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.




View Full Version : Should I pursue a major... QoL?


135tankerdriver
01-05-2019, 11:11 PM
Well Iím an AD USAF pilot considering getting out at 15 years to pursue a major airline job. Iím a little nervous about being away from the family a bunch. With that said if I get out I think my ideal airline would allow be to be home the most nights. Is there a major airline that would be better suited for this. Money isnít a huge deal to me but I donít want to be poor either. Iíve heard you can drop trips with SWA if someone wants your trip and I heard something similar with United. And Iíve heard mixed things about reserve... like your jet needs to be overmanned to make it a good deal which can change and that perhaps bidding reserve during slow months makes more sense, and that at SWA they fly you a bunch on reserve, etc. Also, if I get out before 20 Iíd be flying with a KC-135 unit part time and should be able to drop mil leave from time to time. With that said any advice/info on how many nights Iíll be home on an good/bad month on a given airline (if I try to drop/trade trips, sit reserve, use mil leave, etc), and any info on how does life airlines plus guard/reserve compare to AD, is much appreciated.


deadseal
01-05-2019, 11:24 PM
Ex AF dude here. Live in base, bid reserve, and live the dream.

I havenít flown since October 28th and have to go hit the sim for currency.
Delta 7erB, almost 4 years on property, about 60% in category last time I checked.

I commuted for 2 months and that was enough to have some serious sympathy for those folks. I started offering foot massages to help them relieve stress, but only the Tinder guy accepted

Sluggo_63
01-06-2019, 01:03 AM
Well Iím an AD USAF pilot considering getting out at 15 years to pursue a major airline job. Iím a little nervous about being away from the family a bunch. With that said if I get out I think my ideal airline would allow be to be home the most nights. Is there a major airline that would be better suited for this. Money isnít a huge deal to me but I donít want to be poor either. Iíve heard you can drop trips with SWA if someone wants your trip and I heard something similar with United. And Iíve heard mixed things about reserve... like your jet needs to be overmanned to make it a good deal which can change and that perhaps bidding reserve during slow months makes more sense, and that at SWA they fly you a bunch on reserve, etc. Also, if I get out before 20 Iíd be flying with a KC-135 unit part time and should be able to drop mil leave from time to time. With that said any advice/info on how many nights Iíll be home on an good/bad month on a given airline (if I try to drop/trade trips, sit reserve, use mil leave, etc), and any info on how does life airlines plus guard/reserve compare to AD, is much appreciated.You're a KC-135 pilot in the current Ops Tempo and trips to the Deed but you're worried that you'll be gone from home more at the airlines? I'm gone from home 12-14 days per month. One the days I am home, I don't have to do DTS, MICT, Chem Warfare Training...


135tankerdriver
01-06-2019, 02:14 AM
Yeah Iím doing staff work and so far averaging 5 days away from home per month in a little over a year and foresee a similar ops tempo for the next two years but you are correct I wonít have to worry about DTS and the other BS or the threat of a 365.

Just trying to get a rough idea of what the next 20 some years of my life would look like before I leap.

DWC CAP10 USAF
01-06-2019, 03:43 AM
If you want to be home almost every night, live in domicile and bid for one day trips (when you are senior enough to hold them). Or fly for allegiance because almost their entire business model is just flying out and back trips from heir domiciles.

hilltopflyer
01-06-2019, 04:04 AM
If you want to gaurentee being home every night you picked the wrong career. Best option is to live in base and bid day trips/ rsv. But on rsv you have the option of getting used a lot. Allegiant is all day trips that pays all right. But good luck making your choice.

C37AFE
01-06-2019, 07:10 AM
Yeah Iím doing staff work and so far averaging 5 days away from home per month in a little over a year and foresee a similar ops tempo for the next two years but you are correct I wonít have to worry about DTS and the other BS or the threat of a 365.

Just trying to get a rough idea of what the next 20 some years of my life would look like before I leap.


