Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Scathing Rebuttal!

I have never gotten such a long and detailed comment on any of my 90 or so posts since I started Decision Height, as I did on the last one from my old friend, UPS Captain Dan Gabel, with whom I obviously struck a nerve. (See "Ode to the Trash Hauler," the last post before this one.) Some of Dan's concerns are compelling, thus I have made them the subject matter of this post. I agree with him on some points and I challenge him on others. My responses are in brackets [and a darker shade of print.] (Also, as usual, I never mention the name of my company. Companies' legal eagles frown on that.)


Short answer is your company is in/out of bankruptcy & doesn't make any money. [My company has been in bankruptcy one time.]  [Your company] makes a million or two a quarter then loses more! [Actually, more like a few hundred million a quarter, and loses more!] [My company] makes a billion or so each quarter and bitches because we're not making more! Our current contract was based on UAL, Delta, & Fed Ex, before first two cut pay, retirement, etc. [Glad we helped. You're welcome.] We still have trip & duty rigs because we are paid whether we are flying, on a weekend L/O away from our families, or on a commercial D/H. [We had such rigs also. They were stripped away in bankruptcy.] The reason we have that is because of our union, the Independant Pilots Association. [...because of IPA and a robust parcel economy.]  About the time we voted the Teamsters out & the IPA in, ALPA told us they weren't interested in representing us. They changed their tune after a few more "Legacy carriers" went bankrupt: Eastern, Continental, etc. They wanted our dues $ after our first contract (which wasn't that great). [Agreed. Gaining dues $ is what ALPA is best at (although their safety initiatives are unparalleled). Two years ago I voted to switch to an in-house union, but it failed.] Fortunately we stuck with our in-house union [You got lucky. If the package hauling business was depressed, neither your in-house boys nor ALPA would have done you much good]. ALPA ignored the RJ issue [too true], not wanting to pay less than 737 / DC-9 pay. This has festered for 20 years or so, which is why the RJ's are flying so many of YOUR trips, Captain. You can't blame the guys flying the RJs [I don't, never have], they just want to do what we all like to do. The RJs have resulted in a decline of service for the customer. [Not exactly. Many small cities now have jet service that would not have, had the RJs not come into being. The real problem is the big carriers are using them between large markets.] I myself go to great lengths and expense to avoid commercling to & from work with a company paid ticket. If you miss a flight due to mechanical, wx, etc, you're probably out of luck getting the next flight or 2 because they're probably RJs & full. [Not your fault, then. Go home and let your duty rigs pay you anyway.] Not to mention the harrassment by the TSA. [There is a secret agreement between us people-haulers and TSA: they harass only cargo pilots ;) ] Everybody I know that has to travel for business will drive or use other alternative travel before commercialing. [I'm confused; what alternatives are there to driving and commercial flights? Trains? Actually, RJ flights from HSV to DCA and IAD are packed with business people.] As far as flying passengers as opposed to freight, I've done both: do you really think you fly the airplane any differenty with people or freight? [I never suggested such a thing] The front of the airplane always hits the ground first [Oh yeah.] & if I look after my ass, the rest will be OK, too. [I have philosophized at length about this same sentiment] I'm sorry you guys got a shitty deal with the pay cut & screw job on the retirement benefits...but it's not my fault! [Did I ever suggest it was?] Another factor of our pay scale is we routinely transport hazardous materials that are prohibited on passenger aircraft. [Hmm, must be a reason for that.] Those include Lithium batteries [We carry lithium batteries] that were most likely the cause of the crash last year on Flight 6 out of Dubai. You did hear about that [of course I did], both crewmembers died/no significant loss of life reported by the media. [Last week I ferried a 757 to a maintenance base. Just us two pilots. Had we crashed it would have barely made the news. Sad, but it's not our fault (mine & yours) that the media is enamored with body counts.]  A couple years before we lost a DC-8 in PHL for the same probable cause. Had I got my first bid choice I would have been on that flight. [Stay in professional/military flying long enough and everybody will acquire such a story: There but for the Grace of God go I.] I hope I would have been as lucky as those guys were. [I know you. You would not have needed luck's help.]

I figured that you, being a much better schooled person than I & world famous author [I want you to be my agent] would know the answer to your own question [I do, but you have said it better than I could.]. Glad to help you out. See you @ Moontown. Fly Safe. Dan Gabel, UPS DC-8 Captain involuntarily displaced /downgraded to B-757/767 (Just kidding, they're fun to fly in their own way, just not enough engines).

Thanks, Dan. Keep flying safe. See you around the patch.
--Alan (voluntarily upgraded to 757/767 captain, and yes, it doesn't have enough engines.)

More comments, anyone? Was I too harsh on Dan? Him on me?

Coming in the September issue of Aviation History: A feature story, that was born here on Decision Height. (I'll remind you later.)