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ULCC or American?

Old 02-07-2020, 08:00 AM
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Default ULCC or American?

Curious to get some opinions or thoughts. This is not a question I would have thought to find myself asking, but now I've got a choice and I'm going to ask the internet for some perspective (hopefully with minimal regrets).

Here's my situation. I'm newly employed by a ULCC, and I also have a CJO from American. At the ULCC I have about a 1.5-2.0 hour drive to work. I see myself being really happy here if it were the last place I worked for, however I do have ambitions to do widebody flying in my career, and that's not an option where I'm currently at. If I take the CJO from American I would have a 4 hour driving commute, with an option to fly commute, but with lots of competition for the jumpseat. Other than having a better commute at my ULCC it seems like I'll be sacrificing schedule flexibility, at least in the short term until American gets a new contract. I also have some reservations regarding American's current finances, and I worry about how well American will fair when the economy inevitably sours. But the prospect of getting in early with all the retirements and the opportunity for widebody flying are big draws for me.

I've sat down with my family and had the discussion of pros and cons for both, but I'm curious what some of you with more experience in the Part 121 world have to say. Are American's financial woes blown out of proportion? Things seem to change frequently in this business, so is it really something to worry about? Will American's new contract really fix a lot of the QoL issues? I'll leave it here, as you probably get the gist. Thanks in advance for the advice.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:05 AM
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How old are you ? And would you guys ever consider a move to base at some point before retirement ?

Otherwise I would bail .. the AA retirement numbers are no joke .. meanwhile LCC have been hiring young pilots since inception . Progression is pinky done via growth which canít stop tomorrow and other junior guys like you bailing .

best of luck ,many people would kill to have your chance.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ShoeClerkMadeMe View Post
Curious to get some opinions or thoughts. This is not a question I would have thought to find myself asking, but now I've got a choice and I'm going to ask the internet for some perspective (hopefully with minimal regrets).

Here's my situation. I'm newly employed by a ULCC, and I also have a CJO from American. At the ULCC I have about a 1.5-2.0 hour drive to work. I see myself being really happy here if it were the last place I worked for, however I do have ambitions to do widebody flying in my career, and that's not an option where I'm currently at. If I take the CJO from American I would have a 4 hour driving commute, with an option to fly commute, but with lots of competition for the jumpseat. Other than having a better commute at my ULCC it seems like I'll be sacrificing schedule flexibility, at least in the short term until American gets a new contract. I also have some reservations regarding American's current finances, and I worry about how well American will fair when the economy inevitably sours. But the prospect of getting in early with all the retirements and the opportunity for widebody flying are big draws for me.

I've sat down with my family and had the discussion of pros and cons for both, but I'm curious what some of you with more experience in the Part 121 world have to say. Are American's financial woes blown out of proportion? Things seem to change frequently in this business, so is it really something to worry about? Will American's new contract really fix a lot of the QoL issues? I'll leave it here, as you probably get the gist. Thanks in advance for the advice.

The notion of retirement being the best way for seniority is half accurate. Not sure what ULCC youíre at, but assume Frontier or Spirit. Look at the confirmed orders on books, calculate the pilots, and see how many guys that would stack under you in those years....what percentage are you at? Now see how many years of retirements at AA it would take to reach that same level? Point is, bidding power comes from both sides.

And yes, ďgrowth can endĒ and planes can be canceled but also AA can file BK again and more trouble woes too. I got hired at Spirit before the last airline order wave and to say Iím happy I didnít think ďoh Spirit is small, they could go out of business and airplanes canceled...Ē

Ask a SWA guy that started back when they were growing and see how those guys are on the seniority list. My only point is seniority comes from both ends.

if you want to fly heavies, thatís another thing. But youíve gotten a taste of the ULCC gig and you know if it works for you. I wouldnít leave; yet another AA or legacy guy will come on and say to leave because a legacy pilot might have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to make a career at a growing and profitable ULCC instead of a debt laden airline who is currently ranked last. Things can change, no doubt, but who is to say what ďneeds to get doneĒ to fix the issues at AA.

The contracts between the two are an entirely different story.