Did staff work last six years Going away again was shock to family, but lived in base so reserve time was actually awesome for family life. Only regret not getting out earlier instead of chasing one more promotion.

AA/reservist made point on how important seniority is. The longer you wait can be difference between continued employment and furlough. His friend put off class date til one after him. After 9/11 he still had job and friend furloughed..... so get out now and get earliest class you can


Allegiants home every night if thats what works for you family.

rickair7777
01-06-2019, 07:22 AM
As you may have surmised by now the only answer to your question is Allegiant.

Ducttape
01-06-2019, 07:26 AM
As you may have surmised by now the only answer to your question is Allegiant.

Pretty much...pay is lower than other majors/legacy carriers, but more nights at home.

Suggestions of "once senior" isnt much help, because guess what you'll be doing in the meantime...

Basically need to decide what is more important; being home just about every night or flying for a legacy and making more money.

hindsight2020
01-06-2019, 09:21 AM
Basically need to decide what is more important; being home just about every night or flying for a legacy and making more money.

Is the choice really that binary? Are there no middle ground options? Meaning, are there any airlines more predisposed than others to allow you as a junior guy to drop for a paycut and decrease your TAFB, without making this a "allegiant or pick a different career" dichotomy? Honest question.

135tankerdriver
01-06-2019, 09:38 AM
Thanks hindsight that was my original question. I donít need to be home EVERY night but Iíd be ok with a pay cut to be home more nights and just wondering if some of the majors more accommodating of dropping trips or trading them away.

thrust
01-06-2019, 11:18 AM
First year FO. Sim check late October. Sit short call, live in domicile. Including OE, Iíve been on the road for 11 nights since Halloween. Not looking like Iíll get used for the next few days, then over a week off. Putting my Epic Pass to good use! Got Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Christmas, and New Years off. All while extremely junior, with the training pinch (limited CKAs) helping out a lot.

When Iím gone, Iím not treated like a child, the hotels are pretty good, the transportation is mostly on time, and the biggest hassle is whether I can walk to get food or if I have to (gasp!) use UberEats or something.

When Iím home, Iím home. No DTS silliness, no active duty jobs program make-work, no careerist bosses that I have to pretend to want to be someday in an attempt to avoid a 179/365 day deployment to a third world cesspool, all to be some pawn in support of ForeverWar.

This job is way better than my active duty job, itís not even close. And I left one of the best active duty flying jobs in the entire military.

Merle Dixon
01-06-2019, 12:09 PM
Well Iím an AD USAF pilot considering getting out at 15 years to pursue a major airline job. Iím a little nervous about being away from the family a bunch. With that said if I get out I think my ideal airline would allow be to be home the most nights. Is there a major airline that would be better suited for this. Money isnít a huge deal to me but I donít want to be poor either. Iíve heard you can drop trips with SWA if someone wants your trip and I heard something similar with United. And Iíve heard mixed things about reserve... like your jet needs to be overmanned to make it a good deal which can change and that perhaps bidding reserve during slow months makes more sense, and that at SWA they fly you a bunch on reserve, etc. Also, if I get out before 20 Iíd be flying with a KC-135 unit part time and should be able to drop mil leave from time to time. With that said any advice/info on how many nights Iíll be home on an good/bad month on a given airline (if I try to drop/trade trips, sit reserve, use mil leave, etc), and any info on how does life airlines plus guard/reserve compare to AD, is much appreciated.


A few considerations... If you are going to pursue an airline job, why wouldn't you pursue it now? Meaning, if you are "a little nervous about being away from the family a bunch," that worry won't change in 5 years from now when you can retire. I know a bunch of guys like you with small kids that don't like being gone too much. As others have typed, live in domicile and bid reserve. Or, as others have typed, dropping trips is always a possibility.



If the airlines are your long-term plan, seniority is EVERYTHING. Get an airline job ASAP.



