Bid What You Want – Plane & Pilot Magazine | Aviation

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A few recent articles within the frequent-flyer blogosphere have bemoaned that airlines cannot convince enough of their first officers to upgrade to captains and the staffing challenges that presents. Despite a huge pay difference (often an extra $100 an hour), a lot of first officers are sitting tight in their current seats. With a few exceptions who tried up-or-out clauses where first officers had to upgrade upon reaching a certain seniority threshold, most airlines are powerless to force first officers to move up.

The result is that instead of having to wait for several years before upgrading, some airlines have had junior pilots bid for the left seat—and have it awarded—while they were still in initial training or shortly thereafter.

So why are some first officers so content to stay where they are? In a nutshell, they prefer a bit of control over their schedule versus the boost in hourly pay. When bidding as a very senior first officer, pilots get to choose the “milk runs.” What constitutes a great trip is widely varied. Commutable start and end times, favorite layover cities, avoiding landings at O’Hare (KORD), or simply trips without a lot of flying involved are all considerations that a senior bidder may seek out in a trip.

First of all, let’s clear up the difference between a captain and a first officer. When we were referred to as pilot and…


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