I’d like to expand on the whole “Seniority is Everything” and how it relates to quality of life and the dreaded Reserve. Seniority IS definitely everything in so much as it gives you priority over the other pilots in the GROUP based on their PRIORITIES. For example, if you’re #1 on the seniority list and EVERY pilot wants Christmas off you’re definitely going to get Christmas off, easy. So does that mean you’ll have no quality of life until you move up? Not necessarily. When I was first hired at ExpressJet, EWR (Newark) was their most junior base because frankly no one wanted to live in NY/NJ. All the pilots bid IAH and CLE (Houston and Cleveland) and many were upset when they were sent to EWR and had to wait months or even a year before they could get out. BUT guess what? I’m from NY and only wanted EWR so I was a happy guy. Not only did I get EWR right off the bat, but as guys gained seniority and left I gained seniority WITHIN the base very quickly. Another thing was EWR guys hated going to Mexico (for a variety of reasons). Well I LOVED going to Mexico so I was happy to get those trips and because I was willing to take them I ended up with better schedules because avoiding Mexico was more important to many them days off. Now I’m here at Hawaiian and again it’s not strictly a matter of seniority (again unless you want what everybody else wants). When I flew Interisland here we had am and pm schedules. Most guys hate getting up early so pm’s were senior. Well I’m a morning person so once again I got what I wanted by default. I’ve since moved to the Airbus and I’m very junior on this airplane. BUT AGAIN, it’s about the “group”. Many Bus pilots commute (even from the outer islands) and they’re biggest priority is 1) having a fixed schedule and 2) high value (long) trips to maximize their days on. I live in Oahu so I actually bid reserve. Why? We have a 3 hr call out and there’s literally nowhere you can go on this island that’s more than 1 hr from the airport. I have a waterproof case on my phone, I keep my uniform in my locker and a bag packed and do whatever I like. IF they call I shower, shave and go to work. Most of the trips I get are lower time West Coast but since I’m on reserve I’m getting paid a 75hr guarantee so the less I fly the better I make out. I’ve been averaging 19 days off a month and flying 40-50 hrs but I still get paid my 75. Not a bad deal. Now would I rather have a fixed schedule and do some AKL and PEK (Auckland and Beijing) trips? Sure but at my seniority I can’t hold them but on reserve I actually have a shot if someone calls in sick. It’s about making the best of the situation and hopefully having some different priorities than the masses. Does that all make sense? Will you miss Christmas morning with the kids? Probably for a few years but it’s not all bad.
Now let’s talk facial hair. While Chris is my friend and I love him dearly, the man is continuing to spread US Major Airline propaganda. Many years ago when airplanes became pressurized pilots needed to have O2 in the cockpit in case that pressurized airplane became unpressurized quickly. O2 masks are a critical piece of emergency equipment since if you’re cruising along at FL410 (41,000ft) and the airplane suffers a rapid or explosive decompression you literally have seconds before you’re unconscious and the plane because a pilotless drone (no bueno since there’s no one on the ground with a remote). The FAA tested the EARLY masks and discovered that if you were a Hipster rocking a beard you couldn’t get a good seal and a bad seal is as good as no seal and therefore said NO BEARDS. Well the aviation industry has advanced over the years and that includes O2 MASKS which is why if you look at my profile picture you will in fact see me sporting the goatee I missed during my time at ExpressJet. Now many European and Middle Eastern (for obvious reasons) carriers allow beards, however most US carriers still do not (I think Hawaiian is the only one?). Why? Personally I believe they believe clean shaven looks more professional and it’s one less conversation they may need to have. You see pilots as a rule generally like to push things. Here at Hawaiian we’re allowed “neatly trimmed and well groomed” beards but every now and then some fool shows up after vacation looking like Duck Dynasty. He promptly gets an invitation to the CPO (Chief Pilots office) for a chat the CP would just as soon live without. No beards means 1 less meeting.