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Seniority

Old 11th Oct 2019, 06:03
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Seniority

Has seniority had its day?
We stay loyal to a seniority based airline, and then the bean counters, squeeze the lemon to tight and then hundreds of experienced pilots hit the skids.
Experienced Captains and FOís with thousands of hours scramble for jobs.
A captain then has to consider going to the bottom of a seniority based list behind a newbie from flight school and likewise for the experienced FO, or to head East to work in some sh1t hole. Or go through selection for a fictitious job, and swim for all your life in the hope that some HR bod will email you before you go skint.
Being loyal had its boundaries years ago but not now. Seniority for my money has had its day.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 06:40
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If you read this article it appears to show TUI specifically offering positions to TCX Captains - maybe a new reality?

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articl...-million-seats
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 06:56
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Can an experienced Captain NOT from TC apply for these DEC positions at TUI?

I doubt it, in which case I doubt that the TC DECs are legal. It is arbitrary the way high profile redundancies which hit the press get favourable treatment, while lower profile redundancies, or ones due to downsizing, get ignored, or bottom priority for copilot, no matter the experience level.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 06:59
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If youíre not happy with seniority then donít apply to that airline.
Youíve obviously enjoyed seniority based system before so Iím not sure why you think youíre to good to do it again.
I sympathise that you lost your job but that doesnít mean you get to jump the queue in another airline, and slow other career progression.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:04
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Read Earnest Gann's "Fate is the Hunter". He decided to get out of the airline industry when he flew with a First Officer who was much older ("[he] had been flying when I was in knee pants") and immensely more experienced than him. "... beside me sat a man victimised by the numbers, else he would never have been my co-pilot." Failed business skill had put this pilot who was legendary for his flying ability into the right hand seat and "The most simple arithmetic argued against his flying as captain again until he was a hundred years old."

Skill and experience count for absolutely nothing when seniority comes into play. Pilots consider themselves to be 'professionals' but can anyone name any professional vocation where your place, starting from the bottom, is rigidly dictated by 'the numbers' (seniority). Doctors? Lawyers? Engineers? 'Seniority' is a trap used by management to ensure 'loyalty' and pilots fall for it like fools. Until the management screw up and that whole seniority-based job pyramid is shattered and those pilots find that other managements' seniority systems are now working against them. Captains are by far the biggest victims of 'the numbers', once their 'number' is shattered they are nobodies and "behind a newbie from flight school". A 'seniority number' is a shackle that will condemn you to nobody-ness once the dice of business (loaded by incompetent management, external fanatics, or too many other factors) land the wrong way.

Modern airlines tend not to use seniority.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:16
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I see both sides of the argument. Iíve worked in a non seniority based airline filled with nepotism where bloggs was a good egg from the squadron mess so
lets make him a skipper, yet had no place inside an aircraft let alone the flight deck. Then thereís Smith who was a rumoured trouble maker so letís never give him a shot at even applying for command.

And Iíve seen seniority based airlines where you sit in the right seat till your number is up. Youíre locked in to that company if youíre senior enough.

both systems have proís and cons.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:24
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Other way around then...
If you were the FO ready to be upgraded but constantly pushed down by DEC hire, would you be happy?
Life isn't fair, but seniority comes as close to it as possible. I think. DEC but may have its place in expanding airlines where time to command is short as it is. But it'd certainly piss off long times FOs in a mature airline.

I have tried both seniority and non-seniority, I prefer the former as I know what I can expect. Bankruptcy is always a risk, but so is base closures and other features of "flexible airlines" which can just as well make your life a missery.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:35
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If I recall correctly, when Monarch met its demise Tui pulled a similar PR stunt, I think they took a grand total of around 4 pilots in the end, with experienced captains being declined an interview... DEC was not an option, and nowhere in that article above does it say that the captains being given the opportunity to work for TUI would be employed as Captains.

TUI were advertising for 'pilots' prior to the bankruptcy of Thomas cook and it took more than a precursory glance at the advertisement and terms to realise that they were, in fact, recruiting for FO positions only.

