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Reserve life before cell phones

Old 07-08-2024, 11:45 AM
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Default Reserve life before cell phones

Question for all you old timers.

what was Reserve like before cell phones AND pagers? Did you have to pretty much stay inside your house all day long (during your RAP) so you could hear your house phone ring? Or was it a different system back then? Thanks
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Old 07-08-2024, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Halon1211
Question for all you old timers.

what was Reserve like before cell phones AND pagers? Did you have to pretty much stay inside your house all day long (during your RAP) so you could hear your house phone ring? Or was it a different system back then? Thanks
Depended on the company. At UAL&AA they would send your assignment via registered mail, but DL required a VHF radio tuned to 121.5, and you would meow to acknowledge the assignment.
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Old 07-08-2024, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by symbian simian
Depended on the company. At UAL&AA they would send your assignment via registered mail, but DL required a VHF radio tuned to 121.5, and you would meow to acknowledge the assignment.
symbian,

that was the laugh I was looking for all day! You didnít disappoint.
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Old 07-08-2024, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Halon1211
Question for all you old timers.

what was Reserve like before cell phones AND pagers? Did you have to pretty much stay inside your house all day long (during your RAP) so you could hear your house phone ring? Or was it a different system back then? Thanks
We originally didn't have reserve availability periods, you were continuously in rest until the phone rang, provided that you had 24 hrs off in a 7 day period. At that point you were on the hook for up to 16 hours of duty since transportation local in nature counted as your rest. Most places used 15 minutes after block in to 45 prior to block out to define rest, so basically min rest was 9 hours block to block. Cell phones hadnt really taken off, so if you didn't have a pager, you had to physically be near the phone. I don't remember when RAP became a thing, but it was a significant improvement. Those were also the days where most places were fly or you're fired, much more thorough and difficult systems/simulator training, and one of the reasons that old dudes just roll their eyes when people today complain about reserve. Can't say that I miss those days, but at the time it was the norm.
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Old 07-08-2024, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Hedley
We originally didn't have reserve availability periods, you were continuously in rest until the phone rang, provided that you had 24 hrs off in a 7 day period. At that point you were on the hook for up to 16 hours of duty since transportation local in nature counted as your rest. Most places used 15 minutes after block in to 45 prior to block out to define rest, so basically min rest was 9 hours block to block. Cell phones hadnt really taken off, so if you didn't have a pager, you had to physically be near the phone. I don't remember when RAP became a thing, but it was a significant improvement. Those were also the days where most places were fly or you're fired, much more thorough and difficult systems/simulator training, and one of the reasons that old dudes just roll their eyes when people today complain about reserve. Can't say that I miss those days, but at the time it was the norm.
This, mostly.

RAPs became a thing after the Whitlow Letter, which was issued in late 2000. Someone had taken it upon themselves to ask the FAA if sitting on-call was an obligation to the Company, and if it was, how could it not be considered duty for the purposes of a duty day.

Whitlow, who was the Deputy Chief Counsel for the FAA at the time said (obviously paraphrasing) "Hey, you know what, you're right. You can't consider time on call as rest. You either need to be given rest prior to the report time of the assignment, or the assignment must fit within the duty day including the on call period".

Needless to say, this seriously blew up the reserve deal as it then existed for the airlines, which was pretty much 24 hour on call, be there in an hour (or whatever your contract said) and it caught them pretty flat footed.

Portable cell phones (to distingush from car phones) really didnt become a serious consumer item until the late 80s. Widespread consumer phones appeared probably about 1990 or so, and you saw the adoption of the classic Motorola "brick" phone running on the old cellular AMPS system (analog). Consumer grade car phones running on the cellular system had been around a few years prior to that, and before the cellular system, a different system (VHF/UHF, straight analog) had been around for car phones going back to the early 60's, but it was nothing like the cellular system, and certainly not consumer grade in any way.

"True" one number service for cell phones, where if you dialed the cell phone number you got the phone where ever it was, didn't really materialize until the late 90s. Before that, you had to call an operator, and "guess" where the phone might be, and they had to try to signal the phone based on your guess. Otherwise it went to voice mail. Yea, it worked, but by and large, cell phones were mostly for being "local".

Beepers have been around for decades, and there were various flavors. "Digital" beepers, where you could enter a call back number started in the 80s, but before that there were the very simple variety that simply beeped, and you either called the answering service (back when that was a thing) or the office that had your number.