My prose skills ain't that good :), so don't let this sound too harsh: Can your spouse see the forest or the trees? I know several guys that took a bunch of heat early in their airline life because they were gone quite a bit. The spouses were unable to see the big picture, unable to see the long term benefits of being an airline pilot. Now that they are 10+ years into their airline jobs, making $250k, or more, per year with great schedules (9 to 12 days off at a time now and then), taking the family on nice trips with the pass privileges, etc, the once myopic spouses now love the airline pilot life. Not to mention, once you are a 60 year-old wide body Captain earning $350k+ per year and a 401k worth millions, life will be good. The point of this paragraph, if it applies to your spouse, is that you have to emphasize the long term benefits of the fantastic career that is the airline pilot.



Finally, "and any info on how does life airlines plus guard/reserve compare to AD, is much appreciated." AD is a miserable existence, you may be institutionalized and not know it. The airline life is fantastic. I thank God every single day I left active-duty. Plus, once you hit 2nd year airline pay, you are earning more per day than any Guard/Reserve job. Once you are into year 3 pay, the Guard/Reserve actually becomes a huge pay-cut and drag on your life.


Happy New Year and good luck.

hindsight2020
01-06-2019, 12:11 PM
First year FO. Sim check late October. Sit short call, live in domicile. Including OE, Iíve been on the road for 11 nights since Halloween. Not looking like Iíll get used for the next few days, then over a week off. Putting my Epic Pass to good use! Got Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Christmas, and New Years off. All while extremely junior, with the training pinch (limited CKAs) helping out a lot.

When Iím gone, Iím not treated like a child, the hotels are pretty good, the transportation is mostly on time, and the biggest hassle is whether I can walk to get food or if I have to (gasp!) use UberEats or something.

When Iím home, Iím home. No DTS silliness, no active duty jobs program make-work, no careerist bosses that I have to pretend to want to be someday in an attempt to avoid a 179/365 day deployment to a third world cesspool, all to be some pawn in support of ForeverWar.

This job is way better than my active duty job, itís not even close. And I left one of the best active duty flying jobs in the entire military.

Care to expand? Do you drop trips, what's your staffing levels in equipment, what equipment, what domicile (if you don't want to divulge airline)? Training backlogs are all good and great, but those are snapshots in time. Is your outcome a repeatable for any prospective newhire at your airline (as opposed to a one-off)? I think that's what the relevant question here is.

Merle Dixon
01-06-2019, 12:12 PM
When Iím gone, Iím not treated like a child, the hotels are pretty good, the transportation is mostly on time, and the biggest hassle is whether I can walk to get food or if I have to (gasp!) use UberEats or something.

When Iím home, Iím home. No DTS silliness, no active duty jobs program make-work, no careerist bosses that I have to pretend to want to be someday in an attempt to avoid a 179/365 day deployment to a third world cesspool, all to be some pawn in support of ForeverWar.

This job is way better than my active duty job, itís not even close. And I left one of the best active duty flying jobs in the entire military.


Drop the mic. Spot on!

hindsight2020
01-06-2019, 01:14 PM
My prose skills ain't that good :), so don't let this sound too harsh: Can your spouse see the forest or the trees? I know several guys that took a bunch of heat early in their airline life because they were gone quite a bit. The spouses were unable to see the big picture, unable to see the long term benefits of being an airline pilot. Now that they are 10+ years into their airline jobs, making $250k, or more, per year with great schedules (9 to 12 days off at a time now and then), taking the family on nice trips with the pass privileges, etc, the once myopic spouses now love the airline pilot life. Not to mention, once you are a 60 year-old wide body Captain earning $350k+ per year and a 401k worth millions, life will be good. The point of this paragraph, if it applies to your spouse, is that you have to emphasize the long term benefits of the fantastic career that is the airline pilot.


Your case study squarely depends on a spouse being either in a childless setup, a disposable job that can kowtow to your days off, or being cool with eating single parenting (or worse, single WORKING parenting) half the year. Not every spouse is into that. That doesn't make them "myopic". Not everything is about money bruh.