Dont let the career define you. Find a place you can be happy at and make a good living. Enjoy your time home and find a way to do it as much as you can. Everything else is noise and can be gone tomorrow
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:55 AM
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Thatís a pretty far drive. 4 hours both ends 3-5 times a month would get extremely old and expensive. AA is by far the worst place to be right now. Iím talking about the CBA. That being said itís always better to go to worst one before it gets better, instead of the best place late. AA pilots will get a leading cba at some point and hopefully it becomes the best place to work. I take it youíre a younger guy. in 8/9 years you will be bidding 50% at AA out of 15k pilots. thatís a very long widebody career sir. AA says they will pay off 7 B in debt in 3 years, and Parkerís huge risks might actually workout. If I wasn't fortunate to have flowed or got hired at United I would have happily taken a 30 year career at Spirit or Jet Blue. If the last bid is any indication of things to come being at AA before 2023 youíre going to be able to pick your poison. Left seat NB or rolling into Europe in the Bunk of a 78. Personally I would make the switch and make the family move closer to my base. But, iím a selfish only child so I dont know how that whole family dynamic thing works.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:32 AM
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That extra drive would probably kill me. Possibly quite literally if doing it after a red eye. However, it seems like you want to be at a legacy and fly the big metal and have the money that comes with it. I say go for it. No regrets! I would try to move closer to the AA base if possible. And while I do place pass travel pretty close to last when picking where I want to work, I do wish I had the ability to take my family to other parts of the world in first class. Flying in coach on a zed fare with a family of four sounds pretty miserable to me which is why we vacation closer to home. Spirit guy here
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:40 AM
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While it pertains to Delta, one telling seniority ďfactĒ (heard it here) was about seniority. Basically said that because of the age and numbers hired that If youíre hired today at something like 38, the most senior youíll ever be is 2800. While Iím guessing on the age/numbers, itís a close +-. It was telling to me because we all hear about how airlines are hiring tremendous numbers and that they are retiring the same, it doesnít tell the same story. This was particularly interesting to me as I was at least looking to be sure Iím not doing whatís best for my family. As a 39 year old, 9 year captain that drives 38 miles to work its an intangible which is hard to beat on any spreadsheet. The ONLY thing that bothers me where I am (in terms of stay/go) is id bet my next paycheck that AA will be here when I retire, I wouldnít do the same for my carrier. While Iím near certain that we would be bought/sold/merged before that happened, itís not a given by any stretch of the imagination. As Iíve become ďhandcuffedĒ where I am, thatís the one metric that Iíve been trying to come to terms with is long term stability. Who cares where you are on a list or what you fly or how long your drive is if youíre on the street by 50. While NO ONE is stable, the government has made it clear they wonít accept any of the big 3 collapsing. My plan is be happy where I am, thankful for every extra night Iím home with my family, and be prepared to apply to PlaneSense when Iím on the street by 50.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:40 AM
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While it pertains to Delta, one telling seniority ďfactĒ (heard it here) was about seniority. Basically said that because of the age and numbers hired, that If youíre hired today at something like 38, the most senior youíll ever be is 2800. Junior narrowbody captain is not an acceptable top out for me. While Iím guessing on the age/numbers, itís a close +-. It was telling to me because we all hear about how airlines are hiring tremendous numbers and that they are retiring the same, it doesnít tell the whole story. This was particularly interesting to me as I was at least looking to be sure Iím doing whatís best for my family. As a 39 year old, 9 year captain that drives 38 miles to work, its an intangible which is hard to beat on any spreadsheet. The ONLY thing that I lose sleep on where I am (in terms of stay/go) is id bet my next paycheck that AA will be here when I retire. I wouldnít do the same for my carrier. While Iím near certain that we would be bought/sold/merged before that happened, itís not a given by any stretch of the imagination. As Iíve become ďhandcuffedĒ where I am, thatís the one metric that Iíve been trying to come to terms with is long term stability. Who cares where you are on a list or what you fly or how long your drive is if youíre on the street by 50. While NO ONE is stable, the government has made it clear they wonít accept any of the big 3 collapsing. My plan is be happy where I am, thankful for every extra night Iím home with my family, and be prepared to apply to PlaneSense when Iím on the street by 50.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:07 AM
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Who in govt said that it wouldnít accept any of the big 3 collapsing? Did I miss that?
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Bahamasflyer View Post
Who in govt said that it wouldnít accept any of the big 3 collapsing? Did I miss that?
$15bil in post-9/11 bailout is a pretty strong signal they wonít let the big airlines fail.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Flyby1206 View Post
$15bil in post-9/11 bailout is a pretty strong signal they wonít let the big airlines fail.
Letís not derail this thread, but essentially exactly what flyby said. This along with $80 billion to the auto industry proves the government believes in too big to fail. While nothing is guaranteed, I have a suspicion the government isnít willing to let 900+ airframes of lift disappear overnight.
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