Real Answers from Real Pilots

A few general questions for the professional pilots here

Hey guys, just a few questions for you - as you have time to answer them.

  1. I’ve seen the phrase “Corporate culture” discussed when choosing an airline to work for. What does that generally mean? What are some examples of what YOU were looking for personally, as you were applying for positions?

  2. This one may sound silly, but who are your bosses? Do you interact with those individuals frequently, or are you treated more as a private contractor in the sense that if you show up and do the job you signed up to do, you’re generally left alone to work independently from supervisors within the airline?

  3. When signing on with a regional, how do the conditional offers work? Is there an interview process before the conditional offer as well as prior to actually starting the job?

  4. Does changing the hub you work from impact your seniority, or is seniority company wide?

Thank you all for your time. I really enjoy reading your feedback. Roll Tide.

Pete

Pete,

Let’s get right to your questions:

  1. “Corporate culture” means the dynamics at the company, the direction the company is going, how they treat their employees, whether the union and management get along, etc. I was hired in a very different environment than today, the best airline then was whichever one hired you and to a large extent that is still true of the majors.

If I were looking at the regionals, I would be looking for how secure they are with their major airline partners, how their contract is, what their bases are and how long to upgrade to Captain.

  1. My boss is the base chief pilot. I have never actually met him, but I did know the one before him. While we have very little contact with the bosses, we are very much employees and not independent contractors.

  2. I believe the interview process is around 500 hours, right before the conditional offer is given (or not). There is typically not another interview, you just need to build flight time to get to the required 1,500 hours.

  3. Your overall seniority number goes with you no matter where you are, but some bases are “more senior” than others, so your seniority will buy you less in those bases.

Chris

@Chris - Would it be safe to say you don’t want to know the Chief Pilot and you really don’t want them to know you? Typically if you know each other it’s because something went wrong and you found yourself in their office??

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Danielle,

That is a pretty fair statement. I only knew my previous chief pilot because I once flew a trip with him. It isn’t that I avoid knowing them, I just find that there is really no reason to have contact with the office.

Chris

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Peter,

Here’s my take:

  1. One of the primary reasons I came to Hawaiian was their “corp culture”. It was very unique compared to any I had seen elsewhere. First and foremost Hawaiian is probably the smallest Major in the country. While United, Delta and American have over 10,000 pilots, we have 700 and change. Everyone knows everyone and it’s a much smaller pond which I enjoy. Many people like the anonymity of being just a number but I thrive better when I’m not. Also while Hawaiian is obviously a public company it’s very near and dear to the people of Hawaii and people take a tremendous amount of pride as if they’re not only representing the airline, but the state and people of the islands. There’s a genuine feeling of family that I hadn’t experienced or seen elsewhere.

  2. As Chris said the Chief Pilot is your direct supervisor but many pilots go their entire careers with literally no interaction with theirs. That was actually the biggest surprise to me when I first got hired at the airlines, how little supervision we actually have. After training, as long as the plane takes off and lands where it’s supposed to no one really pays much attention. There’s no check in, punch in or anything. The Gate Agent usually verifies it’s you but that’s the extent of it. Very strange to me at first.

  3. Tori can probably answer this one better as there was no such thing when I went through the process. From what I’ve heard it’s just the one interview and unless something changed (accident/incident, arrest or medical issue) you’re good to go.

  4. As Chris said there’s system seniority (airline) and base seniority. When I was at ExpressJet EWR was the most junior base and pilots bid out as soon as they could. That was my home so it was where I wanted to be. As a result while I was relatively junior SYSTEM wise I was fairly senior base wise and enjoyed the benefits of a good schedule and faster upgrade.

Adam

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Danielle,

While that was what I was told when I was new and seems to be the general opinion I personally disagree. I’ve always had a good relationship with my CPs and it’s always served me well. The majority of people hide and if/when something happens all they have to go by is the event and maybe your attendance history. By establishing a relationship they know you as a person and not just a number and that can make a huge difference when it counts.

Adam

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Hello Peter,

The other mentors have done a good job answering your questions. Since your
first question applies to all of us I can tell you that I narrowed my
selection of regionals down by considering the company’s reputation and
values and what bases were available. I know a pilot can live wherever they
want, but I really wanted to live in the PNW and not commute. I was
lucky that Horizon offered tuition reimbursement for CFIs at ATP while I
still had the chance. It made my decision easy.

Here I am now, SEA based, living in Tacoma. I can’t get enough of this view from my new apartment.

Tory

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Good stuff! Thank you all for the thorough and informative responses. Really appreciate it. Also, @Adam, I really enjoy your work in the Iron Man trilogy as Tony Stark. Fantastic work. :wink:

You hanging with the Pu’u?

That’s where they filmed a few movies, cool location. No wonder why you can’t complain about the view!

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I’m right there with you, Tory. I’m going to be headed out to Everett this weekend to start my training next week. I’m excited to live in the Seattle area and hope to stick to the PNW for a while to come, hopefully with Horizon after ATP.

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