Very few industries have the expansive geography of the airline industry and more specifically few industries have the ability to span large sums of geography in short time like the airline industry. In addition to moving massive quantities of people worldwide, the dynamics of business dictate the shape of the business, and the companies that conduct it, can change drastically in a short span of time. This means that crew bases can shrink or expand or even open and close frequently.
So what is a crew member to do who is living in Denver or Philadelphia when their company closes a base and needs to move them to Los Angeles or Orlando?
Not only can the airline not stop flying to allow time for large quantities of employees (sometimes in the hundreds or even thousands) to move, but the companies need to have them up and running in their new designated base as quickly as possible.
This obviously becomes a major logistical challenge in terms of getting employees and their families where they need to be when they need to be there, and various airlines deal with it in various ways, depending on what was agreed upon through the collective bargaining process.
One of the benefits that almost every airline provides for employees are moving days. Moving days are essentially days blocked off for the employee by the company that are free of duty, allowing the employee to return home, pack and then relocate them to the new base. In many cases, these days can be requested by the pilot for this purpose. The number of days and scheduling of those days will vary from company to company. For instance, Airline A may allow 4 moving to be requested by the pilot, and provided within a certain number of months after the new base opens or the old base closes. Airline B may only allow 48 hours for moving and may only allow them within a certain timeframe such as 30 days within relocation. Some airlines may not provide for moving day at all, in which case the move would have to be completed on the employee’s days off before their assignment starts in the next base.
Another benefit that may be provided on a case by case basis are moving benefits. There are several types of these benefits, but essentially, they all allow some form of moving equipment that the employee can use to relocate their belongings.
The most common of these would be moving reimbursement. In the case of moving reimbursement, the company may allow a certain amount of money to be given back to the pilot to offset the cost of moving trucks, overnight stays, and possibly food. Again, there may be stipulations on what the company allows to be reimburse, so it is important for employees to consider these requirements prior to actually starting the move.
Another form of moving benefits would be moving services. These could include allowances for full hire of a moving company, packing services, or both. The company may allow the employee to hire the service or may provide the service for the employee. These benefits may be offered instead of, or in addition to moving expense reimbursement, which would give the employee further flexibility in determining the best way to move their belongings from one location to another. If the pilot would need more than the allotted days, can’t get everything moved by themselves, or has other life obligations such as kids in school, working spouse, or the need to find a new house then moving service benefits can be a tremendous asset to the employee.
As an example of these benefits, assume that Airline A doesn’t provide any moving days, but does provide some reimbursement for moving expense ($900 moving truck allowance plus fuel allowance). In this case, the employee would be responsible for renting the truck and getting the move done on their allotted days off. Any expenses for the truck above and beyond $900 would be the employee’s responsibility.
Assume that Airline B provides 3 moving days, to be used within 60 days of base relocation and some moving expense reimbursement ($1,000 moving truck allowance plus fuel expenses). In this example, an employee could schedule the 3 days (possibly following or preceding normal days off) to allow a larger block of time for the employee to move their belongings. It would also make it more likely that the employee isn’t responsible for their own moving costs, as a result of the greater truck rental reimbursement. This is obviously a benefit or compensation to the employee because it makes it easier and more convenient for them to relocate if it becomes necessary.
Finally, let’s say that Airline C allows up to four days off for moving and the option for either moving expense reimbursement ($1500 truck allowance plus fuel and reasonable food costs) or the option to have the company handle all moving needs where a moving company is contacted, and professional movers arrive at the employee’s residence, pack the belongings, insure them, deliver them and unpack them for the employee at the new residence, with a requirement that they be used within one year of starting in the new base. This could be a huge additional benefit to the employee because if they choose to have the movers relocate for them, they are relieved of having to pack, travel, unpack and be ready to go in the new base prior their next assignment. This allows both greater flexibility and less stress for the employee. In this case, if the employee has kids in school, or a significant other with a job, or any other factor that would prevent them from being able to move immediately or in a very short time, they still get the company’s help with relocation. Also, if it is suitable or preferable to them, they can move themselves and still be reimbursed the moving expenses.
In all cases above, the benefit may not be readily thought about by a prospective employee and may not occur very often, but can be of huge benefit during a time that would otherwise be very time compressed and stressful. It is important that with the dynamics of an industry that is always in a state of change, that secondary benefits such as moving benefits be considered carefully by any prospective employees.