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A Few Questions about United

Old 12-22-2019, 03:23 AM
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Hi all,

Iím very thankful to have a job offer from United. I currently have a good corporate job with a decent QOL and Iím weighing my decision to leave for UAL. The primary reason to make the switch is to have a more stable schedule and to know ahead of time when Iíll be home. Unfortunately, I donít know a single pilot at United but I have a few questions about the operation that hopefully some of you can answer. Thanks in advance for any info youíre willing to share.

1) EWR is a 3.5 -4hr drive from my house. What does a reserve schedule look like? Will I have to commute in the night before or dose a receive block always start with long call?

2) How much vacation does one get and how do you use it?

3) If you want to purchase airfare for the whole family at a discount (instead of trying to fly space available) how are the tickets discounted?

4) As I understand it, profit sharing is available after completing your first year and averages somewhere around 8%. Is this correct?

5) How far in advance is your schedule known?

6) Can someone explain how one drops or trades trips? How useful is this tool for manipulating your schedule?

7) How are the family healthcare benefits for someone with a large family?

Thanks again!
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Lightspeed View Post
Hi all,

Iím very thankful to have a job offer from United. I currently have a good corporate job with a decent QOL and Iím weighing my decision to leave for UAL. The primary reason to make the switch is to have a more stable schedule and to know ahead of time when Iíll be home. Unfortunately, I donít know a single pilot at United but I have a few questions about the operation that hopefully some of you can answer. Thanks in advance for any info youíre willing to share.

1) EWR is a 3.5 -4hr drive from my house. What does a reserve schedule look like? Will I have to commute in the night before or dose a receive block always start with long call?
Everyone starts on long call. When you're assigned short call you'll need to be able to push the aircraft in 3 hours. You can aggressively pick up trips to avoid short call assignments.

2) How much vacation does one get and how do you use it?
One week your first year (pro-rated), then two until you complete 5 years, then three weeks and it keeps going up. You bid for it annually.

3) If you want to purchase airfare for the whole family at a discount (instead of trying to fly space available) how are the tickets discounted?
There's a discount applied to the current fare structure for revenue seats. You can then use accrued miles for upgrade opportunities.

4) As I understand it, profit sharing is available after completing your first year and averages somewhere around 8%. Is this correct?
Approximately yes, but never bank on it.

5) How far in advance is your schedule known?
By the 18th of the preceding month.

6) Can someone explain how one drops or trades trips? How useful is this tool for manipulating your schedule?
Black magic and unicorns unless you're in a properly staff BES

7) How are the family healthcare benefits for someone with a large family?

Thanks again!
I've found the insurance options to be good.


I've never met an airline pilot wishing that they were flying corporate. I've met plenty of corporate guys trying to crack the code to get to the airlines. If I were in your shoes I'd take the job and bid the 737. You'll be off reserve quickly in EWR and be in a great position.
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:06 AM
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Congrats on the offer from UAL! I think in the short term you will probably miss the corporate gig but in the long run you will be in a much better place particularly since you mention wanting a more predictable schedule.

1) EWR is a 3.5 -4hr drive from my house. What does a reserve schedule look like? Will I have to commute in the night before or dose a receive block always start with long call?
- Reserve is 18 days per month. You will start on long call but frequently be given short call and field standby assignments if not assigned a trip. I had to drive about 5 hours to my first domicile from where I lived and I kept a crash pad until I switched to living in base. During a 4-5 day block of reserve you will likely have to spend 1-3 days at EWR to cover SC/FSB assignments unless you are assigned or aggressively pickup trips (if available). The best thing to know for now is that in the narrow body fleets you are given 12-13 days off per month that the company can't move around. Another thing to consider is that EWR is a junior base and you will be a line holder within a reasonable time - probably less than a year. As a line holder you will have your schedule and can keep it or modify it as able and the rest of the days off are yours. Lineholders typically see 15-16 days off but at a minimum have 12-13.

2) How much vacation does one get and how do you use it?
-14 days for the first couple of years. You bid annually and/or monthly. Junior vacation awards are typically anything but summer, Christmas and spring break.

