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.




Roadking
10-25-2007, 08:51 AM
Looking for some helpful nuggets on Continental as things currently stand. I know they're hiring like gangbusters and I hear upgrades are happening fast.

Other than that, looking for scoop on the lifestyle in general. I'd be trying to commute from South Texas and I assume I'd start flying something out of Newark and perhaps someday be home-based.

Any opinions on all topics would be great: commuting ups/downs, pay outlook, crash-pad lifestyle, typical new-hire schedule, various side-benefits, typical aircraft assignments, you name it...

BTW: Not looking to start a comparison-war between airlines here. That's a whole different topic that could go all night and drain 3 kegs. Just any and all opinions on Continental as things stand today. Thanks!


Ottopilot
10-25-2007, 10:00 AM
Looking for some helpful nuggets on Continental as things currently stand. I know they're hiring like gangbusters and I hear upgrades are happening fast.

Other than that, looking for scoop on the lifestyle in general. I'd be trying to commute from South Texas and I assume I'd start flying something out of Newark and perhaps someday be home-based.

Any opinions on all topics would be great: commuting ups/downs, pay outlook, crash-pad lifestyle, typical new-hire schedule, various side-benefits, typical aircraft assignments, you name it...

BTW: Not looking to start a comparison-war between airlines here. That's a whole different topic that could go all night and drain 3 kegs. Just any and all opinions on Continental as things stand today. Thanks!


Most start in EWR in the 737 with some 757/767. EWR is more junior than IAH, so if you want IAH you may have to wait a few months. Plus, you will not move up as fast in IAH while people with about 3 years seniority can hold 737 Captain in EWR.

Commuting sucks. The flights are full (jumpseats too) and you lose a lot of time doing it. First year pay is low, but that's true everywhere (CAL is one of the lowest though). CAL is working on a new contract, but that may take another two years to see any more pay. You will not have any medical coverage for 6 months. Crashpads suck too, but you can find better ones. There are a lot in EWR to choose from, since no one actually lives there. It's like a college dorm, which can be good or bad depending on what you like. There are crashpads with your own room, but they are few and expensive. You will start on reserve and need to be within 2 hours of the airport (there is another option with 9 hours). If you are on the 757, you will do about 95% international (mostly the U.K. as a reserve). You can put in for a transfer to IAH and you'll get it as soon as they need you there. You may be on reserve there while able to hold a line in EWR. If you want IAH, bid the 737. You won't see it any time soon if you are on the 757.

PBS is hated by most pilots (I actually do OK with it). There are many SCABS at CAL (a few hundred). The bases suck: Cleveland, Newark, and Houston. Three of the worst cities in America. Yea. The flying out of Newark is great, you just don't want to live near it. Many live down the Jersey shore, upstate NY, and Eastern PA. A 1.5 hour drive beats commuting any day. Overall the pay will go up, the movement is great, and there are lots of planes coming. I like it here, but I haven't worked for any other major, so I'm comparing it to my regional experience.

Good luck.

timman19
10-25-2007, 11:48 AM
I totally agree with the commute to EWR being horrible. I actually live in Northern NJ and that was one of the reasons.


dckozak
10-25-2007, 01:46 PM
I commute out of EWR while living in Jersey. I can attest to its negatives as well as its (under appreciated) assets.
Granted, near Newark, either north (toward the city proper) or south (along route 9) you probably would find the QOL less than most pilots consider acceptable. Both directions are older, urban areas, still in need of a major overhaul. That said, cites nearer NYC (Hoboken and Jersey City) both have benefited by there proximity to Manhattan (and lower costs) and may be a good choose for someone who wants to live near their base (EWR) and be able to play in NY without having to travel far. As a bonus, both cities are improving in their own right and while you will not mistake them for the burbs, they are both better and improving from what they were only 10 years ago. A good choice for a single or married/no kids couple who what to enjoy the NYC lifestyle on a beer budget. ;)
Close to EWR (less than 10 miles) are suburbs to the west that you couldn't afford to live in even if you wanted to. These communities, located on the Watchung mountains (that hill just west of the airport) are beautiful places,;) I lived in Upper Montclair briefly, while flying out of TEB. Walking down the street you can almost believe "the Beaver" and his friends could ave lived in this community. Great views of NY from the higher property, but you will never make enough (flying airplanes) to afford to own the view.
Farther west, via interstate 78 and 80, you can live a country life depending how far you are willing to drive to work. Again expensive by TX standards but like anywhere, the farther away the less it cost and less people you have to deal with (and less to do).
To the south, many pilots live near the shore. This a double edged sword, cheaper than North Jersey, good access to the ocean and its pleasures, bad traffic in the summer as the other half of the state comes down on the weekend for a tan.
All in all NJ is not cheap to live. We have some of the highest property taxes in the country and a state income tax. What you get for your money is a good QOL, good moderate wx, no earth quakes, or other major weather issues, good schools and a great ocean you can swim in and boat around. Commuting to EWR may save you some $$$, keep you close to momma (always a crowd pleaser) but it does have some redeeming good points, its not all about the Sorpronos.

