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BA Direct Entry Pilot.

Old 8th Oct 2016, 19:40
  #3161 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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And have a look at the new SH breakfasts if you want to know what hardship really is.
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Old 8th Oct 2016, 20:17
  #3162 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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DEP here, LHS LoCo to LH.

A lot of good feedback on this thread, so I thought I'd throw in my two pence on a couple of points that have not been raised.

The first is that LH can be rather difference depending on your fleet. The most senior FO on the 747 will look at the blind line of the most junior FO on the 380 with amazement. So even though LH is still a much better gig than SH (if you can manage the sleep), your lifestyle and contentment may vary somewhat based on your fleet.

My second point is that a switch from LHS to RHS, even if it can be a bit frustrating at times, brings a significant reduction in stress. I can see why the guys who go EZY to BA SH regret their decision at times, as their hours an stress levels will be comparable. But for yours truly, going from the stress of 5 days in a row of bad weather, dodgy Greek islands, disruptive passengers and very junior FOs, to flying ILS to ILS four or five times a month with very experienced skippers, has been very enjoyable. And I, for one, am less tired than I was with the LoCo.

In general, I find people to be very pleasant to work with at BA. Training was very relaxed and 90 percent of the skippers seem to recognise I know a thing or two about flying. I work 3 out of 4 weekends though and going from a fixed roster to the vagaries of being junior on a bidding system has impacted family life to an extent. On the plus side, I am a lot less stressed and tired. I enjoy looking after the kids more than the last two years in the previous job (I had become pretty grumpy). Even the missus thinks I'm slightly more likeable than before.

One last point, which has been mentioned a couple of times on the thread, is that no one knows what the future holds. Alex Cruz might tighten the screw so much that the likes of five year fleet freezes might become 6, 7 or more. And heaven knows what else. But then no one knows what the future holds for any airline, and my ex-colleagues tell me on a regular basis that things are getting worse at my old outfit. You could draw lines to chart the decline of terms and conditions at all airlines and they would be more or less parallel. But BA would be one of the top lines, which makes me think I made the right choice.
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Old 8th Oct 2016, 20:55
  #3163 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: uk
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Having done pretty much exactly the same, (same LHS loco job, to same BA LH fleet), I pretty much agree with all of that.

A couple of things...

LONG HAUL- suits some people, won't suit others. Dependent on how you cope with time differences and nights out of bed. Also depends on number of trips/slip lengths/crew complement (so at BA fleet dependent). For me, on my fleet, I'm a lot less tired than 5 earlies.

LHS to RHS- this is also an individual thing. Can your ego take it? How used to your own way are you? I've found it ok. People seem to respect my experience level.

I couldn't agree more re stress levels. That said, I don't think LH skipper is a stressful as SH loco skipper. 1-3 experienced crew members to support you, and about 40 less sectors per month. Nice.

Will LH go the way of SH? Will BA go the way of the locos? Time to get out of that happens...
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 08:24
  #3164 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: York
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The previous two posts sum up LoCo to BA LH pretty well. Overall it represents a reduction in stress, and an increase in quality of life. Not quite as cushy as it used to be, but little changed frankly.

OTOH, move from LoCo to BA short haul, and you are likely to get rather a shock! You will spend far more time in uniform than you used to. More days at work, and longer days at that! Coupled with min rest night stops, or with more than a 60 minute commute to Heathrow, and you could easily, like I have, look back on the previous 6-7 days, and realise you have worn nothing but uniform! BA will issue you with, I think, 6 shirts. That's not nearly enough. They, and the rest of the uniform will inevitably start to look very shabby, very quickly!

BA weren't interested in an 'Easy' style pattern of work, as they wanted more days at work out of their crews!! They also like their pilots to hang around in a cafe for hours on end, waiting for their next aircraft to arrive. Meaning you'll probably fly fewer hours in your increased days at work!

But, as with many things, there is a silver lining. Anyone joining recently, with sufficient experience for commands, can be the captain of an A319/320/321 within a year. Because so few people who have escaped to LH can stomach the idea of returning!

So basically, if all you want to be is a SH pilot, I would recommend staying at Easy, or aiming to work for them!

