Flight plan

......My flight plan....

My blog is to inspire and motivate those who have a love for aviation. I will attempt to virtually open the flight deck door and allow a peek behind the scenes. And please help make this blog interactive by sending in comments. Don't be shy! :)))))

If for any reason you have an issue found within, send an email and I will rectify it. [email protected]

Again, this blog is for aviation enthusiasts so welcome aboard!!!

Paris Air Show

Paris Air Show
Here's a link to the Paris Air Show compliments of Getjets - "the one and only"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Image is Everything

What you see is what you get.....

 "Customer surveys indicate a perception exists which establishes a relationship between a neat groomed appearance and a safe disciplined flight deck. Therefore it is important that the personal appearance of pilots should match this perception."

When I fly to Florida tomorrow rest assured everyone will be eyeing the first officer and I when we near the gate. Actually, they will be eyeing up the F/O even more, he is very good looking and fit. He also ran in the runway run and is one hell of a hockey player. Oh well, I'm still boss....lol....

A captain wears four stripes on their tunic and epaulettes. The hat has more embroidery. The F/O's hat does not have the "scrambled eggs." The tunic must be buttoned at all times unlike our American counterparts. Hats are also becoming an option or non-existent. We still kept ours. The gold "wings" are found on the tunic and also on the shirt.

Not only is image everything, but tradition plays a major role. The captain's hat is placed on the left and the F/O's on the right. Left is where the captain sits. Left and right is referenced when looking out from of an airplane not looking in. Confused? :)


jack said...

I wish all pilots dressed so neatly. Although Westjet has some good ideas, I really disagree with their dress code.

Captain Doug said...

Jack, I tend to agree with you. I mean I wouldn't mind having a bomber jacket but when you fly internationally many countries take their uniforms very seriously. In Japan, not only does the bus driver get a uniform with a hat but also white gloves!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Left-right seats and Japan, I've heard that the Captain occupies the right seat, while the FO takes the left - is that true?

There instruments panels must be free of finger prints and stains.

Wannabe Mike ~

Captain Doug said...

Wannabe Mike.

Never heard of the captain being in the left seat. They (Japan) fly Airbus, Boeing, Canadair products and all of them are designed with the captain in the left seat. The only place where a captain takes left seat is in a helicopter.

Maybe someone out there can shed some light on this?

whywhyzed said...

If you are a Captain and then bid F/O on larger equipment, do you lose a stripe?
Also, I have seen two four-stripers in the flight deck occasionally- sup with that? Training?

Captain Doug said...


That was a bone of contention for awhile. Many thought, and still do, once a captain always a captain
so they should be entitled to wear their fourth stripe. Now it is written..."pilots who are currently assigned, qualified and designated as captain will wear the four stripes." So yes, it's back to the tailors to lose a stripe.

If there are two "four stripers" in the flight deck it is either training (line indoctrination) or "route checks."
I won't say anything more about having two four stripers together...LOL

leisuresuitwally said...

What are the rules regarding your tie? Is it standard issue, or can you choose your own black?

Captain Doug said...


We wear only company issued ties. Either conventional or clip ons. They must be worn appropriately in public view. For years I wore the conventional tie and then one day while rushing for crew pick up and wrestling to get a good knot, I decided to switch to clip ons.
I haven't looked back. :)))

During Christmas you will see many pilots wearing company issued Christmas ties.

I know of a couple of people (number one being one of them) who would like to adjust my tie somewhat tight. Probably another reason why I wear clip ons. LOL LOL

Your first visit?

Craig R said...

I like AC's dress code. Image and perception count for a lot - and perhaps nowhere more than in the mind of someone who may be uneasy about flying. Anything an airline can do to convey a sense of calm, disciplined professionalism can only help make that passenger feel more at ease.

Beyond that, there's a bit of a pride element too. I was waiting at the gate in Chicago a few weeks ago, watching the crowd pass by, including many different flight crews. Some pilots were not wearing ties, much less hats or tunics. Then here comes my AC crew, looking sharp and totally pro, and it did make me smile. Glad I'm flying on this plane, and not with those other dudes. As a passenger, I do appreciate it when my crew has that spit-and-polish look.

