Alaska Pilot Q&A Thread

Old Apr 12, 2009, 4:54 pm
  #91  
 
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Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
Ok NOW you've done it! Trying to get me to give away super secret stuff here. I was gonna start a travel business. Name it "Travel like a Pilot" or something. Then write detailed info about each of the cities I have had to layover in. Tell where the good BBQ is, cheap drinks, all the good stuff. If I tell you here how will I ever make any money?

For the record SJD is the place where we stay in an all-inclusive. The idea, at least as it has been told to me over the years, is that overseas airlines find that in the long run staying at 5 star hotels saves money. Less sickness and less need to wander out into hostile territory means more on time jets.

Each guy or gal has favorites. They bid each month to try to spend as much time in the favorites as possible. After all some of them are human. So I really could only give you my favorites which may or may not be others. IF however we look at bidding results and see how senior each destination goes in the monthly bidding process we can see where the most desired places to layover are. What makes a destination popular is a combination of hotel and location. In the past ORD went very senior because the airline put us up in the downtown W hotel. Now that we stay near the airport in Rosemond, well not so much. So with that as a background this is my take on the best of the best.

PVR, stay at the marina and very very nice hotel.
BOS, Best hotel in the system. The Hotel staff actually like us. In the summer well there is BOS and the North end all within walking distance. In the Winter the hotel has a great!! Workout room.
PHX, obvious
MCO, nice Hotel and lots to do.
SAN if we stay downtown. Lot of short layovers are at the airport.
Now while I have long since gotten over the intrigue of Alaska, a lot of guys bid JNU and SIT in the summer for hiking and scenery. ^

Having said all that, the FAs have different choices. While EWR goes junior for pilots it is very senior for FAs. So there are differences. Mainly regarding shopping opportunities. Just a guess.

Hope that helps!
Thanks!

BOS is a wonderful city. I want to go back to BOS because, while I saw a lot when I was there this summer, I didn't see everything. Of course, spending 3 days at the NASCAR track in Loudon, NH (an hour and a half north of BOS) cut into a lot of the sightseeing.
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Old Apr 12, 2009, 11:27 pm
  #92  
 
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Originally Posted by JacksonFlyer
Well I can't be sure, but I think AlaskaCoho ALWAYS complains about SJD and PVR. However, I am pretty sure I have seen someone who looks like him smiling broadly while snoozing on the beach.......but what do I know?

I would ask a question about the maintenance log book....but I think I know the answer already.
And a finer lifeguard figure is seldon seen!

Logbook are you trying to get me into trouble. Hey foul foul where is a cop when you need one?
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Old Apr 12, 2009, 11:52 pm
  #93  
 
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Originally Posted by beckoa
Cool insight... is Hawaii fairly senior too (due to longer flights & exotic locations) and which island is AS' employee's favorite (from what you can tell)

My personal preference: LIH, KOA, OGG, HNL

And its funny to hear about EWR's particularities
This may come as a shock but up to this point Hawaii is very junior. Here's why. The FAA requires pilots at Alaska to undergo two days of ground school and must fly two ETOPS legs with an instructor before being cleared to operate a trip. This costs big bucks for the Company. To limit the cost only the less than 100 ANC based pilots and the 120 or so LAX pilots have been trained. The Hawaii flying is part of a four day trip. The senior ANC guys like being home every night and are kinda used to Nome, Bethel, Deadhorse, etc and get home sick if they are gone more than 24 hours. The LAX senior guys seem not to want the hassle of four day trips and all the math enroute. So the pilots going to the islands are in large numbers Captains with less than 12 yrs and FOs with less than 6 yrs. Many are called out from reserve to fly the trips.

This has become a bit of an issue since the vast majority (800+) of pilots and senior pilots are based in SEA. You have 30 year Captains who can not fly trips that reserve pilots are flying. Big seniority no no and in the airline business seniority isn't a big thing its the ONLY thing.

All the SEA instructors and office staff pilots seem to have been trained and also seem to be catching the eye of the union by flying trips out of base. A big union no no. Most of them are senior as far as SEA goes. But I don't know rumors are rumors.

The FAs are the most senior SEA gals and guys. Is there shopping there?

Personally I prefer OGG when on vacation.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 12:04 am
  #94  
 
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AlaskaCoho, thanks for your insightful posts!

Originally Posted by AlaskaCoho
All the SEA instructors and office staff pilots seem to have been trained and also seem to be catching the eye of the union by flying trips out of base. A big union no no. Most of them are senior as far as SEA goes. But I don't know rumors are rumors.
Why is it a union no-no to fly trips out of base? (I assume that means commuting somewhere to do a trip?)
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 12:29 am
  #95  
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And a follow-up: why would AS do the HI trips using LAX-based pilots to fly out of SEA? This means they have to commute every one of the HI trip pilots up to SEA first. Doesn't seem very efficient.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 12:52 am
  #96  
 
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Originally Posted by ttjoseph
AlaskaCoho, thanks for your insightful posts!



