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BA Direct Entry Pilot.

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BA Direct Entry Pilot.

Old 22nd Jun 2015, 17:04
  #1741 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Winchester
Posts: 5,358
My fourpence worth on the stuff not specific to shorthaul.

Leave is allocated twice a year (two "seasons"). Keeping it simple you get a couple of weeks in the "summer", couple of weeks in the "winter" season. You also get a Duty Free Week in each season...Roughly speaking the lead time for leave is around 6 months (e.g. bid in the Spring for winter leave), lead time for a DFW 2-3 ish months minimum (e.g. we're bidding now for the winter DFWs). There's a points system to ensure that the senior pilots don't perpetually hoover up the attractive dates.

Ability to get certain days off in advance (i.e. 4-6 weeks)
Aside from compassionate reasons and possibly days off associated with a reserve block there's effectively Nil/zero/nada official mechanism in place to guarantee a specified single day off on a full time contract. Obviously (?) your first option is to frame a suitable monthly bid around the day in question, but even if you do manage to be successful at the end of the rostering process you might still up being Force Assigned (FA) extra work, possibly neatly clobbering that special day off that you thought you'd managed to keep clear. About the only hope than is that you can find someone to swap with.

If you really need a day off you need to embed it in a leave block or a DFW - and you can't do that with 4-6 weeks notice.

Last edited by wiggy; 22nd Jun 2015 at 18:55. Reason: Rewritten for brevity..honest!
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Old 22nd Jun 2015, 17:59
  #1742 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: In a surreal world.
Posts: 6
Thanks Wiggy, that's really kind of you to take the time to explain things. Also thanks to everyone else 'in the know' at BA who are helping out with information.

Interesting points about leave, particularly the points system. Maybe there is hope that a lowly FO may be able to get that one particular school holiday week at some point in the first few years of their BA career?

Can understand the frustration around not being able to get that one particular day off - personally speaking, I'm quite happy to work hard in between days off etc. as long as I know they are set in stone.

I'm quite interested in staff travel - can crew use it to travel in premium cabins on a regular basis and if they chose to do so, pay slightly more to guarantee a firm seat?

Thing is, when all is said and done, the deal that BA offers is still one of the best options in the UK and Europe.

Once again, my thanks.
Father Fintan Stack is offline  
Old 22nd Jun 2015, 18:08
  #1743 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: FL370
Age: 33
Posts: 231
Regarding the hold pool wait, it seems to vary. I was in the pool for a month to the day from hearing I'd be successful. I know of people that haven't even dipped a toe in the water and were given course dates along with the good news that they had been successful. I also know of one guy that has recently waited nearly 10 weeks to get a course date.
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Old 22nd Jun 2015, 19:07
  #1744 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Winchester
Posts: 5,358
can crew use it to travel in premium cabins on a regular basis and if they chose to do so, pay slightly more to guarantee a firm seat?
Without getting too specific:

After 6 months (I think) you can buy an unlimited number of basic economy standbys, or more expensive enhanced standbys which improve your chance of a seat in a premium cabin.

Each year the individual also has an entitlement to buy a (very) limited number of bookable tickets which have enhanced boarding/premium cabin priority...however even though they are sometimes called "firms" you are still vulnerable to being offloaded in favour of commercial pax.

Last edited by wiggy; 23rd Jun 2015 at 05:05.
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Old 22nd Jun 2015, 22:50
  #1745 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Europe
Posts: 1,484
What percentage of newhires are getting Airbus LHR?
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Old 23rd Jun 2015, 00:29
  #1746 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: europe
Posts: 355
even in the old days a "firm" was never a "firm" , misuse of the english language in the highest order!
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Old 23rd Jun 2015, 12:16
  #1747 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: London
Posts: 6
An interesting thread - to which I'd like to add my view.

Joining BA is obviously no longer the clear cut decision that it used to be. Our managements eagerness to join the race to the bottom (and BALPA's willingness to help them) means that there is little left to differentiate BA from other airlines. To put it very bluntly, if you have an easy drive to work, like who you work with and enjoy what type of flying you do then don't bother coming here unless it's as a LH DEP and even that needs some consideration.

