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


Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Tale of Two Perspectives

,                                                Perspective






Perspective is something I think is important to have in the aviation industry. Everyone has a different path in this industry, some come from military background, some go to college specifically to be an airline pilot, there are many paths to being an airline pilot.  With each path each pilot has taken comes perspective.
There is no "wrong" path be becoming a pilot, where people run into a problem is that they believe that their perspective is the only one. 

In this industry luck truly is 90% of when/where you get hired, the other 10% (I would say) is networking.  Since luck does play such a huge part in your career trajectory, people who have been lucky lack perspective on what happens to the less fortunate.  This doesn't make them bad people, but they also aren't necessarily people want to talk/work with. 

A Tale of Two Perspectives

For example dh flew with a CA (we will call him Bob)a few months ago that he has become friends with, he is younger than dh (that gets more and more common these days) but he was a great guy, I even got to meet him once when I was non-reving!  Bob is great and very down to earth, easy to get along with, and understands that nothing in this industry is a given.  Bob was furloughed from his regional and was lucky to get hired on where is now currently and upgrade relatively early in his career.

Now onto CA Jack (again not real name), Jack is also younger (younger than Bob even) Jack got hired here when he was 22.  Jack isn't a bad guy (hey he bought everyone coffee!) but lacks the perspective of a hard airline career.  Jack tends to think every one can do what he did in their career and doesn't understand how someone can be 40, have a masters, and still only be an FO.  Jack can't understand this because Jack's never had anything bad happen in his career, he lacks perspective, and to be honest acts entitled.  This comes across when talking to him in his attitude.

Honestly though age has not much to do with perspective, it seems life experiences are much more of an indication on this.  I have met some really great down to earth guys in the industry that are in their mid to late twenties, these are almost always the guys who have been either A) furloughed or B) worked at an airline that went bankrupt.  These guys pass no judgement on anyone, after all they understand the instability of the industry and the way it works.  I have also met 40+ year olds who act/sound immature because they have been lucky in their career and don't understand why everyone doesn't just do what they did.  Then there are the guys who have been lucky and they know it, these guys are great, no condescending remarks and comments about how "easy" they have had it.

I *might* be biased but dh has a pretty good attitude about his career.  He's been through a furlough, a fake flow through, his regional being sold, and he still loves his career and won't even consider doing something else besides flying, trust me I've tried.  But recently he's gotten really down on himself and his career, this has something to do with his very sad W-2, but also he's flown with a few guys recently who have been the lucky ones and lack perspective, and think that everyone should have done what they did.  These aren't the people anyone wants to fly with, so even if you don' have perspective have some understanding that perhaps not everyone is as lucky as you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rich Pilot, Poor Pilot




                                          At least it is a nice view


Thanks to 9/11 and all the ensuing bankruptcies there are very few "rich" pilots save for some southwest guys who got good stock options back in the day.  Contrary to popular belief airline pilots are not swimming in money and lighting hundred dollar bills in the cockpit while your stuck in the back.

I know every single one of you who isn't in the aviation industry will google this as soon as you read this so let me help you Now the next thing your going to do is say the average is $98,000, that seems pretty good, and it is pretty good.  I for one would be ecstatic if dh made that a year.  However after 14 years as an airline pilot that's not what he's making, not even close.  Remember that $98,000 is the average which means that half make more and half make less.

 I'm sure at this point if you're not in aviation you're thinking to yourself so get another job that pays better, after all dh has been flying for 14 years he should be able to "move up the ladder" so to speak.  I certainly wish this was true.  In fact dh has had 3 different airline jobs, but you see at the airlines unlike most other jobs your past experience doesn't count for jack shit, it only helps you to get an interview.  Since dh has flown the 757 you would think that maybe he could go to United/Delta/FedEx who all fly 757 and say "I have X number of hours flying this plane and I was an instructor on it. I also have my masters in Aviation Safety, I am worth X number of dollars so that's what you will pay me."  However it doesn't work like that, the experience gets you the interview and maybe the job but that's where your useful experience ends. If you are hired you are placed in seniority order from date of hire, below everyone already hired, no matter if you have experience or not. Along with this every airline you start with places you on first year pay regardless of experience. So the philosophy of "moving up the ladder" doesn't work so well in the airline world.


Now you might be ok with your pilot making almost $100,000 a year which is fine but then think about getting on a flight where the pilot makes $15,000 for the year, still feel as comfortable?  True all pilots have the same standard FAA training BUT  I bet you that guy making $15,000 is more stressed.  At some point in everyone's life (well most everyone) you've had a crappy McDonald's type job that paid this, but it was probably when you were in high school, and maybe college.  Not when you are 40 and trying to figure out how to pay a mortgage and feed your family.  So you do what almost all pilots do (besides load up on credit card debt), you go cheap whenever you can ie: load up on free breakfast from the hotel.  Being the poor pilot you are you will stash away some of your breakfast and eat it for the rest of the day, you can't afford to buy anything else if you are only taking home $15,000 a year.  I know that dh has many times only eaten yogurt and a can of cold ravioli all day (or ramen) in order to cut costs.

Only a small percentage of your plane ticket actually goes to paying for the pilot. While this chart is about 7 years old the numbers have not changed much.  So on average you are paying $3.72 per hour of your flight toward pilot pay.  Say you are on a two hour flight only $7.44 of your ticket goes to pay your pilot.  Doesn't seem like a lot now does it?  The rest goes toward; fuel, maintenance, insurance, and of course greedy airline CEO's.

Real poor pilot examples; dh and two other new hires at his airline compare W-2's.  One made $35,400, one made $25,300 and dh made almost exactly $26,000.  That is total, not take home.  Dh took home almost exactly $10,000 for the year. For flying an airbus full of people, with his 14 years of experience and his masters degree.  This number isn't sad, its pathetic. This is why I get so upset when people say pilots are rich, yes some are well off, but  some are barely scarping by.  Think about that next time you get on a plane.