Monday, November 21, 2016

Why I won't fly Allegiant

I normally love to watch "Air Disaster" and any show like that.  However as I turned it on this morning to watch while I ate breakfast I was greeted with the Alaska Airlines Flight 261episode.  I lost my appetite.  You see the reason I did is because dh used to work for an airline, that had more than 4 issues with jack screws on elevators (which was the cause of the Alaska Crash).  Many of these shows I find interesting, this one I found scary because of the similarities of his previous employer.  Unlike Alaska who I am pretty sure given their safety record since then seems to have learned their lesson, pretty sure dhs previous employer has not as evidenced by this article .

Sure I have heard people say its fine and that the press over blows everything .  I'm sorry, dh worked there for three years and was in the safety department for some of that time, I would never set foot on one of their planes, not at least until their CEO is fired or leaves.  You see company safety culture comes from the top down.  Everyone wants to believe that the airlines would never put you in danger but that's not quite the truth.  There is a matrix of risk vs profit.  Most airlines are smart and make this a small percentage.  However some airlines want to make a larger percent on the profit side, which means cutting corners and sweeping things under the rugs.  This is the reason dh is no longer at his previous employer, because no matter how loudly he and others he worked with demanded change in maintenance and safety no one higher up would allow changes to be made.

You may wonder if things are so bad why hasn't the FAA done anything about it.  Well to be honest the FAA is more reactionary than anything else.  Take for instance Value Jet  this airline (scary enough the CEO at Allegiant was at Value Jet) had many big problems before its final crash. Only after the crash did the FAA pull their ticket.

I'm not saying don't fly them, I can't tell you what to do, or what not to do, god knows as long as people save $10 they will fly on a winged elephant.  I'm simply telling you as a pilots wife, why I will not fly them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trading Places

So as the wife of a pilot I often hear (and even have said) some of the things I have learned in my last few months of what I call trading places.  While dh had been out with a knee replacement I started traveling a lot.  Let me say it’s a totally different perspective when you’re the one doing the traveling. 

I never understood why dh didn’t always want to hop in a plane and go somewhere on his days off.  Of all the things this is the one that flabbergasted me the most.  I mean free flights, why not go?  I however totally get it now (as does dh from my perspective).  We wanted to go somewhere when I had a few weeks off and he kept asking me where.  As he had been stuck at home for two months doing not a lot (other than pt) but I was so tired I just didn’t care, I didn’t want to be near and airport or a plane or any of that hassle. I finally told him if we were going somewhere he better plan it because I was incapable.  That was a total eye opener; I would still rather drive to Michigan than fly to Denver. I’m trying hard to put my finger on why I don’t like it, I think it’s because I only have a few days off and I don’t want to spend them hanging around an airport trying to get somewhere. So the next time your dh drags his feet about going somewhere I promise it’s a real thing and has nothing to do with you!

Going out with the crew.  This tends to be a big issue for a lot of couples.  Dh and I have never had a problem with this, but I see a lot of pilots wives post about it.  In all honesty (unless you have a party animal for a husband) it’s pretty low key, either dinner in the hotel restaurant or somewhere close by.  It’s also the same conversations a lot of the time, where do you live? Where are you based? Do you have kids? All the normal type questions.  Then it usually turns to union and work.  Also in no way shape or form should this “free time” be construed as replacing time with family, kids, etc.  Sure occasionally you do get a crew that goes and does something fun, but you have to remember their still at work, it’s never as fun as if their family would be there instead of the crew.  Honestly I’m grateful for anyone who goes out, it helps the time pass and does form a comradery with the crew.

Another big complaint I see is, they get to sleep in and in a hotel room, with no distractions (which I used to think was amazing!).   Now I , truly hate hotels (I’m betting most crews do).  See here’s what (most) hotels do, they have certain rooms that are “crew rooms” they use every night for crews.  This means they don’t really clean them, and I’m talking nice hotels too…Sheraton…Marriott…etc.  If the sheets are pretty maybe the change them maybe they don’t’.  Also that “quiet” you think your dh is getting, isn’t real.  As I sit here and type no less than 3 times has someone knocked on my door, even though the “do not disturb” sign is out.  Because if your dh checks out after normal check out hours, their screwed, and if you leave your room always take an id. If you leave after the normal check out time 9 times out of 10 the key won’t work.

So overall that “fun” you think your dh is having isn’t always fun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DOJ vs Airlines

                  Look its a price gouging airliner, quick get the pitch forks!