Why is it a union no-no to fly trips out of base? (I assume that means commuting somewhere to do a trip?)
Humm I opened a can of worms with that. Its just a rumor so I don't know for sure but if it is true it could jinx the vote on the new contract. So a lot of us are holding our collective breath.

Now why. Seniority is EVERYTHING. It is the equivalent to corner office or assigned parking slot. It is; are you home for that birthday or are you flying to ORD on Christmas. When we bid monthly schedules or positions on the aircraft, Capt FO AND base, its all done by seniority.

The company has every right to assign flying any flying to each base. However only the pilots assigned to that base may do the flying assigned to the base. Well why have a base if everyone can fly the trips out of there?Why, It has to do with keeping seniority by base. If you were the number one pilot in a base you would not want a more senior pilot from another base to be able to take trips that are the life blood of your life style. If they want those trips let them bid into the base and use their seniority properly.

There are exceptions that include running out of pilots and assigning reserve pilots out of base. The rub is that if they are continually running out of pilots in a base the argument is they need more pilots there. (Hire or bring back furloughed pilots, and upgrade more FOs to Captain) Since the SEA pilots are not ETOPS qual. they can not cover the flying out of base (LAX or ANC) IF the SEA were qual. then the senior pilots could bid on the trips assigned to SEA. So the union would argue either put more pilots in LAX or ANC to fly the trips or train the SEA pilots and allow them to bid their seniority. Either of these choices would cost the company money. So allowing SEA pilots who by virtue of being Instructors fly unmanned trips originally assigned to LAX or ANC is an out of base assignment. This is done to save money (if it is being done) but it corrupts the way the process is supposed to work according to the agreed upon contract. It prevents pilots in SEA from exercising seniority. And it allows the company to under man a base, i.e. not bring back furloughed pilot and the big rub not upgrade FOs to Captain and pay them more money.

Look Ill admit this is a flawed explanation but I have ventured into political stuff and am not comfortable making legal arguments. This is a very general explanation and a legal guy would probably cut it to pieces. But it boils down not to what makes financial sense; it boils down to what was agreed too in writing in the contract. If you agree to do something one way, you should seek both parties agreement when you want to change the rules to make better financial sense. And if you are going to unilaterally change the practice, timing couldnt be worst when you want those 1400 pilot to vote on a new contract.

Lets just chalk this up to a theoretical discussion of how important seniority is to pilots and forget the rumor part of it as I really dont knowthat why its a rumor. Perhaps I spoke too much or out of line repeating a rumor. Sorry for that. We are told that the new contract will be available finally next week. But we have been told that now for two weeks running. We are all a bit anxious about this and I dont mean in a Christmas morning kind of anxious either.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 7:36 am
  #97  
 
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No specific question, I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus thanking you, AlaskaCoho, for all the information. It's extremely interesting and appreciated.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 8:02 pm
  #98  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal
And a follow-up: why would AS do the HI trips using LAX-based pilots to fly out of SEA? This means they have to commute every one of the HI trip pilots up to SEA first. Doesn't seem very efficient.
I hope AlaskaCoho won't mind if I chime in.

Having the LAX or ANC based pilots fly the Hawaii trips isn't too inefficient since the pilots are working as they make their way up/down to Seattle anyway. I don't really know what the trips looks like to be honest, but I'd imagine they'd be something like:

Day 1:
LAX-SEA-OAK-SEA

Day 2:
SEA-HNL

Day 3:
HNL-SEA

Day 4:
SEA-LAX
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 8:31 pm
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So I'm into the realms of the irreverent now. Do you feel a bit silly flying giant Salmons and Mickey Mouse planes and by contrast do you feel like you are re-living the golden age of air travel flying the Starliner 75? Don't worry I've not run out of important piloty questions to ask.

Oh and just what did you think of the MD-80? I will move heaven and earth and do some odd routings to avoid the DC-9 and all its brethren and wondered what the pilots view was of the lawn dart.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 8:38 pm
  #100  
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Originally Posted by tony2x
So I'm into the realms of the irreverent now. Do you feel a bit silly flying giant Salmons and Mickey Mouse planes and by contrast do you feel like you are re-living the golden age of air travel flying the Starliner 75? Don't worry I've not run out of important piloty questions to ask.

Oh and just what did you think of the MD-80? I will move heaven and earth and do some odd routings to avoid the DC-9 and all its brethren and wondered what the pilots view was of the lawn dart.
Just wondering this myself... got my AS MD83 model today... and thought of this thread...

How did pilots like them? I know they were whisper quiet up in the F cabin (I was lucky to have 2 segments last year at last...) other then mechanical IRROPS that occured with greater frequency (since the A/C were older then the 737's)
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 8:43 pm
  #101  
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Originally Posted by AlaskaSoCal
I hope AlaskaCoho won't mind if I chime in.