Captain Doug said...

Craig R. Well said. Years ago everyone dressed up when flying on an airplane. Now it's flip flops and shorts. I guess a lot of airlines are following suit in the flight deck i.e more relaxed uniforms. Heck, we are even allowed to wear jeans while we travel as contingency.

And thanks for reminding me, it's time to shine my shoes. :)))

Daniel said...

How about your wings? Are those a requirement to have on you at all times?

I don't see how it can be, pilots are giving them away all the time :P

coreydotcom said...

I like when my flight crew dress professionally.

My parent's neighbour is a Captain on the A320 family based in YUL (still working but approaching retirement I believe). Whenever I saw him in uniform, he looked amazing. Clean and pressed uniform, nice double-windsor tie know, well groomed hair and moustache. He looked good/confident and made me confident about being a passenger on AC.

The only point of contention I have about the no facial air issue is why they don't ban moustaches. It should be all or nothing. A well-groomed beard looks professional in my opinion (think Donald Sutherland). But whatever I guess.

Furthermore, I also have noticed that american flight crews tend to be sloppy. I've seen ungroomed and very wild hair combined with a partly untucked shirt four striper walk into the flight deck of a 747. Also, I was under the impression that most people in the flight deck were reasonably fit as there are medical exams but I've seen more than my fair share of very fat (not just a bit round... very fat) pilots down south. I find it is unprofessional to be overweight in a job that requires you to pass a medical every so often.

Bonne journée!

Cedarglen said...

Hi Doug. That crisp uniform does not prove crisp flying skill or judgment, but it is reassuring to some. Whatever it takes to sell the tickets. I can easily remember the days with PAX 'dressed' for flying. I don't always wear a tie in J-class, but a jacket is mandatory until seated and often pays dividends. An age or generational thing? Probably. It also demonstrates a measure of respect for the FAs and other PAX, so I'll continue. In the end, I like the double-breasted AC uniform and the unique, smaller than typical hat. It is too bad that you have to leave your nose rings at home with the kids , but maybe you could work one into a tie pin. In recent replies about pilot's seating, perhaps you intended the "Other Left" a couple of times. Safe and happy flying to all, -Craig

YOWJeff said...

so, no Spongebob slippers and bathrobe until after the flight deck door is closed and locked?

Seriously, the uniform does add significantly to the look of professionalism and I'm glad it is still worn.

Coreydotcom, for whatever reason, in North America facial hair (except for the properly maintained mustache) is not considered professional. If you look at the 'senior management and board member' pictures for large companies, the NA ones have almost no one with facial hair, the Europeans will have some. Maybe here in Canada beards are considered the property of playoff-bound hockey teams and their fans...

Craig R said...


I'm with you on wearing a jacket - I always do as well. Saves wrinkles, facilitates packing, and projects an appropriate level of respect and professionalism. And, it never hurts one's odds when hoping the GA calls your name and gives you a new boarding pass.

This, of course, coming from a guy who's avatar picture shows him holding a fish in his mouth.


Bas said...

That's what a real pilot looks like! When walking around at Schiphol you can easily see the differences! A hat is a must in my opinion, really finishes it.

I can't help it, but whenever I see flight crew walking around it brings a smile to my face! I don't really know what it is, prestige?


Craig said...

I've always thought the hat "finishes it" as well, but if I was a pilot I'm not so sure I'd like wearing one. I've never been a regular ball cap guy, let alone a pilot's cap.

And I figured I'd mention this... I was doing some spotting at YOW tonight and the tower controller mentioned something about a possible bird strike in the AC A320 that left just before an E190. I watched it turn, though, and it kept climbing and never came back to land so I'm guessing everything was okay. Beauty night, would have loved to go flying.

- Craig M

Cedarglen said...

