Why didn't a very professional pilot like Jeff Skiles go to an airline where he could be a captain?

Do u remember the first officer of the Cactus plane that landed in the Hudson River? He was a middle aged man with lots of flight time and experienced but he was still a first officer because the US Airway was one of the large major airlines and he eventually retired as a first officer and had nevet made a captain.

Do u remember the first officer of the Cactus plane that landed in the Hudson River? He was a middle aged man with lots of flight time and experienced but he was still a first officer because the US Airway was one of the large major airlines and he eventually retired as a first officer and had nevet made a captain. Had he just gone to a smaller domestic airline like Spirit Airlines or Virgin America or something, he could have been a captain way much earlier. I feel so sad and sorry for him. He is too good to be a first officer.

Best Answer:

Zaphod Beeblebrox: On the contrary, you should feel sorry for yourself because you apparently understand very little about the airline industry, the seniority system, and the choices one is faced with. Being captain is not always the most desirable thing. There is certainly no shame in being a copilot, at least for airlines based in the western hemisphere.

First off, in every airline, there are two seniority lists, the first officer list, and the captain list. Within those lists, there are sub-lists for each aircraft type and for each domicile. When one becomes senior enough to upgrade to captain, they have been employed for many years and have risen to the point where they generally have the pick of the best routes and best schedules, and probably work out of the domicile of their choice. when a pilot upgrades to captain he (or she) goes to the bottom of the captains seniority list where, just like beginning copilots, they generally get the least desirable routes and schedules, often flying a less desirable aircraft out of a less desirable domicile.

It can often take the rest of their careers to get back to the routes, schedules, aircraft and domiciles of their top choice, and often not even then until the very last couple years of their career. To many, it simply isn't worth it. I've known many pilots who never upgraded because they were happier being among the top dogs of the first officers in the company. I know one who intentionally remained a flight engineer for 33 years because he had everything he wanted in that regard and still made a good wage. Believe me, a lot of low-seniority captains envied him for his lifestyle compared to theirs and thought he had been pretty shrewd.

Then there is the choice of jumping ship to another carrier. When a pilot does that, they go straight to the bottom of the seniority list and have to go through the whole routine of cruddy schedules, routes, domiciles, etc all over again, and usually at a very severe pay cut. A first-year copilot's salary is laughable compared to that of a 10-15 year veteran in the right seat. You don't get paid for past experience an ability, you get paid according to longevity with a company. And then there is the retirement package and vacation time one builds up over many years. that doesn't get transferred with you to another company and for someone who hopes to maximize their retirement, staying with one company (especially a larger, more stable one) is the better choice. A lot of pilots are unwilling to give that up, even if they might eventually make it to the left seat sooner. But the big question is at what personal or family sacrifice? And then of course there is the question of loyalty to one's employer and co-workers which sometimes plays into it. Jumping ship sometimes irreparably burns bridges.

In Skile's case, he had the opportunity totake a break and work for the EAA for awhile, and in many respects that may have been a good move for him in ways that we cannot begin to assess. In case you didn't know, he went back to flying for American Airlines, which he had an option to do since they took over USAirways.

Like I said, don't feel sorry for him, he certainly doesn't feel sorry for himself. We feel sorry for you for having to hide behind a blue-guy avatar even though we are all anonymous on Yahoo Answers anyway regardless of whether we use our "real" avatars or not. Time to wise up, man-up and come out of the closet.

Other answer:

Zaphod Beeblebrox:
So somehow you think a captain in a smaller airline earns more than a first office with senIority earns at a major? Or is it just a title boost to be a captain even if you make less… not sure why you think being and FO at a major is less important than a captain with a smaller airline.
Dave:
3 possible reasons
1. He did not like change and was reluctant to jump ship just to achieve captain status.
2. He liked US airways culture, benefits, maintenance, and employees so much he deemed it was worthwhile to stay
3. he had some sort of past that would make it hard for them to hire him as a captain.
Mercury:
Many pilots do not make Captain or do not want to be one, how do you know what this pilot wanted?

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