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View Full Version : AirTran scoop???

09-05-2007, 06:54 AM
I was recently hired by AirTran but because of my military retirement date I don't start training until May 08. I am trying to get a feel of what a month or two in the life of an AirTran line pilot will be like so I can discuss it with the family and prepare them for a new lifestyle (pay, trips, crew rest locations, upgrade potential, TA, etc). If you don't mind, "dumb it down" a bit - I'm still not up to speed on yall's world (duty/trip rigs, reserves, bidding, etc):o

09-05-2007, 09:03 AM
If you have any of your buddy (ex-mil) that helped you get a job here, I'd start from there. Recently, we have almost about 25-30% new-hire ex-mil guys. So you shouldn't be alone.

09-05-2007, 09:43 AM
the T.A> is still out to vote.
we did recall the MEC. and vice pres. today. i think the pilots are speaking loud at the moment.everything else is up in the air till we see if we keep the current contract for a while longer or this new thing gets voted in. we shall know here shortly.

09-05-2007, 01:24 PM
To give you an idea, I retired from the AF this past summer & started with AirTran in mid-April. Our class had 8 x 737s & 6 x 717s. I finished training/IOE late June (10 weeks total). All training was done in ATL. If you don't live local, you'll need a hotel/crash pad (I did both & it is not covered by the company). Under the current contract, you get paid 4 hours/day while in training (not less than 70 hours ($2992.50) & no per diem unless you go elsewhere for sim training). Who ever you go with, try to max out your terminal leave & PTDY so you double dip as long as possible.

Since I went through, it has been everything from all 737 classes to all 717 classes & anything in between. Timing is everything for the aircraft choices. Class senority was done by age (oldest #1). There is a large order for more 737s over the next few years, but time will tell how they will pan out in light of the Midwest acquisition failure. Even with promised future growth, the bottom line is that there is limited remaining gate capacity at ATL. So what the future holds is anybodys guess (another domicile, etc..).

As it stands right now, it looks as if I'll be on Reserve until December. By then I should be able to hold a Build-up Line. The good news about reserve, is that based on the current contract, you can make decent money (even in the first year). In the last 2 months I credited 95 & 113 hours respectively @ $42.75/hour w/about $500 per diem each month. Most class mates have averaged about the same. Time will tell how build-up lines pan out.

Not too sure what they told you regarding upgrade, but I don't expect to see a 3 year upgrade. I plan to see it around 4-5 years. If it comes early, great, but don't expect to see 3 years.

As you have heard already, we are in contract negotiations. The latest TA is up for vote. Again, we'll see how it goes. If it gets put in place between now & the time you start, the following will affect you right away: 1) a lower starting hourly rate and 2) a change in reserve pay computation (holding closer to the 70 hour guarantee). The rest will affect you down the road. On the plus side of being a military retiree, you don't have to worry about the company medical insurance (on the expensive side).

I could add more, but just let me know if you have any specific questions.

09-05-2007, 03:55 PM
Welcome aboard KC-10 driver! Crew Rest locations (called layovers in the airline world) will be anywhere and everywhere AirTran flys. I'm in the 737 so we go to the west coast locations (which the 717's don't). Pay is relative. First year pay at any airline is way too low for the responsibility you have but there is nothing that we can do about that. Reserve is like Alpha alert. Two hours to get to the airport when called. Sometimes you will know what you're doing a day ahead of time. If you commute, be prepared to spend a lot of time away from home plus the "stress" of commuting. I did it for 2.5 years after I retired, but now live in the domicile. Life is much better for the family if you live where you work, unless you just couldn't stand Atlanta. Everyone is different in their family situation and preferences. Keep in mind your free retirement move and carefully ask questions at your retirement briefings with TMO. I was able to still get my move more than 2 years after retirement because I used a "required training" exemption which is buried somewhere in the regs. Living in the domicile also gives you better access to non-rev (space A) travel. Atlanta is the center of the AirTran universe. By the time you come onboard, there may be another choice available.

As far as upgrade goes, I hate to break it to you but unless AirTran orders more aircraft (beyond what is already on the books), anyone hired in the last year probably will not upgrade for many, many years. Upgrades in this industry come through growth or retirements/attrition. AirTran has very few retirements every year. Changes to the age 60 rule will stop retirements for several years. Attrition is a wildcard. Growth is the best way to ensure upgrade, so you will need additional aircraft orders to occur. Current deliveries run to 2012. Having said that, I think your chance of upgrade are better here than at any other major.

I use TriCare Prime for medical and have been pleased. Right now premiums are $460 per year for the family with a $12 copay. It is far superior to what the company offers.

AirTran offers stability that other carriers don't have. If the economy goes south, we can weather the storm better than the legacy carriers. Expect consolidation to occur in the near future. You don't want to be junior on the list of a merging carrier when that happens.

Expect training to be the bare minimum and very fast paced. Biggest problem for retirees is the flow concept (vs. an AF checklist) and glass/FMS if you've never done that.

Hope this helps. Good luck and welcome!

09-06-2007, 04:06 AM
Just to add a bit more along w/SherpaLifter....First, he is so correct in commuting vs. living in domicile. Everyone pretty much feels that commuting is the worst part of the job (true for any airline). Just like Sherpa, I know quite a few guys who have moved to the Atlanta area later to improve their QOL. This is huge factor for when sitting reserve and for when you get back to ATL late at night. I live about 1.5 hours south of the airport, so I sit right on the callout bubble, but I have yet to be called right at the 2 hour hack. If you do decide to move here, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Georgia varies so much from county to county & traffic can be an issue from certain areas. That said, approx 65% of our pilots commute from all over the country. As for sitting reserves, you get either the 0400-1800 or 1000-2400 schedule for 3,4,or 5 day periods. You will either have 2 or 3 days off between periods to give you 10 or 11 days off per month (depending on the month being 30 or 31 days). So if you commute, plan to adjust your time away from home accordingly. Long call is not being used these days. Again expect the reserve rules to change slightly with the new contract (when it happens).