@Craig R. (We Craigs have to stick together, eh?) The costume is all about the task at hand. I'm going crabbing in the morning and you can bet you fish that I won't be wearing a tie!
@all. While Captain Doug is hiding somewhere this evening, I'm going to let everyone else in on a little secret: Once that flight deck door is bolted, most of the Terminal Uniform comes off and goes onto hangers. WHen actually flying, they wear shorts, politically incorrect tee-shirts and reversed baseball caps that say ***** (think a nail with threads)Boeing," and smoke large Cuba cigars.
On a more serious note, my only objection to most flight crew's uniforms is that they still try to make the female pilots look like men, including the hat and the neck tie. While the women should not look like FAs, they don't need to look men either. Women pilot's uniforms need some serious help.
-Craig. We now return you to your regular program, already in progress.(I hope I don't get 86'd for that.)

jack said...

Captain Doug:

The Justplanes A319/A321 video just came out:


Do you know if your in it? I didn't see you in the preview.

Anonymous said...

Captain D, wonder if you are in the newly released JustPlane AC A319/321 series cockpit DVD?!!

I am getting a copy soon to find out!

Wannabe Mike ~

Craig said...

Came back here for the same reason. From the screenshots on the website, it doesn't look he is. Awful.

...but I'm still buying it of course!

- Craig M

shege2000 said...

Captain Doug,

I just finished the book. I have two or more questions for you. I will detail out the question to you later. However, any follow up book in the Horizon?

Secondly, I am a collection of just plane videos. I was sent an email by the producer that they have new AIR CANADA A319 & A321 videos. Filmed in Hi Def with 4 cameras and 5 great pilots we take you to Jamaica, on our 1st ever flight to Bermuda and our the 1st flight to the USA with Air Canada where we land at Orlando, another first in the series!

Are you in it ? Please let me know before buying it?


Captain Doug said...

Daniel. You must be in the know as far as getting your own set of wings. :)

I only give them to "very special" people. lol

Yes, they are required. Actually, the captain's wings have more embroidery and yet hardly noticeable. One day I inadvertently had my f/o wings attached to my shirt.

My f/o noticed and said, "you are out of uniform!" I thought he was going to cancel the flight. LOL

Captain Doug said...

Coreydotcom. Boy, did you ever hit a lot of nails on the head. You speak volumes of truth.

I won't comment on my American counterparts because we too have a few that don't fit the profile.

But like the passenger profile, the pilot profile and demographics is changing as well.

I've mentioned this before... whenever I see the European pilots with beards it takes awhile to fathom the concept. We've been told for years beards weren't allowed because it does not guarantee a tight fit with the oxygen mask.
I'm certain Lufthansa pilots do NOT have modified masks so that throws that theory out the door.

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen (Craig) You are correct about flying skills and being well groomed. But you have to appease the public.

Nor does it look good for a pilot smacking on gum, eating an ice cream or shopping in duty free in uniform. But it happens.

Captain Doug said...

YOWJeff. That made me laugh about hockey players and beards.

Yes, beards have a certain stigma attached to them. But where do we stop?
Nose rings, earrings, tattoos, pink hair, missing teeth...however I think everyone knows the
answer. We are told not to prejudge in life but reality has it...we do all the time.

It's why I said, "image is everything." :)))

Captain Doug said...

Craig R. It's true about possible upgrades. Good for you in thinking...there is always a chance of some
fantastic looking F/A tapping you on the shoulder and saying, "come with me."

I knew you didn't mean this, but I twisted things a little. :)))


P.S I like your avatar

Captain Doug said...

Bas. I agree with you!!!. But many pilots think the "hat" has to go.

I guess there are various stages of pride.

I treat my hat with respect and have a picture of my three kids in it. After all, it's taken most of my adult life to get an Air Canada captain's hat. I know of some pilots who toss their hats in the car trunk like frisbees and leave it there.

To each his own.

Captain Doug said...

Craig. Wearing a hat does take some getting used to.

