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Old 05-09-2016, 03:06 PM   #1  
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Default When did you know its time to leave?

I am pretty new to the job. Regional FO at a growing and well paying 121. I thought flying large aircraft and travelling would be a blast, but honestly, it wasn't what I thought. Not fulfilling, often not challenging, and I find myself thinking of what I would be doing if I was in a different career and home. The time away from home is brutal, commuting sucks, and I am not willing to move to base for a regional - too many roots where I am at. I kind of feel like I am in this lull of "How can I keep this up for the rest of my career?". I am pretty young, early 20's, so still plenty of life left. I do have an alternate career plan that I've been pursuing part-time on my off days and that I love every time I get to do it. Its exciting, fulfilling, pay is alright (nothing special), work relatively independent (plus for me), and I am home every night with a company car full of toys.

I guess my question here is when did you know that you wanted to get out? was there a straw that broke the camel's back? did anyone have this feeling and then found as you gain seniority/experience it goes away? I can always leave for three or four years and come back into it if I wanted to pretty easily (can flight instruct part-time while I'm out to stay current). I am just nervous about leaving then having to restart in seniority in 5 or 10 years if I wanted back in.

Two lines of thinking: Im 23 - stick with it and I could be top #100 at a major one day. Im 23 - I could dick around as a LEO for 5 years, jump back in at 28 and still be senior at a major one day, just have some rougher times in the early 30s playing catch up.

Anyone with a similar experience/thoughts care to share their perspective?
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:02 PM   #2  
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It is rare to find someone that can afford to think so little of their career after achieving a degree and ATP rating.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:40 PM   #3  
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I'm not in your shoes, but I can tell you are not in the wrong career. You are in the wrong job. There are way too many paths in aviation to feel pigeon holed by a bad experience at an airline you have to commute to.

Unfortunately, that may be where the money is for you. Wherever you live, there may be a glass ceiling for locally based aviation jobs. My best advice is to get enough experience under your belt to make yourself marketable again if you quit and then come back.


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Old 05-09-2016, 08:30 PM   #4  
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I'm 5.5 years deep at a regional. I'm trying to get to a major before I quit, but it's not looking promising. Some how, God made people to like airport terminals and hotel rooms, I just wasn't one of them. Everybody says a major will be better. But will it?
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Old 05-09-2016, 08:41 PM   #5  
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It is rare to find someone that can afford to think so little of their career after achieving a degree and ATP rating.
I agree. I feel as if I should I should be excited and motivated after reaching this point after so long trying. But in the end, it's forced. I am by no means the worlds greatest pilot, but the cockpit has already turned into a mundane routine with less than 6 months on line. There are moments of fun and learning and amazement, followed by a slam click at a double tree with nothing in walking distance wishing I could go hiking, or out with friends, or find another girlfriend.


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I'm not in your shoes, but I can tell you are not in the wrong career. You are in the wrong job. There are way too many paths in aviation to feel pigeon holed by a bad experience at an airline you have to commute to.

Unfortunately, that may be where the money is for you. Wherever you live, there may be a glass ceiling for locally based aviation jobs. My best advice is to get enough experience under your belt to make yourself marketable again if you quit and then come back.

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I appreciate the advice. I guess the only way to know for sure is to give it a try in something else to compare. For me, its not the company. The company is excellent - treats me well and pays top tier, its more the lifestyle and job function. I would try to get at least 1000 or 1500 turbine in type prior to leaving, which would hopefully make me more marketable to various positions. If i stay for 1.5 years I should upgrade, so if the hiring process takes too long in my other career, I may end up staying for the TPIC...wait a couple more years tho and get a major interview...pass that and then leaving would be darn near impossible.

