21 things Dispatchers wish their pilots knew.

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
Every year, we as dispatchers are required by law to spend 5 hours in the flight deck(and some airlines, mine inluded, we must spend an ADDITIONAL 5 hours in the sim.) observing cockpit operations so we "have a better understanding of what goes on." Our pilots, however, do not have such a requirement. This disparity is an often discussed topic among the dispatch group. The Pilot group (namely the Union and the Great Chief) comes up with any number of reasons as to why the pilots cant spend even an hour in SOC either as part of their, initial, recurrent or as part of upgrade.

Unless a pilot takes it upon himself or herself to come to SOC on their day off (There are some who do, however), they do not get to see what we do "behind the scenes" on a typical day, and rarely do they see us on an IRROP day.

Beccause of this, we as dispatchers have a few things that we would like our Pilots, our partners in crime, to know. I think these 21 items sum it up.

Ladies and Gents of the Winged World, please consider this your virtual FAM Flight.

1: We dont control the WX.

2: We understand you are concerned about your flight, but you are not the only flight. While you only need to be concerned with one flight at a time...your own....please try to remember that we can have as many as 15 flights in the air at any given time and that we can handle as many as 60 flights (Or more!) in a 10 hour shift. We wish we had the time to give you our undivided attention. Alas, its not always possible.

3: We dont know dick about your duty and rest requirements. We have a basic understanding of Whitlow but thats all we are really supposed to know. We know nothing about your contractual requirements regarding days off, high speeds, busting 16 hours, etc. Thats schedulings job. They are option #2 on the phone tree when you call SOC. Thanks!

4: We dont control the WX.

5: Dispatchers are not your personal assistants. We understand that delays, mechanical problems, groundstops etc can create total chaos in your personal life, but we have our own headahes we are dealing with. Please dont ACARS us and ask us to call and cancel your doctors appointment, call your childs school, reschedule your hair appointment, take something to the bag room, etc (yes, all of these have been requested before) If were are not up to our necks in release ammendments, we MIGHT be ok with calling your wife or friend to let them know that you just got put into a hold with an EFC of sometime next week and to NOT leave to come pick you up just yet. But please dont expect that we will be able to every time.

6: Im sure that you are very observant and I dont doubt that you were sitting right there when the mechanic signed off on the weird door buzzing or deferred you cup holder, but we wont ammend releases based on your word alone. You have a union to protect you if you take off with an open write up or the wrong MEL on your release. I could lose my job.

7:I can call. I can call. I can call ops a thousand times to remind them that you are holding short of your gate and need a ground crew, or that you have been waiting on a fuel truck for half an hour, or that the Pax are eating the flight attendants because you have been waiting for a push crew since last Christmas. There isnt much I can do from my desk other than call or radio again....that or crash the airport perimeter gate and marshal you in myself but then who would watch my desk?

8: I understand you have been cooling your heels for 3 hours waiting on an update from ATC. It sucks. Anyone who has ever taxied out of LGA at 7 pm on a wednesday night during thunderstorms can relate. But I had to pee 3 hours ago and I have yet to have 30 seonds to get up from my desk. Please dont yell at me to "get you of there." All I can do in these situations is load you up on taxi fuel and watch the clock. Occasionally, I can put on my flirty voice and batt my eyelashes at Center and get you a better EDCT time, but that is asking ALOT of Center and doesnt work very often. I know that, having already sacrificed your FA's, your poor FO is now fending off rabid Pax with the crash axe, but Mothership Airlines is also calling me every 5 minutes threatening to slit my throat with my own dispatch license if I dont get your plane off the ground -RIGHT-NOW- We both have things we would rather be doing (Potty break, for example?)

9: Really, we DONT control the WX!

10: If you send us an ACARS message and we dont respond right away, we promise we arent ignoring you. During peak hours, we sometimes have to prioritize messages from most urgent to least. While there is no excuse for a dispatcher not responding to a message about something that required the use of the QRH (Med emergancies and possible mechanical emergencies are our top priority) bear in mind that if you send me an ACARS asking if you can keep your plane to MOT and I havent responded in a few minutes, there is the possibility that I have might a flight DIVERTING there. Unless its an emergency or it is something time, fuel or safety critical, please be patient with us...and for Gods sake if you are going down in a bean field and we havent responded, call us on the radio or ARINC...it possible we didnt get the message!

11: We as dispatchers are held accountable for every drop of fuel we put on your plane. With the rising cost of jet fuel, airlines are getting more and more strict about "contingency fuel." We are held to very specific guidelines and if we deviate from those guidelines, we have to fill out a full report as to why. Our releases are audited on a daily basis (think of it as a daily "check ride.") and if we have a fuel discrepancy that cant be justified (bad wx, enroute turbulence, altitude restricted etc) we get a strike. Enoguh strikes and we're out. If there is a viable reason why you need the fuel, we are more than willing to defend it in our report (Hell, as a personal rule, if you can realistically justify why you need more fuel, you get it, no questions), However, if its perfect wx, no MEL, no turbulence and calm winds, please dont get angry if I dont release you with enough fuel to fly to Hawaii.