Im going to make a controversial point here. The removal of seniority would benefit the industry greatly, in todays world seniority is little more than 'golden handcuffs' that prevents the movement of experienced pilots and in many cases rewards mediocrity, whilst also allowing an airline to gain experienced guys very cheaply. Without it a pilot could freely sell his skill and experience in search of the highest bidder or airline with the most favourable Ts and Cs, Of course the guys at the top of the list are probably less favourable to this than those languishing in the middle or bottom.. but overall if one was towards the top of the list, that would imply a large measure of experience, which with the demise of seniority would mean you would possess a very marketable quality.

it exists in hardly any other industry, and by maintaining it the pilot community as a whole is maintaining a rod for it's own back that ultimately, aside from 'the few' who happened to be in the right airline at the right time', causes an industry wide 'cap' of terms and conditions.

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Old 11th Oct 2019, 07:49
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Originally Posted by Trossie View Post
Read Earnest Gann's "Fate is the Hunter". He decided to get out of the airline industry when he flew with a First Officer who was much older ("[he] had been flying when I was in knee pants") and immensely more experienced than him. "... beside me sat a man victimised by the numbers, else he would never have been my co-pilot." Failed business skill had put this pilot who was legendary for his flying ability into the right hand seat and "The most simple arithmetic argued against his flying as captain again until he was a hundred years old."

Skill and experience count for absolutely nothing when seniority comes into play. Pilots consider themselves to be 'professionals' but can anyone name any professional vocation where your place, starting from the bottom, is rigidly dictated by 'the numbers' (seniority). Doctors? Lawyers? Engineers? 'Seniority' is a trap used by management to ensure 'loyalty' and pilots fall for it like fools. Until the management screw up and that whole seniority-based job pyramid is shattered and those pilots find that other managements' seniority systems are now working against them. Captains are by far the biggest victims of 'the numbers', once their 'number' is shattered they are nobodies and "behind a newbie from flight school". A 'seniority number' is a shackle that will condemn you to nobody-ness once the dice of business (loaded by incompetent management, external fanatics, or too many other factors) land the wrong way.

Modern airlines tend not to use seniority.
and those "modern" airlines tend to have conditions way worse than the legacy carriers that ALL are still seniority based. Also, every pilot union supports seniority, management would rather be able to offer individual contracts and have the pilots bid down to get the job. Skill and experience get you the job, from then on, you can only do your job the way the company wants you to do it. Yes, we should all be the best pilot we can be, but for a lawyer or stock trader the incentive to outdo his colleagues works, for us it doesn't necessarily. For all it's flaws, seniority works better than the alternative.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 08:00
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Originally Posted by hans brinker View Post
and those "modern" airlines tend to have conditions way worse than the legacy carriers that ALL are still seniority based.
easyjet and a few others would like a word...

Would BA be going through all this turmoil now if their pilots could up sticks and leave for better pastures? The industry has changed from 'back in the day', one can't reasonably and realistically expect to start at an airline and finish there 30 years later... that security is no longer there, so seniority is meaningless and beneficial in only one direction. The fact that unions support it is neither here nor there. The whole point of this thread is that there needs to be a change in the 'status quo' and I welcome it.

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Old 11th Oct 2019, 09:37
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Originally Posted by midnight cruiser View Post
Seniority is jealously guarded by CC members who are rather fond of the advantages it gives them and their fellow cohorts, at the expense of less senior colleagues (some of whom may be considerably and or more widely experienced, if they joined from other airlines. And as for CCs/unions that bring in in seniority retrospectively
Agreed. Benefits no one but those who have more than likely, quite happily, watched the erosion of terms and conditions of those beneath them, as they were 'alright'...

