Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Pilot For an American Airlines Regional Carrier Says He Caused Flights to be Late Because He was Desperate For Food: The life of a pilot isn't as glamorous as you might think

By Chris Matyszczyk
Owner, Howard Raucous LLC

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Airlines are currently short of pilots.

More people are flying. Somehow, though, not enough people are applying to fly them.

You might think, indeed, that it's a glamorous job.

Then again, here's Jon. 

He used to be a certified flying instructor, then went to work for American Airlines' regional carrier Piedmont.

He really didn't like it. 

In a YouTube video in which he talks a lot, but offers much food for thought, Jon explained the good parts. 

His fellow pilots and cabin were very nice, he said. Flying a jet was fun, too.

It was, well, the ramifications of the work that put him off.

He described an average day.

He'd have five legs to fly. He'd be on duty for 12 and a half hours. He'd be paid for 5 and a half or 6 hours of that time. 

He was paid $38 an hour.

He'd have to leave the house by 3.45 a.m. Then, a drive to the airport and an attempt to bag a jump seat on a flight to his first airport of departure. 

But what if he secures a seat and the flight's delayed? He then has to work out some way of getting to his destination at Charlotte, one of American Airlines' key hubs.

He said he didn't get paid for flying, say, two legs to get to work. 

He also didn't want to warn the crew schedulers that he might be late, so he tried to do without food. That line at Starbucks can be annoying.

He might rush a quick pre-flight check. Passengers are already boarding, after all.

At this point, he's still "pumped." He's flying a jet, after all. Albeit a small one.

On landing after a short flight, he might have to rush through an airport to find his next one. 

At times, he really does sound like any other road warrior who has to be in three places at once.

And that line at Starbucks could be damnably long everywhere.

Some of his actual flying times, he said, were a mere 11 to 18 minutes. 

Pressured to make a quick 25-minute turnaround, he says he had to resort to eating what he says is "awful" food. Yes, First Class snacks. (Which is odd, as Piedmont doesn't have First Class.)

His stomach really appeared to suffer. 

At some point before his fifth flight of the day, Jon says he simply had to get decent nourishment. 

And this could cause a flight delay.

Sometimes, he says, he had to pay for a hotel out of his own pocket in order to find somewhere to sleep on his way home.

He estimates that he made just over $600 for five days' work, after factoring in his hotel costs. 

He admits this isn't the case for all pilots, but those who fly with regional airlines don't have it easy.

Yes, there were benefits, like free jump seats to fly all over the world. It wasn't enough.

So he quit, went back to being a flight instructor and picks up corporate gigs to make a little more money.

He says the sleep deprivation and general stress caused 48-year-old airline pilots to look like they were 15 years older.

Naturally, I asked American and Piedmont what they thought of Jon's video. A Piedmont spokeswoman told me: 

PSA Airlines offers its pilots the most valuable and stable career path in commercial aviation. The culture, quality of life, and growth at PSA is something few regional carriers can match and as part of American Airlines, our pilot flow-through program provides a guaranteed and direct path to the largest airline in the world. PSA pilots pride themselves on their outstanding safety and training culture and represent the high-standards of what it means to be a pilot in commercial aviation. 

It may be that Jon wasn't cut out for the lifestyle. 

It may be, as he himself admits, he's just a little too "lazy" to put up with the demands, in the hope that he'll one day see a more luxurious life flying bigger planes. 

But working for a regional airline can be a painful affair. Earlier this year, I wrote about employees at another American Airlines-owned regional carrier, Envoy.

There, according to their union, 75 percent of employees earn less than $13 an hour.

It's like playing in the minor leagues, I suppose.

The buses, the paltry salaries, the Motel 6's -- if you're lucky -- are but a stepping stone to glory and bling. 

Little do the fans know how bad it might be. And, I suspect, little do they care.

Original article can be found here ➤


Anonymous said...

This video is yet another confirmation of what everybody in the know is aware of, there is no shortage of 'Major' airline pilot jobs. Never has been. The shortage is always the low paying jobs. Plus technology is marching against pilots jobs anyway. In the not to distant future, many airlines will fly with one AI pilot and one human pilot.

Anonymous said...

The $38 dollars an hour sounds great. Only one problem: it only applies when the plane is moving. It's no uncommon to work 12 to 14 hours and only get paid that rate for 4 to 6 hours.

Anonymous said...

it's been that way for decades. why is it such a problem with this... generation??