ewrbasedpilot
10-25-2007, 05:42 PM
I agree with all that's been said. I commute from FL and while it is a pain (the worst caused by ATC delays), you couldn't pay me to leave up north. I enjoy the warm weather of the south. Crashpad life is okay. I've ran mine for 9 years and we've never had more than 5 people in it. It's comfortable and beats looking for a hotel during bad WX when planes are cancelling left and right. I charge $250 a month, but it's very nice and you don't need a car. Plus, it's only a 15 minute train ride to downtown NYC and family members/friends are always welcome to come up and stay for a few days and not worry about bothering anyone. The flying in EWR is the best in the system. We have a pretty good mix of Carribean, Mexico, South America, transcon, Canadian, and domestic destinations. While most of the 737 trips aren't commutable, some are, and the pilots on the 73 are finding very rapid advancement. CAL should be hiring for quite some time. Good luck to you!

757Driver
10-25-2007, 06:34 PM
I agree with all that's been said. I commute from FL and while it is a pain (the worst caused by ATC delays), you couldn't pay me to leave up north. I enjoy the warm weather of the south. Crashpad life is okay. I've ran mine for 9 years and we've never had more than 5 people in it. It's comfortable and beats looking for a hotel during bad WX when planes are cancelling left and right. I charge $250 a month, but it's very nice and you don't need a car. Plus, it's only a 15 minute train ride to downtown NYC and family members/friends are always welcome to come up and stay for a few days and not worry about bothering anyone. The flying in EWR is the best in the system. We have a pretty good mix of Carribean, Mexico, South America, transcon, Canadian, and domestic destinations. While most of the 737 trips aren't commutable, some are, and the pilots on the 73 are finding very rapid advancement. CAL should be hiring for quite some time. Good luck to you!

Damn Karl,

I agree with you completely. I, however, did make the move to New Jersey from the West Coast and can't wait to get back, (LAX openeing in January according to my very unreliable sources).

Roadking
10-25-2007, 08:42 PM
Alright, excuse me for asking some possibly dumb questions, but I'm just now really getting serious about airline employment...

Everybody talks about the wonderful world of "only working 15 days a month". (Or approximately that.) It sounds pretty good.

But here's a hypothetical from an oustider: How often does a pilot-- especially a new hire-- end up with, say, five 3-day trips spread out through the month, thus resulting in 10 days of painful commute effort, thus finally ending up with only 5 real days off at home?!? I understand such a month would be worst case, but I'm trying to see what's behind the silver lining!

timman19
10-26-2007, 05:06 AM
I currently live in Wayne, NJ. Sure the cost of living there is higher than other places but it's a nice town and has a good school system for the kids. There are some very expensive parts of Northern NJ. However, there are some towns that are more affordable.

In my situation, my wife has two sons from her first marriage. Under NJ custody law, she must stay within a certain radius of her ex unless he consents otherwise. We wanted to move to the Poconos but he wouldn't consent to that. We settled on Wayne and we like it there a lot. It's also not a long drive to EWR from there either.

bearcat
10-26-2007, 06:12 AM
Alright, excuse me for asking some possibly dumb questions, but I'm just now really getting serious about airline employment...

Everybody talks about the wonderful world of "only working 15 days a month". (Or approximately that.) It sounds pretty good.

But here's a hypothetical from an oustider: How often does a pilot-- especially a new hire-- end up with, say, five 3-day trips spread out through the month, thus resulting in 10 days of painful commute effort, thus finally ending up with only 5 real days off at home?!? I understand such a month would be worst case, but I'm trying to see what's behind the silver lining!

Tough question, but worst case scenario that is VERY possible. Commuting to EWR on the 737 is the worst in the company. The show times and release times are early and late respectively. That is why B737 FO is 50% for a 1 year employee. Now if you live locally that is a different story. Within 6 months you could bid reserve and never fly at all. So essentially you could easily have 20 days off a month within 6 months. Reserve locally means day off without beer.

JoeyMeatballs
10-26-2007, 06:27 AM
come live with me in Hoboken, best night-life in NJ, get me an interview and I wont charge rent :)

Derrick Driver
10-26-2007, 07:36 AM
Bearcat,

You got me a little confused there bud. What exactly do you mean by that is why 1st year 737 FO is 50%? Do you mean retention?

rk772
10-26-2007, 08:01 AM
It means that pilot is bidding at 50%. He has moved half way up in seniority in his seat and base. The most senior 737 FO in EWR would be at 1% while the most junior would be at 100%
For example: If there are 500 737 FO's in EWR, and you are number 250 in seniority, you would be at 50%.
PBS uses your base percentage to determine what line to build for you. Although, it doesn't usually work out that way.:confused:

Derrick Driver
10-26-2007, 08:29 AM
Ahhh So! I see, still a little confused on the PBS thing and exactly how it works though.

rk772
10-26-2007, 09:43 AM
Ahhh So! I see, still a little confused on the PBS thing and exactly how it works though.

