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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mythical Pilot Shortage

                                    Somewhere out there....is a pilot shortage.


You know that old saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."  This can be true of applying at airlines to, it never fails to amaze me the number of people who will only apply at certain airlines.  If you are that desperate to get out of your current job, why would you not apply everywhere (that would be a step up) and hope for the best.

Honestly the whole "pilot shortage" is not every really going to happen at the major level, its just not.  As the majors retire the boomers they will shrink the airline, farming more out to regionals and code sharing with other carriers.  Yes they will have to hire some but it's not going to be in the huge numbers that people are expecting. So why would you limit yourself to just one airline?

Lets play the numbers game shall we?  So I just added up the number of pilots of 4 large regionals this is about 14,000 pilots (numbers from apc).  Going by the numbers that people have posted for hiring I would guess that maybe (if no unforeseen circumstances) the airlines (non-regional)will hire about 4000 people next year.  So you have about a 29% chance of being hired, remember your millage may vary as I only have numbers for 4 regionals and did not include hiring numbers from cargo companies.

The pilot shortage doesn't look so good when you and more than 14,000 of your closest friends are competing for 4,000 jobs. Its unfortunate but for right now it's the reality.  This means that unless you are happy staying at your regional and never moving on you need to apply everywhere.  Yes, everyone wants to go to Delta, the reality is they are only hiring around 1400 people this year out of more than 14,000.  And before everyone freaks out, I'm not saying it's not possible I'm saying it's not probable.  So unless you are happy staying at your regional (or wherever you are) apply everywhere.  Other wise please don't come crying to me about how much you hate your regional but have only applied to one airline.

* regionals used were XJT, SkyWest AE and Republic
*majors hiring numbers were from DAL UAL, AA, NKS F9, SWA, JB

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Truth About Training

Since dh just finished his annual pc (proficiency check) I thought this might be a good time to talk about training and how much it sucks for everyone.  I have been fortunate enough (haha) to have gone through 4 major training events with dh as well as all the yearly proficiency checks.  They all have sucked some more than others. See the truth about training and why its awful is this; in every training event their job is on the line. Period.  It's super stressful and they are not allowed to make ANY mistakes. ANY.  This makes for some super happy fun times but understandable so.

Now I'm sure your thinking well someone must fail training and they don't get fired so it's not as bad as you make it sound.  True some people do fail check rides and make mistakes, after all we are human.  And true these people (probably) won't lose thier jobs.  But what does happen is it goes into the pilots "Permanent record" at the FAA, which if he ever goes to apply at another airline for a job they can see that he has failed a check ride, so this failure will follow him and haunt him for the rest of his career. True people do get hired at airlines with failures BUT not often, and who wants to take that chance when there are a lot of people competing for a few jobs it's a detriment if you have a failure in your record.

So this is how we end up with super stressed pilots during training, and why I do everything I can to be nice and support dh during training, because short of his parents or sister dying I wouldn't tell him anything.  Dh who is normally a nice even keeled guy can be short, snippy and do things that baffle me during training.  I just take it in stride and put it down to stress. I also don't call dh during training at all, unless its me calling him to make sure he's awake. I let him call me when its convient for him to take a break, these are usually short converstaions.  I wouldn't want to disturb him while he is studying or if he is asleep, I want in no way shape or form want to be at fault and add stress to his training.

The 4 big Training Events:

Upgrade-  I had just met dh right before his upgrade at XJT.  Honestly this was the best training event I have been through with dh maybe because we were dating and not living together so I didn't get the full awfulness of it.

MD-80 new hire training - This was awesome it was over his birthday and Easter and our Anniversary.  How many holidays can you hit in one training event?  I did get him a card and sent it with him, for his birthday.  Didn't see him for Easter or our Anniversary, he called me on our anniversary but that's as much as a I got.  Also his favorite dog died during training and I didn't tell him until he got home.

757  training - As far as training goes this was great in dh's book, they used the United sims in Denver and it was very thorough dh was very happy with how well the training program worked.  However I ended up having kidney surgery while he was in training.  Then had complications and ended up in the hospital for 4 days while dh went back to training and I spent some quality time by myself in the hospital until my mom came to stay with me.  Once I was released from the hospital I flew home by myself (surgery was out of state) drove home from the airport 5 days after surgery picked up our dogs from the kennel and went back to taking care of our horses, all while dh was in training.

A320 training  - Hands down the worst more stressful training EVER. There were no big catastrophe like me having surgery or a dog dying, but due to Spirits super condensed training dh was a basket case.  The days were really long and then they had  minimum number of  days in the sim before the type ride. It was awful, it was beyond awful, I would have rather sat in the hospital by myself again.  They also kept changing things while they were in training so one day it would be one way, the next day it would be a different way.  I am extremely thankful to dhs sim partner they were both panicked so it worked well and they worked well together. It honestly got to the point where I didn't want to talk to him because he was making me panic!  Thankfully he and his sim partner passed but every year the pc is awful, just something we have become accustomed too.

You never know the true hell of training until you live through it, your hubby (or boyfriend) might be the nicest person in the world but put them in a training environment and they turn into a person who is unrecognizable to you, trust me this is normal.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

One Year Ago Today!

One year ago I started on my bucket list run.  I had run 3 half marathons before signing up for the Dopey Challenge at Disney world.  It took place Thursday-Sunday, and was a 5K,10K, half, and full marathon, each day you ran a longer distance.  I had never run a marathon and to be honest had never really thought of running a marathon, that's a looonnngggg way, and with all my health problems I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do it!  So this is mainly a blog in pictures. Enjoy!

 The most influential person in my running career Jeff Galloway.  I love him and his run/walk method it's what got me through the Challenge.  He was also very surprised to hear that in less than a year I went from running my first half marathon to doing the Dopey Challenge.



                Pre-5K breakfast!

The volunteers were awesome!
Post 5K getting my wristband for Dopey

In Epcot after the 5K


                     On to the 10K!  This is probably the best picture I have out of any of the races.

                         The only picture I have of me crossing the finish line of any of the races.

                                                       2 down 2 to go!

                       Half Marathon

My warm-up before the half.

                                      Running the half, at least I still look happy!

                                              Stopped to take a picture with the VW
                                            Closest thing I could find to a pilot :)
 Finished the half, this was my least favorite race, I hated the course and it was hot and humid.

                                                            Marathon Day!!

 Pre-marathon the big event, the breakfast of champions, donuts and diet coke

The castle


The traffic looked Awful!

The lurking buses waiting to sweep people.

The final three medals; Marathon, Goofy and Dopey.

A picture with all 6 medals!

                                                              Post Race Fun!

                                                  Post Race at Downtown Disney

Most everyone was wearing the Dopey medal, not me, my favorite was the Marathon Medal, still can't believe that I ran one!

                                 Great group of folks I met online that all did the Dopey.

                                                    Mickey Striking a pose with me!

                                                                 Thumbs up!

The Awesome medal hanger my Aunt made me.  It has all my Disney Medals on it, plus one of hubbys.

All in all it was a great experience and I loved it.  I think 2016 will be Dopey Part II for me, as this year it was impossible due to my kidney and hip surgery. I really thought I would only run one marathon so I could cross it off my bucket list, but Dopey has enticed me to try again, bring on 201^!