So this bugs me a lot.  That the DOJ is calling out the airliners This bugs me for a few reasons.

First of all they (DOJ)  deregulated the airlines in the 70's, which means they can't tell them what to do now, unless of course they want to re-regulate (is that a word?).

Second I don't think ticket prices are that high.  When I can buy a ticket on SWA for under $100 for a trip that would take me 16 hours to drive I'm pretty sure I am getting the better deal.

I will be interested to see how this plays out after all the DOJ is the one that approved the big 3 mergers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vacation and Meldowns

 We went to the Lawn Club on our cruise and we (my dad and I) got to cook with the chef's!  It was great fun!

So the intention today was to catch up with a post about our awesome vacation, which has been overshadowed by the need to touch on the giant meltdown at dh's airline.  So it seems dh's airlines crappy management has caught up with itself ie: chronic under staffing of everyone, FA's, dispatch, schedulers pilots (to some extent) and of course outsourcing the gate agents.  Turns out you can only beat people so much before they rebel or in this case quit (dispatch).

Their convoluted hiring of FA's has screwed them as well (also the fact that the FA's have gone 8 years without a contract).  Take for instance my good friend named "Pam."  Pam went to an open house to be a FA, she would have been great; she's a great person, who is upbeat and nurse!  So she sent her resume in and got a call!  She was planning on going to the job fair in Dallas (which they were hiring for that base) so imagine her surprise and displeasure when the email said that she needed to go to LAS job fair and interview!  This was approx a week before the LAS job fair and she couldn't get the time off, much less pay for a last minute r/t ticket there, not as if they would get her out there for the interview.  So they lost an excellent potential FA because of stupid paperwork snaffu's like this, take this an multiple it, now you have a problem.

The airline is trying to grow, I understand that, but you have to have support staff to do that, you can't grow pinching pennies it's not as if the airline couldn't afford it.  So now in the heart of the meltdown, our esteemed (sarcasm) MEC has told the company that in order to "get the airline back on track"  the pilots will happily ignore the contract, fly more that it allows, and for no extra pay.  You can imagine that hasn't gone over well, especially in this house!  I am completely astounded the MEC would decide this, management needs to be held accountable for their penny pinching, short sightedness.  Telling them we will happily break the contract for them is only enabling them.  The MEC also used the veiled threat of "if we don't help the airline it  will be in real trouble"  ie: you might need a new job.  Fine so be it, let the airline fold (I doubt it will) when issues like this happen and the MEC folds it just lowers the bar across the board for all airlines.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Allegiant Matters

So if you may think the Allegiant (potential) strike doesn't effect you, and you'd be wrong.  In this industry (as someone said) nothing happens in a vacuum.  Whatever happens to Allegiant will indirectly effect you at your company.  For instance dh's' airline is starting (soon) contract negations no doubt that since Allegiants pay and benefits are substandard they will use them as a comparison of a competitors airline's pay and benefits.  This is not helpful to dh's contract negotiations, or any other airline, as the lowest common denominator always drags down the average.  This is why everyone should be behind a pilot group when they strike.

What is Allegiant striking for?  Well the recent one that is going to court on Friday is what is called a "Status Quo" strike. Right now Allegiant pilots are just trying to get the company to honor the work rules they have, "to maintain status quo"   The judge ruled last year that the company had to maintain status quo and put things back they way they were (scheduling, and disability were the big issues) but so far the company hasn't, hence the strike for "Status Quo."   Yes Allegiant does have to follow the RLA (Railroad Labor Act) and no, no airline has ever struck for status quo, but railroad workers have, so it's not an illegal strike.  It would however be a first for the airline industry.  Why has no airline ever struck for status quo?  Because no airline management has every been greedy or ignorant enough to not follow the work rules they agreed to, to the extent that Allegiant has.  So if you see an Allegiant pilot give them your support!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Disney for DINKS: Childfree and Disney Lovers!

                     Yes it is Christmas, but no kids hiding anywhere!

So there is no surprise to those of you that know us, we LOVE Disney.  

We often get questions about it.  Why go to Disney without kids?  Is it really that much fun if you don't have kids? Yes, Yes, and Yes to any other question you can think to ask.  When dh was based in Florida we had annual passes and used them often, this year sadly we let them expire, though I am guessing we will get them again in the future. I thought since we love Disney and have been so much I would do a series of blogs about them from our point of view, without kids.  A lot of the information isn't necessarily "dink" (Double Income No Kids) or "child free," after all you are at Disney, but I do add in tips geared toward adults.  This is the first blog in the series and will cover hotels, not too exciting but it's info you need to know.