I get it, airline/mil marriages are chock full of SAHWs. It's the choice du jour. Again, not everybody is into that though. Is it a de facto requirement for this career? An argument could be made that it very well could be, if these recurring and predictable responses are any indication. At any rate I digress; just saw my wife pick up a book in the study, gotta go get my switch....:rolleyes:

tnkrdrvr
01-06-2019, 01:17 PM
Is the choice really that binary? Are there no middle ground options? Meaning, are there any airlines more predisposed than others to allow you as a junior guy to drop for a paycut and decrease your TAFB, without making this a "allegiant or pick a different career" dichotomy? Honest question.

There are middle ground options. Several people have mentioned living in domicile and bidding reserve. As an example, I bid reserve for December, peak season at UPS, and was only called out 3 days out of the 14 I sat reserve. My wife actually suggested I needed to get out of the house more. As a former tanker guy, I can assure you that the grass is greener over here, IF you donít insist on living outside of domicile. A commuter is guaranteed to be gone at least 10-14 days every month. As far as QOL concerns for Guard/Reserve, ops tempo for all KC-135 squadrons is high. I would plan on giving your unit around 100 days a year. This will either hurt time at home, lower your income, or both. If you want your twenty, pick up a non-flying Guard/Reserve gig at a staff where you can do one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

viper548
01-06-2019, 01:36 PM
I'm another vote for move to a base and bid reserve. I work for AA and live in DFW and bid short call reserve. I didn't get called out at all in Dec. I had 3 days of training, which is done in DFW, and a 3 day premium trip I picked up on days off. In Nov I worked 6 days, Oct was also 6 days. I'm on the A-320 and this amount of flying is pretty typical for narrow body guys. Wide body guys often work less.

rickair7777
01-06-2019, 02:30 PM
Concur all live in base and bid reserve will usually provide many days off with just a little bit of seniority. At most majors. Caveat you'll work on or around holidays and weather systems.

thrust
01-06-2019, 04:50 PM
Care to expand? Do you drop trips, what's your staffing levels in equipment, what equipment, what domicile (if you don't want to divulge airline)? Training backlogs are all good and great, but those are snapshots in time. Is your outcome a repeatable for any prospective newhire at your airline (as opposed to a one-off)? I think that's what the relevant question here is.

As usual, the following applies:
-Life isnít fair
-Timing is everything
-There is no justice

Canít drop trips on reserve. Staffing levels are adequate, albeit junior equipment at a junior domicile (lots of training churn). Iím at AA, but Iím sure the others have a similar training bubble. Took advantage of a significant delay in OE as a result of a shortage of check airmen. Once you exceed your OE window, the company can only give you OE trips on your scheduled work days- usually your block of short or long call. Being smart on PBS and FAR 117 (30/168 specifically) can help a lot. CKAs that only work certain trips can help as well. Then, once off OE, proffering for trips that will result in 30/168 illegalities bumping into holidays can produce dividends.

Am I a one-off? I certainly donít think so. I havenít even dropped a day of mil leave yet. Is this repeatable? Absolutely. AA is set to hire 900+ in 2019, while retiring the remaining MD-80 fleet and starting the drawdown of the E-190s. The training crunch will continue, black/white/purple swans notwithstanding.

All that to say... this job is way better than my active duty job. Then again, being away from home for X nights a month and/or working X weekends/holidays is far more palatable in this world than it was on AD.

Living in domicile is a game changer. YMMV.

Sputnik
01-07-2019, 04:35 AM
Lotta good advice here. Will still add my 2 cents.

I was in a similar boat, last job involved zero nights away. First year was a kick in the junk for all of us. After that period of adjustment though, wow.

Here was the hard part for me--lack of imagination. Other than flying, there is zero commonality between being an AF pilot and an airline pilot. It was hard for me to figure that out. Walking off the plane after last leg/day has a feeling of freedom like no other. There is nothing for me to do, no anything packages, no email, phone wont ring (and if it does Im under no obligation to answer), no nothing till its time to go back.

