With the possibility of a recession on the horizon, this question has come to mind for me.
When an airline furloughs some of its pilots, at what point do new hires become part of the group that has a seniority spot held for them: is it starting the first day of indoc, or not until the new hire has completed training? Or perhaps it varies by airline?
First day is the day you get your seniority number. After that it’s all fair game
Sergey is right. The first day you actually show up for class signifies your beginning of employment and thus your protection in the case of furlough. There might me some minor differences between carriers, but this is the industry standard for ALPA.
Seniority starts day 1 of training, and depending on the airline it could go by age or the last 4 of the social security number. As new hires begin training and people upgrade/flow, your seniority number will move toward the front.
Everyone got this right. Your first day of training you’ll be given your employee and seniority number.
The thing is, and it’s something I learned very recently when my airline furloughed during the pandemic and I was serving as a union rep, for some reason people wrongly believe that being furloughed comes with some benefits or other provisions. Other than the fact that IF (and that can be a big if) the airlines recalls it must be in seniority order, you have for all extensive purposes been fired. I received dozens of calls asking do I keep travel or health benefits? You don’t. Can we negotiate better terms for our return? You cannot, etc etc etc. When you get furloughed all you keep is a seniority number and nothing else and that won’t pay the bills.
If you’re at a regional or 135 carrier, the risk of going to a new airline is always being vulnerable to furloughs. If you’re building time, timing is what it is. You get to the regional as quick as you can and hope with each month you get more senior faster than any potential recession or furlough approaches in the future.
As Adam said, the seniority number is good to have in terms of getting called back first before other new hires, but that’s about it. The list will stagnate for quite some time.
This all makes perfect sense and clears up the question for me. Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to answer. Let’s hope that none of us will be furloughed anytime soon!
Of course, that’s what we’re here for. Yes, let’s hope it’s a nice long while until any “F-words” get thrown around any time soon.
Let us know if you have any other questions.