Real Answers from Real Pilots

Pilot Senorirty For Bidding

Hello all,

Question about airline seniority and rank in regards to bidding. Would a Captain with less seniority than a first officer be able to outbid him?

Also, what of there were two Captains with the same seniority? If one flew a widebody, and the other a narrowbody, would the widebody captain outbid the other one?

Luc

Luc,

I’m not sure what you mean by “outbidding”?

If you’re talking about monthly bidding Capts and FOs don’t bid against each other so there wouldn’t be any “outbidding”. Same goes for widebody vs narrowbody. They fly different routes with different trips. If you’re asking who would have a better schedule, the person with the higher “relative seniority” (meaning seniority within their specific airplane, base and position) would have a better schedule.

Adam

Oh got it thanks. I didn’t know captains and first officer bid in separate systems each month. Is it possible to only have captains on an extremely popular route? What I mean is 2 captains and no first officers on a flight, is that possible?

Luc

Luc,

While it’s possible and legal is not very cost effective as Capts get paid considerably more than FOs. Since the airlines are in business to make money that rarely happens.

Adam

Luc,

At my airline, it is not possible to have two Captains and no first Officers on a flight. Captains are not qualified to sit in the right seat. Each airline has their own policies in regards to this, but as Adam said, it would be extremely poor management to pay two Captains to do what one Captain and a First Officer could do.

Chris

Luc,
BTW, there is no way two captains can “have the same seniority”…

That seniority number is based on when hired and that order of precedence never changes although your actual # can go up as people retire/quit/get sick etc.

This seniority allows you to bid on a “category” like 737 Captain in NYC, or A350 FO in ATL. That process happens periodically based on how your company does it as it probably requires training.

Each month you bid for schedules along with every other pilot in your category for that month. These bids are filled in seniority order allowing for various FAA/contract rest rules being followed.

As others pointed out, 737 Captain ATL is a different category than 737 FO ATL for example. Sometimes/quite often the FO may even be “senior” in the company to the Captain because that FO has chosen to stay in that category to be relatively senior and the Captain has chosen to bid that category.

Each category has trends based on the type/desirability of flying and pay rates on how senior the pilots are that want it. Generally, smaller planes with shorter leg flights go junior. Bases in the NE US go junior. After those generalities it’s really all bets off depending on what pilots want.

Thanks for your replies.

Luc,
Let us know if you have any other questions! We’re here to help:)
-Hannah