Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Minute Men

I think I'm turning in to a grumpy old man.

Finished March. Happy to move on to a new month, schedule and crew.

My Captain last month was a "minute man". I'll explain.

Per my contract I am paid f or my line value each month plus any extra. Say I am a awarded an 80 hour line. The least I will get paid for the month is 80 hours. Even if every flight cancels I get 80 hours of pay. Not all airlines have this, some will deduct pay for cancellations.

Now lets say each week I fly a 20 hour trip (4 weeks in a month to keep it simple). To make it easy lets say it's 10 legs a week and each leg is blocked for exactly 2 hours.

I am paid block or better. Thus if I over block half the legs by 5 minutes, that's an extra 25 minutes for the week. If I do that all month that's an extra hour and forty minutes for the month. So I would get paid 81 hours 40 minutes for the month.

However if just one of those flights cancel....all the extra is gone (per contract). Also in the contract is cancellation pay. I get paid for the cancelled flight, but any overages under the flight time go away. Thus if 1 two hour flight cancels, and I over blocked by 1 hour 40 minutes, then my pay goes back down to 80 hours. If I somehow overblocked by 2 hours 5 minutes I get paid 80 hours 5 minutes.

In March I was pulled from an overnight due to being late. The overnight and return flight were worth almost 4 hours. Thus I didn't care a bit about over blocking. Actually I rarely care about over blocking.

My Captain for March on the other hand had no cancellations or misconnects. He was tracking each minute.

One thing I can't control on the ground is how fast (or slow) we taxi. My March Captain would purposely taxi at a snails pace....just to add a few minutes to the flight. At least once a ground controller asked us to pick up the speed as there were several flights behind us.

As long as we arrive within 14 minutes of scheduled arrival time, the Department of Transportation counts us as being on time.

Our departure and arrival times are automatically reported by an onboard computer.

It got so petty that my Captain would yell back to the lead flight attendant to not open the door for a few seconds until the clock ticked over to the next minute.

For April my Captain is also a minute man. I'm happy with whatever my bid line gaurantee is. Sure over the course of a year, a minute or two here or there adds up. For me it's not worth it as one silly cancellation or misconnection wipes all the extra out for the month.

Enough of that rant.

Time to go look for food. Day 2 of a 4 day. It's still winter in the north. Guess the memo that it's spring is lost in the mail?


  1. I think it's pretty awful that your company's pilots would deliberately make their flights late, and disrupt other ground traffic, simply to make more money. Couldn't that actually be considered criminal fraud if taken to an extreme? Certainly it's totally amoral at the least. Even if the plane can still be "on time" if 14 minutes late, that extra 5 minutes or so might still result in a missed connection for some passengers, either from your flight or others that are delayed due to you. Do these captains not realize they work in a customer service business? If there was a pattern of such behavior I think that is a fire-able offense!

    I understand it would be difficult for you to report such behavior due to internal politics, but you definitely aren't a "grumpy old man" for objecting to this practice. Maybe your company has an anonymous reporting system, or a way for you to object to the practice without naming names, that would help turn this around?

  2. There is a process. Nothing can be done about the taxi speed as its truly the Captains discretion on what a safe taxi speed is. The door issue will be fixed.


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