As far as the bird strike, if systems indicate everything is normal then we continue as far as a bird strike.We tell tower about it and they send a vehicle to investigate. If they find remnants we will pursue it further. However, if we hear a large bang we will be writing it up as well.

It WAS a beautiful night last night. Toronto's night sky was tranquil as a near full moon looked over it.

I needed tranquility after dodging thunderstorms in the southern U.S enroute to Orlando. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen (Craig) Our female pilot uniform was modified a little especially the hat although I noticed most females opt for the conventional hat.

Captain Doug said...

Jack. Thanks for the link. Nope, I'm not in it.
I tried, but Captain D has no pull. I am not management, nor in training (my teaching weather does not really count) nor am I in the "checking" department. Many assume I hold a high profile position, but truth be told I still work in the trenches.
They just trust me with their $60 million airplane. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Wannabe Mike. No, I missed the boat. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Shege2000. Thanks again for buying my book! And yes, send your questions!

No, Captain Doug missed his acting chance. Maybe next time!

In the meantime, I have to command a flight to Calgary and then to Vancouver today,

Plus, I get to add another airport on the list tomorrow.

I'm flying to Anchorage, Alaska and back to Vancouver. I flew over it tons of times
while flying to the Orient but didn't land. But that would be a good thing. :)))

getjets said...


If you would like....and I hope it will go thru;;
slowly copy and Paste(only if you have the time)....then laugh.......what the hell were we thinking.....

my only comment....

I'll take the clean shaven Captain Doug anyday!!!!!!!!!!

and Captain if your in the trenches or your 60 million $ plane...tonite....the Full moon will be watching

Safe Flying Captain Doug


Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

Hope you had a great day of flying today, the weather was pretty darn nice here, though a little on the breezy side, and a little crazy with all the military traffic around for this weekend's airshow in Airdrie.

I didn't realize AC mainline was flying up to PANC, definitely a place I'd like to go, hope you enjoyed the flight up there. Why wouldn't a YVR based crew be performing that flight?

YYC Dispatcher

getjets said...
This post has been removed by the author.
getjets said...


the live ATC tape immediate after.....Boston Logan
Another love tap...Thank Goodness, no one was hurt...except for the.....well we all know....whooooooo


ps...on my first comment...earlier...you do have to copy and paste all the lines at top together even if there are spaces....hilarious....

safe to the Alaska Captain!

Craig R said...

I thought of this thread earlier today on my connecting flight between Charlotte and Sarasota, flying on one of AC's partner airlines. One of the two FAs (both large men, sadly) was wearing a shirt and tie while the other was wearing a simple, blue long-sleeve t-shirt. No company logo, nada - just a plain blue t-shirt. I initially thought he was another passenger, till I noticed the crew ID hanging on a lanyard around his neck.

I wonder what the story is with that? Was he a last-minute fill-in for someone else, working a short turn to accommodate a delayed FA? Or has this carrier simply allowed a more casual dress code? No doubt I'll be scoping out all the crews on my return trip Sunday, since the routing is the same in reverse - partner to Charlotte, then AC home.

getjets said...

Hey Craig R....GET EM!!!!!

I don't care who you are or where you work....no slouching....and I may be wrong..but isn't it a little hard to get a F/A job..Can't the airlines hire only the best....with technology these day...can't hide anything...so it seems, only the most upstanding....of the employee pool so to speak...

but I forget.... it seems the Over the top... P.C. world we exsist in may not allow.....and there may be a 'yuk' factor afterall...
let us know... Craig R....thanks

Lakotahope said...

Hey Doug,

Yes, the uniform does make for a fine specimen of a pilot. But, a uniform really does do bad things to 'a fat' crew. Authority needs to be built with image and information.

But, I have a question.

I have over 60 hours in the air and over 40 hours solo from the 1980s. I passed the FAA written with a 100%. What can I use of this past, to get my license in the future. I will take ground school and such, as things have changed immensely. I satisified everything, but my final cross country solo flight between 3 pts., and my remaining 1.5 hr. night flight.

Trying to stream line and get the whole picture.

Thanks Doug.

