use the extra cash to buy an RV-8 (better yet, a Stearman) for fun flying. 

'Merica.

I like flying someone else's airplane with someone else paying for gas.

954479497_StearmanHello.jpg.acb6e03aab73104486f59c4d24f5dcbe.jpg

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1 hour ago, Hacker said:

'Merica.

I like flying someone else's airplane with someone else paying for gas.

 

Fuck ya!  

...and insurance, hangar, oil, etc...lol.  It's hard to argue with that, especially since I have an open invitation to fly a few N3N's for the price of gas.  Though we do love having our own and we probably won't part with her, I sure wish we had a decent museum like that nearby.   Bring her to Galesburg this year!

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