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View Full Version : FedEx vs Airlines Pro/Con


1SmokyBoi
02-02-2020, 09:33 AM
Hello,

Air Force guy with lots of time left on his commitment here, just looking for some information to keep in mind down the road.

What are some some pros and cons to FedEx vs a normal airline to consider if I wind up lucky enough to get a choice? Since a lot of it is subjective I'll include what my family and I will likely be looking for by then.

How much time at home/schedule stability does one get with FedEx vs the airlines?

We're looking pretty heavily into living in the Denver or LA areas once I get out, although it wouldn't be a deal breaker to live somewhere else. How well do those places mesh with working for FedEx?

How does the day-to-day job (i.e., trip types, lengths of trips, number and duration of sorties, work rules, etc.) compare to the airlines?

How do upgrade opportunities, be it to the left seat or to a cooler jet, compare to the airlines?

How do the pay and benefits compare?

Any other nuggets of wisdom that you have?

I don't know very many people in cargo at the moment so any information helps. Thank you!


FrankTheTank
02-02-2020, 09:56 AM
Less block
Less weekend and no holiday flying
Living anywhere is doable
Schedules vary from a few days to all your days in a row for reserve. Line flying can be one day to all in a row.
All of our airplanes are cool

C2078
02-02-2020, 10:03 AM
Less block
Less weekend and no holiday flying
Living anywhere is doable
Schedules vary from a few days to all your days in a row for reserve. Line flying can be one day to all in a row.
All of our airplanes are cool

Oh boy, you call an A300 cool? 😳


CandlerKid
02-02-2020, 10:14 AM
Keep in mind a large chunk who answer these kind of questions (on any airline thread) have only worked at that airline. Ask your buds the pros and cons of each different airline where they work and youíll figure out what works best for you and your family. Also, youíll stop caring about coolness of planes and start caring about pay rate and QOL instead real quick!

FrankTheTank
02-02-2020, 10:31 AM
Oh boy, you call an A300 cool? 😳
Yup.........

1SmokyBoi
02-02-2020, 01:40 PM
Less block
Less weekend and no holiday flying
Living anywhere is doable
Schedules vary from a few days to all your days in a row for reserve. Line flying can be one day to all in a row.
All of our airplanes are cool

Not familiar with the term "block."

Some more questions I have: how does commuting work with y'all since there's a lot of night flying and otherwise oddball show times? Also, on the subject of lines, how senior does one have to be to have a reasonable amount of schedule control/how long would a new guy expect to be doing reserve?

1SmokyBoi
02-02-2020, 01:42 PM
Oh boy, you call an A300 cool? 😳

I fly what is arguably the least cool jet in the Air Force so everything FedEx has is much sexier. And by "cooler" jets I meant going from narrowbody to widebody.

abides
02-02-2020, 02:06 PM
Oh boy, you call an A300 cool? 😳
Sleeps 6, wide body pay, relatively jr upgrades... whatís not cool about that?

C2078
02-02-2020, 02:23 PM
Sleeps 6, wide body pay, relatively jr upgrades... whatís not cool about that?


Slow, flies low, gets run over by almost every Boeing, breaks a lot, crappy domestic flying, hmmmm.

BoilerUP
02-02-2020, 02:52 PM
Slow, flies low, gets run over by almost every Boeing, breaks a lot, crappy domestic flying, hmmmm.

Breaks a lot? A300 is far more reliable than the 757 and Mostly Domestic.

Everybody hates on the Bus until they need a jumpseat. And speaking of jumpseaters, they and the loo arenít in the cockpit like the Boeings and bags never need to go in the belly.

Other than that it sucks, senior people should definitely bid a much cooler airplane.

123456
02-02-2020, 07:22 PM
Everybody hates on the Bus until they need a jumpseat. .

Ding ding ding!! lol..

PolicyWonk
02-02-2020, 08:22 PM
The gear doesn't part ways with the remainder of the airplane unlike the ...

And, in the case of the A-300, an engine doesn't shut down if you spill your coffee on the centre console. Mind the spelling of centre as this is a French airplane. There is a variant of Airbus that some people think the company is considering that will get more unsimulated single engine work when you are at your most tired, right after you sensed the need for coffee. But at least it would have more memory in the FMS. So there is a trade-off for Acquisitions to consider..

Am I in violation of Appendix S for commenting on these manufacturer deficiencies?