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I'm 5.5 years deep at a regional. I'm trying to get to a major before I quit, but it's not looking promising. Some how, God made people to like airport terminals and hotel rooms, I just wasn't one of them. Everybody says a major will be better. But will it?
My thoughts exactly. Will I be so much happier in 5 to 7 years at a Major doing the EXACT same job just making more money with a couple extra more days off. I would probably move to base for a major, so that would help a lot, but ultimately the job won't change. Its just so hard to make a decision to leave in such a strong hiring environment with no guarantee that this wave of hiring will ever come again. I may not be a top tier 1 candidate, but I have enough diversity to hopefully be marketable to a major one day.
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Old 05-09-2016, 09:27 PM   #6  
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A Captain was about to retire, but felt dissatisfied and unfulfilled after 40 years of airline flying. On his last layover in Japan, he went to consult the Wise Old Guru and asked: "Has my whole career been a mistake?"
The Guru replied: "Too soon to tell."
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Old 05-10-2016, 09:30 AM   #7  
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I agree. I feel as if I should I should be excited and motivated after reaching this point after so long trying. But in the end, it's forced. I am by no means the worlds greatest pilot, but the cockpit has already turned into a mundane routine with less than 6 months on line. There are moments of fun and learning and amazement, followed by a slam click at a double tree with nothing in walking distance wishing I could go hiking, or out with friends, or find another girlfriend.
As someone else mentioned, maybe the problem is your job and not necessarily the career.

I also dreamed of being an airline pilot but fell into the corporate/charter side of aviation. I fly a mix of 91/135. We go to some great locations. Hiking in Bozeman and Salt Lake is great in the summer. We book our own hotels (usually a lot nicer than the double tree) and keep all the points. We always get a rental car but sometimes we skip it if staying in a downtown area. My per diem is triple that of what my airline friends are getting at the regionals. I like to eat good food. Like you, I prefer to walk around so I always plan my hotel stay based on location. Last year, I spent several weeks on the beaches of Mexico during spring break. Looking for another girlfriend? If I were 23 again, I would have had a new "girlfriend" every week from different college. Did I mention the drinking age is 18 down there? Do you like diving in the carribean? Surfing in Hawaii? Croissant and espresso at a side walk cafe in Paris? My FO pay was comparable to a regional captain or even more in some case especially after factoring in per diem.

I don't want to debate the pros / cons of corp vs. airline flying. I think long term, airlines (especially majors which you definitely have a shot at your age) offers higher overall pay and more benefits. The actual flying part is more mundane. My friends on that side treat the job as going to work, "slam click at the double tree" as you said, work as little as possible while maximizing the pay.

Commuting would definitely suck the life out of anyone. My friends who live in base are flying 10 days a month or less. Some actively try to fly as little as possible to retain seniority while pursuing other ventures.

I have another friend who spent years spraying crops and now flys fire bombers. He loves his job. No 500' and autopilot on. He works the season and has several months off during the year. Flys contract and pursues business ventures when he's off.

Personally, I still flight instruct independently. Good side cash and reminds me why I got into this job in the first place. It's a breath of fresh air to deal with young, passionate aviators. Plus hand flying little planes in hard IMC with no AP keeps the skills sharp.
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Old 05-11-2016, 11:15 AM   #8  
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Quote:
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I am pretty new to the job. I thought flying large aircraft and travelling would be a blast, but honestly, it wasn't what I thought. Not fulfilling, often not challenging, and I find myself thinking of what I would be doing if I was in a different career and home.


Your first line says it all to me. "I'm pretty new to the 'JOB'."

I've worked in aviation for over 30 years. Airplanes have been a passion of mine since I was 8 years old, years before I even took my very first flight. I worked to become a military pilot and later on, a commercial pilot. Sure, there are downsides to the pilot lifestyle sometimes. It's not always fresh and exciting. Still, if I remain open to it, I can regularly find amazement and excitement in man's ability to fly, the advanced technologies that continue to make it more efficient and safer, the satisfaction of seeing a flight come together smoothly in spite of the challenges we face on the line, and the awesome views I get to see out of my "office window." Sometimes, I even see the appreciation and gratitude on my passenger's faces and their remarks to me as they deplane. And I enjoy sharing my love of aviation with our passenger's children who are awed in a tour of the cockpit and smile with glee in getting their picture taken there. For me, it all makes it worthwhile. For me, it's not "just a 'JOB'." It's a passion that is in my blood and it's my career. It is what I do. It's even a big part of who I am.

