Real Answers from Real Pilots

Career as first officer?

When you are promoted to captain I assume you start back at the beginning of the seniority just like you do when you move to a major. Is it common or even desirable, especially for someone starting out as an older pilot, to stay at first officer once working for a major so you have more say in their schedule?

Jon,

You don’t technically start back at the bottom of the list, you fit in where your overall seniority allows. So if you upgrade at the first possible chance, that will be the bottom of the list. Some pilots will wait several years and then upgrade, allowing them to come in with much higher seniority. It is common for pilots to wait until they can hold a line to upgrade, thus avoiding reserve.

To answer your question, it is very common for pilots that can hold a Captain slot to stay as a First Officer to enjoy the perks of being senior. This is not a career long commitment though, anytime there is a “system bid” and there are Captain openings they can bid for those if they have changed their mind and decided to upgrade.

Chris

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I see - so your seniority is based on years with the airline vs. others at the same rank, as opposed to years you’ve been at that rank vs. years others have been at that rank.

Correct. Seniority is based strictly on date of hire at the airline and nothing else.

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Good question Jon. I actually know a pilot who just upgraded for Delta after being in the right seat for 17 years on the 738. The reason why is that he wanted to have the seniority to be able to decide his schedule and make sure he doesn’t miss aspects of his children’s lives. Something you wouldn’t have as much control of scheduling wise if you were a junior captain.

So he just upgraded to a captain when the timing was right and it has worked out for him. Sometimes you will take a pay cut when you could upgrade in order to have more control over the line you fly.

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Speaking of the line, what is the typical time one would get a line position from being on reserve, or does it just matter on personal preference on how they want their quality of life schedule wise?

KC,

It really depends on a whole host of factors and can vary greatly from one airline to the next and within that airline one fleet to the next.

Generally speaking though, at a regional airline that is experiencing growth the time from a reserve FO to a line holding FO is only a few months.

Chris

Thanks Chris, I appreciate the quick response and answer.

KC,

FYI, the only time I was ever on Reserve was a month at both Hawaiian and ExpressJet. Since that time I’ve bid Reserve many times for a better schedule but have never had to.

Adam

That’s a relief to hear, I was told yesterday by someone who knew a pilot who no longer flys to steer clear of this career for I’ll be on reserve for years before I get a line. I just laughed thinking about what’s been mentioned here on this forum, the old I know a guy who knows a guy who’s sisters brother’s ex roommate was ramp agent that dated a pilot for a week and a half. I mentioned how things are and the naysayers are in force in my camp it’s sickening so I just avoid and keep on trucking towards this dream, this goal and this amazing career, thanks @Adam for your response sir.

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Absolutely KC! Just nod you’re head and smile. Eventually you can say I told you so but it’s not necessary… but you could :slight_smile:

Adam

You know it…:grin:

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