LH at BA still (currently) remains a very good, and well paid, option.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 08:45
  #3165 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 4468 View Post
Anyone joining recently, with sufficient experience for commands, can be the captain of an A319/320/321 within a year. Because so few people who have escaped to LH can stomach the idea of returning! .
You'll be more tuned in to Sort Haul than I am but I must admit from reading elsewhere that the balance of opinion was that 2016/command in under a year shock event was an outlier and that next year will see a move back to some form of normality - as long as someone doesn't tamper with the rules. If the company decides to meddle with freezes and decides to unfreeze junior P2s to go RHS to LHS Airbus whilst freezing those on Longhaul who have bid to move to Airbus LHS then of course all bets are off (it's costs and that darned business plan again).

FWIW regardless of the strength of their stomachs I do know of some Long Haul P2s who bid for a move to shorthaul for command.

Last edited by wiggy; 9th Oct 2016 at 09:09.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 09:01
  #3166 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
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4468, there's little doubt shorthaul is working harder than it used to, but your perception of longhaul is wrong - little has changed? Sorry I disagree. You ask how we are working harder and suggest FA effects only a small number on any status, which is not correct. Longhaul has been highly efficient within BA wrt achieving the hours for many years it is true, but it could be achieved in a way that suited each individual's coping mechanisms for fatigue. You can do three trips with two days off inbetween them, or you can do two trips back to back, followed by 4 days off and then the third trip. The latter of those two scenarios is far less fatiguing for most people, and I for one am significantly more fatigued now that EASA prevents it. On the subject of FA, it's effected me directly about four or five times a year since it came in. On the occasions when it has, it's resulted in trip one day off, trip two days off, and because I was already working hard in the rest of the month to make the gap in the first place; an incredibly fatiguing month has been the result. Indirectly, it forces me to work over CAP almost all the time. What do I do with those hours once they are in the bank? If I could discharge them in a later month then you're right, we couldn't be working significantly harder. However, most people are prevented from doing this, because you get FA'd when you try it. So you're left with PBW. Nope, you can't due to closed days. So then what? You ring ops who allow a PBW with immediate pick up again. You're bank is now reduced, and you've just done some forced overtime without actually being FAd. In this way, FA and highly restricted PBW effects everyone even if you never actually been FAd, you've had enforced overtime via the back door. How else has long haul got harder? Well we gave up leave days for shorthaul, five day trips now exist that have the same credit as four day trips used to years ago etc.. No one is suggesting shorthaul is not working harder, but I think it paints an incorrect picture to come on here and suggest to DEPs that longhaul hasn't changed and you'll love it.

I've flown with many long haul DEPs who regret their decision, and they've come from both shorthaul and long haul backgrounds. Back when I was shorthaul, I was ready to quit. I tried longhaul and it suited me far better. However, the changes over the last few years have left me regretting becoming a professional pilot on far more occasions than I'd like. As I highlighted in my previous post though, I don't think this is a 'BA specific' problem. Flying has become incredibly fatiguing almost everywhere. The point is, BA is now pretty much like any of the other main choices out there. It is no longer the pinnacle of a UK pilot's career, and you should think long and hard before giving up your current position. It may well be that it still suits an individual to move, but it's definitely not as black and white as it used to be in days of old.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 09:46
  #3167 (permalink)  
 
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GS-Alpha

You put that all much better than I could

Indirectly, it forces me to work over CAP almost all the time.
Yep..and if I may by way of explanation for those interested in the detail.

Under Bidline you used to be able to work high (above CAP - the monthly target in notional credited hours, not hours that get paid off in cash), put the excess credited hours above the CAP in your "bank", and then when you had enough credited hours built up you could drop a trip from your roster in exchange for paying the banked credited hours back to the company ( a Personal Bank Withdrawal or "PBW"). There used be a limit on the credited hours you could build up (40 hours in Longhaul last time I looked) - go above that and there were sanctions - temporary loss of bidding rights, so routinely people would bid high and then low, (leaving gaps on their line) vs. the CAP across the months (which was the whole point of bank in the first place, it was a smoothing device to allow you to bid high and low). Remember the large gaps in Longhaul Rosters mentioned by some in previous posts? That's one of the reasons why they existed.

