Airline Pilot Forums
Airline Pilot Forums was designed to be a community where working airline pilots can share ideas and information about the
aviation field. In the forum you will find information about major and regional airline carriers, career training, interview and
job seeker help, finance, and living the airline pilot lifestyle.
06-21-2008, 02:32 PM
Ok guys so Im still new to the business. What are some of your ideas on income if you got a Furlough notice?:confused:
06-21-2008, 02:34 PM
I've got my backup plan, and it involves wearing a loud suit on a street corner with scantily clad women nearby.. :-D Right.
Seriously.. Don't you and I work for the same company...? Did I miss the memo?
06-21-2008, 02:38 PM
The main APC site has an article that can be found here:
06-21-2008, 02:58 PM
Dog Breath, thanks for bringing that article back into the forefront as the topic is timely and relevant given the many airlines in trouble.
If you have not received a furlough notice, you probably know deep down inside whether you will or not in the near future. For those who have received one, it's time to take quick, decisive action. Regardless of your individual situation, I hope everyone is always listening, talking and networking.
Many have asked me about going to law school and what it's like to be a lawyer and judge. Just as many have expressed an initial interest in the law, but not quite ready to give up aviation. Law school is not the only option. The legal field requires all kinds of people - paralegals, legal secretaries, legal assistants, court reporters, mediators, criminal investigators. Any one of these is a noble profession and ought to be considered if you are at all inclined to change your career. And it is a growth occupation, too.
I cannot help you with a job at airlines, but I am more than happy to answer questions about what I know best.
06-21-2008, 03:18 PM
Well, whenI was furloughed I found that I would make about as much on unemployment as I would going to first year pay at any regional.... Guess what I did for 4+ months til a charter outfit offered me a street captain job. (and I probably shouldn't have even taken that job)
06-21-2008, 04:24 PM
Ok guys so Im still new to the business. What are some of your ideas on income if you got a Furlough notice?:confused:
You could always go back to being a CFI. The pay has come up dramatically in most regions of the US since the airlines started hiring people with the ink still wet on their tickets. So, just go back to teaching, making your own schedule, and getting $45-$55 an hour to do it.
06-21-2008, 04:35 PM
I have had the misfortune of being furloughed many times in the last 12 years. The first thing you should do (after you sober up) is sign up for unemployment. You paid into it, might as well use it when you need it.
I wrote the following article for Career Pilot Magazine (AirInc publication) in 2003. I hope that it helps some of you as you plan for this difficult event.
October 26, 2003
The Last Day
The last day was without a doubt the hardest. My last leg was from Richmond to Pittsburgh on a crisp winters evening. A thousand thoughts raced through my mind as I pushed up the throttles for the very last time and 120,000 pounds of Boeing began to lumber down the runway. “V1… rotate”, the Captain called and with a little back pressure the nose lifted smoothly skyward. I could feel my throat tighten and my heart fall into my stomach as I realized that this takeoff might have been my last. I hand-flew her to altitude before calling for the Captain to engage the autopilot. The hour passed in near silence as I watched the evening sky darken out my window. The Captain knew this would be my last flight. I can’t tell you what was on my mind as we cruised over West Virginia that night. I reflected on every part of my career wondering where I had gone wrong… wondering what I would do next. What would come of my career? How would I support my family? Would I ever fly professionally again? What would happen to the hundreds of pilots who were similarly impacted by my airline’s “market-driven reduction in capacity”?
The Captain finally broke the silence. “How about I request 28 Left”, he offered. “Nice, long runway… you grease her on. Don’t worry about stopping in a hurry. Let me know when you’re done with her.”
After four days in a cockpit with somebody, you know them pretty well. You’ve talked about wives and children, careers, houses, and retirement. They may as well be family. Bill knew that this was hitting me pretty hard. He knew that a landing on runway 32 with a lot of reverse thrust, heavy braking and an early turn-off wasn’t the ending I was looking for.
We turned final for 28-Left and I disengaged the autopilot and autothrottles one last time. We passed over the threshhold and I slowly pulled the thrust to idle as the airplane settled into ground effect. I eased the nose smoothly towards the horizon and, for a moment, I could just barely hear the wheels brushing against the pavement from 80 feet behind me. The slightest vibration could be felt in the yoke as the full weight of the airplane settled onto her main landing gear and the wheels spun up. I held the nose off the ground, “cracking” the thrust reversers but not adding any additional reverse thrust beyond idle. This wasn’t a landing to be ruined by noisy reverse and bone-jarring braking. Finally, as she slowed to taxi-speed I offered her back to the Captain…and managed to squeak out a weak, “Thanks Bill”.
