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IFlyVeryLittle
Topic Author
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A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:18 pm

In the United States, especially with Big 3 airlines with coast to coast operations, crew bases can be dotted all around the country. But do pay scales for employees vary from one base to another, owing to local costs of living. Surely, using Delta as an example, places like Atlanta or Minneapolis are cheaper to live than say, New York or Los Angeles. Or is this simply a reason for crews to commute back and forth. thanks.
 
Deltabravo1123
Posts: 324
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:25 pm

The airline paygrade scales depends on really two things: a pilot's aircraft type and how long they have flown for the airline. Seniority is also extremely prevalent in the airline industry, so you will see certain base cities have more senior crew while other bases have less-senior crews.

i.e. a 737-800 captain at UA will be earning the same regardless of living in DEN vs EWR.
Last edited by Deltabravo1123 on Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Airbuser
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:25 pm

No.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 10286
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:29 pm

No, one pay scale, but as you noted, cheaper places tend to be more senior. Often, pilots commute to a junior base to upgrade to captain or hold higher paying equipment.
 
jetskipper
Posts: 694
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2001 1:50 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:34 pm

There is one caveat with the United contract. Crews based in Guam get a monthly cost of living stipend that the mainland based crews do not receive, pay per hour is the same however.
 
N1120A
Posts: 27572
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:38 pm

Plenty of pilots and flight attendants commute from all over to a base based on different factors. I met an AA FA who commuted from Paris to New York to work transcons. Not a real cost of living swap there.
 
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CLEguy
Posts: 569
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:49 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 2:55 pm

Is there a list of crew domiciles for the big 3 (or4) US airlines? I believe there are some domiciles outside of their big hubs.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 10286
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:02 pm

Yes, over at APC, everything airline.


https://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 11759
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 3:34 pm

IFlyVeryLittle wrote:
In the United States, especially with Big 3 airlines with coast to coast operations, crew bases can be dotted all around the country. But do pay scales for employees vary from one base to another, owing to local costs of living. Surely, using Delta as an example, places like Atlanta or Minneapolis are cheaper to live than say, New York or Los Angeles. Or is this simply a reason for crews to commute back and forth. thanks.


No city cost-of-living differential. Pilots and FAs use their seniority to get the combination of domicile, aircraft, trip construction (segments per day or hours per trip-day) and reserve/line the best they can get. That means the junior people get the leftovers, and that can mean the people with the lowest wage rates get pushed into the most costly bases.
 
UpNAWAy
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:07 pm

Back in the TWA days in PHX I noticed all employees seemed north of 70, even the Rampers. I asked the station manager why that was, he stated it was the highest seniority station in the system with the lowest employee having 33 years. Makes sense older people from the Midwest wanting to be in Phoenix closer to retirement not to mention cheaper cost of living.
 
Q
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Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2000 10:29 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:10 pm

My family tree is one of him. He used to fly base CVG for many years now no longer CVG base for Delta. He still flying on Delta he changed base in JFK but his home in CVG. He has to deadhead fly to JFK or maybe rarely ATL or DTW. He flies Airbus 350 captain.

Q
 
TW870
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 4:24 pm

As others have said, wages are set by fleet and seat for pilots, and by seniority for Flight Attendants, and thus there is no cost of living adjustment for U.S. domiciles that are expensive such as JFK, BOS, SFO, or LAX. Many contracts to have per diem expense overrides for very expensive layover points to adjust for higher food costs. When I flew for United, for example, we got extra hourly pay to lay over in HKG, LHR, and a few other places - a list that fluctuated as currency exchange rates changed. But as others have said, expensive coastal base cities are the root cause of so much commuting in the airline industry, as most airline crews cannot afford to live in the attractive areas of coastal cities, and instead choose to fly to work from more affordable places.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: A question about crew bases

Tue Nov 22, 2022 6:57 pm

As one other poster stated there are caveats. During my tenure at NW, Honolulu, Anchorage and Guam bases all included what they called a foreign base allowance which was significant.
 
Max Q
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Re: A question about crew bases

Wed Nov 23, 2022 5:46 am

jetskipper wrote:
There is one caveat with the United contract. Crews based in Guam get a monthly cost of living stipend that the mainland based crews do not receive, pay per hour is the same however.