Barnstormer
02-02-2020, 08:26 PM
Who knows what Airline will seem the best when you get out. One thing I do know. Commuting makes a great job good at best. Try to get hired at an Airline that has a domicile you and your family want to live in. Your quality of life will be the best, you will enjoy the job without the stress of commuting. Your family will be happy.

901Dude
02-02-2020, 09:34 PM
Get apps ready, go to expos...and study for interviews. Keep app fresh and updated. Go with whoever hires you first. Then make the tuff decisions if hired by > 1 Airline.

Adlerdriver
02-02-2020, 10:33 PM
I was going to direct you to the search function on the forum so you could go back and find all the posts that will probably answer 90% of your questions. Unfortunately, when I used it to check, there's only about 3 years worth of posts available. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but if not, it's pretty unfortunate that all that prior knowledge has just evaporated. You still may be able to find something helpful from the recent past.

I did some time in the pax world before FedEx. In my opinion, if you're going to commute there is no better airline at which to do that than FedEx. If you can move to domicile, that's a whole different ball game - but if Mama or the kids are hard set on a particular location that drives you to commute, come here if you can.

How much time at home/schedule stability does one get with FedEx vs the airlines?
Not sure what you mean by stability and home/schedule. With the hiring, retirements and movement within FedEx, it's relatively easy to get senior in a seat if you are willing to stay on the 757 or go to one of the FDAs. When you have some seniority in your seat and can hold a line, you'll know your next month's schedule 19 days before it starts. Aside from an occasional "one-off", that's your schedule unless you decide to change it (stable?). What many commuters consider a "good" schedule is one that involves limited commutes to a trip or series of trips. Week on/Week off schedules are pretty common for domestic flyers. Junior flyers may see less of a nice pattern and may have to trade or drop trips to improve their schedule or just accept more commutes. 777 pilots can fly one big trip for about 12-13 days and have the rest of the month off. There's also lots of 777 schedules with two trips spaced across the month which could be some thing close to week on/week off or something more random like a 6 day trip on day one of the month and a 7 day trip during the last week.
The bottom line regarding schedules is there is huge variety. If you want larger blocks of days off between trips, it's relatively easy to do that here. If your lifestyle at home can hack you being gone for 12 days straight, you can have more than half a month off every month.

We're looking pretty heavily into living in the Denver or LA areas once I get out, although it wouldn't be a deal breaker to live somewhere else. How well do those places mesh with working for FedEx?
Our LAX base is MD-11 only and last I checked, was our most senior base. Not impossible to get there but I wouldn't count on it early on. So if you settle there, expect to commute to MEM or IND. DEN guys may chime in but from what I've heard it's one of our tougher cities to commute from. There are a lot of guys living there and a finite number of jumpseats. The jumpseats are first come/first served 3 weeks out. Guys sit poised ready to hit "enter" exactly 3-weeks from when they need a jumpseat and they go quickly. It's still doable, but you're probably going to work a bit harder to get to work or choose to stay senior so you can hold deadhead trips and not have to commute to domicile for trips.

How does the day-to-day job (i.e., trip types, lengths of trips, number and duration of sorties, work rules, etc.) compare to the airlines?
We have some great things in our contract and some that fall short of other airlines. An example of each: Our deadhead and deviation policy is huge when it comes to being a commuter. Our reserve system is one of the worst in the industry, in my opinion.

Trip types, lengths, all the other things you mention are so variable. 15 hour flight from MEM to Dubai, 35 min flights from IND to ORD. Block is time from pushback to block in at destination. "Less block" means our lineholders (flying every month) fly about a third to half as much as our peers at passenger carriers holding a line there. You may hold a line of ATL hub turns (when you get some seniority). MEM to ATL at say, 0400 takeoff, 1:15 total block time there, in the hotel by 0700. Sleep as long as you can. Leave the hotel at 2100, take off at 2230, another 1:15 back to MEM, trip complete - total block time 2:30. In that same calendar day, your buds at a major pax carrier may have flown 3 flights and blocked close to 8 hours. If you're flying a series of ATL hub turns, you're going to hang in MEM for about 3-4 hours and do the exact same thing again starting with that 0400 takeoff. Rinse and repeat all week and you're done on Friday or Saturday. See you in 8 days the following Monday when it's time to do it all over again. That's just one example of literally hundreds of possibilities and iterations of the same basic pattern.

