Does Your Pilot Contract Offer You A Reasonable Quality Of Life?


You’ve just accepted your sign-on bonus offer with your new airline and now you’re ready to begin the primary stages of ground school. After ground school, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) arrives for a visit to communicate about the contract, treats the fresh new hires to lunch, and your feel your life is good. Isn’t it? 

The terms of your contract impact your quality of life now that your with your new airline. While airlines need to take care of their profits, they also need to take care of their pilot group. And we have various unions (e.g. ALPA, Teamsters, etc.) to make certain the pilot group is treated in a satisfactory manner. You might wonder what is the meaning of “quality of life.” It is simply defined as how your life is while you are at work and while you’re not at work. It includes your standards of health, comfort, safety and happiness. 

Make sure your contract covers you in all areas of life, from commuting to work, jury duty, to death in the family. For example, if you don’t live in base, you are a “commuter.” Sounds exhilarating, but at times commuting can be hard. Imagine working a four-day trip and coming back to base, where there are no flights that depart until the next day. Such is the life of a commuter. Most U.S. regional airlines afford numerous ways to help 

commuter pilots by providing hotel rooms for them while not on the clock. Terms will vary from airline to airline. One airline offers a commuting pilot four paid hotel rooms per month, preceding or following a trip. This way, a pilot doesn’t have to live in base nor pay for that many hotel rooms from their own personal piggy bank. 

Look at this scenario: You’ve completed your trip, come home and all you want to do is unwind. Going through your mail you discover that you have received a letter to report for jury duty. Yes! Jury duty! Your contract can protect your pay in this circumstance. One airline’s contract offers no reduction to a pilot’s pay for the first 14 days of jury duty. Thereafter, a pilot’s minimum monthly guarantee should not be reduced as a result of jury duty. This can help counterbalance expenses while receiving minimal income from jury duty. Another airline’s contract offers pilots who are required to serve jury duty to be credited a prorated guarantee based on the amount of scheduled work days in the month for each day the pilot is actively on jury duty, subtracting any money received for performing juror duties. This helps offset income that could be potentially lost while you serve the community in this capacity. 

While death is part of life, it can be devasting if the lost one is close to you. Your contract can protect you in these unanticipated occurrences too. It’s called bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is time off due to the death of a family member, usually an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandparent-in-law, and domestic partner). Airline contracts offer protection to your paycheck should this occur. One airline offers bereavement leave absences of three consecutive days while the pilot’s minimum monthly guarantee may not be reduced. This protects your pay when life’s unforeseen and shattering events transpire. 

When choosing an airline don’t just consider pay. Also investigate the quality of life issues provided whether on the road and at home. Unanticipated events in life will arise. Think of  Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will” and usually at the worst possible time. Make sure your contract protects you in these situations. And always have cash in an emergency fund to carry you for three to six months. Life happens. ACN

SOURCEAero Crew News, September 2018
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Brandon Jimenez is a Mercer County Community College graduate, having received his Associate of Arts in Political and Legal Studies. Brandon is currently a PIC/SIC for a Corporate Part 91 Operation with experience at a Part 121 airline, having logged over 2500 hours of total flight time. Brandon currently holds a DHC-8 & G-200 type ratings. In his extra-time, he works at a training facility, that teaches pilots in commercial and business aviation. Starting out his career in aviation, he worked approximately three years as a flight attendant where he relentlessly wanted to pursue his vision and dream of becoming a pilot. He worked at two prominent flight schools in the country in management and as a Certified Flight Instructor. His passion is aeronautics and helping others achieve their dream.


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