Yes that stipend always existed from the early days when Guam was a Continental base
 
sierrakilo44
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Re: A question about crew bases

Wed Nov 23, 2022 7:30 am

Crew bases come down to where the planes are, not so much where the people live.

Most US domestic airlines roster their trips as 4 day trips, meaning it’s not too difficult to commute to your crew base as long as there’s several direct flights per day between your domicile and your base.

EU carriers are different; Ryanair for instance schedules all day trips so commuting harder. Having said that they have 40+ bases all over the continent. US carriers usually only have 3 or 4 bases per type. Taking into account upgrades and type changes you’ll probably be commuting at some point, even if you happen to live in a city with a crew base.

Overseas airlines vary, I know some contract carriers who employ expat pilots have specific commuting contracts, deals like month on month off or 12-14 days off per month in a block. With these contracts it’s possible to live almost anywhere on earth. I’ve known pilots who commute to base with 24 hours of travel.
 
bluecrew
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Re: A question about crew bases

Wed Nov 23, 2022 8:25 am

Adding on to what people have contributed about QOL in relation to bases, half the early career drama of the first job you know you're going to stay at for a while is playing the quality of life bingo. Good airplane, good trips, good quality of life, good commute, good money - can't have them all. It's entirely because unlike the normal corporate world, we don't get adjusted salaries or pay based on location, but then, how would that work with an airline, where a massive chunk of people commute from cheaper places anyways?

I think what's lost on most lay people is when a New York-based crew of 2 pilots and 4 flight attendants flies you to LAX, there's a great chance that none of them live in New York. Enter the Commute Hunger Games - better be okay going from MSP to ATL via STL. Commuting eats peoples' souls. If it's particularly nasty, everything where you live has to be 2x better than your base, otherwise, it's trouble on the home front.

And then you have to match that to the productivity of whatever seat you're bidding... senior base with commuters? Get used to staring at the bunk above you after min credit max duty day trips multiple days in a row, if you're lucky.

For anyone who doesn't have the industry experience, those are some of the basic factors of how people even decide what domicile to bid long-term. For a year or two... pretty much you can make anything work. The relative ease of commuting, good pay, decent flexibility, make it less attractive to get into a fight about comp by location. Union would never, unless it's egregious (like Guam), and it would be a huge schism in pilot groups. "Why does he get paid $35 more an hour than me for the same flying?!" Nightmare labor dispute scenario #455.
 
AABusDrvr
Posts: 201
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:48 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:05 am

I commuted for 17 of the 34 years I've been flying for the airlines. It is indeed a life draining, soul crushing existence. Sadly, living in most of the cities that legacy US airlines have crew bases isn't much, if any better. Two plus hours in the car each way to and from the airport takes a lot out of you, especially if you are on reserve, and have to make the trip several times each week.
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 10286
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:50 am

I commented to NYC and BOS until EAL collapsed in March of ‘89. Never again, just ground commuting twice a week discouraged me from going back to an airline and air commuting to,ORD, MSP, DTW or DFW was out of the question. Too much wasted time. I flew elsewhere, finished with a good retirement.
 
Max Q
Posts: 9430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 6:27 am

I commuted to EWR from TPA for almost twenty years, it was stressful, tiring and an enormous waste of time but the best of all choices available then


The job is great, commuting just sucks
 
Max Q
Posts: 9430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 6:35 am

bluecrew wrote:
Adding on to what people have contributed about QOL in relation to bases, half the early career drama of the first job you know you're going to stay at for a while is playing the quality of life bingo. Good airplane, good trips, good quality of life, good commute, good money - can't have them all. It's entirely because unlike the normal corporate world, we don't get adjusted salaries or pay based on location, but then, how would that work with an airline, where a massive chunk of people commute from cheaper places anyways?

I think what's lost on most lay people is when a New York-based crew of 2 pilots and 4 flight attendants flies you to LAX, there's a great chance that none of them live in New York. Enter the Commute Hunger Games - better be okay going from MSP to ATL via STL. Commuting eats peoples' souls. If it's particularly nasty, everything where you live has to be 2x better than your base, otherwise, it's trouble on the home front.

And then you have to match that to the productivity of whatever seat you're bidding... senior base with commuters? Get used to staring at the bunk above you after min credit max duty day trips multiple days in a row, if you're lucky.