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Old 11th Oct 2019, 09:51
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Looking at it objectively, it would seem to me that seniority must push down T&Cs for pilots. If people felt able to pick up and transfer to another, better paying, airline then surely there would be more pressure on airlines to offer competitive pay. As it is, most of us are trapped in our current roles and subjected to the all encompassing zero costs mindset that pervades this industry. Many copilots in my outfit are more than qualified for Command but stay where they are because the seniority system has trapped them.
We consider ourselves to be professionals and often compare ourselves to Doctors, Lawyers etc. I can't think of any profession where they have a seniority system. A Doctor doesn't change hospital to start out as a junior houseman all over again, because that would be ludicrous. The system we have is a hangover from the military (and even they have adopted a relative meritocracy these days) and it would be better for us if it went. After all, there's a reason that airlines hang on to Seniority these days: it isn't because it benefits pilots...
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 09:57
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Never a truer word spoken
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 11:17
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As a recent ex service pilot with over a decade command experience and recent Longhaul Commercial FO convert, I would say that the seniority based system makes lots of sense. I regularly saw the nepotism talked of above previously and it turned my stomach. There are plenty of opportunities in a larger legacy, seniority based company to make your mark outside of 4 rings. At the end of the day, they are the T and C you sign up to, for significant long term benefits and an equitable time based seniority system.

Plus I donít need 4 rings to influence the outcome of the flight in a positive and significant way. My way of using my skill and experience is to do so in a way without undermining the captains command authority.


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Old 11th Oct 2019, 11:17
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Looking at it objectively, it would seem to me that seniority must push down T&Cs for pilots. If people felt able to pick up and transfer to another, better paying, airline then surely there would be more pressure on airlines to offer competitive pay. As it is, most of us are trapped in our current roles and subjected to the all encompassing zero costs mindset that pervades this industry. Many copilots in my outfit are more than qualified for Command but stay where they are because the seniority system has trapped them.
Perhaps those who fell for the low-cost expansion, quick command, Emirates transfer is now paying the price for their decisions. I left low-cost command, joined a career airline (with seniority!) at the bottom, took a huge pay cut. But it got me where I wanted to be in life. I'd be utterly miffed of some top gun of my age, with a few thousand hours 777 command, would join as DEC. I served my time, stood down the money and now it's pay back time.

Not sure what you base your allegation that seniority drive down T&C. On the contrary, seniority airlines often have group of pilots who don't move. They don't vote with their feet, they take the fight. And they're not all going bankrupt, if that's your next argument.

For those loosing their jobs due to bankruptcy (such as Thomas Cook), I sympathize. But it doesn't warrant to give up the whole seniority bit. Life is full of gambles, some which are beyond your control.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 11:39
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Originally Posted by 172_driver View Post
Perhaps those who fell for the low-cost expansion, quick command, Emirates transfer is now paying the price for their decisions. I left low-cost command, joined a career airline (with seniority!) at the bottom, took a huge pay cut. But it got me where I wanted to be in life. I'd be utterly miffed of some top gun of my age, with a few thousand hours 777 command, would join as DEC. I served my time, stood down the money and now it's pay back time.

For those loosing their jobs due to bankruptcy (such as Thomas Cook), I sympathize. But it doesn't warrant to give up the whole seniority bit. Life is full of gambles, some which are beyond your control.
Seniority is the best of a difficult conundrum. I saw the nepotism and old boys network in the Military and previous airline.
Best trips, every weekend, Bank Holidays off, promotion due to influence by a best mate etc. etc.
Seniority is only part of your advancement. You still have to pass the subsequent promotional process. ie ability and suitability.
As an FO with the qualifications for promotion and some years under my belt, I would be really pi...d to have a DEC slot in above me just because he is perhaps cheaper or has a few more hours.
The "I was a Special Forces Hercules Captain syndrome" or similar sentiments, shouldn't get you promoted above suitable, but perhaps less experienced colleagues!
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 11:54
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Seniority has had its use in days gone by...
Aviation, business models and airline businesses have changed, time to update and remove this nuisance stance.

In most jobs, outside of aviation, progression up the career ladder is done on suitability, experience and loyalty.
Seniority is only based on the last, excluding many of the experienced unfortunates whose job was taken away against their choice.
Seniority requires those very highly experienced pilots to be chucked into the pool of (relatively) inexperienced jobseekers, with no opportunity due age of gaining a position held for many years prior, while young inexperienced joiners are able to take these jobs well before them.

