Monday, November 17, 2008

A Job With Benefits

A recent trip I worked allowed my cockpit crew and I to put aside for awhile all the bitterness and animosity we have for management and just enjoy the surroundings.

That's not to say that we didn't have our usual gripe session on our way there and back, but at least the layover was a good time.

I'm talking about one of the more senior trips on the 767 bidsheet in Dallas. That would be the Maui layover.

Our 3 PM arrival time allowed for a very nice happy hour with an all you can eat fish dinner at a local hangout near our hotel in Kihei. But the following day would be even better.

One of the benefits of being an airline pilot is the reciprocal jumpseat agreement we have with most other air carriers. In other words, we can fly on most any other air carrier (in their jumpseats) for free. And their pilots often ride on our jumpseats as well. If there is room in the cabin then we allow them to sit there instead of in the cockpit. They usually do the same for us.

One of those carriers we have an agreement with is Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. They are a helicopter sightseeing operator in the Hawaiian Islands.

And this day they had two extra seats on one of their tours around Maui. So one of the other pilots and I made our way back to the airport and soon found ourselves strapped in to an Eco-Star and climbing up towards Haleakala Crater.
After a few minutes at the crater we dropped down to the rainy side of the island. There are waterfalls everywhere you look.I have done the day long drive to the little town of Hana before. This day I was happy to see it from the air instead.No wonder people go to Maui for vacation!After the flight it was back to Kihei for lunch and some pool time before the flight back home.

Now THAT was a good layover!

For a look at some more of my photos, please aviate over to Plane & Simple.


KLIT said...

Wow... can't wait! I'm heading to Maui this spring with the family. We went to Honolulu last year. Will look to take a helicopter tour now, for sure...

Len (Barfbag) said...


Don't forget your camera!

Tom said...

although we all definitely have gripes, it seems like AAL pilots are the best positioned of any of the legacies.. I mean, AA is the only legacy that hasn't filed for bankruptcy, and UAL's management makes AAL's look great. I'm not saying you have no right to gripe, I guess I just feel like it could definitely be a lot worse for AAL compares to the other legacies... I feel like AAL flight attendants, particularly, have had a really negative tone and their customer service has decreased markedly over the past few years.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Tom,

You are correct that AA is probably better off than the other guys.
The problems that we as pilots gripe about is the way management treats us. We gave huge concessions back in 2003. We all gave back at least 23% and some of us suffered a cut approaching 50%. In fact, our pilot group has not had a raise in approximately 17 years. Not even a cost of living increase!
And then after our pay cuts, management awarded themselves over 230 million dollars in bonuses! Crazy!! And every year they continue to do this! It's a huge slap in the face.

Now we are in the midst of a contract negotiation. It isn't going well. Management has not budged an inch. They want even more concessions. Our pilots union is just waiting for an impasse to be declared so we can get on with a cooling off period before ramping up for a possible strike.

I have been at AA since 1986 and I have never seen the morale among the employee groups as low as it is now. It is absolutely terrible. I know that the frontline employee groups such as the flight attendants have very bad attitudes and it clearly shows. That's unfortunate for our customers since they are the ones paying for our services.
Also our on time dependability is the worst among all the US carriers. It's unbelievable how bad the employees attitudes are lately. It's not a fun place to work.
Fortunately for me, I get to leave my troubles at the airport when my flying day is over.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

KLIT said...

Well Len,

I hope all goes well and y'all get the contract you deserve. It really amazes me what little credit you guys get for what you do.

What trip is up next?

John said...


Pretty good perk with that "jumpseat" privilege for sure. I would have never guessed that a non-sched tour operator would have that agreement too...very cool.

I understand the whole morale issue and it sucks to see management treat the meat of the company like "meat", but should the paying public have any concerns with this in regards to safety? Is this too dramatic of a thought? A disgruntled mechanic and/or pilot doesn't give us the warm fuzzy. ;-(

Anonymous said...


Enjoy the blog! Nice perk on the jumpseat privileges. Didn't realize that you can have an agreement with "tour operators" too....nice.

Len (Barfbag) said...


Thanks for your support. I'm not sure what post will be next....probably something Caribbean since that's about all I've been doing lately.


Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi John,

No need to worry about any safety issues. Even though the morale is bad and we all dislike the company we work for, we are all still professionals and will continue to perform our duties in a responsible manner. The standardization in our cockpits is truly amazing. I can ride jumpseat on any other AA flight and expect to see the pilots performing the mission in exactly the same manner as I do. We all use our checklists and adhere to procedures to the letter. Our training is pretty rigorous and strict. Not much room for error. The general public would be impressed I'm sure.

I know our mechanics also take a lot of pride in their work. No need to worry about them either.


The Wandering Scotsman said...

Maui looks amazing and those pictures have given me a strong desire to go and visit the place.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hello Mr Scotsman,

I highly recommend a trip to Maui for anyone!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.