Tom Hope

Cedarglen said...

Let's recognize that there will never be any peace on the uniforms subject. At least for now, is IS the line's right to dictate and few are truly unreasonable. While our personal tastes may vary (a LOT) there are also very few who would totally reject a clean, crisp, conservative appearance as 'unprofessional.' That look is still professional and I think that's why nearly every major carrier demands it. Personally, I don't care about (Doug's ) body jewelry or other stuff, but I do understand why AC does not want it displayed. (Common sense, sheople.) If I care about anything, it is making the women pilots look a bit more normal - unless they WANT to look like men and I'm not going there. While a skirt may not work on the flight deck, the women could be offered far better uniforms and they do not have to look like women dressed up in men's costumes. Err! Sorry to be so long...

Christer said...

Craig R- I know what you mean about the uniforms on this airline and its regional affiliates. Due to living in the area, CLT is now my home airport and often I have no other choice but to use "them". Variety seems to be the recurring theme there, and IMHO it's not the best thing in many cases. It'd be nice if some of the greyhound-esque Star Alliance partners would learn a thing or two from airlines like AC, LH or NH. Totally different worlds of culture and professionalism.

Hope your trip through CLT goes well for you on Sunday. If you've got a longer connection, I'd be happy to come over and buy you a beverage:)

Thanks for the interesting post Doug! It's the professional appearance and treatment I get (most of the time) on AC that keeps me away from WestJet and the like. The last flight I took on WestJet, the FA chastised me for not passing back a roll of toilet paper which they were stringing out from the front of the plane to the rear in a lame attempt at humor. I just wanted to be left alone. Mind you, this was several years ago, and from what I've heard things have changed a bit. I haven't come back to see for myself though, nor do I ever plan on it:)

Captain Doug said...

Lakotahope. I remember students showing up at the flying club with "dust on their logbooks" and to my knowledge much of their time still
qualified. Gee, you were so close in getting your PPL. I would be calling your nearest flying club and talking to the CFI (Chief Flying Instructor).

I hope you close this gap and get your license.

"So close and yet so far."

Captain Doug said...

YYC Dispatcher. A brisk westerly wind greeted us on runway 28 in Calgary yesterday.

I think in the summer we head to Anchorage for the cruise ship industry.

And yes, one would think a YVR base crew would fly this route but I've given up trying to figure how they plan routes, etc. :))))

And thanks for reminding me Anchorage is PANC not KANC. LOL

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Thanks for the link. Another "oopsie."

Those busy American airports sure do see lots of "love taps."

Lots of "touchy feely" stuff going on.

I hope it doesn't spread north of the border. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Tried to open your link twice, "no joy."

Didn't see the moon yesterday enroute to Calgary and Vancouver. But I've been feeling the pull. :)

Looks like I won't see much of beautiful British Columbia while heading north to Alaska today, it's raining "cats and dogs." :)

Captain Doug said...

Craig R, maybe one outfit was their summer attire or one was an in-charge dressed differently?

The only way we differentiate our in-charge uniforms is that they wear a blue scarf.

I learned that the first week I went captain and I was coming up to the F/As trying to give my mandatory briefing to them.

One giggled and said, "I'm not wearing a blue scarf." Ooops.

Ruby Khan said...

Hey Captain D:

I've been out of touch lately due to study load @ school. Quickly wanted to say hi, drop a line to know everyone's doing awesome on the blog and congratulate Air Canada for winning the second rank on the top ten safest airlines in the world. Way to go Maple leaf!!! Keep it up AC team and kudos Captain D !!! :)))




getjets said...

Captain Doug, And ya know what they say about it "Raining Cats and Dog"....


that silly Full Moon loves hiding behind that 'stormy weather'....and still pulls....ha ha how nervy


ps...CYVR-PANC....if your flight?????.....the "Earth View" is a very different and interesting perspective....the white top mountains to your right...looks like you may have just turn a bit of a turn to North....this is the "Fightaware" site...


getjets said...


check you out on final with aviation sectional view....kinda hard to make ya out...copy, paste to top, and hit search....you should show...on screen

Bas said...