What has changed is that nowadays people are consistently bidding above CAP to avoid leaving gaps on their line because a change to the rules now means the company can drop trips into those self same gaps (aka "FA"). That in turn means their banks are building up towards the 40 hour limit - pilots need to get rid of banked hours somehow.

Now once upon a time you could contact ops and request to drop a trip as a PBW, and as long as you had enough credited hours in the bank and unless there was a manning crisis it was done. Nowadays the company is very very resistant to work being dropped (even though we have people on Reserve/standby) so they are increasingly limiting PBWs or taking the line, in Longhaul at least, of saying: ..." you must do the trip, but we'll take the hours out of your the bank in return for cash.", so as GS-Alpha has said it's effectively forced paid overtime for cash. Some may well be right in claiming that CAPs haven't increased that much on Long Haul, but there has been a increase of hidden work above CAP across fleets...and a massive loss in flexibility for the individual. Also TBF to shorthaul, exactly the same may be happening there, but I have no idea of the reality so I can't comment on that...

I'll close this ramble by saying I think the vast majority BA pilots know and acknowledge that Short haul got stuffed by the move to EASA FTLs, but to consistently claim by way of contrast that Longhaul is a sunny upland that has hardly been touched by recent changes is, sadly, something of an exaggeration.

HTH, hope it's of interest.

Last edited by wiggy; 9th Oct 2016 at 10:45.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 10:37
  #3168 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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I've been following this thread with interest and I have to admit I'm a bit surprised at some of the things I've read. Perhaps I was naive to think BA won't have some of the problems of the other airlines pilots are running away from.

However my biggest surprise so far as I've deduced from some of the posts is that BA don't do fixed links. This is a procedure where a crew is attached to the same aircraft for multiple sectors. I work outside of UK and where I'm based was standard procedure in my two previous companies. You can resume for a four sector day at 6am and be on your way home 2pm, provided weather corporates and aircraft doesn't go tech.

It reduces duty time and fatigue and so far most pilots myself included are happy with it. I find it hard to think a crew will do Lhr to Cdg and back then wait some hours to fly the same aircraft type currently tied up with another crew somewhere later in the day. Is there a reason for this or BA is too big for that to work. By the way the companies I was referring to are small in comparison.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 11:51
  #3169 (permalink)  
 
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Coming from a LH background, before that Euro LoCo, personally I find the BA LH roster pretty good. A lot of it depends on where you live. If you want to commute from abroad or even from more than a couple of hours away, then you are going to find some frustrations I guess, but that's your choice.
If you live within an hour's drive of LHR then I think it's actually pretty easy for now. I do 4-5 trips a month with credit for sims, leave, reserve etc. I've found BA to be enormously accommodating when I've had genuine problems such as sickness and a personal issue that prevented me going to work. They were even pretty awesome when there was nobody on reserve and I lost my ID... There's a very good electronic swap system backed up by decent (but overworked) Current Ops staff who in my experience always try to help you out if you approach it in the right way. The bidding system has a lot of plusses once you get a degree in BA history and customs. The training was incredibly grown-up, my colleagues are (on the whole...) very easy to work with and I feel incredibly lucky to have been working for BA for the last few years.
Yes, there are people that are deeply unhappy, but they seem to often have zero experience of other airlines, or other careers, or are disgruntled commuters who used to have an amazing (yet clearly unsustainable) lifestyle and have now had their lives turned upside down by EASA.

Last edited by anson harris; 9th Oct 2016 at 18:51.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 13:33
  #3170 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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nuclear weapon

You are correct. Fixed links are definitely preferable. But just to give you a glimpse into the 'BA way'. I have in the past, worked a four sector day, on four different aircraft (including three different variants) with four different groups of cabin crew.

It is also perfectly possible, on a five day gypsy tour of Europe, to operate with TEN different lots of cabin crew!

