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01-13-2018, 04:06 PM
For you guys at the majors.......

When contemplating an upgrade to CA or to a more senior aircraft, what criteria do you use to decide if the extra pay is enough to offset becoming more junior in base/seat/AC?

Is it weekends off, summer vacation, strictly pay, or a combo of all those?

At what point is the extra pay enough to offset the relatively loss of seniority?

01-13-2018, 04:19 PM
Only you can answer that for you. With input from your family. Its individual for everyone

01-13-2018, 06:57 PM
So many factors once at your "hopeful last stop" airline.

At every place before that though, I upgraded as soon as I was able to hold a livably commutable base (ended up coinciding with first possible opportunity).

01-13-2018, 08:42 PM
For you guys at the majors.......

When contemplating an upgrade to CA or to a more senior aircraft, what criteria do you use to decide if the extra pay is enough to offset becoming more junior in base/seat/AC?

Is it weekends off, summer vacation, strictly pay, or a combo of all those?

At what point is the extra pay enough to offset the relatively loss of seniority?

In my case it'd be a coast to coast transcon commute to reserve CA or stay in base as a senior FO. Choosing to stay senior FO for now and see how many CAs come below in the upcoming bids. I would take it if I could hold a line and bid for home overnights (NYC). But bottom barrel reserve is just ugh. Maybe if I could consistently hold either LCR or PM reserve I might consider.

01-14-2018, 05:58 AM
One man’s opinion.

A wise old Captain once told me, Upgrade at your first chance because you never know when the brass ring will swing away and possibly lock you out for what could be several years.

I upgraded just about as soon as I could (AA.) LGA 737. Took 17 years almost to the day. Luckily our junior upgrade bases are LGA and MIA, and since I live in the DC area I figured commuting to LGA reserve wouldn’t be too bad. Guess what, 10 other guys also got the upgrade along with me, all junior to me, so I waltzed right in to holding Long Call Reserve (12hr callout) which made it a breeze. Then, movement started happening so fast that I started holding a line only three months later.

I did it mainly for the huge 401k increase on the back end of the career, as well as the huge monthly pay raise (significant.) Lastly, life in the right seat was getting kinda stale after 17 years, lol. The 16% company input 401k gains after you upgrade are magnified many $$$ thousands over when you retire. Huge retirement gains make it worth it right there by itself.

Have not regretted the decision one bit. Highly recommend it as long as it doesn’t trash your QOL.

That said, if your airline has a decent wide body fleet and you’d be a senior WB FO making the same coin as a junior NB CA, I can see that being a smart decision too.

01-14-2018, 06:25 AM
Some FO’s upgrade and then bid FO again. It’s what works for you at that point of your life.

And sometimes FO’s with no plans of upgrading suddenly change their mind.Multiple trips with some of the least popular CA’s can change your POV.

A 15% furlough would delay upgrade roughly 4 yrs at AA. The downside is you’re senior enough to not get displaced you’d probably be a res CA for those 4 yrs and due to displacements you couldn’t bid back to FO. In base you’d be fine. Commuter? It might get old.

01-18-2018, 07:26 AM
After I got hired (mumble) years ago, my first two seat/domicile changes were due to bumps, not bidding, and then I got furloughed.

I was recalled a few years later to start as bottom reserve in a different airplane and domicile.

I never bid anything until I was at least half way up the line-holder list, and I never again commuted. I know that it cost me some money to delay upgrades and bid bigger airplanes, but it was worth it in quality of life, and I finished my career very senior.


01-18-2018, 08:58 AM
Everyone has heard "never pass up on an upgrade". Next time you hear it make a mental note to how many times that person has been divorced. Nobody on their deathbed looks up at their family and says they wished they would have worked more. There are plenty of situations where things worked out royally like the situation posted above but generally when you see someone who has been commuting for reserve they look like they paid the price.

If you weigh all the negatives and its still worth it, good for you. I wouldn't upgrade to a painful commute or reserve though. Life is too short.

