Friday, August 31, 2012

Games people play

I start recurrent ground on Saturday. Had a 2 day trip Thursday and Friday. This will be a short post.

My wife works in an office. All her co-workers are...well co-workers. She doesn't understand why I am so adversarial with scheduling.

I'm not rude, but I'm not friendly either. I am very matter of fact. All contact between me and them is by the book. If I have to contact them I will, otherwise I play the game.

My training for recurrent starts Saturday and is 10 days long. I have one day off in the middle.

Our crew scheduling software has issues recognizing training days and training days off.

When I arrived to start my 2 day trip the computer stated I had a 7 day conflict as the software showed me working 12 days in a row. There was a message to call crew scheduling.

I didn't feel like waiting on hold for 15+ minutes. Instead I went into the Chief Pilots office and advised them of my issue. They have a direct line to scheduling. They called for me. Scheduling knew I was there. Done.

Due to Hurricane/Depression/Storm Issac my overnight was canceled the day BEFORE I started my trip. I simply had 2 day trips (glad I don't commute!).

First turn was long....a bit of weather. Sixty knot winds at 1500 feel AGL.....40 knot winds at the surface. Bumpy approach and later a bumpy takeoff and climbout. Done.

Next turn was short. Low clouds at 300 feet AGL...full ILS approach. I still love the adrenaline rush during a full ILS...will the approach lights be visible? Will the runway be visible? Both were. Done.

Heading back to the hub I requested our gate assignment using ACARS. Along with the gate came crew assignments. I was expecting nothing as my overnight cancelled. However I was assigned a different overnight theory.

My contract has lengthy sections covering reassignments. Since I was the bottom guy for 2+ years I have become very knowledgable in my contract. This was an attempt to reassign me. It wasn't a legal reassignment per the contract. Two way communication is required. A representative of management or scheduling would have to meet me at the gate and talk to me in person to reassign me. If that occured I would ask them what section they are using to reassign me and I would need time to prepare as I was not expecting an overnight. I needed to eat and make sure I had supplies for the overnight (contact lenses, appropriate clothes and such).

Arrived on time. Pulled into the one there. I did my post flight and headed out the door. My phone began ringing, but I chose not to answer. I pay my cell phone bill, not my company. I could just as easily not have a cell phone. It rang several times. Google Voice handles all my phone calls. I saw I had a few voicemails from scheduling. Headed home.

Staffing the airline isn't my issue. I am bound by my contract. I follow it. If management and schedulers fail to comply...that's their issue. I slept in my bed last night just fine.

This morning I read my voicemails (again Google Voice is awesome, free transcription). Scheduling vaguely threatened me with a "missed assignment" for not calling them back as they stated I was contractually bound. A "missed assignment" goes on my permanent record. I wasn't worried. I checked my record. Still clean. They made that statement hoping I would get "scared" and call them back....many have made that mistake before.

Burn me once...shame on you.....never going to burn me again.

Back to studying my profiles, limitations and memory items.


  1. I'd email compliance telling them they "threatened" you for following the contract. My airline has had issues like
    this lately and the union wants to hear about it.

  2. I hear you on the contract!

    At my company (not in any way aviation related) we used to have quite a flexible and genial approach to our working arrangements and gradually they have whittled down or contracts and started enforcing many rules. So now where I used to do things like pay for small items and not claim I feel it only right that I claim everything I am entitled to taking me more company time to complete - every day it leads to the erosion of goodwill!

    Sorry if that sounds like a rant - really enjoy your blog and feel it only right to comment once in a while to let you know....

    You never tell us the routes you fly - is that on purpose? I suspect it is but thought I'd ask anyway.

    All the best, and I hope the recurrent doesn't frazzle your brain!

    Dave from the UK

  3. Yeah I keep the routes secret so I can be more open about other things about my job. I am working on a crazy flight trough ORD recently airport I truly despise and do my best to avoid. Should be up...sometime soon.

