When you start at an airline you simply build seniority. There is no Reserve vs Line seniority. Now at the vast majority of airlines Reserve is traditionally very junior because you’re subject to the needs of the company. Reserve pilots generally get stuck flying the trips no one wants because if someone senior wanted the trip they would have bid for it or picked it up. Hawaiian Interisland is a very unique operation. First off we have no overnights and we only fly to 5 airports so there really are no “bad” trips. The other reason Reserves get called is weather or maintenance issues. This is Hawaii so the weather is seldom an issue and we have spare planes so neither is maintenance. Finally we have a 2hr call out which means you have 2hrs to get to the airport. Well I live in Oahu and there is literally nowhere you can go on this rock that’s more than 2hrs from the airport. What that means is on Reserve days I can do whatever I like as long as I have my phone (I even have a nice waterproof phone case so I can even paddle). If I get a call I just head to the airport. We have showers and I always have a uniform in my locker so it’s easy. It’s for all those reasons that here Reserve actually goes pretty senior.
You see that’s probably the biggest misunderstanding when people talk about seniority, that you never get what you want. It’s only if what you want is the same as what everyone else wants. When I was hired at Xjt EWR was the junior base and no one wanted it. Well I from NY and I did so I got exactly what I wanted. Same for trips to Mexico. No EWR pilots wanted to fly to Mexico. I LOVE Mexico and got there every week.
Bottomline seniority allows you to have more choices relative to everyone else. There is NEVER a con to being senior.