!!!!! GONE FLYING !!!!!

If you need to contact me... email: [email protected]


"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig M from Ottawa. He watched flight tracker for days until he got the shot of all shots. It's beautiful.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parachuting in....

No this post is not about the standard retort a pilot gives when asked whether they sky dive and the answer being..... "why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?" lol

This is about pilots "parachuting in" above you in the pecking order.

Last week I alluded to an equipment bid with some positive movement, promotions and potential hiring. As I mentioned, I have a "standing bid" to position me on the bottom wrung on the Toronto base B767 captain's ladder.

Well I didn't get any closer to the "B767 Captain ladder." The bottom B767 captain is now 829 so seniority number 1171 (moi) is still 342 numbers away. Why didn't it move with open slots? Because senior B777, A330 and B767 first officers (with about 20 to 25 years or so seniority) plus senior A320 captains "parachuted in" ahead of me. But even when I do make it on the list, I will always run the risk of pilots parachuting in for years to come. Translation: being on reserve (on call), no summer vacation, no weekends or holidays off...no life. Hence, it goes back to the adage..."stay senior on junior equipment."

One good thing out of all of this...I went from 55% to 49% on the A320 list meaning Captain D may have Christmas off. It's a good thing because we booked two weeks in Mexico during that time.

There is more to being an airline pilot than just flying an airplane...being a part time lawyer to figure all this stuff out is one of them.... :)

Enjoying my layover in Montreal soon to launch for Mexico City....


jack said...

Too bad you didn't get in. Most of those pilots must be pretty senior. Do A320 Captains usually move to 767, then A330, then B777? It seems pretty weird to switch them from Airbus to Boeing to Airbus to Boeing. Would there be a possibility of you moving directly to the A330, especially with your prior experience on it?

whywhyzed said...

I guess now days with the average hire age being around 35, most pilots are going to retire with only 25 years service. A friend of mine retired recently and was #13. He had an amazing carreer at AC. Keep working the system, I guess!

whywhyzed said...

jack -- I can answer for Doug, since he's prolly working.... the short answer is, "not likely". Nothing to do with experience whatsoever. All about who's senior to who. The bigger the plane, the higher seniority you need to bid it. The progression is usually to the next bigger plane. Unless you stay on one plane for a very long time and become senior enough to skip the next bigger plane -- Doug, can this happen? My buddy was Capt on DC-9, then A320, B767, A340, B777.
Switching from Airbus to Boeing is a matter of the course and a checkout.

Andrew said...

This seniority thing is complex and must be frustrating! Do all airlines have a seniority/union system? I don't think Westjet does - do you know how it works for their pilots?

jack said...

whywhyzed-- I guess it would depend on the pilot and his seniority then. Thanks for the input.

Andrew-- When a pilot joins Westjet, they get a number, like at Air Canada. All the number really means to them is to show how far they are from the left seat. In terms of bids for flights and vacation days, Westjet has no seniority. That makes it perfect from less senior pilots, so some of them can take Christmas off. Like a senior Westjet captain said to me "I am working this Christmas day. I know there is somebody who has probably been with the company for less than a few months who has Christmas off. But that is just the way it works."

Captain Doug said...


I think Whywhyzed pegged it! It's the way the system works for now...(I'll explain in another answer to whywhyzed).

Many people find it hard to fathom promotion is based strictly on seniority not merit. It's been the way for most airline's inception.
My company's answer to this.... everyone is hired as potential captains... ahem.
I alluded to this before.... seniority #2000 does not get promoted until seniority #1999 decides.

Captain Doug said...


Yes, the average service will be 25 years i.e few will have a full pension. I won't... I'll have 26 years. Full pension is 30 to 35 years.

But we all learned pensions are no longer guaranteed or carved in stone.

While tracking north from Cuba last night an American Airline's pilot requested a change in altitude. Miami centre was unable to oblige
although he did ask "American" if he had another request. He said, "yeah, can you get our pensions back????" True story.

And like you said, "I'll keep working the system."

Captain Doug said...

Whywhyzed, what you told Jack was bang on... for now. But our new agreement (I won't say much more about it) had the system basically divided into two camps...wide body and narrow body. The wide body fleet would be paid the same so maybe in the future I could conceivably leap frog over the B767. Again, what I just mentioned is a gross paraphrase of what is slated and I'll stop there....