For anyone who doesn't have the industry experience, those are some of the basic factors of how people even decide what domicile to bid long-term. For a year or two... pretty much you can make anything work. The relative ease of commuting, good pay, decent flexibility, make it less attractive to get into a fight about comp by location. Union would never, unless it's egregious (like Guam), and it would be a huge schism in pilot groups. "Why does he get paid $35 more an hour than me for the same flying?!" Nightmare labor dispute scenario #455.




Well described, I agree with ‘commuting eats people’s souls’ !


For three years I commuted to sit reserve in a crash pad in EWR, a one room apartment with five beds which was owned and operated by the scuzzy motel next door, I had seven other roommates all on reserve and they were often all there, the couch was often used as a bed


Commuting to reserve is not fun
 
bluecrew
Posts: 682
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:13 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 9:52 am

Max Q wrote:
bluecrew wrote:
Adding on to what people have contributed about QOL in relation to bases, half the early career drama of the first job you know you're going to stay at for a while is playing the quality of life bingo. Good airplane, good trips, good quality of life, good commute, good money - can't have them all. It's entirely because unlike the normal corporate world, we don't get adjusted salaries or pay based on location, but then, how would that work with an airline, where a massive chunk of people commute from cheaper places anyways?

I think what's lost on most lay people is when a New York-based crew of 2 pilots and 4 flight attendants flies you to LAX, there's a great chance that none of them live in New York. Enter the Commute Hunger Games - better be okay going from MSP to ATL via STL. Commuting eats peoples' souls. If it's particularly nasty, everything where you live has to be 2x better than your base, otherwise, it's trouble on the home front.

And then you have to match that to the productivity of whatever seat you're bidding... senior base with commuters? Get used to staring at the bunk above you after min credit max duty day trips multiple days in a row, if you're lucky.

For anyone who doesn't have the industry experience, those are some of the basic factors of how people even decide what domicile to bid long-term. For a year or two... pretty much you can make anything work. The relative ease of commuting, good pay, decent flexibility, make it less attractive to get into a fight about comp by location. Union would never, unless it's egregious (like Guam), and it would be a huge schism in pilot groups. "Why does he get paid $35 more an hour than me for the same flying?!" Nightmare labor dispute scenario #455.




Well described, I agree with ‘commuting eats people’s souls’ !


For three years I commuted to sit reserve in a crash pad in EWR, a one room apartment with five beds which was owned and operated by the scuzzy motel next door, I had seven other roommates all on reserve and they were often all there, the couch was often used as a bed


Commuting to reserve is not fun

With some of the reserve provisions today, not so bad. I imagine your time commuting to reserve was around the same time as mine - we basically had just gotten rid of them making us do airport appreciation, rules were getting a little better across the board, but they were starting the trip optimizer stuff. We had llegal crashpads in BOS which got shut down by the police, usually because another crashpad owner informed on them after losing a pilot or flight attendant, an increasingly impossible real estate market if you wanted to actually live in the city, and varied, but tight, commuting options. It didn't take me long to pack up and move to base, got a steal on an apartment for a few years in a great area, and enjoyed the better work-life balance.
 
RetiredWeasel
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Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:16 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 4:12 pm

Just saying, if those pilots who work for a US major dug into their contracts, then there is probably a section on basing pilots outside of the contiguous US. I know at NW the agreement involved a living allowance premium for that exception and was applied to bases in ANC, HNL and GUM. Of course that wouldn't apply to Hawaiian and Aloha back in the day cuz HNL was their domicile.
 
CosmicCruiser
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Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2005 3:01 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Thu Nov 24, 2022 6:46 pm

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Just saying, if those pilots who work for a US major dug into their contracts, then there is probably a section on basing pilots outside of the contiguous US. I know at NW the agreement involved a living allowance premium for that exception and was applied to bases in ANC, HNL and GUM. Of course that wouldn't apply to Hawaiian and Aloha back in the day cuz HNL was their domicile.

Very true
 
Max Q
Posts: 9430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:37 am

bluecrew wrote:
Max Q wrote:
bluecrew wrote:
Adding on to what people have contributed about QOL in relation to bases, half the early career drama of the first job you know you're going to stay at for a while is playing the quality of life bingo. Good airplane, good trips, good quality of life, good commute, good money - can't have them all. It's entirely because unlike the normal corporate world, we don't get adjusted salaries or pay based on location, but then, how would that work with an airline, where a massive chunk of people commute from cheaper places anyways?

