Working For A Low Cost Airline

17/09/2016 - Captain Bunn
Working For A Low Cost Airline

Posted on the SOAR Message Board

I am a FO with USA 3000 airlines. October will be my 2yr anniversary Let me shed a little light on this operation.

99% of our flights are out-and-backs. Does an out and back from ORD to St. Lucia sound fun to you? (11:50 block..15hrs on duty) We bring 3 pilots since its over 8 hours. But most of the time we can’t make it back non-stop. Gotta stop in Nassau for fuel so now that puts us over 12 hours which means, they will staff it with 4 pilots. The company DOES NOT block seats in the backfor us. Many times you will find yourself sleeping on the cockpit floor (no kidding). Our schedules are a nightmare. 15 days off…yes…..days off grouped together…NO… You will find many times in your schedule where you will work 3 days, 1 off, work 1, 1 off. If you commute, plan on not getting home for 14+ days. Our Chief pilot has been begging our COO to run 2 more classes right now and he said NO. They will use captains to cover FO trips. He have pilots leaving left and right.

We do a lot of international flights (Flag rules). No limit for time on duty 3 man crew…no 32/7…I flew 38 hours in 5 days! Every one stands reserve Usually, on average, 3 reserve days a bid period. Bid periods are not month to month, its every 28 days. I am scheduled for 105 hours of flying in this bid period. Yes I will probably time out for the month (100hrs). We use PBS (preferential bidding system). The company never beta tested it before it went live so many bugs. Its suppose to be automatic but after the bids close, the company takes over a week to manipulate our schedules to suit them.

Now, are probably asking.’You guys have a union?’. Yes.. Teamsters Been negotiating for almost 3 yrs and just entered in mediation 2 months ago. The COO wont sign off on the scheduling section because he will not eliminate the single day off crap. Pay is coming up next.

Also, yes we are gonna hire 50 pilots in the fall, to be terminated in April This is only for winter flying cuz we are getting 3 extra planes for the winter. They let you know you are a seasonal pilot so when they let you go in April, they are not obligated to pay unemployment to you If we keep losing pilots like we have, then come spring when those 3 planes leave, there is a chance you will stay on (as in my case almost 2 years ago).

The good thing out of this mess is….all new hires get typed on the A320.. Bad thing…. The training needs work. They give you a IBM thinkpad l aptop during training. Your manuals are on that. Very difficult to study off a laptop. Almost a self study program.

Image Credit:  Stuart Miles –