Internationally, you can fly to England, off for 24 hours and come right back. You can do a 5 day around the world in 3 flights as a relief FO. You can do a 12-13 day marathon that does a long flight to Asia, bangs around on some shorter hops for a week and then another big flight back to MEM. Again, the possibilities are too numerous to try to list.
The thing to understand about the system at FedEx is we don't usually pick up packages on Sunday or holidays. So, in many US cities, when the last FedEx flight brings it's packages in on Saturday morning, that jet has nothing to do until Monday night. So it stays there. The pilots may or may not. If they don't, that jet needs two pilots Monday night. So FedEx uses commercial passenger flights to position two pilots to that city on Monday morning. They go to the hotel and begin their series of trips that night with their first flight full of Monday's "stuff" back to MEM for the sort. When they finish up Friday or Saturday, they may not be back at MEM. They may have flown that same flight back into city X where the jet is now staying until Monday. So, again, FedEx flies them back to MEM commercially. On any of those trips with commercial deadheads, we can deviate - cancel the scheduled ticket and use the money from that ticket to fly from where we live to city X where that FedEx aircraft waits for us to fly it to MEM on Monday night. When we finish at the end of the week, we cancel the ticket back to MEM again and use the money to fly home. Real tickets, no jumpseats - assigned seats, frequent flyer benefits, minimal commute stress and best of all, no commuting on our own time since most deviations can fall under the paid "footprint" of the actual trip. Different versions of this scenario occur in every fleet at FedEx. We have 777 pilots deviating on the deadhead from MEM to Paris and taking a flight straight there from their home airport and the list goes on.

If you do have to actually commute to MEM or IND, you usually ride on our own aircraft. The whole reason you have a trip to fly out on later that night is because of the freight coming into the hub to be sorted. You're just riding into the hub on the jet bringing in that freight. You get to domicile anywhere from 2-3 hours from showtime, maybe take a nap and then start your trip.
It's not a pax airline or a pax schedule. We just don't do what they do. So, making comparisons is only valid up to a point and then you just have to figure out if you can find a niche in our system that suits you. Most pilots do in my experience.

How do upgrade opportunities, be it to the left seat or to a cooler jet, compare to the airlines?
If you want, you will upgrade to a widebody captain seat faster than ANY of your peers at another airline. Those coveted positions at a pax carrier represent a fraction of the overall Captain seats they have. On the other hand, the majority of our aircraft are widebody jets with the commensurate pay rate. We have new hires here now in their early 30s who will upgrade to WB Captain in under 10 years. They will spend over 20 years at the max payrate. That just doesn't happen at passenger carriers. Mil retirees getting here in their mid-40s could still attain that max pay rate for 10 or more years depending on how long they are planning to stay around.

How do the pay and benefits compare?
Pay is falling behind thanks to our 6 years contract signed while the pax guys were inking 3-4 year deals. However, see my statement above concerning WB payrates. The WB Captain pay at a big pax airline may be higher, but will you ever see it if you go there? Their 777 FOs may beat us out while you're in the 777 right seat at FedEx, but not by much. I made over 300K during my last full year as a 777 FO and there are guys who do much better than that with some extra work if they want to chase the pay. When you move to the left seat of a WB in under 10 years, while their 777 FOs stay put, you'll probably end up better off in the long run.

Overall, we definitely have room for improvement here but FedEx remains a very good place to work and get paid well. The longer your AF exit horizon is, the more chance things in the industry can change. Pax airlines in general look great now. They're making money, hiring, getting new aircraft. I hope it stays that way. FedEx has been very stable and continues to make money but there are no guarantees. The snap shot I've given you is the way things are now and probably will continue for like this for a few years mostly thanks to steady retirements. Keep investigating and educating yourself on all aspects of the industry so if you end up with a choice, you can feel good about the one you make.

Crazy Canuck
02-02-2020, 10:48 PM
To the OP:

Iíve done extensively both PAX and Cargo. To answer your question:

Pros of Cargo:
-less flying (less exposure to associated health issues that can shorten your life)
-better mix of schedules
-no pax...
-no FAís.......
-and in case you donít understand what thatís like, it means your only job to worry about is moving the airplane. No worries about delays beyond how it affects you. No FAs to deal with (stealing your crew meal, telling you to hold your bladder till theyíre done their service, interpersonal issues, ďwhy arenít you helping us cross seatbelts?!Ē, etc)

Cons of Cargo (and also pros of PAX)
-lots of night flying (to shorten your life...)
-lack of crews (I know I just said No FAs are a pro...but good crews are also a real pleasure to fly with and can make Those overnights more enjoyable if you are an extrovert like me and have a group to explore the town/food with).
-potential for replacement by robots - hey, gonna happen in Cargo way sooner than pax!

with that said, go with whoever calls you first without a thought. If you have a decision to make later then Iíd be thinking about this...