Captain Doug said...


You are correct, many other airlines do not have the same system. Westjet and United Emirates try to equalize things.

Maybe someone can comment on this? I don't want to walk into a quagmire.

Captain Doug said...


I should have read your second comment before I answered Andrew. Well done! I couldn't have said it any better!

Now, I must don my uniform and head south to Mexico City for an interesting density altitude approach.

Cedarglen said...

Captain Doug: As always, a great post. Your words DO make the reeality a bit easier to understant - for most of us. Yup! Union Contracts and that Pretty (or)Ugly word, Seniority comes up. While it may not be perfect, it is the system in use and for many years. It IS the eay of life!
I'm sad no hear that you missed the cut for 767 transition training, but the results did NOT schock yiu - at all. Wheb it is your turn, you will get a larger airplane. What am I missing?
Yes folks, under the senority system under which most pilots are employed, it is GROSS WEIGHT of the airplane - or the number of seats that governs who flies what and in what seat. As much as brands, systems and currency could (or should?) be important, they are not. It is hire date first, for better or for worse. As imperfect as it may be, it IS what the pilots have and hold so dear, perhaps one of the FEW perks that they retain. Other ideas have been proposed, but none is fair to all pilots on the list, Senirity rules. Yes, Captain Doug, Yes!! Your turn will come, but not this year. From the Self-Loading-Cargo's point of view, no responsible airline grants EITHER seat so a pilot that cannot fly that specific airplane - and Extremely well. I am not worried about the skills of the major line's pilots. Not at all. Maybe next year, Doug. Sure, you could fly FO on the B767 now, it would hurt your take-home pay. WHen it is your turn, AC will train you and test you and train youo a lot more, all before giving you the 'keys' to a larger piece of metal and a lot more seats. It is the industry's sysytem and everyonelives with it. If the B767 is retired before you get there, you simply more up one more step, if a bit more slowly. With ~15 years on remaining on your ticket, including ~30 medicals and ~30 sim checks, you will get a biggere airplane, someday. Hang in there and enjoy the ride. Remember, they are paying you to enjoy the fun!
-Craig. (Yes, you have lots of friends, but we cannot do much about what or where you fly. THis is not a popularity contest.) -C.

Anonymous said...

I believe in the simplest terms all WestJet pilots are given a number of 'points'. They may apply these points in how they bid (i.e: put them all on Christmas to bid Christmas off) thus all pilots get an equal chance to get holidays off. Others will use these points to get weekends off, family birthdays, etc. Some pilots bid only single day trips, etc. It is totally up to each individual how they want to use them. Feel free to correct me...

As someone mentioned, they are given a number which plays into promotion to the left seat, and of course one aircraft type (they didn't operate the B757, was wet-leased from North American) makes it a lot simpler. And yes, like Doug and the A319, A320 and A321, they all fly all variants of the 737NG (i.e: 736, 73W and 738).

YYC Dispatcher

jack said...

YYC dispatcher -- that is completely correct and how it was explained to me. Personally, I like this system a lot. But like you pointed out, it would be difficult to make it work with a multi airplane fleet.

Captain D -- Have fun it Mexico city :)

igloocoder said...

Didn't know you would be in Montreal at the same time that I was. Would have looked you up to see if the beer math worked. Hope Mexico City treats you well. I'm off to do YUL-YYZ-KEF-OSL and back. I hope there are no volcanos this week.

getjets said...

seems there's no rhymm or reason to any of this for anyone except those who did the math very early and learned to jump the very 'loopholes' they themselves created!!!

like "gun control"....
should have thought about that when there were were only 10 guns in the world...not zillions...
too late to "control" guns now....

I say..... Captain "#1171"...stay 'Senior' on 'Junior' equipment.....after all this isn't a playground.....and just means getting a little more creative with the long term strategy of your life!!!
Continue the Flat out Awesome job your doing....and am I wrong here...............................................when your in the left seat(FO).....doesn't that automatically make you number "1"

again....be safe to the Mexico City and beyond!!


Christer said...

Sorry to hear your equipment upgrade hasn't "cleared" yet Doug:( Moving up on your current list is still a plus though!

Hope your flight to MEX went well, and the layover gives you enough rest. I didn't realize AC had direct service to MEX from YUL.