Nights away were tough at first, but not as much as I thought. And we all adjusted. I work too much, domestic narrow body line holding works out to 4 four day trips at worst. Thats 12 nights away from home. No joke, but then you have to add up all the other hours home. It is amazing what you can do with all that time.

As has been said, living in base makes this a completely different job.

duece12345
01-07-2019, 04:41 AM
There will be the months that you get lucky on reserve or after a number of years you can bid for turns (out and back day trips), but being gone is part of the job. Plan on spending roughly half your life in hotels and at airports. If that’s a problem, and it is for a lot of folks, rethink being a career airline pilot. That’s the downside. Lots of upside...incredible compensation, when you are off you are 100% off, no mil bs, the list goes on.

take all of these comments with a grain of salt. Lots of 1-2 year guys talking about how much better it is than AD mil. Maybe it is, I was never AD. With that said, the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever here.

135tankerdriver
01-07-2019, 05:06 PM
Thank you all who have commented thus far and to anyone who comments in the future. I truly appreciate for all the great advice, opinions and different points of view.

Sliceback
01-09-2019, 09:21 AM
When you are off you report to no one.
When you are off you only have to answer to yourself.
When you are off you wake up when you want.
When you are off you go to sleep when you want.
When you are off you donít have to answer the phone.
When you are off you donít have to shave.
When you are off you can wear gym clothes, even the same gym clothes, until your next trip.
When you are off you can choose to play in the sand. No one can force you to.

Youíll be gone 6-12 nights per month if you live in base. Reserve will be fewer nights away.

Your days off start with O.F.F. and end with O.F.F. Every day between the first and last day is the same - O.F.F.

You can stop worrying about, or thinking about, your next OER, TDY, remote, or assignment. There are no Ďmandatory fun eventsí.

P.S. if youíre married youíd better forget all the Ďwhen youíre offí comments. Try living that way and youíre a dead man. ;-)

P.P.S. Non rev travel can be tough, especially if youíre trying to do it when the kids are out of school or over holidays. It was easier years ago when the load factors were 65-70% instead of 85%+.

biigD
01-09-2019, 10:11 AM
Plan on spending roughly half your life in hotels and at airports.


This is commonly quoted about the career, but if you live in base it's not really half the month. I tend to work 14 day months and lay it out as four 3 day trips and a pair of day trips. So that's 8 nights. My average TAFB for 2018 (including training) was about 230 hours, which works out to be roughly 31.5% of the year. And I tend to be busy (by choice) - lots of guys work less, and if on reserve - far less.

To your point, it's still not a lifestyle for everyone and the 8 nights away sucks, but I tend to think the time away is overblown for those living in base at a major airline. A guy working 9-5 has a "TAFB" of 26.7% of the year, and just about any career choice that pays major airline money isn't merely a 9-5 job.

Add in the advantages laid out by Sliceback, and I feel our families actually have it pretty good compared to a lot of people out there earning what we do.

viper548
01-09-2019, 04:25 PM
This is commonly quoted about the career, but if you live in base it's not really half the month. I tend to work 14 day months and lay it out as four 3 day trips and a pair of day trips. So that's 8 nights. My average TAFB for 2018 (including training) was about 230 hours, which works out to be roughly 31.5% of the year. And I tend to be busy (by choice) - lots of guys work less, and if on reserve - far less.

To your point, it's still not a lifestyle for everyone and the 8 nights away sucks, but I tend to think the time away is overblown for those living in base at a major airline. A guy working 9-5 has a "TAFB" of 26.7% of the year, and just about any career choice that pays major airline money isn't merely a 9-5 job.

Add in the advantages laid out by Sliceback, and I feel our families actually have it pretty good compared to a lot of people out there earning what we do.
I moved to base in July and did short call reserve the last 5 months of the year. My TAFB ranged from 65 hours to 262 hours. The month with 262 hours I picked up multiple trips on off days. Average TAFB was 135 hours per month. Living in base and bidding short call reserve it would be pretty easy to be away from home less than 8 nights per month for most airlines.