Real Answers from Real Pilots

Southwest April 2021 Schedule

Hey all - April credited 102 with 18 days off. Dropped a lot of my LAX trips to pick up here in PHX. Also had the chance to fly our 737MAX8 for the first time since it’s been back up in the skies. It’s been about 2 years since I last flew her - and she did wonderfully! Airports are still madhouses and loads are full. There are rumors of hiring before the end of the year, our MAX being certified for ETOPS routes, and lots of other promising news. Southwest also featured me for their World Pilots’ Day post which was truly an honor. Glad to see the industry continuing to recover!

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7 Likes

Hi Jordan, thanks for sharing and that’s great you were featured on Southwest’s World Pilots’ Day post! Also, can you elaborate when you say “Dropped a lot of my LAX trips to pick up here in PHX.” - just trying to understand better how airline schedules work.
Thanks

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Absolutely - so I am based in LAX but live in PHX. There are plenty of pilots junior to me here in Phoenix, but unfortunately since COVID there haven’t been any spots open to allow people to come back in. So my initial schedule is all LAX trips. I give as many of them away to other pilots as I can, and then I pick up Phoenix trips so I don’t have to commute! Hope that makes a little more sense.

Hi Jordan,

Is it possible for you to give away more than you pick up (say not enough trips for pick up in PHX)? Or do you have to do a 1 to 1 swap with another pilot? Is it possible to give away enough trips to drop below the minimum? Is that frowned upon or would the company just give you other trips?

Thank you,

Alex

Hey Alex,

I could give away my entire schedule if I wanted, and still be considered “full-time.” The rules for this vary with each airline. Mine does not have a minimum that you have to work, but they do have a minimum that you have to be paid. Although if you are the one who decides to give the flying away, of course you lose that pay. I like to give away as much as I can and then I end up working well above the minimum picking up other trips, but I do not have to.

Jordan

Alex,

At my airline min guarantee is 75hrs. You can drop to 60 but you’ll only get paid for whatever you do to. We do offer “Surfer Leave” which gives you the month off and pays 50hrs. Pretty handy perk if you need the time and not the money.

Adam

Adam,

Our minimum for pay is 87 (30 day month)/ 89 (31 day month). We can drop to 0 if we’d like. Is that surfer pay a long term gig or a temporary COVID fix? Sounds like a sweet deal

Jordan

Jordan,

Nope, it’s contractual. They offered extended Surfer Leaves for Covid (6mos to 2yrs) but the monthly has always been. Thing is they only offer a certain number and you half to bid for it.

Adam

Hi, when pilots drop and pick up flights assume this has to be done with some sort of advance notice? Can reserve pilots also pick up flights or only those flying a line schedule?
Thanks

Adam,
That’s awesome! How many do they give out per month?

Ravi,
This again depends on the airline. I can only speak for SWA. Here we can trade a trip for reserve or vice versa. Reserve pilots can pick up normal trips on their days off. We have a LOT of flexibility to swap around our schedule. I can swap with another pilot right at the gate if I want to. The closest I have swapped was 10 min prior to departure and I flew my commute flight home.

Jordan

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Jordan,

It varies month to month, seat, equipment etc but if you want one you can usually get unless you really jr.

Ravi,

As Jordan said it varies. We too can always trade with another pilot or for any trip in open time. We cannot however pick up on Reserve. Obviously I disagree but the concern is a pilot will pick something up that will conflict with their reserve availability or by picking up a bunch of flying early in the month they’ll skew the leveling the company tries to achieve. Maybe the next contract? :wink:

Adam

Thanks Jordan,

So if you give always trips and end up only flying 40 hours for example. You wouldn’t get the min pay, but you will get paid 40 hours. But if your trips get cancelled by the airline for whatever reason and you only fly 40 hours then you would get paid min pay. Is that about how it works?

Alex

Alex, Exactly correct!

Hi Adam,

Surfer pay sounds like a pretty unique perk, guess Hawaiian is pretty chill. In theory you could bid yourself out of currency with that? Does the company then pick up the training tab too?

Alex

Alex,

Noooo, the company’s not dumb. You will not be awarded SL if you’re scheduled for training or are projected to lose currency. That was/is actually waived during COVID and the recovery but I expect that to go away by the end of the year.

Adam

Got it, makes sense. Smart cookies, those bean counters :slight_smile:

Ravi,

Reserves can pick up trips, usually the day prior to the trip starting. I often do this as it is far more enjoyable than sitting around a crashpad and I can generally make more money that way.

Chris

That varies per airline, our reserves can put a “fly” or “pass” preference up, and can also put a “preference” on a certain trip - but they cannot actually put themselves ON a trip. Our reserves also aren’t assigned strictly by seniority, but by days used during the month. So a senior FO who has not flown all month would get called before a junior FO who worked several days on reserve. Also, a junior FO is able to trade a reserve block with a trip from senior FO who has an actual line if they both want. This happens a lot with in-base folks and junior commuters. Wacky, I know… but we’ve all got different rules!

Hi Jordan,

Just curious, when you want to swap, do you both call up scheduling at the same time? Or is there an app? Website? Is there a place where pilots can post trades they want to give away or get? Kinda like a Craigslist for pilots? Or do you just mostly trade with pilots you know?

Thanks,

Alex

Alex,

At my airline we trade through a website that is run by the company. There is not much pilot to pilot trading, most of it is done from drips that drop into “open time” when pilots call in sick, have military leave, etc.

Chris