The links referr to google mail, you've posted them on my blog too but I think you are trying to show us something that's in your mailbox? No one can see it but you, because you are logged in I think.

Just wanted to let you know that it ain't working for anyone I guess :)


getjets said...

Thanks Bas...I got it all wrong still...thanks for letting me know...One of these days.....

Craig R said...

Christer - that could be a plan! Shoot me an email? (click my name to go to a link, or just use craig (dot) ritchie (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Captain Doug - could be on the uniforms. Really was no biggie, as the service was just fine. I just thought it an odd coincidence given your most recent post.

Really hot and sweaty in Sarasota! I'm not used to this humidity! Better stay hydrated and go for a beverage now. :-)

Craig R said...

Argh - I don't even know m own email. Better just use the link!

(need another cool bevvy ........)

getjets said...

cheers this Saturday night especially to being incompetent....and I hope I didn't even spell it right!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and no sorry for anything....

Cheers....mission to be acompolished
no responses....please, just hanging in the corner....

you know it's bad when you mispell the "word verification" wrong...

Bas said...

''you know it's bad when you mispell the "word verification" wrong...''


Captain Doug said...

Christer. Thanks for putting my airline up on a pedestal. I do realize we have warts too but overall we do try hard...

Sometimes many of us have a hard time seeing the big picture though....

While pushing back with a full flight to Calgary one flight attendant said if we don't push back at 22 minutes past the hour...then she is walking
due to her duty day. I was fine with that. Turns out there was a deadheading flight attendant. I suggested the F/A walk and recruit the deadheader. After ten minutes of confusion and further delay the original F/A stayed. It could have been handled much better on all sides.

Cedarglen said...

Doug, Sorry to hear about the 'confusion' with the Duty Day FA. As you note, it could have been better... A little courtesy and flexibility from all is never a bad thing. As necessary are rules may be, they too often restrict common sense. Glad that it came out OK. The Captain's job is never done... until the brake is set. Regards, -Craig.

getjets said...

Hey Captain Doug, hope all is well....
Thank ya Lord, no one hurt with the 727 over run in St. John's...Saturday....

should I be scared...LOL




Daniel said...

Flight Attendants can't be as bad as gate agents these day's.

My mom and I were flying to YSJ ( our entire family is from there ) on Saturday and a good friend of my dad, who I hang out with when I go on the ramp started to complain to my dad because I was wearing shorts... You would think with it being 25°C outside that he would cut me some slack, but no.

I do admit, I should have known better while traveling on my dads pass but there was only one person with us on the little 1900D lol. Who would have known? O well, my dad doesn't care and even admitted all he does is create trouble.

Clearly I am not showing the "professional" image of traveling on a pass ;) Shame on me.

Captain Doug said...

Daniel. Many people treat the dress code very seriously. As you know we are allowed to wear jeans but sometimes it takes awhile for "some" to get used to the new look. As far as shorts....you were a test pilot pushing the envelope. LOL

And yes, "image is everything." :)

Daniel said...

True, you would see it more then I do. But even my dad said, literally 99% of the people there could careless. Unfortunately, I get one that does care. O well, learned a lesson for next time.

Captain Doug said...

Ruby, thanks for the link. I see British Airways ranked #1. Second is not a bad place to be. :)

Anonymous said...

no offense- but I've seen that "Gadaffi Fist"....on black afro combs on a many a head, back in the 1970's

meant has fun only...

Ruby Khan said...

You're welcome Capt. There's always next time so lets try harder. :)

Captain Doug said...

Anon. I've been in Edmonton a few times in the last couple of weeks and there is lots of construction going on.

But the same with Calgary.

Looks like it's not just hockey the two cities have a rivalry with. :)

Captain Doug said...

Getjets. Thanks for the links. Lots of interesting stories emanate from St. John's.

Should you be scared? Not if you fly one of the safest airlines in the world, you won't.
That's according to Ruby's link. :))))