3) If you want to purchase airfare for the whole family at a discount (instead of trying to fly space available) how are the tickets discounted?
-About 20%

4) As I understand it, profit sharing is available after completing your first year and averages somewhere around 8%. Is this correct?
- Not sure if there is a historical average but the important thing to remember is that the profit sharing is for your first CALENDAR year. So if you start anytime in 2020, your first year of profit sharing check would be for the CALENDAR year of 2021 and show up sometime in 2022.

5) How far in advance is your schedule known?
-First Officer schedule awards shall be completed no later than 2359 CT on the seventeenth (17th) calendar day of the month.

6) Can someone explain how one drops or trades trips? How useful is this tool for manipulating your schedule?
- We have a trip trade system that is electronic and you submit your requests with that tool and sometimes over the phone with the futures desk. To most of us its a mystery but it is possible with some seniority to manipulate your schedule and move reserve days and drop trips IF there is adequate coverage. So in theory per the contract we can drop trips but the company keeps the "reserves required" number artificially high relative to the number of reserves available which leads to the "No coverage" response.

7) How are the family healthcare benefits for someone with a large family?
- There are a couple of different plans available and in my opinion they are typical company sponsored healthcare plans that have deductibles, caps and copays. I don't hear anyone complaining that often. I personally use the military system and use the company for vision and dental.
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:11 AM
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Terrain Inop,

Thank you for taking your time to reply to my post! Very helpful!
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:23 AM
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FlewNavy,

Thank you for your reply and for your service!
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Old 12-22-2019, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Lightspeed View Post
I currently have a good corporate job with a decent QOL and I’m weighing my decision to leave for UAL. The primary reason to make the switch is to have a more stable schedule and to know ahead of time when I’ll be home.
No two ways about it: it will be short term pain for long term gain.

Hopefully the economy keeps plugging along and you will be off reserve quickly. That alone will make all the difference in the world for QOL unless you absolutely desire weekends off and bid reserve intensionally.

Whatever pain you experience in the short term will be minor compared to when your sweet corporate gig disappears in an instant, and it will, statistically speaking. Very, very few corp jobs last a career---it's just the nature of the beast.

Much better to make the switch on your terms.

Originally Posted by Lightspeed View Post
3) If you want to purchase airfare for the whole family at a discount (instead of trying to fly space available) how are the tickets discounted?
Note that the discount (in theory, 20%) is subtracted off the lowest fare in the computer system, not necessarily the lowest that UAL is actually offering. Thus, the discount can be much, much greater than one would expect and far below anything available on any airline. Other times, not so much. It pays to watch fares and shop around.
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Old 12-22-2019, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cadetdrivr View Post
It pays to watch fares and shop around.
Unfortunately, I sometimes buy a ticket for my wife on another airline because it's cheaper than our 20% discounted ticket.
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:33 AM
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Regarding scheduling...we use something called PBS, which stands for Pilots Butts in Seats. This unique system insures the trips are properly staffed and deconflicts known absences and training and other conflicts and puts pilots booties in the seat. Seniority is used, but the reality is it depends on overall solution constraints. this is where the black magic and unicorns comes in. Your preferences are racked and stacked against other pilots preferences, and the procedure is somewhat reminiscent of the lottery system.

Also utilized is the G line. Not to be confused with the G string, or the G spot, the G line is the published line you want to be above in order to guarantee you won't be on reserve. However, the G line floats from month to month and it's in flux much like how the magnetic north pole floats about.
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by HuggyU2 View Post
Unfortunately, I sometimes buy a ticket for my wife on another airline because it's cheaper than our 20% discounted ticket.
I agree. Our discount program isn't that great. Just pay us more and airfare won't be an issue.
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:40 AM
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If you can get on a wide body as an FO that will go along way into predicting your schedule and commutability.

4 hours to EWR isn't that terrible. But the wide body trips usually start later in the afternoon or evening, so that gives you all day to get to work. I found that FO wide body was the most family friendly schedule I ever had. Money was good too.

Your real decision in my opinion is where you want to be and expect to be in 10 and 20 years. As another poster alluded to, it's short term pain for long term gain. Not sure how current situation is in your corporate gig, but back in the day, corporate operations weren't that predictable, profitable, or stable. But, heck what is?
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