It's kind of like going to a resteraunt and telling your waiter 20 things you don't want from the menu. Then, leaving it up to him to pick from whatever is left over on the menu.
Oh yea, don't think that just because you've been at the resteraunt the longest, you should get first pick. The waiter gets to bring whatever is most convenient for him to put together.

Seriously though, PBS is a computer program that builds the lines. Everyone tells the computer what they like or don't like. (Ex: Dislike-Mexico city overnights). When the bidding period closes, the computer runs about a billion algorithms for about a week. During this time, it builds all the hard and reserve lines for the following month. It is an efficient money maker for the company. Only problem is it doen't always honor seniority and the lines are usually high time/low rest.

Derrick Driver
10-26-2007, 10:05 AM
Well it sounds good, as per the invention. Seems as though it tastes bad.... Could it be in the design phase, that the parameters can be set to favor one side for productivity?
I guess it is a form of scheduling software I am not familiar with, yet I do see that both sides need to be involved in the adaptation of the beast for to be of some parity.

bearcat
10-26-2007, 12:13 PM
It's kind of like going to a resteraunt and telling your waiter 20 things you don't want from the menu. Then, leaving it up to him to pick from whatever is left over on the menu.
Oh yea, don't think that just because you've been at the resteraunt the longest, you should get first pick. The waiter gets to bring whatever is most convenient for him to put together.

Seriously though, PBS is a computer program that builds the lines. Everyone tells the computer what they like or don't like. (Ex: Dislike-Mexico city overnights). When the bidding period closes, the computer runs about a billion algorithms for about a week. During this time, it builds all the hard and reserve lines for the following month. It is an efficient money maker for the company. Only problem is it doen't always honor seniority and the lines are usually high time/low rest.

Great example.....

A320fumes
10-26-2007, 12:41 PM
It is an efficient money maker for the company. Only problem is it doesnt always honor seniority and the lines are usually high time/low rest.

Here in lies the problem. We have no idea what the algorithms are and we never negotiated to have any input to them. In my previous experience with PBS, lines were available 2 hours after the bid closed. Why does CAL need 5 days?

luv757
10-26-2007, 02:03 PM
Here in lies the problem. We have no idea what the algorithms are and we never negotiated to have any input to them. In my previous experience with PBS, lines were available 2 hours after the bid closed. Why does CAL need 5 days?

Bingo. I am sure you are all are sick of me comparing us with Delta but again, they get a preliminary report over there before the final bid award is posted. usually there are no changes but it is a nice idea to kind of have a heads up if things are haywire. Further, everyone can see everyone else's reasons report so you know how people bid, and why they did or did not get certain portions of their bid. They also have the all important bidding wizard to help construct their bid. As you use the wizard it sort of shows what possible results you can get so it should reduce the "how the hell did i get that?" factor. No system is perfect but if we stick with this PBS we need to get something that works and not the cheapest piece of **** that the company is willing to nickel and dime.

757Driver
10-26-2007, 06:37 PM
No system is perfect but if we stick with this PBS

How's about we don't stick with it and go back to line bidding. For those new to CAL, we had one of the best bidding systems out there with the ability to trade to just about get any day off you needed. Oh yeah, it used to maximize vacation as well so you could get the time off from vacation and not get penalized for doing so.

PBS sucks period.

Flare Armed
10-27-2007, 05:12 AM
Everybody is pretty happy with our PBS over here (Delta) and the PBS working group is always coming up with new features almost monthly. We've been using it about 2 years now I think. Our volunteers work really hard on it every month.

There are good products out there... and in today's airline world line bidding is probably going to be a thing of the past, so you might as well find something you like.

luv757
10-27-2007, 09:59 AM
How's about we don't stick with it and go back to line bidding. For those new to CAL, we had one of the best bidding systems out there with the ability to trade to just about get any day off you needed. Oh yeah, it used to maximize vacation as well so you could get the time off from vacation and not get penalized for doing so.

PBS sucks period.

Just to clarify I meant no PBS system is perfect. I would have no issue going back to a preconstructed line system also provided we go back to the old trip trade format since everyone seemed to like that. To me having preconstructed lines doesnt mean much if i still can't trade anything and am stuck with what I have.

I also agree with FLARE. Delta's PBS isn't the disaster that ours is. Trust me because my dad bids with it every month. He is no where near top of his catagory but gets a schedule every month that reflects his preferences. All I am saying is let's think each scenario through. If we go back to preconstructed lines lets not half ass it and if we are stuck with this thing then let's get a system that works.