Aeronautical Randomness
Are you happy with your decision?
July 1, 2014
18

Since March, I’ve heard that question countless times from family, friends, co-workers and blog readers.

The short answer? YES.

I thought I’d take some time to tell you why I love my new (old)  job.  Some items are major while others may seem a little trivial.  Some will comprehend these reasons more than others.

Please, read on… I think you’ll get the idea…

Pay

I’m now receiving better pay, benefits and retirement contributions.

Shorter commute

The commute to Newark is much shorter than to either of my old bases on the West Coast.  Admittedly, East Coast commutes present different challenges, but so far I haven’t had any major problems.

TDY

For July, I was awarded temporary duty at the Houston base.  I will receive positive space commute passes, company paid hotels and extra per-diem.

If it’s not a Boeing, I’m not going…

Just kidding.

I fully understand the intricacies of the A320 and love the large flight deck, side-stick and tray table.

I’m a huge fan of the Airbus product.

However, I absolutely love the way the 737 flies.  The flight deck is smaller and there is a large yoke that prohibits lounging on a trans-con.  But, it feels SO GOOD to hand fly the aircraft.  I enjoyed flying the 300/500 back in 2002-2003.  I’m really enjoying the 700/800/900ER.

Maybe someday I’ll write an objective piece on the pros and cons of Airbus vs. Boeing.

For now, I’ll say one wins on pilot comfort and the other prevails in handling.

More destinations

Since returning, I’ve flown to several cities not served by my previous carrier.  I’m still flying to Newark, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles.  But, in the last few months, I’ve also been to La Guardia, Phoenix, Denver, Pittsburgh, Spokane, Houston, Austin, Tampa, Billings, Wichita, Miami and Mexico City.   In July, I start branching out to a little more international flying.

This route network is more enjoyable to fly.  I’m not constantly flying out and back to the same couple of airports.

For example, here’s a trip from earlier this month:

  • Day 1: EWR-SFO – Layover downtown
  • Day 2: SFO-IAH-MCO – Short layover at the airport
  • Day 3: MCO-IAH-TPA – Layover in St. Petersburg
  • Day 4: TPA-EWR

We still fly some “turns” out of hubs, but we also have the opportunity to fly HUB -> Out Station -> DIFFERENT HUB.  For me, that makes a much more enjoyable four day trip.

The layovers

Any layover longer than fourteen hours stays at a downtown hotel.  For now, no more eighteen hour layovers wedged between the airport and a freeway.

Downtown layovers also come with private, scheduled transportation.  Let’s just say that hopping on a 5:00am van with twenty hotel guests and all their luggage is not my favorite part of being an airline pilot.

While I’m on the subject of hotels, allow me mention something I find a little peculiar.  At the last job, there were two hotels that we were told would not renew contracts with ANY of their airline accounts.  We were forced to find less desirable accommodations in those cities.  At this job, those hotel contracts are alive and well.  I just stayed at one in Las Vegas.  When I fly to Boston, it sure will be nice to walk to the hotel from the terminal.  Well, for short layovers… the long ones are downtown.

It's really great to return to places like Spokane, Washington.  We walked around Riverfront Park for a few hours on a layover.

It’s really great to return to places like Spokane, Washington. We walked around Riverfront Park for a few hours on a layover.

It had been years since I'd hung out in Phoenix.  This was taken at the end of a typical 100 degree day downtown.

It had been years since I’d hung out in Phoenix. This was taken at the end of a typical 100 degree day downtown.

Manuals

My flight and operations manuals are well written, indexed, searchable and hyper-linked in electronic format.  The information I need is easily accessible with a search and/or a few clicks.  The manuals don’t have hundreds of pages of bloat material inserted to satisfy content requirements.

Automation

Our flight plan and performance data are automatically up-linked to our flight management computer via the ACARS.  I no longer need to type a lengthy trans-con routing into the box.  The pre-departure clearance is also sent to the printer automatically when it becomes available. (Hey, I warned you… some of these things are trivial.  But, they make me happy.)

Pockets

My pant pockets are average depth for male pants.  My entire hand fits in my pockets.  I can also sit without my wallet and other things spilling out onto the floor.

While I’m on the subject, I must also admit that I’m more fond of a black suitcase, white shirt and blue tie than I ever thought possible.

Pilot crew rooms

All of our hubs have crew rooms and rest facilities dedicated to pilots.  Only pilots use these areas and they are staffed with professionals that support pilots.

