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BA or Virgin? Which is better?

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BA or Virgin? Which is better?

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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 12:16
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Snoop BA or Virgin? Which is better?

Dear All,

A friend of mine, you know, the guy with the venereal disease and erectile dysfunction who was asking for advice on getting out of a speeding ticket the other day, anyway he has been a lucky bugger and is swimming in the pools of both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. Now I know there is a fairly long waiting time, particularly in the former but having never dared hope that this might occur he needs some help in comparing the two and making a lifetime career choice. I also hear he isn’t the only one with a leg in both camps, seems that a few guys will have this choice to make…

Anyway, he’s only late twenties but having been on the A320 for a few years and with a supportive other half he really fancies long haul now, which BA aren’t offering for at least 5 years. He also fancies buggering off to la belle France so that he doesn’t have to keep giving Gordon lots of money every month… so Virgin looks really attractive right now, not considering the famed ‘party atmosphere’ and the draw of heavy iron. Seems like an easy choice in the short term.

That said, having never flown long haul before at least BA would offer the option to change back to short haul later if he doesn’t enjoy it or has a family and while the money is the same initially isn’t BA’s final salary is about £25K better than Virgins? But then doesn’t Virgin offer a quicker command and the increasing job security provided by continuing expansion? Quote “twice its current size in 10 years, by 10% a year expansion”. I suppose its more exposed to a downturn in the Atlantic from, please no , another 9/11 but then its expanding elsewhere around the globe so that should reduce. Having said that BA didn’t boot anyone after 9/11, is 10 times bigger and say they will recruit another hundred and something next April so that’s some guys who would be on the list behind him. The nasty Nigels are well known, though probably few in number, but aren’t there rumours of occasionally awkward to deal with ex-military cliques in Uncle Richard’s mob?

Later on when he may not be so keen to fly all the time BA apparently offers 75% and 50% rosters, does Virgin? Staff travel has to pretty good on both I guess, albeit with more freebies for other halves and mates with Virgin. Though BA’s new pension hasn’t been finally announced yet but it looks like it won’t be as good as Virgins 15% so that’s another thing to consider. Does Virgin do block reserves like BA does, which would be easier to live abroad with?

Now he’s a good mate, albeit not very bright, and it’s a life changing decision for him so what considerations would you suggest I’ve missed or misinterpreted? What about morale and perceived lifestyle in the two outfits? Is it true that BA’s long haul guys regularly do 900 hours PA whereas Virgin boys don’t, aren’t they contracted to 750 hours?

Thanks in advance…

SB
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 15:52
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Britney,

Not quite in the same position, although hopefully will be soon.

All my thoughts and worries exactly. Sure you werent talking about me ?
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 20:44
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SB...

It's a difficult one... however, a fortunate position to be in - some would love to have either offered! I am lucky enough to have been in his (your!) position - worked for VS, and had to make the decision (or not) to move to BA after a year or 2 - which I did. On balance, I reckon for someone joining now VS has the edge...

Specifics:
Later on when he may not be so keen to fly all the time BA apparently offers 75% and 50% rosters, does Virgin?
I think VS does offer part time. BA does, but very hard to get right now... Will come down to legislation, which means they'll be the same.

Though BA’s new pension hasn’t been finally announced
Well... it's 12% of ~75% of your salary, which in anybody's eyes (except BA's!) is 9%. VS I believe is 15%. If we can up the rate for new entrants in BA we will, but there are so many battles brewing in BA right now, I cannot forecast a likely outcome.

Is it true that BA’s long haul guys regularly do 900 hours PA whereas Virgin boys don’t, aren’t they contracted to 750 hours?
VS were contracted, when I was there, to 750hours (800 Airbus), and I believe the +50 Airbus cop-out was got rid of. BA work to a credited hour system, which can lead to you doing 900 actual hours. However, to achieve this, then you must be doing "efficient" trips which ensure no long stays downroute or on duty. VS do not have that protection... Probably not an issue with their route structure, and/or you are happy spending time off downroute against home.

But then doesn’t Virgin offer a quicker command
Usually has done, but all based on dead man's shoes or expansion.

Hope that helps somewhat, but suggest:
  • Take the first offer that comes - or at least first starting date
  • Toss a coin
  • If you take my advice (I wouldn't) go for VS...
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 22:05
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A difficult choice, but ponder this.

BA is a real airline, Virgin is a brand name which happens to operate some aircraft.

BA's business is pretty stable. Virign's planned expansion seems to be a lot of hot air from it's owner with little substance to date.

BA kept all it's pilots post 9/11. Virgin sh!tcanned 40% of them at the drop of a hat.

But if your friend does have errectile problems, BA hosties will be a bit more of a challenge compared with the Virgin girls
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Old 24th Jul 2004, 09:02
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Ultra long haul is great for a few years but as your mate has about 30 years to go until he retires he needs to ask himself if he wants to be doing nothing but 7hr to 15hr sectors for the rest of his career. I didn't so I had no choice but to leave. Virgin had a brief flirtation with A320s a couple of years back but got rid of them all, and I can't see them going back into short haul. At BA you have the potential for a lot more variety in your flying.
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 08:38
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What´s galling is BA could be the best airline in the world , both for pax and staff, if only they sorted out half a dozen Directors and senior flight ops managers. Most of us there live in hope...
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 14:58
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Ya Zi,

Virgin has been operating for 20 years this year and has a current fleet of about 30 long haul airliners with more on the way.

