Monday, February 1, 2010

What's in a number?

Someone once mentioned, it's a cheap thrill getting paid in American dollars and admiring the conversion value when placed in a Canadian banking account.

Every January the new Air Canada pilot seniority list is published. Yours truly went from #1405 to #1276, a whopping 129 numbers! Another cheap thrill. (I also watched it slide 601 numbers with the Canadian merger, but I'm over that one. Did I tell you I'm over that one?) The bottom number is #3173 so as #1276, it proves I'm working my way up the food chain.

What can seniority #1276 hold? About 60 percent (40 percent are below me) from the top of the A320 captain list in Toronto. I can't hold summer vacation and getting Christmas off is close, but no cigar. I would be 90 percent (only 10 percent are below me) as first officer on the B777 both in Toronto and Vancouver. My seniority could not hold left seat on the A320 in Vancouver.
I could be top 4% on the Embraer as captain in Toronto entitling me to summer vacation, Christmas off and the best monthly schedule the airplane has to offer, but it would come with a $35,000 pay cut.

As many of you know, our age 60 mandatory retirement is being challenged by pilots that have retired or are going out the door. What does this potentially mean if they win (and they will)? Career progression coming to a standstill. Looks like another quagmire is heading my way.

But these things are out of my hands. I read an interesting tidbit the other day. There are more pilots over the age of sixty with American Airlines than there are under forty.

But to put it in perspective. I'll recount one anecdote.
One day two pilots from opposite ends of the seniority list met in flight planning. One was 'wet behind the ears' having recently joined the company. The other, a grey hair senior captain on the company's biggest aircraft. The two meet and the young junior twenty something year old says, "I wish I had your seniority number." The captain tilts his head down to look pass his bi-focal glasses and says with reminiscing eyes, "No son, I wish I had your seniority number."

A case in point, I'll enjoy the ride!

Doug Morris
Airbus 320 captain - Toronto
seniority number 1276


Andrew said...

well congradulations Doug, your moving up the todem how does the senority thing all work? if you wanted to switch aircraft would senority play a part in that? When the new 787 comes how will AC pick the pilots and what sort of impact does seniority play?


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Andrew. Seniority dictates everything. I gave some examples what my seniority will hold as of now. I forgot to mention, my next promotion i.e. bigger airplane, is the B767.I'm about 350 numbers away from the bottom captain's spot. The B787 positions will also be predicated on seniority. I suspect many senior pilots will bid for this airplane because it's a new toy.


Anonymous said...

As a junior pilot,

I love the anecdote.
I will keep it in mind.
Thanks for sharing.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Anon. We pilots spend most of our careers looking up at the next airplane. Bigger is better. Sometimes we need to take a step back and realize what we have. I remember years ago flying with a gray hair old pilot when I was frantically building time at a small charter company. He told me to take pictures along the way and to include them in my log book. Transport Canada might raise an eyebrow, but who cares. Enjoy the ride and take lots of pictures!

Captain Doug

whywhyzed said...

But aren't there separate lists by airplane type? Aren't there such things as "I'm number 62 on the 767"?

From the Flight Deck said...

Whywhyzed. Yes, they are called eligibility lists and they change on a monthly basis because of long term sickness, training, or pilots moving onto or off a particular airplane.

For example, we pilots would say "I'm showing 60 percent on paper," but in reality (maybe because of slow training) they might be 80 from the top (20 percent from the bottom).

It's complicated yet simple when you hang around it long enough.