I'm currently on my own AC waitlist, but it's only for an upgrade to J for a flight to Munich later on this week. Much more trivial than yours:)!

Safe flying,


whywhyzed said...

British Airways has a status pay system (AC's is called Formula Pay).

So at BA your salary goes up as you put more years in -- doesn't matter what you fly. That's why there are such young 747 and 777 Captains (like Ian the Flying Scotsman, whose blog I really miss)

Craig R said...


Just like Capt. D, passengers like you and I are also governed by seniority. You put in your bid for a J seat, and hope you don't get beat out of it by someone who flies more miles each year than you do.

I'm also waiting on an upgrade, mine for tomorrow's flight to Seoul. Looks okay so far, but as always, it all depends who shows up at the gate.

Safe travels, and good luck on the seat.

Craig R

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen (Craig)

With most of the major North American airlines it's first come first serve in the seniority department. When the company calls asking you to join the team you make sure you get your behind in a seat in groundschool Monday morning. Many, for many reasons... didn't....and regret it to this day.

And your right, the bigger the better as far as pay...for now. Things are changing so stay tuned on that front.

Now in Mexico City where the beer math does not add up. Pity!

Captain Doug said...

YYC Dispatcher. Thanks for dropping in and confirming what I thought. I believe many companies, like Emirates, uses nearly the same system.

Captain Doug said...

Thanks Jack. Now in my airport layover hotel in Mexico City. Got all the way up to my room and the electronic key didn't work.

Captain D cussed all the way back to the front desk.

I'm better now. LOL

Captain Doug said...

Igloocoder. Next time! There's always next time! Doug

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Just flew east of you at FL 380 from Montreal to Mexico City traversing 2005 miles.

Tis a shame there was a cirrus cloud deck at FL 380 so I couldn't see your clothesline.

My f/O told me he rented a plane years ago with a couple of friends and flew to KMSY to party during Mardi Gras. He was telling me about the beads and what some do to get them. You people are naughty down there. LOL I hope you weren't one of them. :)))))

I like your analogy of the playground. I guess it's not about being the "king of the castle." Or is it?

I head back to Montreal in the morning so I'll be looking to see if you've done a morning wash.

Kidding with you!

Captain ^D^

Captain Doug said...

Christer. You said it, at least I'm moving up the current list.

The flight went well and just had to dodge a few cells around Georgia.

Yes we have MEX direct from YVR,YYZ and YUL daily although our load was light tonight.

Good luck with your waitlist.

Doug in MEX

Captain Doug said...

Whywhyzed. You're right, it is called formula pay and what a formula!!! I still can't figure out how much I make. :)))

Someone out there must know the whereabouts of Captain Ian the Flying Scotsman. I too miss him. :(

Captain Doug said...

Craig R. Enjoy Incheon ICN (Korea) and that "J" class seat getting there!

Ever get up to the DMZ?

Captain D in MMMX

Cedarglen said...

@Captain Doug, YES!! Go for it. @Christer said it even better; you are ALWAYS Moving Up! (Yes Chrhister, I too hope that your J upgrade comes through. That is loooong ride in the back end. Play well. I hear that the Munich folks like good strings!

getjets said...

Captain Doug,another sleepless night.........

Be looking.... saved my last load of wash just for your morning pass over....at oh about your 1:30 position, I will have my hot pink bloomers out on the line, don't mistake them for our local airport windsock.....lol

room key didn't work last nite.....so you cussed all the way back to the desk......is that in English....just curious?????

last question Captain.....If I said you delivered "another 'fun' post"......would I hear you scream from where you are????? OR maybe you would hear me laughing from here instead... just funnin with ya!!

yea people do some crazy things at Mardi Gras for plastic beads....thats why I prefer to throw boxes of Mac and Cheese....a couple of walmart brand Mac and cheese usually does the trick........more bang for your "MacBuck", with out the "UGLY".....lol

Mr Craig R, safe trip to Korea.....but the best seafood in the world, right here in the Gulf south!!!!!!!!!
Have you or Captain Doug ever ate boiled crabs?????? I will bet...NO....

not like we do them here in S Louisiana....should stop for a visit, but you have to make a mess eating them.....there is no nice, clean way to eat boiled crabs.....and thats just the beginning of the fun!!!!

safe back to the YUL on the morrow captain,
remember Hot Pink Bloomers at. or around your 1:30ish position...I will even part those darn Cirrus clouds for the occasion...lol


Craig R said...

