I have two weeks to place my bets.
There was an announcement recently from my airline that I will no longer be able to hold my current status. I honestly did not see this coming. This is due to a reduction of planned flying due to the slowing economy.
In two weeks a computer will run a game of musical chairs. When the music stops I will have a different status/seat assigned to me.
This happened to me last year. I was displaced, but at the last minute (literally!), I was able to hold my status. The same might happen again.
With my current seniority I can easily stay in base on a different aircraft. The other aircraft pay rate is about $8/hr less than I currently make. I will likely be a line holder on it though, so I could earn close to what I do now by picking up overtime.
My other choice is to pick a higher paying aircraft in a different base......let's call this base Fargo. I would become a commuter. Over the last hour I looked at the schedules pilots slightly junior and slightly senior to me in Fargo were awarded for March and April. Most were line holders with commuteable lines. Those what were not line holders appeared to bid reserve on purpose (they probably live in base). If I bid the same base I would likely be a line holder as well. But will the extra $8/hr be worth it?
If I got an 80 hour line, the cash difference would be a considerable $640 month before taxes. I would spend at least $150 in commuting cost each month flying back and forth. To play it safe I would budget $100 a month for hotels (in case of cancellations). So at worst I would take home an additional $490 a month on average. That's how much I spend on my car payment and gas each month. If I were on the higher paying aircraft for a year that would be a $7000 difference.
Another problem to think about is that if I go to the higher paying aircraft in Fargo, I will be seat locked (but not base locked) until I upgrade to Captain or get displaced. I would not be able to come back to my current aircraft. My relative seniority in Fargo on the new aircraft is much higher than my seniority in my current base for the same aircraft, thus I would be a commuter for a while.
In all likelihood I will pick the lower paying aircraft in base. My contract allows me to change from a smaller (lower paying aircraft) to a larger (higher paying aircraft) whenever there is a vacancy.
A good friend of mine who was right below me in my current status transferred to Fargo a few months ago. He was displaced out of my base. Right now he is holding a line in Fargo on my current aircraft. With the reduction of flying they are removing 10 pilots from that aircraft in Fargo. He will likely be on reserve after the dust settles. I was worried about that situation which is why I chose to stay in base and not transfer to Fargo. Eh...choices.
I did talk to one pilot who lives nearby and is based in Fargo. He is able to trade most of his trips in Fargo for trips out of the local base and thus not commute. Not a bad option....but it's a lot of work and won't always work.
I have 2 weeks. Even after I make a choice....I'm not going to hold my breathe that I will actually change planes/bases. This is a constantly changing business, especially when you are toward the bottom of the seniority list.