12: While we sometimes can have SOME influence, the following items are generally out of our control: Crew meals, gate swaps, EDCT, Wheels up, and EFC times, hotels in base, ramp closures for lightning, ramp congestion, atc delays or routing...and, of course...the WX! :)

13: Remember what our job is. We plan flights, monitor WX, monitor your flight and act as a go between for Mothership Airlines. We are not schedulers...if you have a question about your hotel, comp days after your high speed, or you duty time, call scheduling. Not dispatch. We are not mechanics. If you feel that the wrong MEL was applied, please talk to Maintenance Control. Not dispatch. We are not customer service agents. If you have a pax that got on the wrong flight, we will certainly notify the arrival station but please dont expect me to book them on the correct flight. They need customer service...not dispatch.

14: Dont assume we dont know about commuting. While, true, there are far fewer commuting dispatchers than crew, we do exist. Yes, I am one of them. For example, on my "monday" I have a 5 am wakeup call for a 10 hour shift that starts at 6 pm. By the time you talk to me, its possible that I have been awake for 24 hours. On my last day, I am out at 4 am and jumpseating on a different airline at 6 am...unless I get stuck at my desk for a delay. When Im finally home, I hang up my "Dispatch Krystal" lanyard andput on my mom "mom, maid, grocery shopper, dinner maker, litter box cleaner, kid washer and putter to bedder, glas of wine and pass out on the coucher" apron. i know what it is to commute, to miss a commute and to only have a couple of days at home at a time. I feel your pain.

15: Still cant control the WX.

16: Your suspicions are correct. There ARE bad dispatchers out there: The kind who will plan you flight based on the text of the TAF alone, without so much as a glance at NOTAMS, radar, or the FAA OIS page. We hate them because they are usually passing their flights down to us. We try our best to correct their mistakes before departure time but it doesnt always happen. (btw, please check name on the release. If a female answers the phone, dont start screaming at "Bob") Its an unfortunate reality that one bad dispatcher tends to ruin the reputation of the entire dispatch group. Please dont go on and on if another dispatcher srews up. chances are, I already know about it and Ive already had my cursing session with the other dispatchers on the floor.

17: If it seems like you're filed to low, refer to #11. You can always go higher. ;)

18: On average, your flight is release 2 hours before your departure time. This isnt a personal rule. This is a policy instilled by Mothership Airlines to ensure that your release isnt late. We would rather build your flight 45 minutes to departure, with you on the phone giving your imput. Unfortunately, thats not how it work.s The downside to the "no late releases" thing is that 2 hours is a long time in Aviation World. TAFs change, winds shift, and unforecasted Bloody Apocalypse can crop up on your route. Please keep this in mind. The majority of us dont purposly "file you down the throat of the second coming of Jeebus" It is not the goal of dispatch to have you land in a bean field with 12 lbs of fuel left.

19: You are on a recorded line. If you swear at me, threaten me, or call me derogatory names, that tape WILL be turned over to the Great Chief. You are a professional. You wouldnt expect me to behave that way, please show us the same courtesy.

20: Youd be surpised how far a simple "Thank You" will get you. No need for fanfare, ticker tape or steak dinners. (Ok, MAYBE steak dinners!) After we've spent the past 5 hours bending over backwards, starving with our frozen dinner 3 feet away and done the pee-pee dance at our desk for the better part of our shift, a phone call to say thanks makes our entire night

21: The majority of us love our job and worked hard to get where we are. In the end,. pilots and dispatchers will always be mortal enemies. You picture me as a female dog in a headset, passed out at her desk over the remnants of a butler served steak dinner. There are days when I have the mental image of a donkey in a pilot hat, feet propped up on the glare shield, sipping a diet coke and looking at the latest Trade-a-Plane. We would hope, thought, that we can put aside those differences and get back to "living the dream." Above all else, we are partners...whether we like it or not.

Oh, and we STILL dont control the WX!
 

PHL_Approach

Well-Known Member
I would like to respond to this with agreements and disagreements but I'm about to catch up on the new season of Breaking Bad ahaha. But I see your having fun at CP rofl :-D
 

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
I would like to respond to this with agreements and disagreements but I'm about to catch up on the new season of Breaking Bad ahaha. But I see your having fun at CP rofl :-D
Well, I AM having fun at CP... but right now Im at home doing the"drinking wine and passing out on the couch" phase of my go home day. ;)
 

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
I should add that this post is meant more for entertainment value. In no way am I trying to berate our pilot group. Just trying to make light of a much discussed issue in DX: If We have to spend 5 hours a year observing flight deck operations, why arent the pilots spending 5 hours per year observing SOC operations? (Not just DX) For the record, I actually DO enjoy my yearly FAM ride and look forward to it.
 

