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Is it unethical for a pilot to accept an upgrade outside of seniority?

nbv4

Well-Known Member
#1
Lets say you're a pilot at a company that flies 2-man aircraft. The company employs both captains and first officers. There is an understood "seniority" policy in place that says when the company needs a new captain, they will upgrade the FO with the highest seniority.

Lets say you are an FO at a company like this, and you aren't #1 in seniority, but the company asks you if you want to upgrade. Is it that pilot's duty to say "sorry, another pilot is #1 in seniority, you must ask him first", or is it OK for the pilot to just jump on the opportunity and screw over the guy that is actually #1 in seniority?

The reason why I ask is because this very thing happened to me about a decade ago. I was the #1 most senior FO at the time, and they asked a guy below me to upgrade, and he took it. I was furious, but there was nothing I could do. Back in those days, more companies were laying off than there were companies that were hiring, so I had no choice but to just accept that I had been screwed over.
 

Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
#2
Lets say you're a pilot at a company that flies 2-man aircraft. The company employs both captains and first officers. There is an understood "seniority" policy in place that says when the company needs a new captain, they will upgrade the FO with the highest seniority.

Lets say you are an FO at a company like this, and you aren't #1 in seniority, but the company asks you if you want to upgrade. Is it that pilot's duty to say "sorry, another pilot is #1 in seniority, you must ask him first", or is it OK for the pilot to just jump on the opportunity and screw over the guy that is actually #1 in seniority?

The reason why I ask is because this very thing happened to me about a decade ago. I was the #1 most senior FO at the time, and they asked a guy below me to upgrade, and he took it. I was furious, but there was nothing I could do. Back in those days, more companies were laying off than there were companies that were hiring, so I had no choice but to just accept that I had been screwed over.
Welcome to the club. It's exactly what happened to me, and i ended up overseas instead of continuing to work with that company. I still will not talk to the pilot who knowingly took that upgrade...
 

nbv4

Well-Known Member
#3
Welcome to the club. It's exactly what happened to me, and i ended up overseas instead of continuing to work with that company. I still will not talk to the pilot who knowingly took that upgrade...
Sorry to hear that. After my incident I also went overseas, but the overseas company screwed me over even harder than the company that screwed me over on an upgrade. I've been out of the aviation industry since 2009.

Why do you think they picked the other guy over you? In my case I think it was networking based. The other guy would "network" with the bosses after work, while I just did my work and went home at the end of the day.
 

Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
#4
Sorry to hear that. After my incident I also went overseas, but the overseas company screwed me over even harder than the company that screwed me over on an upgrade. I've been out of the aviation industry since 2009.

Why do you think they picked the other guy over you? In my case I think it was networking based. The other guy would "network" with the bosses after work, while I just did my work and went home at the end of the day.
It's a story best told over beers, but basically a question of safety email was sent out to the cp and owner questioning the owner and safety issues.

I was accused of writing the email without anybody asking me. Once I found out about it, I told them I would have gladly written the email, but I didn't write it. I told the cp to check my email address, and he said oops, well it's done. The owner thinks you wrote it, so no upgrade, even though I had already been given the stripes, and prepping for it for 6 months.

The upgraded guy knew I didn't write the email, but kept quiet about it to upgrade. I don't talk to him or the cp any more. I left the company and became the lead Lear 60 pilot in international ops, so it paid off for me...

Btw, the owner augered in a few years later with a med crew on board.
 

JEP

Malko In Charge
Staff member
#5
It's a story best told over beers, but basically a question of safety email was sent out to the cp and owner questioning the owner and safety issues.

I was accused of writing the email without anybody asking me. Once I found out about it, I told them I would have gladly written the email, but I didn't write it. I told the cp to check my email address, and he said oops, well it's done. The owner thinks you wrote it, so no upgrade, even though I had already been given the stripes, and prepping for it for 6 months.

The upgraded guy knew I didn't write the email, but kept quiet about it to upgrade. I don't talk to him or the cp any more. I left the company and became the lead Lear 60 pilot in international ops, so it paid off for me...

Btw, the owner augered in a few years later with a med crew on board.
That damn karma coming home to roost.....
 

BEEF SUPREME

Well-Known Member
#6
XOJET has a "merit based upgrade" which basically means the pilot that kisses ass the most will upgrade first. I can get into detail if you'd like but it's best to just leave it at that. The system is of course abused by those who are already captains, since they write letters to help you move through the process. It's a horrible system and having been a seniority based pilot for a couple of years now I wouldn't ever go back to a merit based system.
 

poser765

Well-Known Member
#10
This is just from reading op and probably won't be a popular opinion.

The problem is you made sound like you have a "seniority" system and not a Seniority system. See the difference? Without a full on, formal system in place, either written in the company policy book or a cba the company can do whatever they want.

Would I be mad? Sure, but that's just they way it goes. I'm sure you know most jobs outside of aviation are "merit based" when it comes to promotions. That means kissing butt and going above and beyond.
 
