Sunday, March 1, 2009

A new month, a new day!

Tomorrow starts a new month for me. Right now....and for the foreseeable future, I am the most junior First Officer in my status. Being so junior I get whatever is left over each month for bidding. This normally means airport standby. My status has two sets of airport standby, morning and afternoon.This month I had morning. Next month I get afternoons. I am ready for the change.

My seniority at my airline appeared to go up quickly and then stop. When I was hired I was roughly number 2900. Today I am 2400. In my status I am number 55 out of 55. Just 6 months ago I was number 63 out of 79. Back then I was just senior enough to hold a hard line (set schedule of flying for the month) every now and then. I was looking back at my monthly flying amounts, it's clear when my seniority in my status took a dump.

The monthly totals only go back one year. As today is March the furthest I can go back is April.

APR    22.43  <~~low reserve...maybe 63 out of 70
MAY    54.42  <~~getting better 63 out of 75
JUN    41.49  <~~about the same...sat at home a lot enjoying my life
JUL    75.18  <~~held my first hard line!
AUG    52.26  <~~ no hard line but a composite line
SEP    79.02  <~~another hard line
OCT    82.24  <~~a relief line
NOV     5.16  <~~ bottom guy
DEC    68.44  <~~only flew because people took vacation.
TTL   482.24

From May thru June I was senior enough to almost always pick if I wanted to fly or sit at home each day. I was assigned reserve and each day I would let crew scheduling know if I wanted to fly an open trip or sit at home and take a chance on getting called out for a trip. Times were pretty good. Many days I would get paid to watch TV, cut my grass and wash my car. Not too shabby.

In July I held a hard line. This was due to people above me bidding reserve. The more senior one is the higher they are on the reserve list which lowers the chance of them getting called out to fly. There have been many months where a pilot will get full pay and maybe only fly 5-10 hours if any at all.

Holding a hard line was great. I knew exactly when I was going to fly, which days I had off and what time I would be done each day. I also knew which cities I was flying to and I had the same crew for the whole month. Additionally I had the chance to drop trips if I didn't want to go (like if I wanted to not fly a 4 day trip so I could go on vacation with my wife without using vacation days). With a hard line I also made more money. Even though I only flew for 75 hours in June, I was paid for more than 82 hours due to cancellations and changes. A line holder is guaranteed a set amount of pay and will get that pay as long as they are available to fly each flight. If a flight cancels, changes or something keeps the pilot from flying (bad weather), the pilot still gets paid the full value of the flights.

After June I had a composite line and a relief line. A composite line is made up of pieces of other lines and reserve days. The pieces come from trips other pilots can't fly due to training events, vacation or they just didn't want and dropped them. After the trips are added, crew scheduling adds enough reserve days up to the maximum (pilots get 11 days off per month minimum). A relief line is similar but includes only line flying and no reserve days.

After October my flying and QOL were greatly reduced. There was a reduction of the number of pilots in my status. I went from 63 out of near 80 to 63 out of 64.

In November I was assigned morning ready reserve (airport standby) for 20 out of the 30 days in the month. Each day I signed into work at the airport at 6AM and waited to be called for a flight. I was there to cover pilots calling in sick, pilots who's flights were running late and would miss the next flight, and just about anything else crew scheduling thought up. Pretty boring. Once 2PM came around if I wasn't called, I was released from duty.

In December I had airport standby again, but flew quite a bit. The reason being many pilots took vacation or were "sick" around the holidays. Times were pretty good as I was able to fly.

In Ferbuary I was assigned morning airport standby. I have flown 20 hours on reserve and I picked up 10 hours of overtime. Not too much. March has me again on airport standby, but now I was will be covering the afternoon shift. I will come in at 2PM and sit around until 10PM. The advantage of this line is I have most weekends off (the majority are 3 day weekends!) and I will have more time at home.

With the morning standby line I am here 4-5 days in a row. Because I sign in so early (6AM) I can easily fly all day. With the afternoon airport standby line (signing in at 2PM) there are fewer flights that will finish back in base before 10PM. I can't work airport standby for 5 days in a row as I am off on day 6. Due to this at the end of each bank of airport standby days I have a day of plain old reserve. I will likely either fly or sit at home on those days as I won't be legal to cover the morning standby shift. Not too shabby.

The change to afternoons does have drawbacks. My wife works 6AM-3PM. With me working 2PM-10PM I won't see her much for 3-4 days a week. The payoff is at least we can sleep in and enjoy our weekends. The schedule will allow us to take a trip to Vegas to celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary at the end of the month.

Eventually my seniority will move up again. Hopefully soon.

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