09-06-2007, 04:11 AM
Good post Sherpa,

Very clear and well stated.


09-06-2007, 04:57 AM
Having said that, I think your chance of upgrade are better here than at any other major.

...........AirTran offers stability that other carriers don't have. If the economy goes south, we can weather the storm better than the legacy carriers. Expect consolidation to occur in the near future. ............

You haven't check out CAL lately then,have you? Our last bid had upgrades occurring for pilots who have been on property for only 1 year and 11 months!! Movement has been incredibly fast, and will continue for a few more years. We have $1.6 billion in the bank and can weather the storm better than many regionals/majors. Sorry to rain on your parade....:p

09-06-2007, 05:28 AM
You haven't check out CAL lately then,have you? Our last bid had upgrades occurring for pilots who have been on property for only 1 year and 11 months!! Movement has been incredibly fast, and will continue for a few more years. We have $1.6 billion in the bank and can weather the storm better than many regionals/majors. Sorry to rain on your parade....:p

what about the fact that these upgrades are totally out of sink. your pref. bid system allows your senior capts. to hoard all the flying. all these less the 2 year upgrades will be on reserve/crappy scheds. for a very long time. you have the pref bid system we are trying to avoid here. it needs the LVI protection or the only ones who win are the senior people.

09-07-2007, 11:13 PM
Hello there. I'm a 3.2 year F/O on the 717 (only one 737 here when I started).

With all due respect to the posts of the "new guys" somewhere above as far as 4 to 5 year upgrades I disagree, I have already bypassed upgrade 3 times since I'm waiting on QOL issues so yes, upgrades are going at about 3 years still. We just recalled our union leaders and are getting ready to crucify this T/A and engage in WW3 with management.

Bottom line, management rules by threats and intimidation, we were warned that we could face disciplination up to termination if we displayed stickers against the T/A (a clear violation of the RLA), they interpret the contract how they see fit on a day to day basis, the future is uncertain with no union leadership and no contract, employee groups fight one another, the morale is low, attrition is high, we've got a lot of birds coming and nowhere to put them, so forth.

My honest recommendation...with all the major carriers shifting into hiring mode please focus your energy into trying to get on with somebody else. I gave AirTran a chance coming here drunk on Kool-Aid and leaving behind a 9.5 year stint at the regionals and now I'm stuck because I will not subject my family to another pay cut or relocation. As my junior colleagues mentioned above DO YOUR HOMEWORK and seriously consider going somewhere else. Again, with all due respect....

09-08-2007, 09:51 AM
I agree with flytank, you have time to research and find out what is the best job for you and if you decide it's not airtran, you could still apply and interview between now and the time you leave the military.

"Bottom line, management rules by threats and intimidation - flytank

If flytank's statement is true for the majority of pilots, I would not work there unless I had no other choice.

I don't know anything about airtran personally, so please don't blast me, all I'm saying is congrats on the job but use this time wisely to make sure you are making the best choice possible....unlike other professions, there is no such thing as a lateral move from one company to another.

09-08-2007, 07:19 PM
any more rumors as to the next domicile???

09-09-2007, 11:37 AM
KC10driver , sorry, but I have to add more....As for anything in the airline business, it is all a "numbers" game. A lot of the "kool aid" you are given is based primarily on current needs & numbers. Problem is that there are so many variables that affect those numbers down the road (economy, aircraft orders, available gates, an accident, etc..). Based on the latest senority list, there are 1520 pilots @ AirTran. With orders for more aircraft over the next few years, AirTran is forecast to be @ 200 aircraft eventually. Aircraft:pilot ratio is approximately 1:12, so we should have approx 2400 pilots at some point (with a few extra for management/training positions). Latest retirement/attrition rate I heard was around 14 pilots/month (might be higher). As for hiring numbers, I heard 310 pilots for this year & approximately 350-360 for 2008 to bring us to approximately 1850 total (retirement/attrition aside). What 2009 holds is anybody’s guess, but if the aircraft are still coming & the economy can support it we should see 600 more pilots 2009-2011.

Growth is the usual major factor in this "numbers" game (except with i.e. CAL currently seeing large retirement numbers). Even SWA is dealing with a growth issue. So with you coming on in May 08 with about 30 new hires/month, you'll be about 8-10% from the bottom at the end of 2008 (right at the break point of still sitting reserve vs holding a buildup line). If growth continues as planned, you would be approximately 35-40% from the bottom in 2011. No matter how many pilots are with an airline, the top 50% generally are the Captains & the bottom 50% are the FOs (with an exception for those who sacrifice pay for QOL). So yes, while we "currently" have a 3 year upgrade, these FOs being offered upgrade now have seen the company almost double in size since they came here. If the growth does not continue as planned or beyond, retirement/attrition becomes the major driving factor. In that arena, AirTran has a relatively young pilot force. The end result is a slowdown in upgrades. This is why I am planning for a 4-5 year upgrade (worst case scenario). If it comes earlier, great! We always hope to be riding the front side of the hiring wave.

As for our latest & greatest TA….I agree that it will get voted down, no matter what the individual dislikes are. The reality is that we just recalled our union President & VP and at a minimum we owe it to the replacements to give them an opportunity to improve it. Hopefully we will not bring a knife to the next gun fight!

09-13-2007, 06:56 PM
Thanks everyone for all the info. I am still "shopping" around but it sure is nice to have this job waiting for me when I get out!