So if you stay "on property" at a Disney Resort and are flying in you get to use the free Magical Express Bus that runs from MCO (Orlando International) to the various Disney Resorts.  Also you get extra magic hours that are only for guests staying on property.  Disney has, more or less, three levels of resorts.  They call them Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. The also have a Campground and "Super Deluxe Villas."

Let's start with the Value hotels.  The name says it all, nothing fancy, the rooms have a small fridge in them, but other than that they are a basic generic hotel room.  All the different levels of resorts have pools, however, the pools at the Value level have a lot left to be desired.  They are of course nice and clean, after all it is Disney, but they remind me of a sea of concrete, they have some umbrella's and chairs but nothing to really write home about. The Value resorts all have a food court in them, much like the food court at your mall, your options run from pizza, to sandwich's,burgers, salads, and chicken.  Nothing really exciting but it's a step above McDonald's, plus they do have cans of beer and small bottles of wine.  The Value Resort buses are usually pretty busy too, it seems like they always have a long line at the end of the night.

Now to the Moderate Resorts, this is my favorite level of resort.  It is (of course) a little more expensive but well worth it in my book.  The rooms are slightly nicer and the grounds are a lot nicer, more tree's and more of an ambiance. This ambiance carries through to (most) of the pools, my favorite pool of any of the resorts we have stayed at is the Port Orleans Riverside pool.  It's wonderful, lots of trees and shade if you want it, a nice bar almost on the water, they even have a slide which my husband loves, as well as hot tubs! The Moderate Resorts all have a food court similar to Value Resorts but they also have a nicer sit down restaurant and bar as well.  Buses still seem busy at the end of the night, the big drawback to a larger Moderate Resorts is that they have a lot of bus stops within the resort, so it seems to take forever to get out of the resort itself.

Lastly on to the Deluxe Resorts, now we have only been lucky enough to stay at a Deluxe Resort once (Boardwalk) for two nights before they cancelled hubby's crew discount.  Deluxe Resorts are way to expensive for us, but that doesn't stop us from walking around them and going to the bars!  The room at Boardwalk was amazing.  Amazing.  It had a balcony, and a kitchen, it was the best room we have ever stayed at in the park.  On the flip side we were there so little I wouldn't spend that kind of money for a room like that again, unless of course you aren't going to the parks for a few days and want to enjoy the resort, which is also totally fine.  The pool was great, it also had a slide and a bar, though I still liked Port Orleans pool better, but none the less still very nice. Also the restaurants around there (Boardwalk) are great, they have The Big River Grille and Brewing Works.  This is of my favorite restaurants anywhere on Disney property, the price is good as is the food, and of course the beer!  While we haven't stayed at the Polynesian we love the Kona Cafe for breakfast, it seems like all the Deluxe Resorts we have visited have some great restaurants.  The one big plus of the Deluxe Resorts is proximity.  Most of them are very conveniently located to one park or another and actually within walking distance to some parks, so it does save a lot of time waiting around for the bus.

Now there are two hotels I haven't mentioned, The Swan and The Dolphin.  They are Disney Hotels but don't fall under their normal "Resort Categories."  Price wise they fall between Moderate and Deluxe. I haven't ever stayed at them as they book up early, so I can't comment too much on them, only that I would love to stay at them as they are super convenient to EPCOT which is one of my favorite parks.  So if you have a chance I would certainly stay at either one.

*Disney Resorts do not have that annoying resort fee that so many others are adding these days.

Now for the off property options, you can stay off property but close at the Downtown Disney hotels or you can stay far off property.

Downtown Disney hotels are mostly convenient and it's not even necessary to have a car as you can take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel for $25 pp each way.  They also offer more dining options as it's a quick walk to Downtown Disney with all the restaurants they have to offer.  For the really ambitious you can even walk about 2/3 mile down the street to the shopping plaza where there is a grocery store, McDonald's, BW3, Pizza Hut, and various other chain restaurants which do help the budget.  The Downtown Disney hotels have a wide range of pricing; there is a Best Western, but also a Hilton, all within walking distance to Downtown Disney.  However as a side note if you rent a car most of these hotels charge you to park, and also have resort fee's.