It is not a crew members' fault if a company joined in good faith and with a long standing reputation in the business goes under.
It should not be a further burden to the crew member being unable to find a suitable similar job afterwards due to seniority.
Airlines have not always been open for joining, times changed, in seniority has no place in a modern work environment.

I am sure, legacy carrier pilots who benefit from seniority will disagree with me on this though
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 12:09
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Seniority is not popular amongst aspirational young pilots in a growing airline.
Imagine what happens when the hard times arrive and people need to be laid off. Who chooses who for the chop?
This has happened before and arbitrary methods like closing bases and chopping entire fleets, with the attendant disruption to the remaining staff, are used. Demotions based on....what exactly?
Beware of what you wish for.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 12:14
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Originally Posted by Skyjob View Post
Seniority has had its use in days gone by...
Aviation, business models and airline businesses have changed, time to update and remove this nuisance stance.

In most jobs, outside of aviation, progression up the career ladder is done on suitability, experience and loyalty.
Seniority is only based on the last, excluding many of the experienced unfortunates whose job was taken away against their choice.
Seniority requires those very highly experienced pilots to be chucked into the pool of (relatively) inexperienced jobseekers, with no opportunity due age of gaining a position held for many years prior, while young inexperienced joiners are able to take these jobs well before them.

It is not a crew members' fault if a company joined in good faith and with a long standing reputation in the business goes under.
It should not be a further burden to the crew member being unable to find a suitable similar job afterwards due to seniority.
Airlines have not always been open for joining, times changed, in seniority has no place in a modern work environment.

I am sure, legacy carrier pilots who benefit from seniority will disagree with me on this though
And quite rightly so, legacy carrier crews gave up on the quick wins for long term careers and better security. Am afraid you canít have it both ways if you chose the wrong company to join. I hate to see the likes of TC and Monarch disappear but why should those crews jump ahead of others especially when they have shown loyalty to the companies they have served with for many years. I left a legacy carrier to join my national carrier and had no issues going to the bottom of the list even with thousands of hours on wide body jets.

There are plenty of DEC roles out there but not with the likes of VS, BA, United etc.

Nonetheless I hope all those involved in the TC demise find roles that meet their needs.
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Old 11th Oct 2019, 12:39
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Imagine what happens when the hard times arrive and people need to be laid off. Who chooses who for the chop?
Doesn't seem to be an issue in any other non seniority based profession?

All these people talking about and not having a problem with 'starting again at the bottom' are a fine example of how closed minded this industry can be. If you weren't tied to a company as a result of seniority, you wouldn't have to start again, and just because because you experienced it in the past doesn't mean it should be experienced again by others going forwards... For example, did I have to pay for my training? Yes. If the industry somehow changed to allow people to train without having to pay would I consider that acceptable? Yes. Just because I did it that way doesn't mean an alternative wouldn't be beneficial to the industry as a whole. Quite a lot of 'greasing the pole' going on here, which is the whole reason this thread exists.

If you can't see that seniority suppresses a natural increase in terms and conditions, and that free movement between companies (this happens every day in 'normal employment' by the way) would encourage companies to make themselves attractive, and would also ensure that they were attracting the right people, then I'm afraid there is no hope for this game... Do you think Ryanair and its ilk would be able to ride roughshod over its pilots if they had the option to vote with their feet?

With regards to the arguments quoting 'nepotism'... I hate to break it to you, but occupying a number on a list doesn't guarantee you a command or anything near it, even if it is 'your turn'. The methods and means of preventing promotion can, and still does, exist even within the confines of seniority. I've seen it first hand in action.

Seniority is for the benefit of 'the few' at the cost of 'the many'.... I can't think of a single downside for the industry to rid itself of this burden, people here who are praising seniority are only doing so thinking only of themselves and as an individual... Which coincidentally is why the piloting profession and prospects, unless you are lucky, is in such a state. "I'm alright Jack" springs to mind.


EDIT: from a redundancy point of view, if a company goes to the wall seniority is meaningless anyway. i can tell you some stories regarding what protection people thought seniority gave them and what the reality was.
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