Prior to that, yea, 24 hour reserve sat by the phone. Have a loud ringer (which was an acutal bell), and maybe if you were big news, you had a phone out on the porch or garage. Remember, at that time, all phones were landlines, and hardwired. Ma Bell (old school American Telephone & Telegraph) ran the show, owned everything including the lines and the phones, and you had to lease the phones directly from them. They were heavy and built to last by Western Electric (Bell's manufacturing arm). Wireless phones started to appear in the early 80's.
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Old 07-08-2024, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by NuGuy
This, mostly.

RAPs became a thing after the Whitlow Letter, which was issued in late 2000. Someone had taken it upon themselves to ask the FAA if sitting on-call was an obligation to the Company, and if it was, how could it not be considered duty for the purposes of a duty day.

Whitlow, who was the Deputy Chief Counsel for the FAA at the time said (obviously paraphrasing) "Hey, you know what, you're right. You can't consider time on call as rest. You either need to be given rest prior to the report time of the assignment, or the assignment must fit within the duty day including the on call period".

Needless to say, this seriously blew up the reserve deal as it then existed for the airlines, which was pretty much 24 hour on call, be there in an hour (or whatever your contract said) and it caught them pretty flat footed.

Portable cell phones (to distingush from car phones) really didnt become a serious consumer item until the late 80s. Widespread consumer phones appeared probably about 1990 or so, and you saw the adoption of the classic Motorola "brick" phone running on the old cellular AMPS system (analog). Consumer grade car phones running on the cellular system had been around a few years prior to that, and before the cellular system, a different system (VHF/UHF, straight analog) had been around for car phones going back to the early 60's, but it was nothing like the cellular system, and certainly not consumer grade in any way.

Beepers have been around for decades, and there were various flavors. "Digital" beepers, where you could enter a call back number started in the 80s, but before that there were the very simple variety that simply beeped, and you either called the answering service (back when that was a thing) or the office that had your number.

Prior to that, yea, 24 hour reserve sat by the phone. Have a loud ringer (which was an acutal bell), and maybe if you were big news, you had a phone out on the porch or garage. Remember, at that time, all phones were landlines, and hardwired. Ma Bell (old school American Telephone & Telegraph) ran the show, owned everything including the lines and the phones, and you had to lease the phones directly from them. They were heavy and built to last by Western Electric (Bell's manufacturing arm). Wireless phones started to appear in the early 80's.
this helps a lot. Thanks!
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Old 07-08-2024, 02:28 PM
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Yup, in the old days, 24 hours on reserve. I'd just gotten to bed sleep after Carson when the pager went off. This Eastern Crew Sked, 6am DH to YYZ, operate all day to MIA and back thru ATL. Look at the clock, I can take a shower or get another 20 minutes. Take a shower and start the drive to LGA.
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Old 07-08-2024, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by galaxy flyer
Yup, in the old days, 24 hours on reserve. I'd just gotten to bed sleep after Carson when the pager went off. This Eastern Crew Sked, 6am DH to YYZ, operate all day to MIA and back thru ATL. Look at the clock, I can take a shower or get another 20 minutes. Take a shower and start the drive to LGA.
My favorite was blocking just under 12 hours since it was "international" (3 man crew) and then having to part 91 ferry the plane somewhere else. Made for a long day. One non-schedule freight outfit even figured out that the regs didn't specify that the 8 hours rest had to be continuous. And to think there are still people out that there that question why we need unions.🙄
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Old 07-08-2024, 02:45 PM
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To add to all the good information above at DAL all reserve Pilots were always on long call but additionally everyone had two short call windows each day IIRC it was 0800-0900 and 2000-2100. This was in force during C2000 but eventually morphed into a distinct SC and LC. Of course by then most Pilots were using cell phones but a few holdouts still had beepers post 2000.

If you didn't live local you needed a crash pad for reserve.

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Old 07-08-2024, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by NuGuy
Whitlow, who was the Deputy Chief Counsel for the FAA at the time said (obviously paraphrasing) "Hey, you know what, you're right. You can't consider time on call as rest. You either need to be given rest prior to the report time of the assignment, or the assignment must fit within the duty day including the on call period".
Appreciate the lesson, but how in the heck did it take til 2000 for someone to contest this?

Secondary question: When did reserve become a thing? Like, was Pan Am rocking flying boat reserves in the 30's?

Last edited by Ice Bear; 07-08-2024 at 03:05 PM.
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