I brought my flight-kit to the chief pilots office to drop off manuals, ID, hat-badge, and wings. “Put your manuals in the conference room with the rest and give me your ID before you leave,” the receptionist droned. The long table in the conference room was literally covered in a mountain of flight-standards manuals, operations manuals, QRH’s, and Jeppeson binders. It was disgusting. A room of shattered dreams. I handed the receptionist my ID and she dismissed me without so much as a smile. Just another number - Another name to be crossed off the list.
I walked to my car that day. I just couldn’t bring myself to ride the employee-bus. The ice cracked loudly beneath my feet and the wheels of my suitcase as I made my way through the rows of cars towards the employee lot. The cold Pittsburgh wind felt as if it were blowing right through me. I tossed my badge-free hat on the seat of the car and stared back towards the terminal. A 737-300 flew overhead and began a long, shallow turn to the north. The airline was running just fine without me. It was as if I had never even been there to begin with. The last three years of my life felt wasted. I had made no difference at all.
I allowed myself that night to grieve, but the next morning the sun rose as it always does and it was time to move on. The fact is, this was my third furlough after only 10 years of professional flying. Since then I have faced the possibility of yet another.
As airline management continues to try and play catch-up in an industry that is in a constant state of change we as airline-pilots have no choice but to be prepared for the possibility of furloughs, downgrades, bankruptcies and other career-catastrophies. It is a part of the job that we have chosen. If being an airline pilot has a thousand rewards, then the lack of career stability is its one, great flaw. So how can we make it through our careers without constantly living in fear? The following are some suggestions based on some actions that I have taken, along with suggestions from other furloughed pilots.
Always Be Prepared
Stay Informed: It is extremely easy to set the parking brake, drop your flight-kit in the crew room, and hit the road. Whether you commute from Florida, or live a mile from the employee-lot, one the nice things about our jobs is that we don’t have to take them home with us. When we leave the airport, our job is done and there is no need to even think about the airline until we go back to work a few days later. But being prepared for the unforeseen means making a conscious effort to keep yourself informed. Knowledge is power and having done the research required to sift through the crew-room gossip is essential! Our industry is, in many ways,still maturing. We as pilot groups have to be able to react to change along with it. It is vital to understand how your airline is competing. What are its challenges? What is its target market? Who are its principal competitors?
Stay Engaged: An ALPA membership services committee member once told me that he reason why the union higher-ups wear silver wings, while the general membership wears gold was because the union belonged to the line-pilot – and the leadership works for the line pilot. LEC and MEC meetings may not be the most enjoyable way to spend a day off, (especially if you have to commute in to attend!) but they are the only channel you have to impact the course of labor relations at your airline. After all, it is YOUR career. Who better to fight for it than you? Will a senior Captain fight to protect and enhance the careers of the junior pilots? Will a line-holder fight to improve working conditions for reserves?
You have to become a bit of a lobbyist and learn to campaign your union leadership. Let them know how you want them to protect your career. Just as if you might launch a petition to have a stop-sign put in at your neighborhood, you might also have to petition your fellow pilots to fight for job-security enhancements during the next round of negotiations. The union can not and will not protect you if they do not know what you want. If you want to effect change, you have to stay engaged. Unless your local representative is one-number junior to you on the seniority list, he’s unlikely to know what you want him to do. You absolutely have to tell him!
Have A Plan “B”
A few years ago I read an NTSB report about a pilot who was making a night-time visual approach to Roanoke, Virginia. The approach concluded with a very hard landing. During the investigation the first officer claimed that due to the high-terrain surrounding the airport the Captain’s approach briefing included the following:
“Go-around is not an option.”
I hate to be a Monday morning quarterback because I make mistakes constantly. I am pretty certain that at Moffet there is an entire filing cabinet filled with NASA forms just from me! I have to admit though that that briefing troubled me. Go-around is always an option – sometimes, the ONLY option. As professional pilots we would never commence an approach without a “Plan B”, and yet many of us go through our lives without giving any thought to a “career go-around”.
What would happen tomorrow if you were furloughed or fired? What if you were violated and your certificate suspended? What if you lost your medical?
Coming up with a Plan B is one of the most challenging exercises that you and your family might ever attempt. After all, you’re a pilot… pilots fly. Long before you ever face the possibility that your flying career may not end at age-60 you should have a plan in place. It could be something simple like fostering the career of your wife or husband. You could earn a dispatchers certificate or learn auto-repair. You could get a real-estate license or go back to school to learn to create websites. I flew with quite a few people over the year that owned small businesses.
The idea, of course, is to have a missed-approach procedure. That does NOT mean that you can’t get vectored back for another try. It simply means that you have a plan in place so that you and your family are not in dire straits if the worst case scenario occurs.