FrankTheTank
02-03-2020, 04:03 AM
Not familiar with the term "block."

Some more questions I have: how does commuting work with y'all since there's a lot of night flying and otherwise oddball show times? Also, on the subject of lines, how senior does one have to be to have a reasonable amount of schedule control/how long would a new guy expect to be doing reserve?
Block=Flight time. Chock to chock
I live local so Iíll wait for somebody else to chime in on commuting but I know and have flown with folks from all over.
I donít know if there is a ďrealĒ definitive way to say what kind of seniority. Things vary by month and regular airline rules donít apply. For example, I have been here 16 years and I bid reserve. It is not uncommon to see folks that are 2 and 3 digit seniority on reserve. Iím more about footprint bidding for certain days off than I care if Iím on reserve or not. We have schedules for all kinds of different desires.

Of course, I reply before reading new posts so seem commuting question answered.

Hacker15e
02-03-2020, 06:12 AM
Slow, flies low, gets run over by almost every Boeing, breaks a lot, crappy domestic flying, hmmmm.

Honestly, who gives a rip what the airplane is? I'd fly a Cessna 150 if the pay, schedules, and quality of life were right. The airplane is just a tool to deliver a big, fat paycheck to my back account for what I do in between days off.

It is that paycheck and those days off that allow me to go fly airplanes that are "cool". And, as it happens, there are plenty of schedules in that A300 "crappy domestic flying" that feature good quality of life for both commuters and non-commuters, and on widebody pay.

dckozak
02-03-2020, 06:38 AM
My take; If you are young, like 30 or less, IMHO cargo will be single pilot ops domestically before you retire and INTL long haul will be non augmented with some kind of allowance for pilots resting (aka, both allowed to be off duty) while enroute. A job that already lacks social interaction relative to pax ops will get worse. Give it another 10 years or so, I think it's entirely possible that pilotless ops will be here or soon on the horizon.

Pay and benefits, (at Fedex) will be comparable to UPS, if history is any guide, just slightly less in terms of pay and benefits, but will we continue to hold some advantages of some soft issues which we, collectively, will continue to look toward as a plus for working at Fedex. At Fedex you will have a good retirement but not a great one, certainly not an advantage over the pax carriers like we boasted 10 years ago. You will never have any kind of decent travel benefit, not that its as good for them (pax pilots) as it used to be, but it is close to non existent for us. In retirement (where it could really be a nice benefit, and presumably is for retired pax staff) it will be even less.

Other advantages, like quick upgrade, more years at WB pay, less likely to be layed off, are all subject to events that can't be accurately predicted.

If you are a social type, like to see where you are going most of the time (day flying) and don't mind some of the noted hassles of dealing with people, than consider that when looking at Fedex/UPS. Our management loves to tell us how much our flying is tougher due to type of operation we a subject to and how much they appreciate our dictation to service. Then they roll the beancounter level management into the room and beat us silly with a stick. Maybe things will change in the future, I wouldn't count on it and you shouldn't either.

Shaman
02-03-2020, 07:07 AM
You will never have any kind of decent travel benefit, not that its as good for them (pax pilots) as it used to be, but it is close to non existent for us. In retirement (where it could really be a nice benefit, and presumably is for retired pax staff) it will be even less.

Just some gentle push back on this.

I've been a Delta Diamond Medallion member for 4 years running while at Fedex. I even was able to attain the level of Delta 360 for one year(this is so choice!!). All of the frequent flyer points I accumulated were mine to keep for my personal usage. In a single year I amassed more than 1 million miles. That is about a million times better than any pass benefit which is still space available even on your own carrier. I am by no means an anomaly there are many here who maximize this benefit.

Additionally we have access to ID90 privileges on other carriers. Which in the last year my family has used more than two dozen times to great effect.

This is by no means an attempt to sell someone on coming to Fedex.

That said, I've been here nearly 5 years and I haven't had a 2nd thought about being anywhere else. Its been an amazing ride. Of course YMMV

Hacker15e
02-03-2020, 07:20 AM
Give it another 10 years or so, I think it's entirely possible that pilotless ops will be here or soon on the horizon.