Sadly BA is very much 2 different airlines, LH and SH. On LH you'll get to fly a heavy jet around the world and will probably get 14-15 full days off at home every month. You'll have limited exposure to LHR and the M25. Not a bad job but God only knows what bidding system will be in use 18 months from now and as previously stated you will not be able to guarantee a single day off in any month unless you have leave. If you never want a SH command, be prepared to spend 20 years in the RHS.

SH is another matter altogether. You'll fly 800+ hours but will also spend as much time again on duty. Expect 10-11 days off a month with mostly only 1 or 2 days off at a time. There are 2,3,4 and 5 day tours - the majority with 3 sectors on the first and last day. Mid-tour 4 sector days with 3 aircraft changes and 4 sets of cabin crew are not unheard of. There are long airside turn rounds of up to 3.30hrs, spent in dirty, windowless airside canteens. The impact of EASA FTLs later in the year is a huge worry - 5/6/5 anyone? Also do not under estimate the frustration factor of working out of LHR. 20 minutes to get from the car park to T5, 20 minutes to taxy out, 10-15 minutes holding to get back in and then a long wait for the bus to take you back to the car park after work (up to 45 minutes after 10.30pm).

More importantly, BA is not a nice/happy place to work and the working/socialising relationship with cabin crew is unlike any other airline. There is still a great deal of bitterness and hatred from a number of CC (this was evident before the dispute too). Thankfully on SH there is a nice mix of EF, ex-BMI and MF so every now again you'll have an enjoyable night stop. There are some great guys/girls on the FD but be prepared for those with limited emotional intelligence who will moan about their crystallised APS pension and their property portfolio, whilst you're wondering how you'll ever get on the property ladder!

You'll never get a consensus from BA pilots about whether or not to join because our opinions very much depend on our fleet/ pay scale/ pension. However, it does not take a genius to realise that a senior pp24 744 Captain will have a very different lifestyle to a junior pp1 or 2 Airbus F/O and that lifestyle and level of remuneration has gone - no matter how much BA/BALPA promise jam tomorrow.

Finally, BA at the moment is all about the money. Everything boils down to cost and there is no care for the employees or the value that they can add to the company. If I had to make my choice again in today's climate I would not join - and I was a DEP on to LH!
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Old 23rd Jun 2015, 16:11
  #1748 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Uk
Posts: 1
What is life like flying SH at LGW? I'd like to be LGW based and not currently interested in LH. Just wondered how different it is to the LHR rosters.

Many thanks.
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 06:50
  #1749 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Home of the Gnomes
Posts: 359
Same as you get now, except the A319s are blue and white and you don't get a predictable roster. There's a preference bidding system called Carmen which is almost not worth using. Once again, seniority wins but there's not a lot in it between junior and senior. The only positive of note is that once your roster is out, it's effictively set in stone.

If you're not interested in LH and have a command in the immediate offing, for your own good stay put.
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 07:26
  #1750 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: The local
Posts: 108
So applications close soon, any speculation when they may reopen?
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 09:23
  #1751 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: London
Posts: 6

I would imagine very soon! 350+ pilots needed this year with rumours of similar numbers for next year. There's a greater take up of part time and parental leave now, plus an increase in retirements. The managers are already saying that summer 2016 will be as bad as summer 2014 and 2015!

Our roster assign process finished yesterday. This is basically enforced overtime after final roster publication. It is very depressing to see the number of pilots on the Airbus who have had their only weekend off in the whole of July filled with a forced overtime 2 day 6 sector trip. So what is the point of bidding?! This issue on it's own is pushing people into retiring early or taking part time.
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 09:34
  #1752 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: UK
Posts: 55
Does anyone actually enjoy working at BA!?
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 09:48
  #1753 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2015
Location: France
Posts: 40
I'm going to the initial assessment next month. Of course I'm far from passing at the moment but, the comments here about SH life are depressing me

Makes it hard to study bloody numerical reasoning and the like!!
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 10:20
  #1754 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 1,739
Depressing indeed. If it's one thing that gets on my tits it's inefficiency and hanging around doing nothing. I've flown for an operator where we also often had 2 sometimes 3 aircraft changes per day. That adds to fatigue. Going for stage 2 next month, I hope the truth is somewhat better than described above!
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 10:30
  #1755 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Winchester
Posts: 5,358
Does anyone actually enjoy working at BA!?
Some do...I actually enjoy most of my working days but then I'm in that minority group that is Long Haul, part time, on PP a lot....(but I hasten to add not APS). TBH haven't run into to many problems with the Cabin Crew/Flight Crew divide...but yes, it does exist.

