Hi, in a preferential bidding system, are these the main parameters pilots can request monthly:
- specific days off each month
- reserve or line
- layover destinations
- am or pm preference (is this only for starting/ending trip days?)
- vacation days (or is this typically an annual request?)
Any other preferences pilots can request? Thanks!
All the preferences you list can be selected with the exception of the vacation days (as you ask those are done annually). Though the systems vary from airline to airline there are actually many more and in reality you can pretty much preference anything. Specific trips, pilots to avoid or fly with, length of the trip, time away from base, min/max days on or off, etc etc etc.
If it’s a consideration you can most likely preference it. The caveat of course is it’s all based on seniority. The more junior you are the less trips will be available to construct a line that meets your desires if a line can be built at all.
Vacation bidding is done through a separate process.
The most common PBS commands are
- Prefer Off
- Set Condition
There are plenty of YouTube videos that explain the basics.
At my airline, PBS will look at all of those requests, with the exception of vacation, which is done annually. PBS will also consider many more things though, to include trip productivity, seat position (FO or IRO), avoiding certain captains, desiring to fly with certain captains, layover length, deadheading, or not deadheading, the list goes on.
I personally am a fan of PBS as I really like the flexibility it offers.
Just curious, would there be any consequences for a pilot who others frequently request to avoid? Would the airline take note of the trend and follow-up in any way?
I am not aware of any procedures of that nature. But if you think about it, only FOs can avoid CAs. Most likely, Management, the Training Department, the Union…are already aware of which Captains are likely to be avoided. So if the company does look at the Captains with the most avoid bids, which they don’t, I’m sure no one would be surprised by who would be on that list.
At my airline, in addition to bidding to avoid a Captain, pilots can also address issues that arise to the Professional Standards Committee, a Union-run committee. However, it should be noted that attempts to respectfully resolve the conflict face-to-face should be made prior to bringing Pro-Stands into the picture, but if Pro-Stands is necessary that avenue is always available. If the issue happens to be outside the scope of what Pro-Stands can do, Pro-Stands can defer to the appropriate department.
All “no fly” requests are de-identified so in most cases no one knows or has the data. If someone brings it to the company or the unions attention it will go to Pro Standards for a conversation but other than some counseling there’s not much that gets done. If however it’s an instructor or check pilot, the airline may investigate as part of their review. I have known instructors who have lost their position because of it.
It’s actually something that still amazes and confuses me. We have the greatest job on the planet and for some reason certain individuals go out of their way to make things difficult or unpleasant. In my experience in many cases it’s insecurity. A pilot who’s not sure of themselves seem to want to over compensate by flexing on the person sitting next to them. That’s my Psych 101 analysis anyway.
Thank you for the response, Tory. It makes sense that someone’s reputation for being unpleasant to fly with would likely be known beyond the PBS data. I also see how in the absence of any specifics it would be difficult to have any kind of meaningful follow-up. “People generally want to avoid you” isn’t very helpful feedback, and I would imagine the kind of person receiving that feedback might get pretty defensive and demand specifics.
It’s good to know that if you have a specific complaint or if a certain line gets crossed there is some recourse through the Professional Standards route. It’s also nice that if you’d just prefer to avoid someone but don’t want to make a big deal about it, you can quietly bid to avoid them. I do find it interesting, however, that bidding to avoid someone is one of the most common requests. I’m surprised there would be that many captains out there that people would make avoiding them their top priority.
Thanks for the info, Adam. Makes sense that the data would be de-identified since the system isn’t designed for collecting specific feedback. I understand there are other channels for those conversations, although I imagine it’s hard for someone’s demeanor in the cockpit to rise to the level of an actionable offense. If just being a jerk was a crime in this country, our courts wouldn’t be able to handle the number of cases.
Part of the reason I asked about this is because, like you mentioned, I’ve heard lots of stories about those kinds of captains and it always blew my mind. Like you said, it seems like you guys have the greatest job on earth and I feel like I’d be stoked to sit in the cockpit with just about anyone. After teaching high school for 10 years it’s really hard to imagine being aggrieved while flying jets. I’m guessing you might have a similar perspective after your years in the service industry. I wonder how much having the perspective of coming from another career has an impact on one’s attitude in the cockpit. I guess if all you knew was flying airplanes you might lose sight of what a privilege it is. The insecurity thing makes a lot of sense too. It’s really sad to me how many people think being kind towards others or being open to feedback is somehow a sign of weakness.
I find the instances of disgruntled pilots to be few and far between. Sure, you will run into unhappy people, but that can happen anywhere in any job. The vast majority of the pilots I fly with are very happy to be there and enjoy the job.
It may seem strange, at first, to think about why it is necessary to avoid someone when we have one of the greatest jobs in the world (IMO). The definition of good CRM even acknowledges that you don’t have to necessarily like the person you’re flying with, but you have to find a way to work together respectfully. It’s the latter that I think people struggle with which is why avoiding them is just easier.
There are some personality types that just clash and both pilots need to be willing to make adjustments in order to get along with everyone. In other words, you need to put the job first, before yourself. Some pilots just refuse to do that for whatever reason.
Interestingly, our airline is requiring all Captains participate in a Leadership class during recurrent training this year. Turns out that by 2022, every airline will be required to facilitate a Leadership course. So, even the FAA is aware this is something that needs to be addressed.
Thank you, Chris. That is good to hear. I’m sure people are more likely to tell stories about the disgruntled people they’ve flown with, so I’ve heard a disproportionate number of those. Getting to meet and work with different people is something I’m really looking forward to as I get into this career.
Thanks again, Tory. I can understand that some people would rather quietly bid not to fly with someone than try to work through any conflicts in personalities. It doesn’t necessarily mean there is a huge problem there. I hope my previous experiences in life have helped me develop some tools for navigating those working relationships.
I’m honestly surprised leadership training for captains is not already a requirement. I know it’s easy for me to say, since even under the best-case scenario I am still a long way away from being required to attend such a course myself, but it does seem like something that would be very important.
Thank you all again, as always, for sharing your insights. This is the kind of “beyond-the-FAQ” stuff I’m really interested in as I consider what my life as an airline pilot might be like (should I be so fortunate as to make it there).
I should have clarified that a lot of airlines already have some version of Leadership training. Like Chris said the number of Captains that end up on no fly lists is small and like you said people remember their bad experiences more than the good so those stories are often embellished.
On the 135 side of things, we spend 8 days and sometimes even 15 day trips with the same crew member. I’m on a fleet with 30 captains and I can say all have been great except 1. I’m sure the statistics probably align with the airline world too. It’s the small minority that can be unpleasant to fly with. I agree with what Adam said, it’s typically the ones that are insecure in their abilities and want to “flex” or those that have “lost the love” for the job. Still I believe it’s imperative you lean in to CRM even more so. It’s easy to work with someone when you like them, but hard if you don’t so that when you have to be even more intentional with CRM. I think leadership classes would be a great thing for all
Pilots to be a part of.
Thank you for this perspective, Hannah. 8 days is a long time to spend with anyone. 15 is crazy! I can’t imagine how tough that would be if you didn’t get along with the person, but I understand that’s part of being a professional. Glad to hear you’ve also found the vast majority of captains to be good to work with. I’m curious to learn more about CRM as I move through the process.