Yesterday was my last day as a Chicago based flight attendant. I will be starting at the Newark base on my next trip starting this Sunday. Many of you know I have gone back to staff nursing at the Richland Hospital in the Birth Center. I made this change because I am ‘chasing a line’. What is chasing a line, you ask? A ‘line’ in the aviation industry is a regular schedule, designed with specific trips, hours and overnights. When a flight attendant reaches a certain level of seniority, she can ‘bid’ for a line schedule. Once you have a line schedule and have the seniority to keep that schedule, life gets much easier. You can plan your life by scheduling your trips. You can improve your schedule by dropping or swapping trips to get a more desirable schedule. And you don’t have to call scheduling to be released from duty at the end of your trip. A little thing, that actually means a lot in this industry.
Life as a reserve or on-call flight attendant is much more challenging. While on reserve, you bid for your days off each month and the call out times. If you are really new or have low seniority in your base, you are on call for 24 hours a day. Often, crew scheduling will call you at 0300 to let you know your assignment for the next day. You can be required to report to the airport in two hours or less. As you gain seniority, the call time decreases to ten-hour shifts during the day with the same two-hour report time. You start with undesirable days off like Wednesday and slowly gain the seniority to have weekends off. This industry is all about seniority. It drives every decision regarding scheduling and our priority when we fly on our benefits.
In Chicago, if I remained, I would go back on reserve next month. Emotionally, I.can’t.do.this. I have had a line for the last 3 months. I previously had a line for about 9 months when I worked out of the Dulles base of operations. I have held a reserve line for the other 18 months with the company. Life is so much better when you have a line. I need to have a more predictable schedule while working at the hospital. So, I am chasing after a line. In Newark, I have the seniority I need to hold a line. So, I will be a long-range commuter again. I worked out of Washington DC Dulles for 11 months. I know the choice I am making. Long range commuting is not fun. Luckily, I have a direct flight from MSN-EWR once a day and a direct flight from MKE-EWR four times a day. Better yet, it is on the airplane my company flies and I will get boarding priority and have jumpseat privileges if all of the seats are full.
I am excited for this next chapter of life. I am hoping to spend some time in NYC and see the sights a little. Every domicile base is different and has a different feel. Newark is notorious for cancellations and delays but I am up for the challenge. Actually, I hope to transfer to the Houston domicile someday as well but that might be awhile. Reserve flight attendants in Houston have up to 8 years of seniority before holding a line.
So, it’s so long to Chicago for a while. My plan is Newark for 6 months and then transfer back to Chicago next spring when my seniority should allow me to keep the line. I will still fly there occasionally for flights as our trips can go through all the bases. There are many good friends I will miss. I will have a new batch of pilots to work with. They say Newark is the fun base! I am not much of a party girl and I tend to be a slam-clicker but I do hope the pilots have a sense of humor. I prefer pilots that aren’t bitter and jaded.
As I left Chicago last night, I had to grab my last purchase of Garrett’s popcorn mix. If you have never had Garrett’s Mix, you are missing out! I won’t be flying as much in the next few months but I will still share my journeys with pictures and blog posts. I am excited to have the long Savannah overnight next week and Marty is coming along! I am glad today that my schedule will ease up now. I have been working the airline full-time and going thru orientation in the birth center 2 twelve-hour shifts a week for the last month. This crazy life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s all about the journey!