Now for the real off property hotels

These run from scary cheap hotels to super nice Sheraton's and condos.  We have stayed at all of the above, my feeling is if you're committed to staying off property you should just go as cheap as you can stomach since you are already paying for a car.  Also beware the resort charge, I hate them but they are becoming more and more common, so that room you think is $50 is really $70 after the "resort fee."

Now for a few "adult" suggestions .  I would say unless you really love kids shy away from the Disney Value Resorts. Nothing against them, I've stayed there many times as they are cheap, but they kind of have that Chucky Cheese feel to them, loose children everywhere and the only place to eat is the food court, no bar to escape too! Overall I would recommend a Disney Moderate Resort or a Downtown Disney Hotel.  These seem to be the best compromise of price and quality, along with more adult entertainment.  For instance Port Orleans French Quarter has a jazz bar, and downtown Disney has some pretty good bars my favorite being Raglan Road which is an Irish bar. Downtown Disney also stays open later and is pretty nice at night after most of the kids go to bed.  If you have the extra money I would of course recommend the Deluxe Resorts and their Super Deluxe Villas.  These are always almost close to a least one park, have some of the best restaurants, pools and even bars.  I heard a rumor that the renovation at the Polynesian will include a Trader Sams type bar like the one in California, which was amazing and probably deserves it's own blog!

Next time I will cover the "Holy Grail" aka The Magic Kingdom, until then, Whistle while you work!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nonreving Fun

                                 Our successful nonrev trip to Japan!

So the airlines try to sell nonreving as a "'perk" of working for them, in fact the regional dh worked at told them it was worth $10,000 a year. I would have rather had them pay him the extra $10,000 to be honest, it would have been more useful.  For non-aviation folks nonreving means non-revenue passenger, it is flying standby if there is a seat available.  Airlines have different agreements with other airlines regarding this, at dh's airline I can fly on them and also pay taxes (plus some) to fly on other airlines.  Weather I fly on dh's airline or a different one it is still standby, seat available.

So lets start out with this, nonreving is not for the faint of heart.   When you nonrev you are last to get on, heck I have had some gate agents send me down to the plane when they aren't even sure there is even a seat left, only to have to walk back up when everyone shows up.  You also stand the chance of being treated like crap by the gate agents.  Now as a paying passenger you're probably sitting there saying they treat everyone like that, which might be true.  The difference is that you (as a paying passenger) can complain or at least be mad about being treated like crap, where as I (when a gate agents screams at me, yes it's happened) has to stand there and smile and say "I'm sorry."  Even though I'm not sure what I did and I'm sure not sorry, because if the gate agent reports to the company that I was a rude/angry/pita, in anyway we would lose our pass travel privileges and dh could lose his job.  So that's the downside, dealing with unpleasant gate agents, and not knowing if you are going to make your flight, hard to plan a vacation that way.

So the perks when they work are fantastic.  We just got back from an awesome whirlwind trip to Japan, courtesy of nonreving.  The flip side is that we didn't know we were going for sure until we got on the plane, which makes it hard to plan but thankfully our friends who we were visiting understood.  It also meant that we had to adjust our travel day once (or twice) but it all worked out. The key with nonreving is Flexibility..  If we hadn't made the flight we had a backup, and we had a backup to location.  If we couldn't go to Japan we would have gone to Europe or Hawaii, or really where ever there were empty seats.  Flexible.

    Our less than successful trip to Frankfort for Christmas Markets...but a lot of FUN!

The key with nonreving (besides Flexible) is fun! Honestly that's the best way to look at it.  One of the most fun nonrev trips I have done was to Disney World for Mickey's Christmas Party with our friends.  Originally we were all going to meet in Frankfort, but because of the Lufthansa strike dh and I couldn't get there.  So we all changed courses and headed to Orlando for some Disney Fun!  Even getting to Florida was a bit of a challenge for dh and I, when we walked into Midway it was chaos due to weather.  So instead of going to Orlando we went to Tampa and drove over, I booked the car when we were walking down the jet bridge! Again Flexible.

The honest truth is if you can't be flexible and have to be someone where, or if you don't want to deal with crappy gate agents and middle seats, buy a ticket.  I have bought tickets in the past and actually have some for later this year, if its a strict timeline and super important then buy a ticket.  Nonreving is not for events where you have to be there.  For instance I will buy a ticket to get on the cruise and nonrev home, I for sure don't want to miss the cruise but don't mind if I sit for a day (or two) in the airport on the way home. 

So happy travels no matter where you end up!!

"You must always be able to predict what's next and then have the flexibility to evolve."
Marc Benioff