Real Answers from Real Pilots

"This is your Captain speaking......"

Aloha folks!

So yes as Chris announced I just finished upgrade at Hawaiian and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty darn good. I had been a CA at ExpressJet for 6 years so it’s really good to be back in the left seat. There’s an old saying the best part about upgrading is you get to fly with your favorite CA everyday :slight_smile: Anyway I figure now that I’m done (didn’t want to jinx anything) I’d give you some overall logistics of the process.

First of course you need the seniority to hold CA which in my case happened in about 4yrs 9mos. Fortunately Hawaiian has been doing well and expanding so there’s been a lot of expansion which explains the relatively short upgrade time. Now there are actually 3 upgrade programs at the airline. Short, Medium and Long. The short course is for current and qualified FO’s on the airplane. They know the plane so it’s simply a matter of moving left and start thinking like a CA. The long is for pilots who never flew the plane so they obviously have to learn it. I had the medium course because I flew the plane and have my Type rating but I’ve been away from it for 2 yrs. The course consisted of 5 days of systems and VPT (Virtual Procedures Trainer, basically a non-moving sim), half day for each. We then had a Procedures Validation and a Knowledge Validation before we could go to sim (Simulators are very expensive to operate and you don’t want to be wasting time). We had 5 sim sessions. Day 1 of sim was nice and easy. We basically just got reacquainted with the airplane but Day 2 was a nightmare! EVERYTHING you could possible lose we did. Total hydraulic failure, total electrical failure, losing engines, you name it we did it. It was exhausting and humbling. Fortunately things relaxed some after and by Day 5 we were both back in the saddle. We then had our Maneuvers Validation and LOE (Line Operational Evaluation) which is basically just a flight with some issue. Me and my sim partner had our Type Ratings so we didn’t require and formal Oral or Checkride. Finally I had 4 days of UOE (Upgrade Operational Experience) which is flying live flights (with passengers) with a Check Airman as your FO. At some point the FAA observes, gives you their blessing, the Check Airman signs you off and you get your stripes.

This is quite literally the culmination of many years of hard work, sacrifice and yes some luck. I’m exactly where I want to be doing what I love to do and consider myself extremely fortunate. This is no time for a commercial but it all started with a dream and ALOT of help from ATP and I will be forever grateful.

Capt Adam Feldman
Hawaiian Airlines

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Congrats Adam, awesome news! Thanks for breaking down the process.

Aloha,
Jason

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Congratulations :airplane::earth_africa:

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Adam,

Awesome to hear Captain, and congratulations, that is great,
and, as always, thank you for helping spread the word.
Blue skies, Aloha.
Kris

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Congrats Capt!!

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Fantastic! Congratulations! You have earned your Stripes! Thank you for sharing your journey to being Captain on a Major airline!
I am new to this forum. Unfortunately,
I am starting to realize that I have pushed my dream aside far too long. I am 49 amd always dreamt of being a Captain on a Major Airline or even on a Regional.
But, life has it’s paths. I admire the younger people who are able to dig in and go for such a journey.
My wife wasn’t into having me go back to school, then go thru the flight school instructor time to aquire flying hours.
I guess if I wasn’t married with a 12 yr.old son, I would go after this dream. Anyway, that’s life.

I truly enjoy hearing the stories and following this forum.
Congratulations Adam, you made it! :slight_smile:

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Apologies for pulling a really old conversation back up! I have been searching for an answer to this with no luck, so I just wanted to ask how you know you’re eligible to bid for upgrade. Can you just bid every single period to just see if you get lucky, or are there requirements you have to meet before being eligible to bid for captain?

Thanks!

Andrew,

As I said at the beginning of the post you need the seniority to hold the position and there needs to be an open slot. It’s got nothing to do with luck. The only requirement is if it’s your first airline, you need at least 1,000hrs as an FO. Now while luck again doesn’t enter the equation, bidding smart does. Someone a very long time ago taught me “bid what you want, NOT what you think you can hold”. Many pilots study the vacancies (open slots) and then try and anticipate what the other 12,000 pilots are going to do and only bid what they believe or anticipate they can hold. Big mistake. My upgrade here at Hawaiian was a perfect example. Just like you state above, I, from day one bid every slot I WANT all the way to the top slot of A330 Capt. Now I’m probably at least 10yrs away from that position but there’s no harm and it doesn’t cost you a dime. So as I said I ALWAYS bid every Capt slot. When this bid came out I was an A330 FO and on paper I should not have been able to hold 717 Capt based on my seniority. The bid came out and low and behold there was my name with 717 Capt next to it! Over the next 2-4 days I got a bunch of calls and texts from other pilots who were senior to me saying “WTH!?! I’m senior to you! How fof you get Capt?!?”. My response was the same for all, “did you bid it?” and their response was always “no, i didn’t think I could hold it”. Well shame on them, if you don’t ask you don’t get and that’s not luck on my part, it’s foolishness on theirs. Make sense?

Adam

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Andrew,

You will generally have a pretty good idea when you are getting close to holding captain as you will see how much you missed it by on prior bid. Generally the bids where you can change aircraft and seat position are called “System bids” or “vacancy bids” and are offered a few times per year.

Chris

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Thank you so much, and thanks for the clarification that it’s purely based on seniority (as long as you have 1000 hours).

Anytime, let us know how else we can help you.

Chris

Hi Guys,

I’ve been thinking about this one and still don’t quite understand “holding” captain. If, given Adam’s example where he kind of “skipped the line” ahead of other pilots more senior to him who didn’t bid for the 717 Captain position, wouldn’t they be able to bid for it next time around and push him back down to FO? Is there some kind of mechanism that allows you to hold your CA seat after the airline has spent a bunch of resources training and evaluating you?

Thanks!

Alex
P.S. A very late congrats to Captain Adam :slight_smile:

Alex,

Adam did not skip the line, he simply held captain because others in front of him (more senior) chose not to bid it. Once somebody has held captain and upgraded, a more senior pilot cannot knock them out of their position, they have to wait for another bid and there has to be a vacancy (opening) on the captain list. So there is a danger in bypassing upgrade in that there might not be any vacancies for awhile and one could be stuck as a FO longer then they had wished. This applies when the airline is growing or holding steady. If the airline is shrinking, then there are a whole different set of rules that apply.

Good question.

Chris

Alex,

Great question. When an airline opens a Vacancy Bid it allows pilots to bid for “open” slots. Once a pilot is awarded a position he cannot be displaced by another pilot regardless of their seniority. In my example again there was an open 717 Capt slot or 2 when the bid opened. A vacant slot can be bid upon by any pilot but the most senior pilot who bids for it will get it. Again there were many pilots senior to me who could have beat me out for it but they all assumed someone senior to them would get it so they didn’t bother to bid it which is really silly. You can always bid up, doesn’t cost you a dime and you never know. There literally no risk.

Now just to complicate things a little there is something called a “Displacement Bid”. This happens when a base closes, an aircraft fleet is retired or there’s a reduction in flying (ie, COVID-19 hits last year. When there’s a Displacement Bid categories are reduced. For example let’s say there were 100 A321 slots and they reduce them to 50. You now have 50 pilots who need to go somewhere. In that case a pilot can displace any other pilot junior to them in any category. Make sense?

Adam

Thanks guys. I think I get it now. So once you get your CA seat. It’s no longer “open” the next time around unless you vacate it for any reason.

But if your airline had all of a sudden reduced 321 capacity right after you got your 717 CA, then those more senior 321 pilots could be gunning for your seat. If you were displaced as 717 CA you could then in theory go punt the poor sod who got your 330 FO seat.

Or another slot opens or is created but yes that’s it.

Adam