I love interacting with coworkers.  But, pilots have specific needs for our job and I’m thankful these areas are available to us.

A contract

I really enjoy working under a contract.  The rules are clearly defined and cannot suddenly change with the stroke of an email.  Modifications must be negotiated.  While I respect that doesn’t always work in the “real world,” I find it imperative when employed by an airline.

Water and crew meals

Every time I board a jet, someone hands me a fresh one liter bottle of water.  This prevents me from wasting four small bottles of water.  Pilots need to stay hydrated.

When operating long flights, or with minimal downtime throughout the day, my airline feeds me.  The caterer brings meals that are dedicated to the pilots.

Block or better

If I fly a leg that takes longer than planned, I get paid for it.  After each flight, any extra time is added to my monthly pay.  Therefore, an extra hour of holding isn’t eroded away by six subsequent flights that arrive ten minutes early later that same month.

Deadheads

When deadheading in the back of the jet, I earn 100% of my hourly rate.  Better yet, if I’m forced to ride in a middle seat, I receive 150% pay.

In closing…

So, for this snapshot in time, I am really happy with my decision to take this new position.

The job is far from perfect and I clearly see where things could be improved.

However, I constantly compare the current issues we face to my experiences during both furloughs.  At any airline, a pilot must look at the entire picture when evaluating satisfaction with his or her place of employment.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the airport.

As many of you have noted through tweets, comments and emails, I’ve become a bit of a blog slacker.  If you come to my site for a peek into the life of an airline pilot, one post every three months just isn’t going to suffice.  I understand, and as time frees up, I’ll try and to publish more content.

If you like this blog, please share it with your friends using one of the social media buttons.  Thanks!

Just a random pic of the 737's master caution system.

Just a random pic of the 737’s master caution system.

About author

Renewed Pilot

I've endured a roller coaster career in the U.S. Aviation Industry. Currently flying the 737 on my third try with the same legacy carrier, I have also flown for a regional, fractional and start-up carrier. My piloting experience includes the 737, A320, 727, Citation Excel, Citation Bravo, Saab 340 and many light singles and twin engine aircraft. I reside in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

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There are 18 comments

  • Luke Simons says:

    Another great read. I couldn’t agree more! Especially about the manuals and the pants lol.

  • Mike says:

    I enjoyed this one too. Just as a lot of us were thrust into new careers in 2001/2001, today the lost decade is finally coming to a close and allowing pilot careers to return to normal progression. I regret not going back to the carrier that furloughed me, but I’m happy with the decisions I made. Reading yours just helped to solidify the reasons. A collective bargaining agreement is simply a necessity in aviation. I wish that it weren’t, but it is too easy for managers to neglect safety in favor of ‘getting the job done’. After 9 years at a non-union operator i’ve never been more thankful to have an enforceable agreement.

    • I know you have regrets. But, I think you’ve landed at a fairly nice place. Also, remember that if your decisions had been different, you may not have ended up living where you live. There’s a silver lining in all of life’s little forks in the road.

  • Cedarglen says:

    Thanks for catching us on the details. I’m delighted to hear that you are enjoying both flying and the finer details again. I continue to have mixed feelings about union representation, but in your business it is essential; water, crew meals, better hotels… who wudda thunk it? Nice to hear that you are enjoying it again. -CG

  • Elizabeth Latham says:

    Best catch-up ever, so glad to see your blog come up today. Brian your happiness and contentment really did shine thru on this posting and I am sure your family shares it with you.
    Fly it forward. Elizabeth

  • Cedarglen says:

    Addendum… I was almost ready to cut your blog from my reading list, but the current post suggests that I should remain. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your readers. I’ll stick around. -C

  • Erika says:

    Nice read! You (almost) make me like our company again..if only I were a pilot instead of an f/a..haha 😀

    • Oh, Erika… There’s a huge disparity in QOL on different sides of the flight deck door. I hope your side gets things hammered out, soon. It’s been way too long.

  • Cedarglen says:

    I believe that it would be FUN to see a few more, more regular posts, Brian. You have a LOT to offer. Thanks. -Craig

  • Don says:

    Hi Bri,

    Very glad you’re back. Bless you and yours…Don Dobias…Airbus Lover

  • Tom J says:

    Good to see you’re back!

  • Fast Eddie says:

    Welcome back! Guppy brothers and sisters. See you in the crew room…

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