Hola, Captain Doug

We took a tour of the DMZ when I was here last year. Scary, scary stuff. All the machine gun towers, razor wire and land mines definitely make one appreciate the life we have at home.

Still waitlisted for Aerolotto. I didn't sleep well last night, so fingers are definitely crossed as I sit here at the Pearson MLL, hoping I don't fall asleep in my cereal.

Misstwa - thanks. I've had boiled crabs before, but perhaps not the the same way you might be thinking of (these were on Dungeness crabs, boiled in a pot right on a Vancouver Island beach. They went very well with the local beverage).

Christer said...

Good luck to you Craig R! Hope you're sitting or about to sit in a pod right now:) Pity that they've only got the 763 on that route- least amount of J seats for Intl. Enjoy S. Korea.

Craig (cedarglen)- thanks for the good wishes. A J seat would be nice, but Europe is a very do-able trip in Y, at least when you compare that to the direct flights to Asia. That's where the pods really feel worth it!:) So, I'm not overly concerned at this point.

Doug- I don't understand why they haven't come up with a better global room key system yet. Seems like 50% of the time my keys don't work either, and that is also at very nice/expensive properties!

Have a safe trip back,


getjets said...

Captain Doug, got my "Flighttracker" on....."locked and loaded"....I hope your flight pattern fly's you right over my clothes line(that is so hilarious)....and I have my laundry in a 'holding pattern'...lol

which by the way...do YOU choose the exact tract or a computer and combo's of many things choose the tract to destination your flying to generally?????

Craig R....yes I have had the Dungeness crabs......once or twice...I am talking about the Louisiana Blue crabs.....talk about goooood eating!!!!!!!!!
boil them with so much seasonings,(powdered crab boil, liquid crab boil
then put in the pot............."Pot"(ONE HUGE GIANT POT WITH A BURNER) MUST BE DONE OUTSIDE.... potatoes, smoked sausage onions,garlic,celery, mushrooms, carrots....hell any veggie ya got!!!!

and to eat them....pull the legs out and eat the meat that comes out with the legs.....

then.... just rip the top shell from the bottom shell, and pull the guts out....(yes, just like the scene from the movie "SPLASH", where the mermaid rips her lobster apart with her bare hands)
I do have to say though....I was not born here...so it took me a while(big while) to be able to rip the crab apart without disgust....

Now I am hungry!!!!!!!!

oh, but thats why you drink you before you eat them....just like they say women get prettier the more you drink....same principal for boiled crabs.....LOL LOL
again safe trip to you Craig:))

time to start tracker our Captain....so....

miss(JULIA CHILD)twa signing off,


getjets said...


may be of interest

getjets said...

NOW THATS NERVY!!!!!.....Toronto Arrival and Tower ATC down!!!!

no bad weather....

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Are you spreading rumours??? LOL

I landed over an hour ago and everything was working tickety-boo.

They even gave us a runway choice...which is rare!

Captain ^D^

Anonymous said...

Random Question... Do pilots find it hard going from joy stick to yoke? Also is it difficult for someone right handed to fly an Airbus from the captain seat?

Captain Doug said...

Igloocoder. P.S I wanted to use your name for an upcoming enRoute question on elite and super elite passengers. (You are the super elite who travels to Nova Scotia on a weekly basis, no?)

I know you bought my book but I didn't get a business card from you.

All I could remember was your first name.

It was you that suggested the question.
Maybe you can email another question.
My email address is at the top of my blog.


You are stopping in Keflavik, Iceland. I flew over it tons of times but never been there.
If I went there, it would have been an unscheduled stop. I saw Iceland Air in Toronto last night. I should hop on their flight and pay Iceland a visit.

Anyone out there want to go to Iceland? LOL

Captain Doug said...


Going from joystick to yoke or vice versa is a not really an issue. With both, when you pull back the houses get smaller, you push forward the houses get bigger, you move it to the left, the aircraft banks to the left. Where it is difficult is a non Airbus pilot learning about autothrust. Pilots like to touch the throttles (thrust levers on an Airbus)
but on an Airbus you have to tell yourself...don't touch. That's the difficult part.