OTOH I very much recognise the sentiments that Amigo South used in his/her excellent description - recently my shorthaul colleague have used words/phrases such as "nasty"/"horrible"/"untenable in the long term on full time" to describe their feelings about work and the work place.

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Old 24th Jun 2015, 11:08
  #1756 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The sky
Posts: 203
Just to add balance to the doom mongers,

Most of the doom and gloom comes from long established BA pilots, who haven't experienced the outside world for a long time. In my role I meet a lot of fresh, recent joiners who are extremely aware that the 'unsustainable' roster pattern is significantly better than the one they have just left. Also once your roster is published its set in stone unless you agree to a change, no last minute shenanigans.

It's human nature that the people with the biggest gripes shout the loudest while those just getting on with it keep quiet. Yes you'll have to work hard in BA, but where don't you? Yes the seniority means you'll have less control initially but more later and we've all been there. I can count on one hand the number of days off I've 'needed' but failed to achieve, get good at using bidline and you'll usually achieve that one day. I've never been Gatwick based but have friends that are, they're not unhappy.

Come on in, the water's lovely!

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Old 24th Jun 2015, 11:17
  #1757 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Manchester
Posts: 3
Hi All,

I've always looked here but never posted.

I've booked a BA day 1 of testing next month. I Tried once in 2006 (and failed)

I'm currently a LTC with EZY having been there for 8 years, before that another operator on 737's/Turboprop. 7000+ hours etc. Have an itch about flying heavies, late 30's, kids, mortgage etc etc. Just a bit tired of LOCO and another 25+ potential years alarms me!!

Just wondering what people think about my applying and potentially leaving my cushy based, well paid, stable roster, choice of leave, none M25 commuting job. (I asked the wife but she just doesn't understand)!

Don't get me wrong I have my doubts about even passing Day 1 as I'm not exactly up to speed or savvy with Numerical/Verbal reasoning etc. The vibe I'm getting here from BA guys is not what I was expecting to be honest.

Thank you.
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 11:19
  #1758 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Amity Island
Age: 39
Posts: 63
I really enjoy working for them.

Nearly 7 years in with a fleet transfer approaching.

Served my time getting mediocre rosters but as others joined after me things got better .... as advertised. Thing that gets my blood pressure up is - if this thread stopped right now everything you need to know is in the public domain, the good, the bad and the ugly. Don't join and then say 'oh I thought it'd be like xyz'

BA is what you make of it - even the rare 3 hour hang around (which I too dislike). I handle it by going up into the terminal (ie away from said suicide inducing cafeteria) logging on to the free company wifi and watching an episode Game of Thrones or Mad Men whilst wearing my Bose headset in absolute tranquility.

Or I do all my crappy 'life admin' on the company's time - so my days off aren't full of "I must get round to ...."

I try and keep in perspective what I've heard on the rumour mill over the years vs what has then actually transpired. Eg hotel changes - Geneva doom and gloom (we moved from the Kempinski), you would have thought it was as if we'd just heard the three minute warning. As it turned out the Novotel has balconies, a free soft drink mini-bar, Xbox 360 (if that's your thing), big comfy bed, skin flaying power shower. Compared to Kempinski where a coffe costs 7 Swiss Francs and the rooms are tired old 'airline crew' rooms. This is an example of rumour vs what actually happened.