It is a real airline , not a "brand name operating a few aircraft".

They certainly did s***can a large number of crew after 9/11 myself included. They also offered almost everyone their positions back within 6-9 months and are currently the same size in terms of crew numbers as they were pre 9/11. Much recruiting underway presently.

Certainly,BA avoided redundancies and full marks to them, however there are no VS drivers preparing to move over to BA that I am aware of.

My advice would be, under 30- BA certainly worth considering if you want the variety and dont mind/can afford living in the SE.
Over 30 - think carefully especially if you want long haul.
Over 40 - BA not a good idea unless the retiring age increases.Still the command and pension issues to consider.

Virgin terms and conditions are much improved over a few years ago and you can fly RHS until 65 if the multiple divorces are causing financial pain.
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 17:41
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Hi all,

With regards to working for either BA/Virgin, is it true that a good percentage of pilots live nowhere near London, ie live in other parts of the UK/Ireland, France, Spain etc..therefore don't have to live in the southeast.

Also, what I don't understand is when people mention that you can switch from BA long to shorthaul if for instance you have a family....however I thought with these 3-5 day tours around Europe that you would be away from home pretty much the same length of time anyway...so what's the difference?

just a thought

P1
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 18:52
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Lots of BA pilots, both short and long haul, live nowhere near London. However what you gain by being away from the South East you can lose in a long drive to and from work when you're generally likely to be knackered in one or both directions. Early starts and late finishes can be a problem as you'd either be driving at an unpleasant time or the flight schedules won't tie up and you'll waste a night sitting in a cheap B&B somewhere.

You're right about short haul being away from home a lot. BALPA did a bit of research into this last year and found that both short and long haul pilots in BA spend a broadly similar amount of time away from base with a similar number of nights away from home, however short haul actually spent about 30% more time on duty than long haul. It's also worth noting that many long haul flights depart late at night and return early in the morning so even though your tired you can still do something at home on the last day of the trip. With short haul you'll leave early morning and arrive home late at night so the day's completely filled. If you want time at home then long haul is by far the way to go.
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 23:45
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Just a few thoughts on the long haul vs short haul thing.

Its very much down to individual preferences. Some people hate long haul and can't tolerate the time swings, some people love it.

Personally I find long haul easier on my aging body than four or five consecutive early starts changing to lates then back to early etc etc. I like the lifestyle and whilst it is true that you can only play golf/get trashed in the truck so many times, I would rather be bored sitting by the pool in St Lucia, Ipod installed in lugholes and a good book to hand than be bored slogging endlessly backwards and forwards to some rainswept European airport or on airport standby with 7 hours to go.

The ability to live where you like is also a big factor. Commuting is a pain in the proverbial and expensive to boot but for me it is cheaper than a mortgage in the south and I live where I want to rather than where I have to.

In the end you do what suits you and stay with what you like.
I am far too old for BA now but enjoy Virgin and will stay until retirement, terrorism and environmentalists permitting. If I was 25 and had a choice I would have to think long and hard.

Whatever you choose, hope it works for you.
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Old 31st Jul 2004, 07:28
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Spearing Britney

You say that it is a long time to wait in the holding pool - can anyone give any idea of how long the wait in the VS pool is?

Waiting, waiting......

Thankx
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Old 31st Jul 2004, 16:01
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To give you an idea, I've been waiting since December. And I'm still waiting!!
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Old 31st Jul 2004, 17:33
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Spearing B

Let me start by saying you lucky bugger i would kill to be in such a quandry.

BA used to be the airline i would have killed to get into but after hearing BA pilots moan more vociferously than VS and looking into the culture of both airlines then VS is now the apple of my eye.

In these hallowed pages we have also seen recently that the BA T & C's have changed dramitically downwards (especially for new DEP's) as opposed to VS's incremental movements upwards trying to match BAs.

Have also heard that more and more BA chaps are forgoing the "job for life" and moving on to Monarch Britannia etc etc. Not so long ago it was all the other way.

As for the change back to short haul dont forget that VS and BMI were in consultation not so long ago. Have heard NO rumours that its NOT going to happen infact quite the opposite.

Nothern boy is right would you rather be bored in HKG,ORD,SFO,BGI,JFK (cities and countries that if your bored in then you might as well top yourself) or as i and im sure you do 5 earlies followed by 5 lates and hanging around waiting for the phone to ring.

If offered both at the same time ask you heart and head to have a chat and go for what you think is right for you both now and in the future.

Good luck you lucky so and so.
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 03:31
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What is the likelihood that a newhire could get staffed on the 400 vs. shorthaul Airbus? If you are a junior FO on the 400, what are the likely destinations you could bid or be awarded on reserve (primarily NY flights...)?