And yes, it takes a little getting used to for a right hand person (me included) to fly with the left hand. But there's more to it than that. It's moving from the right seat to the left seat.
Your hands now do different tasks. Even your ear piece goes into a different ear. So when you are given control it's like someone put you in a car in Britain and you now have to drive on the left hand side of the road. :))))

Thanks for the random question.....

Captain Doug

getjets said...

Well bless your "TICKETY-BOO" heart!!!!

but the tower was DOWN!!!!,no approach, no departure,no tower, no go to hell.(oops).... I tryed not to take it personally....then you tell me, they gave you the keys to the candy shop, that you had your pick of runway's.....to land....
(left "WING" conspiracy) lol

Captain Doug, and Igloocoder.....many moons ago, and this may be an 'urban myth'....I either heard, read or whatever.....
that Iceland was named, well ICELAND....so that people would not perhaps flock there to live, and the perception would be a country that is nothing but ICE, and inhospitable????.....
seems it has plenty of lovely green areas though....

I would love to go to Iceland...picture this.....hop on a puddle jumper out of St. John's(Ok, a BIG puddle jumper)in the morning...sightsee......have the most wonderful long drawn out dinner and apple-spice red wine, and talk about the old days and how the world has done us wrong....lol....fly back later that night with the 'northern lights guiding!!!!!

anything is possible....the kicker is.......while anything is possible....and not always easy.....it's TIME

you never know when you will run out of it....and if does run out probably won't be a convenient TIME(pun intended)

Ok, Dr. Phil session over and out;;


Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Sounds like Captain D got in and landed before the chaos. Phew!

I also heard they gave Greenland its name to entice people to move there even though a big fat glacier sits on top of it.

Lots of places to visit so you have to make TIME. Plus it fills up the seats in the back. :)

Iceland Air flies into Toronto and Halifax although I have yet to see them in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Everyone needs a Dr. Phil session now and again although I find his voice a tad irritating.

And Oprah is gone.....yahoo! If "number one" heard me say that, I would be seeking Dr. Phil's help. :)

getjets said...


Captain Doug, I hope you don't mind me putting this:)))))))


getjets said...

OH hell ya....WHAT A RELIEF..........I can't stand Dr. Phil.....or what I call him...Dr. FLUFF.....says a whole lot about nothing...and far as Oprah..............WELL

YAHOOOOOOOOO, so with you!!!!!!

you get in trouble...let me know...maybe we can get a "group rehabil rate".....LOL

Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

Will the average new hire even have time to make it to the 777 left seat?

Captain Doug said...

Anon. They will certainly make it in the right seat. But good point...it takes a LOOOOOONG time to get in the left seat...for now.
If you believe all the hype about pilot shortage then there is a chance.....

Chris Gardner said...

About Icelandair and St. John's they use to offer charter flights to YYT just for the purpose of Chrismas shopping since things are cheaper here than in Iceland but it stopped after the economic crisis of 2008.

getjets said...

Hey Chris...now that is neat!!!!!

too bad....the good, always suffer the most....

looked awful Foggy in St. John's today?????

maybe it's time to get on the "red phone" line to Santa...he'll get the charter's back.......lol

good nite,
Chris and to Captain Doug

Captain Doug said...


The Icelanders used to pay Halifax a visit on a regular basis too.

I hear it's a different country...now. I always wanted to visit the ATC centre there..."Iceland radio."

Again, I used your name and city for one of my enRoute questions. Hope you don't mind? :)

Bas said...

It stays weird haha :) Like jack said, what's the purpose of cockpit commonality if you switch from Airbus to Boeing and Airbus to Boeing lol

Lakotahope said...

Hey Captain!

I like the idea of staying Senior in my category.

Chris Gardner said...

Sir I am honuor to be cited in your Enroute article. Been a History major at MUN we love to be cited by others. So go ahead and use it my son. And to getjets yes it has been foggy for the past of couple of days as we newfoundlanders call it caplin weather or mossey.

Chris Gardner said...

Oh yes one other thing Capt Doug I don,t know if any of the flight crews had any extended layovers but I hope that their drinking math is good,lol. happy flying and take care, Chris.

Captain Doug said...

Thanks Chris. You asked "what angle does an airplane approach at" in case you were wondering. LOL

Andrew said...

How does the beer math add up? Is it 8 hours (according to the CARs) or is it different for the airlines?

