Real Answers from Real Pilots

Bid frequency

General question,

I understand from several other posts that as an airline pilot you bid for everything you want in life and the results usually come down to; seniority, luck, seniority, having the guts to bid for what you want when you might not get it, and seniority. I know from discussions that schedules are bid on a monthly basis but how often do you bid for everything else, bases, equipment, captains spots, ect? I’d imagine with any change in aircraft or going from FO to CA their is additional training and that you would likely bid those less often, is that the case?

Thank you,

Carl

Carl,

Luck and guts have nothing to do with bidding. It’s Seniority. Nothing more, nothing less. Airlines come out with bids when they need to. New aircraft, new routes, attrition of pilots can all trigger a bid, and that can be once or many times throughout the year. Now training a pilot for a new airplane costs the airline a considerable amount of money and they cannot afford to have pilots jumping from plane to plane. In most cases the airlines have a “seat lock” which means if you change airplanes you’re required to stay in that plane for a period of time (usually 2 years).

Adam

Adam,

That is good to know. I was basing the luck and guts part off of your own experience in getting a captain spot before others more senior because they didn’t think to bid for it and you did. The seat lock is a good thing to know about. Does it also apply to base selection or can you choose to change bases more often?

Carl

Carl,

My experience was neither luck nor guts. It was simply a matter of taking advantage of some good advice I was given long ago. Bid what you want NOT what you think you’ll get. Base changes are completely different because it doesn’t cost the company money like training does. If you want to move every bid go crazy, but don’t cry about the commute, moving expenses etc. Commuting is a choice.

Adam

Carl,

At United a seat lock is just that, the seat on that particular aircraft. You can change bases as much as you want, provided there is an opening on your aircraft.

Chris

Does the seat lock apply for domestic and international routes when you’re with a mainstream carrier?

Barb,

Seat locks apply to ALL airplanes and have nothing to do with the routes they fly.

Adam