Will most newhires likely start on the bus?
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 15:46
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The word from management was that unless you were already rated on the 747 or 777 you'd be going to the Airbus, but that was before they had to reopen recruitment and widen the offer (737 and 75/67 ratings now welcome).

As a junior FO on the 747 you could probably expect to get one decent trip a month to NRT,LAX,SFO,HKG,JNB,SEA,MEX as part of a blind line. The rest of your allocation will be JFK, BOS, MIA, DEL, MAA, ORD, BAH, IAD etc, mostly three day trips, plus you will work every weekend as a junior FO regardless of which fleet you're on. Bidding is really only a notional concept as a junior FO, you'll be on blind lines and be allocated your work regardless of your preferences.
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Old 9th Aug 2004, 16:17
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If you manage to get long-haul straight away (full ATPL required), expect the 777 rather than the 400 as we're a little short of pilots at the mo. For the Triple, expect shorter East Coast (IAD, BOS, PHL, EWR, JFK, ATL) trips and the middle East (KWI, DXB, RUH, JED). We also do the mid-West (IAH, DFW, DEN), the Caribbean (TPA, MCO, KIN, BGI, ANU with shuttles), Africa (ABV, HRE, LUN occasionally) and some longer range stuff (including PEK, CCU, GRU, GIG) but you're highly unlikely to see any of those on a Blind Line.

Don't expect the 400 without a type rating, there are enough people already in BA who will bid for it.

PS: As a new hire, expect reserve (7 fixed days off, 3 weeks on call) at least once a year on any LHR fleet.

Last edited by Human Factor; 9th Aug 2004 at 16:28.
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Old 10th Aug 2004, 13:43
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Well I can't speak for Virgin, but I can tell you it's very miserable at BA.
Years of grossly incompetent management of this government department let loose in the real world have led to the shambles it now is.
Pilots are resented by all and their lily-livered managers do little to defend them.
Eventually you are trapped, with only the pension retaining you (at least new joiners wont face that problem).
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Old 10th Aug 2004, 15:43
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Don’t go to BA.

Why?

Well, in the past two weeks I’ve experienced:

· An hour wait for transport between terminals to operate a flight that was already 2hrs late. (we got into a engineers van, - some entire crews got London buses between terminals.)

· Cabin crew not prepared to dispatch on a domestic sector without a 5th crewmember.

· 3 Aircraft stands full of misplaced baggage.

· Cabin crew requiring '38 minutes at table' (to eat at a crew lounge) after a single 1.5hr sector, causing delays to get worse

· Tug drivers disconnecting and going home, despite being already connected to an aircraft with a pushback sequence number and passengers that are already 3 hrs late.

· Cabin crew not getting up to start their service until the TOC, on a 40 minute sector

· Dispatchers that are ‘not permitted any longer’ to print off flight plans form there computers for flight crew.

· Airside bus drivers dropping an outbound crew off at the aircraft, f’ing and blinding at me because I have asked for them to take our inbound crew back to the car park. And then driving off without us

· Finding crew buses ‘hiding’ in Terminal 1, when there are crews that have been waiting for 2 hrs for transport to or from their next trip on other stands, because the bus dispatcher radio controller is ‘not allowed to call them’

· Company radio frequencies replying to 25% of radio call for the whole of the LHR fleet

· Cabin crew that are not asked & ‘not permitted’ by the union to go into discretion (or they’ll be fined - allegedly…)

· Multiple & extensively delayed departures not having any customer service staff in attendance at the gates

· Crew control not advising dispatchers or flight crew that their flight which is waiting to board has no cabin crew to cover the flight

· The presumption that cabin crew will never go into discretion.

· Flights being retimed (read: delayed) for cabin crew needing more rest in the hotel than the flight crew

· The presumption that flight crew will ALWAYS go into discretion without referring to them

· Several times a week, being asked by cabin crew if we can ensure that our passengers who pay our mortgages, will be delayed further than they are already so they get £50,


I’ve worked in some grot holes, in & out of aviation in the past, but the sheer negativity and CANT do attitude at BA is really beyond belief.

If you think the continuity of your pay check is safe, stay where you are.
I wish I had...
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Old 10th Aug 2004, 17:16
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Ironically the man who is responsible for all but one of spammans examples has recently been awarded an OBE for services to the airline industry. He was probably nominated by our competitiors!
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Old 10th Aug 2004, 18:41
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Unhappy

Snooky, I can understand why you feel so undervalued and disliked by alot of the staff in BA. It seems that anyone who is on a higher payscale is fair game.

The short-sightedness (sp?) and unwillingness of certain employees to recognise the need to pay the "going rate" coupled with our unions (esp. BASSA) with their tabloid, lowest-common-denominator newsletters and mail shots does nothing to remedy the situation. The unions whip up a fire storm every time management bonuses are announced. A jealous eye is turned toward the flightdeck door whenever pay is discussed on board by some.

Honestly I don't know what will make us snap out of our complacent attitude that we are the best, will always be and can treat both our customers and colleagues any way we wish to.

Here's hoping the strike is averted later this month!

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