Having the LAX or ANC based pilots fly the Hawaii trips isn't too inefficient since the pilots are working as they make their way up/down to Seattle anyway. I don't really know what the trips looks like to be honest, but I'd imagine they'd be something like:

Day 1:
LAX-SEA-OAK-SEA

Day 2:
SEA-HNL

Day 3:
HNL-SEA

Day 4:
SEA-LAX
True, but that's two extra days AS is paying for hotels in SEA they wouldn't if they used SEA pilots, although I suppose the LAX-based pilots may be staying up there anyway if their trips ended up there due to hours of service limitations. Still, it seems like it could be done more efficiently. I know the Alaska Railroad has recently been pushing to reduce the amount they spend on away-from-terminal hotel expenditures by doing creative things like having crews exchange when the northbound and southbound meet--employees like it, since they're in their own beds each night, and the railroad likes it, since they don't have to pay to have the crews stay in a $100-per-night hotel (several thousand dollars per week).

Of course, perhaps the issue is that everyone in those bases must be trained and certified for ETOPS operations (i.e. all or nothing). If the LAX base is significantly smaller than the SEA base, that would make sense--you only have to train and certify (just randomly pulling out numbers here) 200 LAX-based pilots instead of 1,000 SEA-based pilots. Cheaper for the company, regardless of hotel bills.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 9:00 pm
  #102  
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Thanks for all your contributions AlaskaCoho!

Here's one I was wondering about, can you give a good explination of how the airline and the FAA coordinate during so-called ATC delays? What determines whether we wait before getting on the plane or sit in the penalty box? Who/how are arrivals times assigned during "flow control"?
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 9:04 pm
  #103  
 
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Originally Posted by AlaskaSoCal
I hope AlaskaCoho won't mind if I chime in.
By all means yes thank you. I have one foot in my mouth and the other kicking me so I won't open up and really tell these good customers what I really think about contract issues and not training the SEA pilots. Help by all means. So I can shut up.
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 9:28 pm
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by tony2x
So I'm into the realms of the irreverent now. Do you feel a bit silly flying giant Salmons and Mickey Mouse planes and by contrast do you feel like you are re-living the golden age of air travel flying the Starliner 75? Don't worry I've not run out of important piloty questions to ask.

Oh and just what did you think of the MD-80? I will move heaven and earth and do some odd routings to avoid the DC-9 and all its brethren and wondered what the pilots view was of the lawn dart.
Originally Posted by beckoa
Just wondering this myself... got my AS MD83 model today... and thought of this thread...

How did pilots like them? I know they were whisper quiet up in the F cabin (I was lucky to have 2 segments last year at last...) other then mechanical IRROPS that occured with greater frequency (since the A/C were older then the 737's)
Interesting quest...any question that gets me away from talking contract issues I really welcome. In fact you must be the smartest two bloggers here to ask those questions.

Ok the fish airplane and all first. Most of us that sit in the Captain seat probably fly any number of times not even realizing we are flying a painted jet. We don't do the walk around and sometimes head down we enter the jet thinking of all the stuff we need to think about and just don't realize that we are flying the painted ladies.

Now having admitted this I do think the 75 anniversary jet paint scheme is the best. I will also admit I dislike flying the Tinkerbelle jet. Once I landed in ORD on RWY 27L actually. Was turning off at taxiway H near the intersection of 22R. As we switched to ground freq, we began to here this uproarious conversation about the Pretty Jet and the Light in the loafers Jet. (Look you have to understand that vieled in obscurity behind the microphone mannly men pilots revert to, well ah how should I say this, ah typical 1950sish manly men.) We meekly told ground we were up and requested taxi to L2B. Oh no it just wasnt going to be that easy. For ten minutes were heard every joke that guys could think of to make fun of the jet all the way to the gate. I couldnt get off that jet fast enough. Embarrassing it was.

So to answer the question no, no (all of us Alaska pilots are in touch with ourselves er with well OK move on here.)I dont really mind flying the painted ladies. Never occurred to me that they were different not at all, noooo.

What was the other question, oh yes the Mad Dog. Well pilots that flew it come in two categories. The ones that flew nothing else (accept maybe the 727 years ago) and the ones that have. The first group I'm convinced just didn't know better and the second group disliked the jet. That about sum it up you think? In a politically appropriate way?
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Old Apr 13, 2009, 9:31 pm
  #105  
 
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Originally Posted by jackal
Of course, perhaps the issue is that everyone in those bases must be trained and certified for ETOPS operations (i.e. all or nothing). If the LAX base is significantly smaller than the SEA base, that would make sense--you only have to train and certify (just randomly pulling out numbers here) 200 LAX-based pilots instead of 1,000 SEA-based pilots. Cheaper for the company, regardless of hotel bills.
Yes that is the issue precisely. That is why LAX and ANC are flying the trips.
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