Captain Doug said...

Andrew. Eight hours is Transport Canada's minimum but you'll find many airlines use 12 hours from
"bottle to throttle." :)

Andrew said...

Is there an ICAO standard unit for altitude or do you need to convert meters to feet when flying into Europe?

Also, is there an indication on the A320 PFD that it's displaying altitude in feet or meters?

Just curious... thanks:)

Daniel Asuncion said...


Daniel Asuncion said...


Learning new plane. Like starting over?

Captain Doug said...

Andrew. I would assume the ICAO standard for altitude is "feet." The ONLY places where I encountered metres was Russia, China and Mongolia...communist countries.

The PFD displays altitude in feet on the right hand side. If we want to fly in metres we would use the metric button on the FCU and it will covert it. But we still set the altitude in feet.

For example if Magadan control (Siberia, Russia) told us to fly at 10,000 metres the converter would convert it to 32,800 feet. We would also back it up with onboard charts.

I haven't used the "metric" button on the little bus once.

However, some Airbuses converted it on the PFD as well...here's what Airbus said:

METRIC ALT pushbutton This pushbutton is used to display the FCU altitude target in meters on the ECAM, or the current altitude and FCU/FM altitude target in meters on the PFD

It's only been four years since I left the A340 and I'm forgetting things. I think I have it right. :)

Captain Doug said...


Learning a new airplane is worse than starting over because you have to unlearn a product that has been engrained in your head for over 15 years. How many times do you think I will say in the B767 simulator..."we never did THAT on the Airbus?"
Probably a couple of times until the instructor takes me aside and says, "Doug, you are on a Boeing...get Airbus out of your head....or else..." LOL

That's sort of what happened when I transitioned from the big bus to the little bus. I would say, "but we didn't do this on the A340."

One night the instructor wrote "A340" on a piece of paper in the simulator and showed me. He then tore it up. Message received! :)

whywhyzed said...

I learned last night that a friend jumped from the 767 to the 777 on your last bid -- so there goes my theory . He skipped the A330.

He will be junior, but he'll stay on the triple until he retires, I think about 5 more years. Lucky guy.

Captain Doug said...


One can easily "skip" airplanes provided they have the seniority.

There are some VERY senior A320 captains that can hold left seat in the B777.

But they elected to stay senior on junior equipment for lifestyle. Plus, some don't like the overseas flying
because of jetlag. Although, they are denying significant wage increases.

I guess happiness over rules money. Then again money can sometimes bring happiness. :))))

Brett.Wingerter said...

Hey Doug, I saw you on the weather network! lol i got a question for you:
How long of a layover do you get in places like Mexico and hawaii?

Cedarglen said...

Hi Doug. This one is getting a bit stale, but I have to chime in, one more time... Thanks for the altitude notes that you orovided for Andrew; understood here. As for the bidding rights and 'staying senior' to enhance personal and family needs, perhaps at the expense of some money, each to his/her own. Flying larger machines is of benefit for some, riding the left seat is important for some and predictable family time is important for some. In the end, I'd guess it is a combination of factors and a decision process thata is far more personal than belongs in a blog space. LMAO about the super-senior 320 captains that could fly as seniors on 777 etc., but like their base and schedule. I have to believe that those fellows understand the "Quality of Life" issues and use their senority to achieve them. While remuneration is nice, there are other considerations. I cannot imagine that driving a larger 'big' airplane is much different from driving a slightly smaller bird. In the end, the process is about the same and the variables are money and schedule. What am I missing? Best regards,

Captain Doug said...


The layover in Mexico is short...about 12 hours. Unfortunately, not enough time for a beverage. :(

Sorry, I don't fly to Hawaii on the A320. We fly the B767 or B777 out of Vancouver to there.

Thanks for the email!

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen. (Craig)

You're right again on many counts. Yes, this post is getting long in the tooth, but I'm setting a record as far as comments.:)

The process is about the same from flying an Embraer to a fully loaded B777 overseas....sort of.

But they are overseas issues such as ETOPs, diversion alternates, more F/A's, more passengers (that potentially can get sick), foreign regulations, language barriers and yes currency issues.

You are missing very little as far as the lifestyle issue and like you said, "to each his own."

Readying for another launch to Mexico. Looks like some big "thunderbumpers" may be an issue in the American Midwest.