#12
Lets say you're a pilot at a company that flies 2-man aircraft. The company employs both captains and first officers. There is an understood "seniority" policy in place that says when the company needs a new captain, they will upgrade the FO with the highest seniority.
Your company either has a seniority policy or they don’t. An “understood” policy doesn’t really mean much.

I don’t think a true seniority policy can work outside of a company with a union environment.

Here’s the problem, outside of a union environment, each person could have been hired under different circumstances and with different compensation, concessions, and understandings, not to mention experience.

In the 121 world, years in the right seat levels the playing field and creates a large pool of upgrade candidates.

Outside 121 everybody has a pretty good idea what a captain is capable of. When it comes to first officers, it’s a mixed bag. Dealing with that mixed bag can be difficult for management.

Outside the 121 world, things move faster and it is more likely that pre-hire experience is part of the upgrade equation. The most senior guy may not be ready.
 

nbv4

Well-Known Member
#14
Your company either has a seniority policy or they don’t. An “understood” policy doesn’t really mean much.

I don’t think a true seniority policy can work outside of a company with a union environment.

Here’s the problem, outside of a union environment, each person could have been hired under different circumstances and with different compensation, concessions, and understandings, not to mention experience.

In the 121 world, years in the right seat levels the playing field and creates a large pool of upgrade candidates.

Outside 121 everybody has a pretty good idea what a captain is capable of. When it comes to first officers, it’s a mixed bag. Dealing with that mixed bag can be difficult for management.

Outside the 121 world, things move faster and it is more likely that pre-hire experience is part of the upgrade equation. The most senior guy may not be ready.
Most smaller aviation companies don't have a formal seniority system. Yet most of them effectively upgrade based on seniority anyways. Reading around these forums would give you that impression, at least. When I was learning to fly at the Flight Department at Ohio University, *everything
* was based on seniority, including scheduling, extra curricular activities, and even the shuttle that took people between the airport and campus. It's not unreasonable to assume that there would be a seniority system in place in practice, in the absence of a formalized system. If I had known that sucking up was required to upgrade, I would have done it. I assumed seniority was in place, therefore sucking up would have been a waste of time.
 

nbv4

Well-Known Member
#16
It should work on upgrade based on merrit, if your seniority allows it. Not everyone should be captain.
Obviously upgrading should only happen after you finish and pass upgrade training. If you wash out, then you don't get to be captain. In my case, I was never even given a chance. Had I been given a chance, I know I would have passed the upgrading training with no problems.
 

mshunter

Well-Known Member
#17
Obviously upgrading should only happen after you finish and pass upgrade training. If you wash out, then you don't get to be captain. In my case, I was never even given a chance. Had I been given a chance, I know I would have passed the upgrading training with no problems.
I've unwittingly trained my replacement before.

"Why did this happen?"

"He's cheaper to insure."

Then, after about 6 months, he left. It created a myriad of other problems too. I don't blame the guy that took my slot either. He was just a pawn in the game.

I used to be that guy that always went the extra mile. I've been burned enough going that extra mile enough now, that I don't.
 
#18
Obviously upgrading should only happen after you finish and pass upgrade training. If you wash out, then you don't get to be captain. In my case, I was never even given a chance. Had I been given a chance, I know I would have passed the upgrading training with no problems.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of seniority but it can be hard to implement in a small operation. While it has to be upsetting to get passed by for an upgrade, that same person might not have been hired as an FO if there was a strict seniority system.

I ran into this once overseas. I hired an FO that was a little behind the curve as far as experience, skill, and maturity. I had no doubts he would mature quickly. Before I knew it, two guys ahead of him left for better gigs and my rookie was the senior FO. If I had a strict seniority policy I wouldn’t have hired this guy. So, it swings both ways.
 

Inverted

“Everything has a little suck in it”
#20
This is why I don't like working for small companies that don't have well written policies and procedures in place. Funny that the companies that sometimes get fuzzy on regs and safety, also get fuzzy on seniority...

My first jet charter company did this to me. I was absolutely furious, and they actually did it again by hiring a street captain (for absolute crap wages). That among other reasons are why I was the first in a sea of 90% of the group leaving that department within a 6 month span. The CP was absolutely shocked when I gave notice and told me I was so close to upgrade. I wanted to punch that weasel right in his face.

My second charter company actually did it to me as well but under less shady circumstances, albeit still pissed me off. I got hired onto a 3 pilot aircraft as an FO. I was told I would be upgraded when one of the captains left (2 CA, 1 FO account). Well 6 months in, one left to UAL. They wanted me to have more TT (back then they wanted 4500TT to be an XL CA lol) and since I didn't have it, they hired a street captain. No hourly requirements were discussed when I was hired. I gave notice and left for NJA a month later. They asked me why I left and I told them why. I really loved the job and the company but I felt like they were not honest with me. They eventually couldn't find anyone to move to the bay area and crew the plane, and eventually sold it.

I will take a seniority based upgrade system any day of the week. If they can't cut it as a CA, let the system weed them out.