Resumes, Logbooks, and Nighttime, IFR, Second in Command of a Blimp?
Applications are a pain in the neck. If you are like most pilots I know you probably have a pile of “little red books” sitting your closet and a fresh, crisp, “pilots master log” which has never been opened sitting next to your desk. When was the last time you logged your time or updated your resume? How often should you update these documents? Once a month is a good rule of thumb. If you can do it after each trip, you have better organizational skills than I do! Keeping up with the mundane paperwork means being prepared if and when you’re required to fill out another job application. I even fly with quite a few pilots these days who keep logbooks on handheld computers. I don’t personally use logbook software but when you are filling out that column on the application that asks for the amount of time you have as second in command of a blimp while flying inverted at night in IMC, I can see where a “sort” function might be useful.
Have a few resumes on hand. Not just flight-crew resumes, but also ones that detail your other skills. If you are forced to take a part-time job at the local home improvement warehouse they might not be interested in how much PIC time you have in aircraft over 28,000 lbs.
I carry resumes with me everywhere. I might go a year without handing one out, but you never know when the vice president of flight operations for UPS will be in your jumpseat. They don’t take up much space in your flight-kit, but one day having a good, updated copy of your resume on-hand might make a difference!
To be continued...
06-21-2008, 04:35 PM
But I HAVE My Dream Job!!
k, Captain. Life is good. Maybe you’re a 737 First Officer for Southwest or a Regional Jet Captain for Chautauqua. You made it and now you’re at your dream job. Maybe you are not applying anywhere at all, or maybe you’re waiting until you have met “competitive” qualifications to apply elsewhere. If there is one rule-of-thumb about getting an interview it is, very simply, they will absolutely never EVER call you if they don’t know your name.
Before my last furlough I asked a few captains, “What would you do if all of this went away tomorrow?”. Believe it or not, the answer I most often got was, “I guess I would go to Southwest.” Or, “I guess I would go to AirTran”.
You would just GO? Just walk right over? Show up on Monday, I think they’re expecting you?
Sorry folks but it does not work that way. Ask the pilots who have been hired by Southwest and have been wading in the pool of newhires awaiting a classdate for over a year. The time to start job-hunting “just-in-case” is when times are good!
Find out who is hiring. Get applications. Right now you might not want to leave your company, but everything could change in two years. In 1999 every professional pilot in the known universe wanted an interview at United Airlines and Jetblue sounded like the name of an aftershave lotion for sensitive skin! Your entire world can change over the course of just a few years!
It happened to pilots at Pan Am, Eastern, and Braniff. It is happening to pilots at US Airways, United, and TWA/American. Tomorrow it could happen to pilots at Southwest and Jetblue. You just don’t know! Job-hunting, even in the good times, is the best insurance policy you can get!
Make Yourself Marketable
A few years ago 1000 hours PIC turbine and a college degree were only a requirement for a handful of airlines. Today even if you have 10 years experience in the right seat of the Space Shuttle you simply cant get through the door if you haven’t sat in the left seat of a kerosene burner for a few years. The guy who flew the Metroliner between Jamestown and Buffalo everyday for 5 years is more qualified, in that case, than you are.
Find out what the competitive requirements are for the airlines that you are considering and make yourself competitive while you’re still employed. Do yourself a favor and get those qualifications BEFORE you move on. There are literally hundreds of pilots who are furloughed right now and who are lacking that 1000 hours PIC turbine because they were hired at their respective majors before it was a competitive industry requirement! (Ok, I admit it. I’m one of the guys who made this particular mistake so it’s near and dear to my heart!)
Financial Planning For Dummies
So you met your dream girl (or guy) and after a few years as an airline pilot’s spouse they’re pretty happy living in the manner to which they’ve grown accustomed. Pilots are notorious at spending every last penny of their paycheck. And why not? For a time there even a third year pilot at a major airline was making six figures and, well, that convertible would look pretty good parked in front of that $300,000 house by the lake with that boat in the back.
A Captain I once flew with gave me some fantastic financial advice.
“Son,” he told me, “If you want to get rich in this business keep your first house and your first wife.”
Sure, it was tongue-in-cheek, but he did have a point. I like to think that the point was, very simply, don’t live beyond your means. If both you and your spouse work, why not find a house that you could afford on EITHER salary, rather than being tied down to a mortgage that drains both of your paychecks?
Regardless of whether you’re a spendthrift like me (my wife calls it “cheap”) or if your tastes are a bit more “refined” it is a good idea to keep six-months expenses in the bank. It should be liquid and easily accessible. You should make sure that includes enough cash to pay the mortgage, household expenses, and unforeseen expenses (car repairs, medical bills) and maybe even a little “play money”.
