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Old 01-28-2016, 05:02 PM   #1  
Weekend Warrior
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Joined APC: Apr 2013
Position: B737 FO
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Default New hire seeking ORD Jr FO B737 v A320 advice

1/27 CJO here told to expect 3/1 or 3/8 start and I'm seeking some advice from relatively junior O'Hare FOs in both narrowbodies. I'm pretty versed in the relative merits of each airframe independent of specific domicile re: comfort while flying (320) vs. (perhaps?) better overnights/destinations (737). I know relative seniority is a crapshoot/moving target with both fleets growing. I'm 41 so I'm assuming with the relatively even split I've seen in the January classes that I should have airframe choice if not domicile as an older-than-average new hire (that doesn't feel great to say!)...

My family and I live an easy 12-15 minute drive from Lambert just west of St. Louis....O'Hare seems like a no-brainer as a 1+15 flight with 16 total direct flights per day including about 7 United Express RJs and several AA MD80s. Here are a couple specific questions if you all would kindly help out:

- Any STL commuters who can chime in on a) relative difficulty/ease of STL-ORD commute and which more junior base I should chose at drop night since ORDs is rarely avail until first vacancy bid? STL-EWR looks promising with 4 United Express and several SWA each day (albeit a different terminal)...I understand SWA rocks for commuters with early boarding. I also hear that EWR trips are much better than SFO/LAX junior trips WRT redeyes and body clock so I was planning on trying to grab EWR regardless of airframe?
- Airframe. I flew 737s in the USAF from '04-'08 and haven't flown anything in 2 years....I'm leaning Guppy for familiarity as I knock the rust off AND what appears to be better destinations (toes in the sand and hub-to-hub stuff yes?) Can any junior ORD 737 or 320 FOs weigh in on their years 1-2 trip variety via PBS? Also, I'm interested if either airframe out of ORD has a decided advantage for commuters (i.e. pairings with later launches and earlier recoveries to avoid hotel nights?) Specifically, there is a UE RJ STL-ORD 7 days/wk that takes off at 0500 and lands by 0615 followed by an AA 0517 land 0630ish....I will probably preposition for early lines the night prior during probation to play it safe but with those 2 flights plus about 2 more landing before 0800, I'd love to be able to start some mid-AM launches from my house in St. Louis at 0330....more likely in either airframe from ORD?

Any other "tiebreakers" specific to ORD ops? I'm assuming the 2 yr seat lock so I'd like to make a smart choice. I'm also wondering if STL will be a ripe target for "upgauging" with the new 737-700 order delivering mid-2017 or if this market is more likely upgauged with A319s....I'd love to eventually be able to put STL overnights into PBS without screwing my overall line quality....pipedream?! Currently there is a solitary seasonal 737-800 STL-SFO mainline here, otherwise all RJs.

Lots of questions...sorry for the overload but hoping for some perspectives from United STL commuters and/or younger ORD FOs. Cheers!
BK

Last edited by bkC130; 01-28-2016 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:18 PM   #2  
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Position: CRJ, CR7, A320, B737
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Hi, Welcome aboard!

I don't have a lot of answers to your questions, but on the final snapshot for the current bid that closes tomorrow there are still 19 unfilled 737 FO spots in ORD. There are 0 on the 320. In fact, the ORD 737 FO staffing was increased by 19 on this bid, and they were allowing 22 320 FO's to leave the category without replacing them.

One other thing you might think about is ORD 756 FO. That category is growing as well. It might take a little longer to get into that, but is still going relatively junior.

Good luck. Wear your half-wing with pride. It's good for a lot of free beer!
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:23 PM   #3  
Weekend Warrior
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Thanks Mike for the quick reply and warm welcome....my family and I are so pumped! I've snuck some peaks at a bud's CCS trying to decipher bid packages and it looked like 756 was all stateside stuff like ORD-IAH no? I didn't see ANY international on that equip out of ORD so I must be searching incorrectly. Right now they aren't awarding 756 to newbies as those slots are being filled by 2-yr seat lock releases I was told....but I'd definitely be interested, especially because I've heard many international pairings are commutable on both ends. Thanks again, BK
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:40 PM   #4  
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:41 PM   #5  
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ORD 756 is still being developed as they transition the L-UAL guys 76T flying to the end state 756 category. I think in the end they will be doing a bunch of Europe flying on the 767-300 from ORD, as well as some 757 flying.
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:47 PM   #6  
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I did the STL-ORD commute for a couple years. It's not as easy as one might think. There's lots of flights but they're all oversold for the most part. Add in some weather in Chicago and it's a nightmare with cancelled flights, ground stops and every other commuter trying to get to work. Since you're going to be commuting on AA/UAX you don't have any priority on the jumpseat. If things started melting down I tried to go to MDW on WN or just commuter caused it and went home.

STL-EWR/LGA was way easier in terms of getting on flights. Nearly always got on.

Congrats on getting on with UAL!

Last edited by flyguy81; 01-28-2016 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 01-28-2016, 05:59 PM   #7  
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I was a longtime Stl commuter and I can second what flyguy81 said. ORD can be tough at times with weather and weight restricted flights. Trans States and Gojet also have crew bases on both ends so there can be multiple positive space crewmembers gumming up the works so to speak. Just leave yourself multiple backups and you can make it work.

As for 737 flying coming back into StL, I would not hold my breath. With the aforementioned regionals headquartered in St. Louis, I am sure they will fight tooth and nail to hold onto the flying they have. Anything is possible though. Heck, 15 years ago ALL StL UAL flying was mainline.

Good luck and welcome aboard!
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:07 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mossimo View Post
I was a longtime Stl commuter and I can second what flyguy81 said. ORD can be tough at times with weather and weight restricted flights. Trans States and Gojet also have crew bases on both ends so there can be multiple positive space crewmembers gumming up the works so to speak. Just leave yourself multiple backups and you can make it work.

As for 737 flying coming back into StL, I would not hold my breath. With the aforementioned regionals headquartered in St. Louis, I am sure they will fight tooth and nail to hold onto the flying they have. Anything is possible though. Heck, 15 years ago ALL StL UAL flying was mainline.

Good luck and welcome aboard!
I really enjoyed the STL layovers while I was on the 737. It was a good trip out of EWR. SFO-STL where you got in around 7pm. Plenty of time for dinner and drinks, then back to SFO the next evening. That was maybe 3 years ago. The RJ crowd did give a few sideways glances when they saw the guppy pull in.
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:09 PM   #9  
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Congrats and welcome to United!, I don know much about the commute part, but did want to mention the seat lock part. You can always move up in pay band, so you can bid 756 at your first opportunity.
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Old 01-28-2016, 06:19 PM   #10  
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Congrats and welcome aboard.....

My advice is ORD 737. Enjoy the easy training in a plane you already know and enjoy time off with your family as you will hold a line sooner on the 737. Of course YMMV....and things always change but ORD is a safe bet for an STL commuter ...
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