As per the pilot/cabin crew thing. I actually like not going out with cc! You have the same GroundHog Day conversation and spend the evening dancing round being polite, sizing up, being pc ... boring/tiring/monotonous. Don't get me wrong I've had some very funny evening and stand overs. In fact even with the nicest fd colleague, on a two nightstop tour I will only join him/her for drinks/dinner one night - I've been sat next to them joking/bantering/talking/ putting the world to rights all day after all.

Re the training. Generally very good. Learn early to play the game. Ask lots of open questions, get the others persons inpu before stating your own position, set gates (or better yet get your pal to set them), succinctly verbalise your thoughts/mental model (nobody ever said you had to be a mind reader to be a multi crew pilot). Let the BA way wash over you, don't fight it, once you do sim checks go much smoother.

I take the autopilot out every other day and hand fly it down from 10-20,000 ft. Sometimes with the birdy, sometimes not. Nobody bats an eyelid. My fd colleagues are almost universally good/fun/polite/interesting people. My Stage 2 iBid avoid list has 8 people on it (call that one person per year). And not all of them are spiteful - there's Mr Boring, Mr Its all about me, Mr Body Odour. Whatever people think of BAs selection process the people who get through seem to almost always get along and make the day fun, yes backgrounds differ, age differences, lifestyle choices, hobbies but most people just want to do the trip ASR free and blow the froth of a couple of cold ones.

Management. Most are politicians and should be viewed as such. And on the rare occasion they work-the-room in CRC assume that the moment they've gone back to their desks they will be plotting and scheming Blofelt style (minus the cat) - we're all grown ups and to assume otherwise, or for that matter any other company is any different is bordering on naive.

The salary is good and my wife and I (she works too, nothing airline related) have a lifestyle that people our age dont normally have. 4 bed house in the home counties, 2 normal cars (fiestas), eat out twice a month, go on city breaks, take two nice far flung holidays a year - sat in club or first normally. My take home pay is ~4700/month and that taking into account max pension contribution (barp) plus monthly AVCs. Somebody said to me near,y ten years ago "CB old boy, the golden age is over, but try not to get married too many times, drive normal cars, don't thirst for a Tag/Omega watch and if by age 45 (still a fair few years away) you can't live on 7k a month then it's you who've *****d up not the company you work for"

I still think there's a lot of truth in those words. True, this isn't the 50s and BA isn't PanAm dishing out free Ray Bans (although they use to) and Rolex's. I'm an airline pilot, that's it, no more, no less. I hopefully garner some respect from the people I encounter (cc, staff, pax) not based on my uniform but based on how I speak to them and or how I conduct myself/handle the situation at hand. That a wally occasionally says to me at a dinner party 'you're like a bus driver' doesn't irritate me a bit. People with brains know (at least on a basic level) that our job involves a lot more than pushing a big red button labelled 'Start.'

Re rosters/bidding ... I guess if you choose to live abroad and come in for trips (always seemed a bit of a ball ache to me) then new EASA rules mean that potentially there's a storm on the horizon. As for crazy 5/6/5 nonsense imho LHR logistically could not facilitate that - ground teams, holding, cleaning, taxying, physically swapping planes, cc swaps - I'm gonna go out on a limb and do a Paddy Ashdown.....
I bid about 2 hours above cap each month and this tends to keep me safe from forced assign - not ideal but it has so far worked for me. When I feel jaded I bid just above wiping level and accept a crappy shift will most likely still get added - nonetheless I will work below cap by a decent margin and have a more sedate month.

As for my outlook on the future. BA constitutes a portion of my life, let's call it a third. Wife,family,friends, interests, house projects the other two thirds. I think you'd be mad to grab a short haul command at the first opportunity as there is so much to explore within the BA framework. The wally:good person ratio if hugely in the latters favour.

Yes I like working for BA but I'm aware that like everything in life 'some fleas come with the dog'

Chief Brody is offline  
Old 24th Jun 2015, 15:18
  #1759 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Under the table
Posts: 183
Great post CB.
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Old 24th Jun 2015, 15:34
  #1760 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: UK
Posts: 55
Very informative, thanks to the recent posters.

Do the company/CC recognise the lifestyle issues on SH? If so, is anything being done to address them?
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