01-18-2018, 10:14 AM
I took the first available, not a huge pay difference from widebody fo to narrowbody CPT. And I will lose some QOL and days off,...

However after roughly 15 yrs of being an FO due to the lost decade etc... I became tired of having to adjust to multiple Captains a month.. and the different ways they ran the cockpit.

Beides not knowing when the good times will end, and worried about being stuck in the right seat, I had another Captain tell me..." your QOL may temporaily suffer, but your Quality of Work will get better immediately."

I have a short commute with the upgrade vs based at home being FO

Spicy McHaggis
01-19-2018, 02:33 PM
I'm toying with the idea of upgrading to NB Captain, coming off years of WB FO. I'm not sure I'd get an increase in pay, but the change of pace would be nice. The QOL is great on the WB stuff, but the flying is getting stale.

I figure if I look at upgrading like a prison sentence I'd be ok. Do it for the two year freeze to knock the rust off then go back to the WBFO position when it's up.

01-19-2018, 04:35 PM
Asked a friend “enjoying the left seat?”

LOVE the left seat. Nothing has energized my career more. Had NO IDEA I would like it. Lots of people think the 777 is the life. Whatever. I’ll take being the boss.

Different people have different reactions. Until you do it you won’t know.

01-20-2018, 05:30 AM
First opportunity in base. After 15 plus years as an FO... it's FANTASTIC!. Not that I was ever really bothered by it, but knowing and liking what Capt(yourself) you are flying with everytime is great. You can always set the tone of the trip. Even though I'm on reserve, I live in base so not terrible. Approximately 20 hours flown this month so far with only 4 more work days. The equivalent of 85 FO pay hours of credit on the WB.

01-20-2018, 06:17 AM
I can see if you are single to go for the money grab.

However, in a relationship, married, children, even elderly parents can influence your decision.

For me, I could transition to a larger plane right now with an increase in hourly rate. But, my relative seniority will go down. My trips become less productive, so it would take more days of working to realize a true gain in pay. I figure I'll just stay on the smaller plane for now, get the exact schedule I want and transition when it makes sense for me.

That last sentence is the key. Upgrade/transition when it makes sense for YOU. Schedule vs. pay. If you are senior enough to upgrade then you can find your happy medium.


01-20-2018, 08:36 AM
Initially, I took the first available upgrade slot to Captain. Once there, I didn't transition to larger/higher hourly rate aircraft until I was ~ 50% on larger aircraft.

IME, there wasn't much difference in my QOL between the (top) 25% to 60% bracket in 3 different aircraft/seat positions over the course of my career.

01-21-2018, 04:16 AM
Like AA73... I took first available upgrade(17years). Going from bidding 10% , to reserve was eye opening, but having spent 27 of my 30 years of airline flying (10+at a commuter) as an FO, I love the job. Sitting in the right seat for so long, I had become bored. I certainly know the books better than I did(Capt will know that), it is both challenging and rewarding . No long winded briefings, ANY decision about the AC starts with asking the FO “what would you do ?”, and when we are in agreement ... we go . Hated being left out of the decisions as an FO. Empowering my copilots , even if it seems I’m making them do all the work , makes them and me better. I was always better when I felt more of an equal than just nose ballast. Money is nice, but the job is better . Like others have said, you never know when the music will stop!! I learned so much from the captains I flew with, most I would think”that’s exactly what I would do”, others just the opposite . Start at the hearing and work backwards , make smart decisions , use all your resources , and just have fun... but most importantly.. don’t be a DICK to anyone , because you are the boss and people are watching ... oh ... and don’t get yourself on CNN!!

01-24-2018, 04:48 AM
Setting the pace and tone on the line is nice. Not being paired with a jumpy or difficult captain for recurrent training is PRICELESS.

I'll echo the guys above me. I had the best of all worlds for a while--captain pay while in right seat on passover pay. Even so--I was ready for the upgrade. It isn't just the money--we all (mostly) joined to be captains one day. Go be a good one and enjoy the ride... Just save some of those bucks to buy dinner and beers when you can for your team....