Of course, the pay at a major airline helps to keep me motivated. But the pay isn't why I pursued this career and it isn't why I continue in it. It's just the icing on the cake. I get paid (well) to do something I love.

Commuting sucks so I try to avoid it. It makes my life unnecessarily hard if it is a choice. Being junior sucks, but it's a temporary circumstance. If your heart is in the right place, you'll be able to keep it in perspective and see the big picture. Hotels and layovers can sometimes suck. But it's a part of the career to me and I take it in stride. Sometimes, hotels and layovers can also be awesome when I have a nice hotel and a long layover in a city where I can get out and explore and do different things. Sometimes, I even bring my wife along and she enjoys the trip too! Being more senior helps the layover equation over time. I can choose to be away from home less or to fly better trips. Or choose trips with better layovers. Working holidays and weekends can suck sometimes. But it's a part of the career to me and I take it in stride. On the flip side, I enjoy the flexibility and variety of my work days and hours compared to my peers. I can't imagine being stuck in a cubicle, Mon-Fri, from 9-5. Ughhh!!!

The second thing I get from your opening statements is that your expectations were not in line with reality. No, an airline career is not all high pay, glamour, and adventure. But there is some of all of that if you wait around to see it. You just have to temper your expectations. I wonder how much the potentially high pay of an airline career lured you here in the first place?? This is not something you do for the money. It has to be deeper than that or else you will be miserable here.

Pilots who thrive and succeed in this career have a passion for it. You're much too young and inexperienced to be feeling bored and discontent with it all already. It appears to me that you aren't committed to this as a career. You seem to know this because you asked for feedback.

Do yourself a favor and follow your heart. Walk away and go do whatever that other job is that fulfills you and leaves you feeling satisfied. For that matter, do your fellow pilots a favor and walk away. There's nothing worse than to be stuck on a multi-day trip with another pilot who is disgruntled about the company, the career, and aviation in general. I can't imagine how much of a "Debbie Downer" you'd be to fly with at age 65 if you tried to stick this out.

Be true to yourself.
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Old 05-14-2016, 07:40 AM   #9  
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To the OP, you may be taking some things for granted.

Yes, the travel aspect can be a downer. But you're standing on the edge of unprecedented opportunity in airline aviation, with decades ahead of you to cash in...not just financially, airline seniority can get you a pretty good lifestyle.

While corporate aviation is a great lifestyle for some, what would be a fantastic deal for a single guy could be heartbreaking for someone with a young family. All-expenses-paid week in a tropic resort, but he can't enjoy it because he just wants to hold his little kids. Airlines have travel too of course but with enough seniority you can minimize or eliminate lengthy absences.

If you're looking into a regular 9-5 sort of career...for most folks that means almost certainly less money long-term, way less time off and flexibility, and more stress...plus fun office politics and "out of seniority" layoffs. You'll be home every night but you're on the treadmill for sure. If you're never done that sort of job I would suggest you talk to some older pilots who have and can give you an apples-to-apples comparison. If you have big ideas and might be the next mark zuckerberg or would be interested in upper management then you'd probably be better off in industry...but for most folks who don't find work such an extreme passion that they want too do it 16 hours/day, airlines are a better deal IF your timing is right (it is for a 23 y/o).

There are of course a variety of other jobs in aviation but you have to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Bottom line, due to the rare opportunity you have (this career sucked for my generation) I would think very carefully about bailing on airlines. But like you said, you're young enough to try something else and come back.
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Old 05-14-2016, 10:53 PM   #10  
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It doesn't get better. If you feel the way you do and you stick to this career, you will be miserable, forever. I am also bored of this job and I am at United, late 20's here. I am thinking of going back to a top tier MBA program and going to Wall Street afterwards. I feel my degree from MIT is going to waste being a pilot. Other than my education going to waste, I am simply bored with this job.
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