It is an extremely liberating feeling when you find out that you’re going to be furloughed to know that you have at least six months during which you’re in no danger of having to actually move back in with your parents, or into a van down by the river!
Additionally when you find that new job there will be expenses. If there is no pay during training at your company, you will be required to find housing and food for two-to-three months. Then after training there are crashpads and/or moving expenses.
The money you save will be used to purchase something far more valuable than any of your material possessions. Time.
The union wants to go on strike? No problem. You’re furloughed? No big deal. The airplane you’re flying has an AD that keeps it grounded for 6 months? Piece of cake.
Buy yourself some time. Put six months into the bank and don’t touch it!
So it finally happens…
Even with all of your planning it has happened. A lot of people in the “real world” don’t understand the emotional impact that a furlough can have on a pilot. We can tell them how long and hard we’ve worked to get that brass ring, but they will likely never understand. Even your wife or husband may have a difficult time figuring out why you are so deeply, passionately in love with this airline… with this corporate logo.
Why do you have that Widget on your bumpersticker? Why do you wear that sweatshirt with the stylized flag? Why do you have Stephen Wolf’s picture on your dartboard? They may never understand your feelings. Being furloughed stinks.
In 1998 I had the opportunity to attend a CRM course at AirTran. I remember a very energetic southern Captain teaching the class how to deal with personal problems and get past them.
He said, “Sometimes fish-heads are for dinner. Don’t like fish-heads? Sorry son, dinner’s over.”
I thought a lot about that over the last few years. Mostly, I tried to understand what the heck he was talking about! What I believe he meant was that sometimes stuff happens and you just have to deal with it. You don’t have to like it… but you have to go on.
That means that it does no good to mourn. Yes, you’re going to go through the whole range of emotions from sorrow to anger and fear. That’s just how the human mind works. But when all is said and done you have to wind your watch, and fly the airplane. You might be mad that the engine failed. You might be upset and a little scared… but you never stop flying the airplane. The same holds true with your career.
Resigning Your Seniority
Just a quick note about resigning your seniority. It hurts. Nobody likes it. But hanging on to that “number” especially today is like hanging on to a love-letter from an old girlfriend. Having the letter is not going to make her come back. Reading it everyday will not help you to get past her.
The industry is changing and the carrier you were furloughed from yesterday may not even exist tomorrow.
If and when recalls occur, hopefully they will recognize that you resigned under duress and will recall you regardless. If not, perhaps that is not a place you want to work anyway. Obviously they don’t recognize the sacrifice you made. I don’t care if a Captain at that airline took an 80% pay-cut – you took more. Your concession was greater. You gave up 100% for them. They will either recognize that sacrifice and recall you when the time comes or they won’t.
If you intend to keep flying, find a company where you believe you could be happy if the industry turns south again. Choose a place where you could retire. Perhaps you won’t be able to afford the convertible and the big house on the lake, but you could provide a good life for you and for your family doing what you love.
They Can’t Take Away Your Pride
Whether a pilot retires at 60 or is furloughed at 30 there is a tendency to look back on your careers and reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Sometimes it is hard not to wonder if we have wasted that portion of our lives. We have nothing to show for our careers. We have made little or no difference in our companies.
That is how I felt. Whether your career is taken from you by furlough, retirement, or medical you have to remember how much you accomplished. At some point when you were a child you dreamed of being an airline pilot. You stopped and looked skyward at your favorite airplane (for me it was the DC9) and dreamed of what it would be like to fly her. (it was amazing!) Your success in that endeavor was no different than for a climber who reaches the pinnacle of a challenging mountain or a writer who completes a novel. You made a difference in the lives of the people who you safely carried. Regardless of whether you ever touch the controls of an airplane again, you have made a difference by the professionalism with which you did your job, your commitment to safety and passenger comfort, and the pride you had in the company that employed you.
Being furloughed sucks. There is no question about it, but it is a part of our industry. There are those who it has happened to and those who it will happen to. The challenge for all of us is to be prepared and to have our own “missed approach procedure” in place to protect ourselves and continue to support our families. The first two times I was furloughed I was unprepared. During the first I moved back in with my parents and got a job as a grocery clerk while flight-instructing part time. During the second I lived out of the trunk of my car in a parking garage in Western Pennsylvania. During the third I was prepared. And if my current employer should no longer have need for my services I will be prepared again. And the next day, I’ll start looking for a new flying job. That’s what pilots do. Pilots fly.
06-21-2008, 05:45 PM
thanks for taking the effort of posting that. That's what this profession is all about pilots helping pilots. You have some really good insight there most from experience. Hopefully, no one on here has to use this info but it looks like more and more will. Best of luck to everyone.