----****

Well-Known Member
2: We understand you are concerned about your flight, but you are not the only flight. While you only need to be concerned with one flight at a time...your own....please try to remember that we can have as many as 15 flights in the air at any given time and that we can handle as many as 60 flights (Or more!) in a 10 hour shift. We wish we had the time to give you our undivided attention. Alas, its not always possible.
Totally agree with this one right here......

Since my old company sent flight plans out like 10 hours in advance, I had a Captain call me up from SKBO/BOG for a weather update before he would put his name on something that old. I thought great, someone who really cares about doing it right! He then told me to HOLD since he was "busy." Mind you I'm the only one working the desk and had had an issue earlier in the day involving the FAA and DO grounding an airplane in Brazil; so I was playing catch up as it was. In the process I had another call come in and finally had to cut this guy off. Call ended up being an airplane going AOG at an Air Force base in Singapore.

The Bogota Captain finally called me back after at least 15 minutes (so I can assume I would've been on hold that entire time) and was legitimately pissed that I finally had hung up him and really did care about why I finally had to :eek:
 

Bob Ridpath

Pit Bull love
From a dispatcher in an unrelated field, two observations:

1. Specific details might differ but general attitudes are surprisingly similar,
2. This was a tremendous read on the second half of my forced sixteen hours!
 

manniax

Well-met in the Ka-tet
Nice list - your company sounds overly strict with their fuel policy though. I'm glad I have some union protection at my airline. Of course, my last (regional) airline was also union, and we dealt with many of the same issues - and to some extent I still do, but I just have a few more resources available now (such as an ATC desk to work with center on delays - not that they are miracle workers, but it's a resource I didn't used to have.)

One thing with regards to pilots not being required to visit dispatch - while it would be nice if more crews had a better understanding of what we do, you do NOT want a requirement for pilots to spend time in SOC. We had a requirement at my last airline that all new hires spend two hours observing in SOC and it got very old very fast when you'd get a class of 30 pilots all wanting to get their observation done at the same time. The sheer number of pilots at an airline vs. the number of dispatchers at an airline makes it impractical for there to be a reciprocal observation requirement.
 

Bob Ridpath

Pit Bull love
Or perhaps better scheduling? Our goal where I work is that every cop, firefighter, EMT and paramedic spend some time with us in dispatch - even if it's a PITA for them. Helps us all to play nice together at later dates. The concept works - at least in my field.
 

Screaming_Emu

Dogsheep
Compass must have high maintenance pilots. I'd say 90% of my flights go by with zero communication with the dispatcher.

Plan the flight, file the flightplan, go fly it. Next. While I appreciate the work that our dispatchers do, and always add a thanks to anything I request, I think you're being a little dramatic.
 

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
Emu, pilots are like dispatchers.... one dumba** makes the whole group look bad. When you're building releases and see the crew list, mostly the names are "just another crew"..... but you get to know VERY quickly who your problem children are. Its the handful of pilots who have the "if I aint happy, aint nobody happy" attitude that have the potential to make our shift miserable.....

For example, the captain this week that had been blocked out for over 2 and a half hours in EWR with no chance in hell of getting off the ground before 3 hours, The dispatchers, supervisor and SOC director were on the phone directing him to return to the gate. He was refusing because he was CERTAIN he would get off the ground.....he was number 60 in the sequence and they hadnt even begun to open up departures yet (Thunderstorms) At this point, passenger safety and comfort should be trumping his pride. He had burned through all of his taxi fuel, and he was burning through his contingency by running the APU. It was time to go back to the gate. It finally took a call to the tower to cancel his IFR clearance to convince him. It should not have come to that. It should not have made it high as the SOC director. So many people should not have had to be involved....but thats how that 1%...problem children, create havoc. The other 99% are a dream to work with.

And if you think Im joking about odd requests (Call my wife, list me for my flight home, mail the check thats in my backpack in the bag room) You're wrong!
 

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
Actually, this reminds me of a captain at my first airline. You always knew when someone had this guys flight on their desk because the office would be quiet, save for the occasional mouse click and someone would push back fromt heir desk and exclaim "Oh, nooooooooo!!! Someone take this flight for me! Ill PAY you!"


Before I get into this, I should say I dont know how you guys do it sometimes. Im looking at this big nasty thunderstorm on my ASD and there goes you...sneaking through an opening that cant be bigger than a doorknob. Id friggin piss myself!

