Timing Is Everything

Aviation and the Airline Industry in particular is not like most businesses. There is, and probably always will be, an excessive public fascination with air travel. The very act of flying is in itself pretty much clearly something that we don’t do naturally.  And yet hardly anybody really knows much about it.

A few didja knows . . .

Until today airline pilots were required by Federal law to retire at age 60. That’s it pal, out of the pool. No towel, no social security. Probably a fraction of your pension. Just scram.  Today the Senate seems to have passed a bill that will allow pilots to work up to age 65. Assuming little Bush signs the bill into law it is a done deal. What about the guys that were made to retire last week? Last month? Last year? Four years ago?

All of the preference horsepower a pilot at any Airline has is based on seniority. Preference for the type of airplane he will fly (big ones pay more), what schedule he will get, and where he will be based is all awarded based on longevity with the company. As pilots quit (hardly ever), lose medical certification (happens sometimes), die, or retire, everybody moves up a number on the seniority list.

Now the advancement music will stop for about five years. Unless the airline is growing rapidly and adding more airplanes thus hiring more pilots everybody that is a First Officer (co-pilot) will still be one for about another five years.

Timing is everything. Lawsuits are inevitable. There is probably not a hoot in Hell chance that anybody already retired will be hired back by any of the airlines.

Back in the old days when pilots made a lot of money nobody wanted to fly past age 60. Now that pilot compensation is in real terms less than half of what it was 30 years ago and most of the pension fund money has been raided to buy fuel the majority of us need to keep working.

Maybe you should start tipping your Captain. Slip him a fiver on the way out. Maybe a ten if the landing was nice. If everybody did it the crews unions could relax about pay raises and the old pilots would be able to get by just fine without eating cat food.


One Response to “Timing Is Everything”

  1. I love the tipping idea. The problem is that some professions seem so fancy — people have a perception that being a pilot pays a bajillion dollars a year.

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