I think the 737Max situation has pushed single-pilot and autonomous ops back much further than that.

I don't even think FedEx will have updated the A300 cockpit in 10 years, much less having pilotless anything on property.

C2078
02-03-2020, 07:20 AM
Just some gentle push back on this.

I've been a Delta Diamond Medallion member for 4 years running while at Fedex. I even was able to attain the level of Delta 360 for one year(this is so choice!!). All of the frequent flyer points I accumulated were mine to keep for my personal usage. In a single year I amassed more than 1 million miles. That is about a million times better than any pass benefit which is still space available even on your own carrier. I am by no means an anomaly there are many here who maximize this benefit.

Additionally we have access to ID90 privileges on other carriers. Which in the last year my family has used more than two dozen times to great effect.

This is by no means an attempt to sell someone on coming to Fedex.

That said, I've been here nearly 5 years and I haven't had a 2nd thought about being anywhere else. Its been an amazing ride. Of course YMMV

One million miles IN A SINGLE CALENDAR YEAR? And I though I had heard every fairytale.

Hacker15e
02-03-2020, 07:23 AM
One million miles IN A SINGLE CALENDAR YEAR? And I though I had heard every fairytale.

Once one is at a particular status level, actual trip miles get multiplied to varying degrees. Airline and frequent flyer program dependent, of course.

BlueMoon
02-03-2020, 07:26 AM
One million miles IN A SINGLE CALENDAR YEAR? And I though I had heard every fairytale.

I think a diamond miler accrues 11 miles per dollar spent on delta tickets. Plus whatever you spend on their branded car. So itís not actually a million air miles.

Shaman
02-03-2020, 08:26 AM
One million miles IN A SINGLE CALENDAR YEAR? And I though I had heard every fairytale.
actually it was MORE than a million. Delta is mighty proud of their prices and the 11 point per dollar multiplier makes the totals go up quick.

No lie man. We have guys here with simultaneous memberships in multiple invite only concierge programs at the big 3.

When people talk about Fefex having the best commuting policy around that's not simply marginally better, its orders of magnitude better. DH bank/FF miles has paid for some nice vacays for my family. Confirmed seat not in coach no bumping.

BlueMoon
02-03-2020, 09:23 AM
Commuting is the best part for me. I donít get nearly that many miles since Iím on a domestic only fleet and live within 500 miles of many of the cities I DH too. At least Iím getting paid to commute a decent chunk of the time and get enough miles to buy a couple round trip tickets a year for me and my significant other.

wrxpilot
02-04-2020, 08:39 AM
My take; If you are young, like 30 or less, IMHO cargo will be single pilot ops domestically before you retire and INTL long haul will be non augmented with some kind of allowance for pilots resting (aka, both allowed to be off duty) while enroute. A job that already lacks social interaction relative to pax ops will get worse. Give it another 10 years or so, I think it's entirely possible that pilotless ops will be here or soon on the horizon.

Pay and benefits, (at Fedex) will be comparable to UPS, if history is any guide, just slightly less in terms of pay and benefits, but will we continue to hold some advantages of some soft issues which we, collectively, will continue to look toward as a plus for working at Fedex. At Fedex you will have a good retirement but not a great one, certainly not an advantage over the pax carriers like we boasted 10 years ago. You will never have any kind of decent travel benefit, not that its as good for them (pax pilots) as it used to be, but it is close to non existent for us. In retirement (where it could really be a nice benefit, and presumably is for retired pax staff) it will be even less.

Other advantages, like quick upgrade, more years at WB pay, less likely to be layed off, are all subject to events that can't be accurately predicted.

If you are a social type, like to see where you are going most of the time (day flying) and don't mind some of the noted hassles of dealing with people, than consider that when looking at Fedex/UPS. Our management loves to tell us how much our flying is tougher due to type of operation we a subject to and how much they appreciate our dictation to service. Then they roll the beancounter level management into the room and beat us silly with a stick. Maybe things will change in the future, I wouldn't count on it and you shouldn't either.

While I certainly agree that FedEx isn't perfect, our retirement is excellent as long as the union and/or company don't screw it up. WAY better than any Legacy carrier.

USMCFDX
02-04-2020, 09:25 AM
While I certainly agree that FedEx isn't perfect, our retirement is excellent as long as the union and/or company don't screw it up. WAY better than any Legacy carrier.

fixed it for you