January was a very slow month for me. I flew all of 18 hours. January is historically very slow for airlines. Most of my flying was done with zero passengers on board. My airline uses the slow month to do major matenence on planes. Several planes took turns being flown to the paint shop. I flew at least 4 back and forth for various checks. I think I only flew 5 hours of revenue flights.
A few days ago I was sitting in the crew room talking to a friend of mine I met while at ATP. He is at my airline but based elsewhere. Over the last year he flew more than double the hours I flew. This is mostly due to his base having much more flying than mine and the fact that he puts himself on a “turn back list” since he commutes. My airline allows pilots who commute to request to be sent out for more flying out of seniority order. This allows the commuting pilot to possibly avoid having to pay for a hotel in base. This is how it works.
I live in base. Let's assume you commute to my base. I am junior too you. In normal operations scheduling assigns open flying from the bottom of the list to the top. This allows senior pilots to enjoy time at home while getting full pay.
Since you commute, if you don't get assigned an overnight flight you have to find somewhere to sleep. To avoid having to pay for a hotel you put yourself on a list to get assigned additional flying BEFORE it goes to someone junior. Thus when a flight opens up that both of us are legal for, it will go to you before they call me. This is fine with me as I get paid the same if I fly zero hours or 5 hours. This is fine with you as you can save $35 on a hotel. Win/Win.
For January I got a reserve line. This was only due to senior pilots failing too bid. The reason? Bids closed for January on December 19th. Most months of the year bids close on the 20th. Maybe pilots associate the 20th with bids being due. Well in December at least one was caught off guard. He was assigned whatever line he could hold after all bids were counted. The only line left? My normal airport reserve line.
For February the same thing happened but to a greater extent. The bids closed on January 19th. Several pilots forgot to bid. One friend of mine who has been here for almost 5 years forgot to bid. The airport reserve lines went quite senior due to pilots failing to bid. Once again I got reserve.
The reserve line I was awarded works perfectly as I plan on accompanying my wife to a doctors appointment in February. For those who don't follow me on Twitter (I send out tweets (I hate that word) several times a day!) I am going to be a father sometime in August. This is our third try at being parents. The first two times ended very early in miscarriages. We are now further along than we have ever been.
It will be a challenge raising a child while being so junior at my airline. Eventually things will get better. Thankfully my wife has a very flexible work hours.
My last day of “work” in January was on the 21st. On January 22nd I am went to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. One perk of working for an airline means I can go to a lot of auto shows. Over the last year I have attended the North American Auto Show, New York Auto Show, Los Angeles Auto Show and the Tokyo Motor Show. In the past I have also visited the Chicago Auto Show.....but it wasn't very good. Won't go again.
Today I am in Miami for a 5 day cruise with my in laws. I booked the cruise using InterlineRates.com. There are several websites offering discount travel for people working in the travel industry. One well known site is Perx.com. They have a great website and nice discounts, but they charge booking fees....as high as $25 a person. On the cruise I am headed out on the booking fees for the 7 of us going would have been $175. Ouch. No thanks.
I am pretty sure February will be just as slow as January. I will try and blog a little more. Only so many blogs can be written about fairly routine flights.