This are a couple of questions that some people have asked me through email and I just wanted to post them here. Basically, I'm copping out of another day of blogging. I am in no sense bitter but I'm just telling you how it is! Enjoy!
How many hours do you work a week? And what type of schedule do you keep?
Well, currently, I am on a 4 days on, 3 days off type of schedule. That consists of about 20-25 flight hours for those four days but working anywhere from 6-11 hour days in terms of total duty. Total duty consists of the time in between flights and the other times in terms of waiting for you aircraft, arriving 45-60 minutes early prior to you trip, etc. One day, I flew 4 hours but was on duty for about 14. If you were to calculate how much I got in pay that day, I receive 4 * 19.02 + 14 8 1.5 (which is my per diem rate at ASA) = $97.08 which then further equates to about $6.90 /hr. We are limited to a scheduled duty day of 14 but can be extended due to weather / company delays to 16 hours. Don't let the pay get you down but you can do more research at www.airlinepilotcentral.com <-- they have all the payscales there for you.
Does it rotate or is it pretty much set?
We have a bidding schedule like most airlines which consists of you choosing what type of schedule you want for the month in advance in terms of what days on or off you want. For the new month of August, I am working Thursday - Sunday the entire month. That is my set schedule. Next month, as my seniority goes up, I can get a better schedule with semi weekends off or whatever days that I might need next month off. In the beginning, because you are junior, you will be on reserve for a little while which basically means that the days that you are on duty, you have about 2 hours to show up to the airport and be ready for a flight when operations call you. You are not going to get paid either until you show up at the airport for that assignment.
What is a typical day for you as an airline pilot?
It's really hard to type this all out. I would much prefer if you would give me a call and ask me so that I can explain it to you. Today for instance, I had to show up at work by 1505 that meant that I left my house by 1405 so that I can get to the employee parking lot, park my car, take the employee shuttle to the crew lounge (not a lounge by any means) and check in then hurry to my aircraft in order to arrive 45 minutes prior to my departure time which was 1605. I flew my trip today which included a aircraft that had the autopilot deferred so that was a task in and of itself to Brunswick, Georgia and back. I logged a total of 1.9 hours flight time and arrive back home at 2000. So, I was on duty for about 5 hours, I works only 1.9, I got about $50.00 but because I was junior manned for this trip (they assigned it to me outside of my schedule that i bid for last month) I will be getting time and half or the greater of 3.5 times my regular wage rate which in this case is greater. 3.5 * 19.02.
Are there any other programs/ duty tasks that an airline pilot has to take care of other than basic pilot shenanigans?
Taxes are definitely a different type of deal as an airline pilot. You can write off a lot of things that are incidental to you job and your per diem is non-taxable too. You have to learn all that stuff that has to do with taxes as a pilot. Totally different. You just have to also be able to learn fast, get along with a whole slew of different types of characters, and just deal with a lot of BS. That's what it basically comes down to. I have a crash pad in ATL which I pay for about $200.00 a month so that means that I share a room with 2 other guys. They are my friends so its all good. I commute to ATL from San Diego so that's a kicker. It makes me a little tired, but ATL isn't that great in comparison. I have friends and family there so its all good and worth it to me.
What are some of the advantages/ disadvantages of working for the airlines?
The travel benefits are the best, but as far as traveling while working (like having an overnight in Albany, GA) isn't going to make it worth it. The disadvantage is that it isn't like it use to be. That's basically it. The travel benefits are also impossible to take advantage of during the summer when everyone is travelling because you probably won't be able to get on due to the full loads.
What happens to a pilot if he/she can’t maintain a class one flight physical? Do they keep them or kick them out?
There's a chance to somehow get it back through the help of the union / FAA but it depends on whether you have been here "long enough". I heard of a guy losing his medical, and now he's an instructor. If you cannot maintain a class I then of course, you cannot be a commercial airline pilot or act as PIC (Captain) If you weren't here that long to learn the gig, then I'm not sure what they would do with you because you aren't worth that much to them. We are just a commodity.
What’s the upgrade training like for the airline?
Upgrade training is a two week course where you go through all the things of being a Captain. Learning the checklists, what do to here and there, making sure that you have some type of command authority and that you just know your aircraft out and in. I'm not sure because obviously I haven't crossed that bridge yet. My Captain this afternoon said that she was notified 2 days prior and that she had to learn everything really really quickly.
Is it best to get into smaller Regional airlines before getting into a larger company i.e. Delta (that is, of course, you have a choice)?
I personally don't see a difference. If you could skip the CFI gig, and the regional gig too then all the more to you. You might have some people in your class that think you might not belong there, but who are they to judge. You definitely learn quite a lot in the regionals but a major is where you want to end up anyways. I have heard of some guys making it a career and I have in no doubt that if it happened to be that way that its all good. In the end, you fly planes!
As far as the CAPT program is concerned, what was the hardest part of it? Do you have any suggestions to better prep for it, or rather, get through it?
Study hard, know your material and just keep positive. Everyone there is there to teach you and you are there to absorb as much as you can in as little time. It's a great environment that promotes learning but if is up to you to make that your advantage. If you really want to prep for it, just start reading and learning. Learn about the weather. www.aviationweather.gov There are numerous websites to help you out. I mean, its all over the internet!
I answered your questions the best that I could and I hope that I was able to give you some insight. Take it easy and I hope to see you on the line soon!