Real Answers from Real Pilots

Corporate culture differences between airlines?

(Elias Zwillenberg) #1

I’ve heard a bit how different airlines’ pilots seem to interact with ATC and other airlines and I’m curious if there’s a big difference in the corporate culture within the airlines and if so, examples. Any insights?



That’s actually one of the main reasons I’m at Hawaiian. When I was first hired by ExpressJet (aka Continental Express) we were Continental’s sole Regional partner. One of the reasons I wanted Xjt was I believed I wanted to eventually get to Continental but after a very short while I realized I did not. First off I did not like the way we were treated by mainline. Many of the pilots and gate agents treated us like second class citizens and my friends at other Regionals sometimes had similar experiences with their Major partner’s employees. There even seemed to be tension between the various work groups within the same airline. By contrast whenever I met a Hawaiian employee, whether it was a ramper or a Capt, they all seemed to get along well and treat eachother (and others) with respect. Obviously there are exceptions but that was my experience for the most part and what drew me to Hawaiian.

As for how pilots interact with ATC I don’t really see any one airline behaving a certain way or another. The only exception you’ll find is when it’s their “home turf”. If you’re in EWR, UA is the BIG FISH in the pond. ATL it’s Delta, DFW AA, NRT JAL etc etc and if you’re not the big fish well then you’re not. What that means is don’t be surprised if you’re in EWR and you’re flying for Delta and both you and United call for push at the same time they don’t get cleared first. I actually was #1 to taxi in ATL, wayyyyy ahead of a Delta flight and was told to give way to Delta. I said on ground “so that’s the way it is huh?” and without missing a beat the controller responded “yup, that’s the way it is, this is Delta country”. :slight_smile:


(Elias Zwillenberg) #3

Interesting. I was expecting the opposite response, TBH. Reminds me of how the weekly rag’s photogs would treat us lowly daily writers in the news business. Of course we were the same way to the online. Any comment on how Spirit is on the inside?



I have a few friends at Spirit. They were pretty miserable until they signed their new contract in February. Now that their pay has come up some they seem happier. Beyond that I couldn’t say.


(Elias Zwillenberg) #5

I just chatted with a Spirit captain actually. He’s pretty senior, he said he loves it.


Perhaps you should apply?


(TX) #7

ATC definitely has their own opinions of airlines, and makes some assumptions based on those, but they rarely will have any significant impact. Despite the stories, “first come, first served” is the driving principle in priority given (barring an operational reason to change that).

I will say from when I was in the tower at an airport with parallel taxiways, if I had two guys heading to the runway at the same time and one was Southwest, Southwest was going first. They almost always taxiied faster. Little things like that.



That may be the “driving principle”, in the ATC rule book and the way you did things but trust me there are clearly preferences made AND you’ve obviously never flown in Japan. The Japanese controllers will vector you 180deg out of the way to give way to 3-4 JAL or ANA flights. In the smaller markets many of the controllers have “friends” they take care of. Happens everywhere everyday.


(TX) #9

All right. If it was unclear, I was only speaking about the American ATC system. I was not a Japanese controller. That sounds frustrating.

There would be significant penalties for an American controller to do something like that, despite the ongoing jokes about things like penalty vectors (a joke we would make too).

Just trying to add to the conversation, not make a blanket statement about worldwide ATC operations.



I gave an example of what happens in Japan but as I said these things happen here in the good ole USA daily. I’m not going to argue or debate. Just remember this conversation in the future when you’re put in the “penalty box” in EWR or taxiing in ORD and get the “penalty ground hold” :slight_smile:


(Elias Zwillenberg) #11

I just might apply to Spirit, everything depends on how likely it seems they’ll upgrade me quick. Seems like airlines are so volatile it’s just damned hard to make a good, informed opinion.

(Josh Parkey) #12

My last CFI flies for Spirt and she seems to love it.
Guess it just depends on what you like.