April is almost here.
My airline, like many regionals, is having a problem with having enough qualified pilots in the RIGHT seat. First Officer attrition is higher than Captain attrition as First Officers on the bottom of the list are bailing for other Regionals with a shorter upgrade time. The often repeated "chasing the upgrade" race.
Upgrade times at airlines are very fluid. The posted upgrade times are whenever THAT guy chose to upgrade. For example lets look two pilots. Bryan hired March 30, 2007 and Chris hired March 30, 2008.
Years go by and Bryan is a senior First Officer with a big vacation planned this year AND a baby on the way. He knows he will need time for both. The CBA at his airline states upon reaching Captain all vacation must be rebid as a Captain instead of a First Officer. Since he's a senior First Officer he can hold the best vacation weeks during summer. Most junior pilots get January-February vacation followed by August-October.
A vacancy bid is opened and Bryan could hold Captain. He decided to bypass for quality of life. Chris puts the bid in and gets the award. Suddenly "upgrade" time drops by 1 year....even though it's somewhat artificial.
Every airline has First Officers who choose not to upgrade.
Today I had a 777 First Officer on my jump seat. He's been at my mainline partner for 25 years. He works 9 days a month as a First Officer and enjoys great quality of life. He can hold narrow body Captain on anything in the fleet. He's staying a First Officer due to quality of life.
That said.... I hope to be Captain soon.
In the meantime I will be content in "making" Captain pay as my airline is paying First Officers double time for picking up extra flying.
My strategy going forward will be to bid low time lines with a lot of days off with the plan to pick up extra flying on days off. It's a gamble as there could not be extra flying to be had....but I'm a betting man.