  4. I hear you, loud and clear, especially on the contract-specific issues. That said, (as a long-time reader) I also conclude that 1) you enjoy flying and 2) ndo not enjoy 'working.' I don't know what else to call it. Your readers often hear about your monthly bids and the results, but virtually none of them see to suit you. Bidding and resulting schedules are up to you - and of course contract details (senority) and FAA regulations about flight time and 'on-duty' time etc. I doubt that you carrier's schedules violate either. What I truly don't understand is why the bid schedules never seem to be to your liking. To rephrase that, the schedules are about legal (FAA) compliance, contract rules and whatever your seniority allows you to hold. And lastly, lets not forget that while your occupation does require you to be away from home more 'nights' that you would like, at the end of the month, you enjoy far more off-duty hours at home, particularly contiguous hours, than do most workers in similar professions and at similar wages. While I most certainly do not want to be unkind and I DO understand your beefs, I also sense some other, underlying dissatisfaction with your chosen work. I won't attempt any guesses, but I *hope* that you don't take them onto the flight deck with you.
    I apologize for being so direct and I do not mean to be confrontational, not at all. That said, something is amiss here and I hope that you know what it is. On the bright side, you do not have to commute! Far too many in shoes of about your size do commute and that only adds more to the stress levels. On the whole, it slooks like you've got a reasonably good situation, especially when compared with your seat/hours/years peers. Why does that package make you so unhappy?
    Best wishes and Happy Landings, -C.

  5. I've lately been bidding for certain days off as my top priority. I need two week days off to be able to stay at home with my daughter and save on daycare cost. The trips I get vary from decent to just bad. Trip trading is huge at my airline.

    On my old aircraft I almost never traded trips as the stage lengths were longer and...well it was less work. When I bid for days off I was content with the resulting trips.

    On my new aircraft the stage lengths are often shorter...meaning more legs and more work. In addition shorter stage lengths, the trips aren't built well.

    While the schedules are legal....they aren't always productive. Several trips have 1-4 hour sits in airports in the middle of the day.I hate sitting around. I prefer schedules that are non-stop flying. It's hard to find them some months.

    For the trip in this post it was originally a 4 day trip. Due to my training starting on day 3 I was pulled from the rest of the trip. I was okay with the original resulting 2 day trip including the overnight. Once the overnight cancelled I was content with the remaining trip. When they tried to play the game and reassign me.....without following the contract...I was not content.

    Don't get me wrong I love my job. There's not a day that goes by that I wish I had a different profession. Even on really crappy days where I have to deal with weather delays, mechanical issues, "interesting" Captains and more....I still love my job. I haven't once thought about quitting and walking away.

    That being said, I don't always like the conditions imposed by my employer....but thus is life at a regional. I have friends at Air Wisconsin, Skywest, Expressjet, ASA, Pinnacle, Compass, Eagle, Mesa and Great Lakes.....they all have their pluses and minuses.

    September is big for me. I take my First Officer ATP ride in about a week...then I go to Germany for a week....then I start applying to Delta and maybe United. Delta just opened their hiring window....United (Continental side) is rumored to open their window soon.

  6. Thanks, Geek. Again, 5x5. That recurring gound and the ATP may be inconvenient and even annoying, but the include huge benefits for you, as a professional flyer and for me as a nearly 'professional' rider. Heck yes!! when the Legacy Carrier's horing windows open, do your thing. When (not if) you are hired, you already know that your life and personal schedule will be even worse for a year or two. You know the details far better than do I. Just the same, please keep that stuff out of the cockpit. I wish that your page had a "Contact Me" button (If there is, I sure cannot find it.) as I have another point, one best addressed privately. Short of said button, you should be able to back-track my address. Study hard, do your best for your ATP check (of course!) and consider all of it as a positive investment in your career - **and in your family**. As always, Happy Landings, -C

  7. There used to be a contact me...but I got so much spam in less than 2 days I took it down. If you click on "About" there is an email address you can shoot me an email. It's Geek AT

  8. Got it. Sadly, sometimes we just have to s p e l l it out and say 'at' or other means. Back to you in a few days. For now, please don't worry about it and stick with your training schedule. Happy Landings and fly safe. -C.


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