I think what's lost on most lay people is when a New York-based crew of 2 pilots and 4 flight attendants flies you to LAX, there's a great chance that none of them live in New York. Enter the Commute Hunger Games - better be okay going from MSP to ATL via STL. Commuting eats peoples' souls. If it's particularly nasty, everything where you live has to be 2x better than your base, otherwise, it's trouble on the home front.

And then you have to match that to the productivity of whatever seat you're bidding... senior base with commuters? Get used to staring at the bunk above you after min credit max duty day trips multiple days in a row, if you're lucky.

For anyone who doesn't have the industry experience, those are some of the basic factors of how people even decide what domicile to bid long-term. For a year or two... pretty much you can make anything work. The relative ease of commuting, good pay, decent flexibility, make it less attractive to get into a fight about comp by location. Union would never, unless it's egregious (like Guam), and it would be a huge schism in pilot groups. "Why does he get paid $35 more an hour than me for the same flying?!" Nightmare labor dispute scenario #455.




Well described, I agree with ‘commuting eats people’s souls’ !


For three years I commuted to sit reserve in a crash pad in EWR, a one room apartment with five beds which was owned and operated by the scuzzy motel next door, I had seven other roommates all on reserve and they were often all there, the couch was often used as a bed


Commuting to reserve is not fun

With some of the reserve provisions today, not so bad. I imagine your time commuting to reserve was around the same time as mine - we basically had just gotten rid of them making us do airport appreciation, rules were getting a little better across the board, but they were starting the trip optimizer stuff. We had llegal crashpads in BOS which got shut down by the police, usually because another crashpad owner informed on them after losing a pilot or flight attendant, an increasingly impossible real estate market if you wanted to actually live in the city, and varied, but tight, commuting options. It didn't take me long to pack up and move to base, got a steal on an apartment for a few years in a great area, and enjoyed the better work-life balance.



I haven’t heard ‘airport appreciation’ in a while !


We did that as well, commuting to reserve was really awful, I did it between ‘91 and ‘93


Things are certainly a lot better now from what I understand, we had a few pilots who were too cheap to even get a crash pad, they ‘lived’ in the crew lounge like homeless people between trips
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: A question about crew bases

Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:25 pm

As an EAL captain related about commuting, I missed the last Shuttle back to BOS a few times and stayed at the LGA Marriott after convincing my wife A300 pay would pay better and we could do some home upgrades. A crash pad was cheaper than the Marriott (IIRC USD 75 a night back then), so I got a nearby crash pad. Soon, missing the last flight became more common as the crash pad people (pilots and young FAs) would say, “stay for a drink, you’ll get home late anyway”. Not long later, I was paying for my ex-wife’s new kitchen. Yes, it’s a character problem, but lead us into temptation happens.
 
QF93
Posts: 54
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Re: A question about crew bases

Fri Nov 25, 2022 4:22 pm

How did it work for non-U.S. FA bases? I seem to recall UA had bases in London and possibly elsewhere pre-Covid. Presumably that would be based on a bespoke local pay scale rather than just a local currency equivalent of the U.S. rates?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: A question about crew bases

Fri Nov 25, 2022 5:41 pm

QF93 wrote:
How did it work for non-U.S. FA bases? I seem to recall UA had bases in London and possibly elsewhere pre-Covid. Presumably that would be based on a bespoke local pay scale rather than just a local currency equivalent of the U.S. rates?


Can’t say about London, but at EA and AA, paid local South American rates. There was a side letter on the contract allowing it based on language requirement
 
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Starlionblue
Posts: 21334
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: A question about crew bases

Fri Nov 25, 2022 11:56 pm

QF93 wrote:
How did it work for non-U.S. FA bases? I seem to recall UA had bases in London and possibly elsewhere pre-Covid. Presumably that would be based on a bespoke local pay scale rather than just a local currency equivalent of the U.S. rates?


It really depends on the airline, I suppose.

At my (non-US) airline, the foreign bases have basically the same payscale, but home base has an extra allowance due to the higher cost of living here. Many pilots and cabin crew prefer to live in their home countries instead of here so they'll happily take the lower compensation. In many cases they might be better off anyway since they can afford a nice house "back home" and only a small flat here, plus schools are probably cheaper (or free) and they have parental support for their kids.

This was all pre-Covid of course.

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