Ok, back to the story. This particular captain had a reputation. He wasnt mean or overbearing, he wasnt needy or nitpicky, he wasnt flamboyantly gay or gruff militant. The poor guy was afraid to fly! I am NOT exaggerating. The wx could be 10 and a million at departure and 10 and a million at arrival and clear and a million everwhere in between and you STILL had to spend an hour on the phone with him. If there as ANY ceiling in the forecast ( think bkn180) he wanted an alternate and more contingeny. No exaggerating. If there was some rain...not thunderstorms....just rain, enroute, you would have to chek every weather product you had available and the half hour of contingency you gave him going MSP-DSM "just isnt enough." And if there were any kind of thunderstorms, even if you hand built a route around them, forget it. He wasnt going.

When you had one of his flights on your desk, on a good day you could expect no less than 10 phone calls. If it was a bad day, expect to be on the phone with him for 3 hours. He would wake up early and call you from his hotel...4 hours before departure time...to discuss his route. (Kudos I guess for being proative?) and he would keep calling until he finally blocked out (which was almost always late. How he got away with that, I dont know) His requests for fuel weere always outrageous. 45 minutes of contingency for an hour flights in good wx, precautionary alternate because the winds are over 10 kts. Trying to convince him that the tunderstorm over denver is NOT going to affect his flight from MEM to STL was always a treat. (Agai, not exaggerating) and often time a storm that most definately would have not been an issue would BECOME a issuse because he spent so much time hemming and hawing over it. Normally extra fuel wouldnt be an issue to me, but you can just dump a bunch of unneccessary fuel on the CRJ200. (If you sneeze on that plane, the snot makes it overweight for landing!) It was not uncommon that we had to kick off pax to carry the fuel he wanted to carry.

An FO once told me what its like to fly with him. His hands tremble on the thrust levers. He white knuckles the yoke. His voicetrembles on the radio. he sits bolt upright, completely on edge the entire flight. Its a wonder he hasnt had a heart attack!

It got to a point where the Chief Pilot started a file on him. When he made a request for an alternate that most definately was not required (precautionary alternates only make sense when there is a good probability that the TAF is full of crap, or the winds are high or anytime I see at VCTS in the forecast) when he requested contingency fuel in excess of what the conditions called for, or if he refused a flight that any one of our other pilots would have flown with no argument, we were told to take screen captures from the ASD detailing the radar and his route, copy and paste his acars messages, give the times of the phone calls (to pull the tapes) and attach a copy of his weeather packet and send it to the Chief.

Perfect example of how one person can tie up the resources of an entire office!


But it also poses the question: What the hell happened to this poor guy that made him like this? And if he's that scared to fly, why the hell is he a pilot?
 

Boris Badenov

He comes to save the day in a broken truck.
As far as touring the facility, I'm all for it. We got a tour of the OCC during indoc (sort of the air ambo equivalent of your SOC , I think), and while we don't have Dispatchers, per se, it was worth seeing what they're dealing with. FWIW, I've never had a contentious conversation with any of our support staff, not once. We're all in this bag of poop together.
 

Screaming_Emu

Dogsheep
Emu, pilots are like dispatchers.... one dumba** makes the whole group look bad. When you're building releases and see the crew list, mostly the names are "just another crew"..... but you get to know VERY quickly who your problem children are. Its the handful of pilots who have the "if I aint happy, aint nobody happy" attitude that have the potential to make our shift miserable.....
Hey, at least you don't have to sit next to the guy :p
 

Krystal

Dispatch Betty
As far as touring the facility, I'm all for it. We got a tour of the OCC during indoc (sort of the air ambo equivalent of your SOC , I think), and while we don't have Dispatchers, per se, it was worth seeing what they're dealing with. FWIW, I've never had a contentious conversation with any of our support staff, not once. We're all in this bag of poop together.
They get a tour during initial, I think. Ive seen them parade them through on occasion, but its 5 minutes at best. They spend more time talking to sheduling than watching the dispatchers or MX controllers. Another thing that irked me is that, at my current company, during my initial they had us do Crew Resource Management....with the FLIGHT ATTENDANTS. Yah, because we spend so much time dealing with FA's. :rolleyes:

If they think its too cumbersome to make them sit with us individually, why not have a dispatcher, scheduler, and MX controller come i for a few hours and do a presentation on what happens in soc. You know, hook the computer up to the overhead screen and walk thrm through a typical duty day, show them the thought process behind the paperwork, how our software works, etc. If pilots could see, in real time, how we plan aflight and how we do things like process reroutes and update burns in the air, process diversions and diversion recovery, ammend releases etc and see how much time we actually spend on the phone (calling stations, ATC, and the Mothership) Maybe it would make things less frustrating on both sides.. You would be surprised how many pilots think that a reroute is processed instantaneously on my end, when in all actuality, I still have to plug it in by hand and verify the wx on that route, calculate it, ammend it, rerelease it and wait for the new flight plan and takeoff and landing data to come back. 30 seconds after I get the route on ACARS, Im getting a phone call wanting to know whats taking so long.
 
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