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lilikoi's avatar

Why are airline pilots not laterally mobile?

Asked by lilikoi (10028 points ) January 13th, 2010

In most industries when you want to switch companies you can do so without much difficulty and often with a raise in salary. With airline pilots, I’ve read that they are stuck because the industry does everything by seniority. For example: If you’re a senior captain at Airline A and decide to move to Airline B, you have to start over from the bottom of the ladder as a First Officer at Airline B simply because you are new to the company and have no seniority there. Why doesn’t seniority transfer and why don’t unions fight for this for their pilots?

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5 Answers

TheLoneMonk's avatar

Don’t forget flight attendants in this Q…same deal for them

nikayamo's avatar

Generally, seniority comes with several years of work at that location. It would simply be unfair to be a Senior captain at Airline A, then switch to Senior captain at Airline B, because it has better pay/benefits, etc. Also, they are entirely different companies. Policies, work shifts, and everything else are different and unrelated. You must prove your abilities in that specific environment to become a Senior Captain at B, and not just walk in expecting Seniority to transfer over. Some companies may allow this, if owned by the same people, but otherwise, it will be rare to for it to happen.

lilikoi's avatar

@nikayamo : If you have x hours of flying experience w/ Air A, you still have x hours of flying experience when you get to Air B. I guess I don’t understand what about the work environments are so different as to warrant a complete start-over. In most other industries, there are many different companies each with slightly different innerworkings, but your skill set is constant and transferable. For example, as an engineer, I would never accept an entry level position at Corp B if I had 5 years of experience at Corp A and both were in the same industry, yet in the airline industry this is the norm. I don’t get it.

Bugabear's avatar

I know. It’s because of this I decided not to become a pilot. If you want something like that you’d have to join the Air force. But I dont know if you’re allowed to join another country’s though.

Judi's avatar

I believe in Unions, but in this case it’s their fault. My husband was in charge of aircraft appearance for an airline and got in trouble because he pitched in and helped the employees. He was told that it was against union rules because he was taking work that should have been reserved for the union employee. Silliness if you ask me. Who doesn’t want a boss who’s willing to get his hands dirty if he has to?

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