That's what BA affectionately term 'One Team'!
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 13:36
  #3171 (permalink)  
 
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nw

However my biggest surprise so far as I've deduced from some of the posts is that BA don't do fixed links....
Is there a reason for this or BA is too big for that to work.
One for a shorthauler to answer but as you can see from the previous comment it's certainly a common complaint (i.e. long duty days). I think the standard answer from the head shed is that the SH /LH tie up with transfer passengers and also slots complicates matters, another theory (well mine anyway) is that over the years no-one has actually stripped the schedules back to the bare essentials and seen if fixed links are possible. Stick in the different industrial agreements for the cabin crew and then chuck in the (BALPA approved) duty rig that doesn't penalise the company financially for producing long duty days and you've got a recipe for long days and the situation 4468 describes..

Anson

Wouldn't disagree with a lot of what you wrote, but as I'm sure you are aware a lot of the angst/frustration is that ( as in many companies) the rate of change is increasing and in BA at least as you know we're increasingly seeing unilateral imposition of rule changes....I'm guessing you'll have live with the consequences longer than I will so I wish you luck down the road.

BTW on the subject of grumbling commuters I think many commuters (I'm one) frustration is the way BA decided to interpret some of the EASA rules when writing them into the Ops manual, it was almost as if they had a "thing" against commuters.

That said one solution is part time, if you can get it.

Last edited by wiggy; 9th Oct 2016 at 13:47.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 13:57
  #3172 (permalink)  
 
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the rate of change is increasing and in BA at least as you know we're increasingly seeing unilateral imposition of rule changes
Yes, hence "for now"!
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 14:22
  #3173 (permalink)  
 
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anson

.......
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 15:49
  #3174 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Out of interest, are the bid results out yet? If not, any idea when they are expected?
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 16:09
  #3175 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Within the next month or so.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 17:49
  #3176 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
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However my biggest surprise so far as I've deduced from some of the posts is that BA don't do fixed links....
Is there a reason for this or BA is too big for that to work.
Once you have large numbers of crew switching a/c it makes sense to increase the amount of "down time" between flights. That way the crew can be waiting for the inbound aircraft and the next flights won't be delayed due to out of position crew.

As to why changing aircraft is necessary in the first place, no idea.... Surely BA's schedule is fixed enough (and a/c turnarounds short enough) for the aircraft, pilots and cabin crew to all do more or less the same? Just think of the savings in rostering complexity and associated costs...
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 19:30
  #3177 (permalink)  
 
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BTW on the subject of grumbling commuters I think many commuters (I'm one) frustration is the way BA decided to interpret some of the EASA rules when writing them into the Ops manual, it was almost as if they had a "thing" against commuters.
What exactly is this Wiggy - my experience of EASA so far is its pretty black or white. Assume your on about days off after long haul?
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 19:53
  #3178 (permalink)  
 
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Twiglet

I don't want to give the impression I'm always whinging..honestly. Keeping it simple it was felt intially that the company were very resistant to allow the continuation of Flight Crew back to backs under EASA ...now their hands were tied re trip construction but there's a thought they could have been more helpful if there had been a will to help out. Ultimately "commuters" that want back to back to have now learnt the tricks and trips that allow them to operate within the current rule set so it's water under the bridge.

Probably more importantly was the (AFAIK the still untested by disciplinary) argument over BA's interpretation of the rule about the need to be acclimatised for report post days off/leave...something which of course applies to everybody, commuter or not.

Last edited by wiggy; 9th Oct 2016 at 20:24.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 20:17
  #3179 (permalink)  
 
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Man U
the aircraft, pilots and cabin crew to all do more or less the same?
Again one for a short hauler but have a look at 4468's comments about "Gypsy tours"....AFAIK part of the problem on short haul is that legacy cabin crew and flight crew work to very different industrial agreements regarding turn around times, meal breaks, and crew composition across the varients so they often don't do the same days work at all...

Last edited by wiggy; 9th Oct 2016 at 20:28.
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Old 9th Oct 2016, 20:35
  #3180 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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EASA has absolutely no basis in common sense. I think everyone accepts that?

However the back to back restrictions may at least have been partially based in a desire to protect folks from themselves? For example, the back to back to back to back to back merchants. Who have commuting/UK income tax issues.

It's also the case that many in BA, don't like back to backs. BA MAY have allowed them, (as they do for cabin crew) had they been given a free hand to impose them on all.

My personal view is that the current arrangements are about right?
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