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Old 06-30-2011, 08:58 AM   #1
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Default Do you have to upgrade when it is your time?

I understand that the airlines are a seniority number type of job. So when it is your numbers turn to upgrade do you have to or can you stay a FO until you want to upgrade. Essentially making you a senior FO that would be senior to the most junior CA if that makes sense.

I could see someone passing on an upgrade if it meant the would have to move, go to equipment they didn't want, not be able to hold a line etc.. My first thoughts would be a senior FO that gets the schedule he/she wants every month not wanting to upgrade till they would be able to hold a decent schedule as a captain. Plus looking at the pay scales it seems if you were on a senior A/C as a high number FO you make near what a junior A/C captain makes. Just wondering if this happens. Or when your number comes up you move or loose the number.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:07 AM   #2
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It may depend on the carrier, but at least here you can.

Some guys stay FOs forever just because they've gotten established with the QOL they want.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:14 AM   #3
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When or if they did upgrade do they go on the CA list where they would be if they upgraded when they should have or do they go to the bottom?
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:21 AM   #4
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You can upgrade anytime provided 1, your seniority allows,2, company need. FO's often wait until they can hold a line as a captain in the base and equipment of their choice. And this leads to many FO being senior to the Capt. And once you upgrade you shuffle into the Capt seniority list at your company and base seniority.
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Old 06-30-2011, 09:22 AM   #5
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You don't have to upgrade, unless you bid to upgrade and your number comes up. Be sure you have your bid updated the way you want. More than a few pilots have been surprised and have been awarded a seat change they weren't expected and/or did not want.

Very few pilots pass by an upgrade to captain. I did for a few months to make sure I could hold a base I wanted, but I was unusual and I knew it was just a short delay at that time. Second in command time doesn't mean a whole lot for career movement and the vast majority of pilots want pilot in command time ASAP. This is especially true at the regional airlines where first officers make poverty wages.

I have heard of a couple career first officers, though. One guy was wealthy and just flew for fun. He only cared about a good schedule. A few others were forced to remain first officers because of medical problems or check ride busts.

Anyway, it's your choice. Just make sure your ducks are in a row to get awarded what you want.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:25 PM   #6
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American Airlines used to require upgrade, not sure if this is still true. Also, to answer your question about pay, the most junior Captain pay is always higher than the most senior f/o pay at pretty much all airlines.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
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American Airlines used to require upgrade, not sure if this is still true. Also, to answer your question about pay, the most junior Captain pay is always higher than the most senior f/o pay at pretty much all airlines.
Southwest also used to require upgrade.
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:06 PM   #8
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Also, to answer your question about pay, the most junior Captain pay is always higher than the most senior f/o pay at pretty much all airlines.
That's generally true of pay rates, but I don't think it's difficult for senior FOs who know how to work the system to take home more money than the junior captains on reserve. Granted, they probably have to work more days, but if money is the only objective, sometimes delaying the upgrade for a while can make sense.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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I was a senior FO --> Junior CA and the pay has not even been in the same ballpark. It was a large gain that could not have been attained as an FO. I chose not to bypass because I have come across a few guys who bypassed for "a few months" to get the base or seniority they wanted. It took 3 years to get another chance. While it was 3 years with decent QOL it was ~1800 or so PIC lost.
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