From CNBC today, Southwest Air Pilots get a 50% pay raise over 5 years. . . F’k sailing. I shoulda learned how to fly! ! [ok, when I was “of age”, eye requirements precluded wearing glasses.] But still. Why go to a maritime academy, or hawsepipe, when one can either go to Air Force or Navy Academy or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University?
You can “go to” a lot of flight schools if you bring a huge bag of cash with you
When I was teaching people to fly I had the humbling realization that there was no way I made enough money to afford to pay myself
I can’t speak for what it’s like now but if you’re at retirement age like me, and like me, not the recipient of a trust fund, you would have had to pump gas for years at an FBO to pay for flight instruction to go from a private license through to a CFI/CFII and then worked as a flight instructor for 2 or 3 more years for subsistence wages to build up enough multi-engine time to eventually obtain an ATR in the hopes of getting on with the airlines.
After getting your ass kicked risking your life flying mail through thunderstorms in mountain passes with no radar and no deicing equipment for a couple of more years, you got to fly Part 135 with your ATR burning a hole in your back pocket, you might have decided that the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze and switched to maritime.
As much as you can compare aviation to maritime, I’d compare it to hawse piping with both becoming things of the past.
I about had a heart attack when I had a mechanical delay and ended up flying the empty return leg in daylight and saw what I flew over every night in a Bonanza (one engine). I literally would not have outlived a dead engine by more than a few minutes
Also don’t forget the “you bet your job” every 6 month visit to the doctor. Added bonus, the FAA will bust you for loading what your boss will bust you for NOT loading.
It takes a lot more than just cash! Like most others back in the day, I earned that airliner left seat by instructing, hauling bank checks, mail, freight, dead people, aerial survey and general air taxi grunt work. Every penny before the commercial ticket came out of my wallet.
Those ab-initio zero to hero schools are the result of decades of the airlines treating pilots like on call gig workers. The cost is so high that, as we used to say, “if you can afford the training you definitely don’t need the job.” On top of that, most of us lacked the 3 space shuttle landings it took to even get an interview.
The European airlines discovered those roadblocks a generation ago and began the zero to hero and “sponsored” training schemes using American flight schools as their training centers that recently discovered that very few American kids can now afford to learn to fly.
Single engine night freight and mail between Spokane, Missoula, Kalispell, Helena, Billings, Butte, and Salt Lake City, year-round was the training school. Advancement brought two round engines, better boots and larger payloads. Ahhh, those were the days, glad I experienced them long enough to understand what a miracle it was to survive them.
I taught all my friends to fly back in the day. There is no way a young person can afford that now. If I didn’t already have a license there is no way I could afford to get one in 2023 either.
When I see mariners want to be like airline pilots, I usually think “be careful what you wish for!”
They certainly could benefit from a stronger union/unions, ALPA is way more effective than most. OTOH it creates a “rock star” industry where the top layer makes huge amounts of money and everyone else starves. The rest, I think they would hate.
I’ll try and make up something that might be similar here:
- You are out $10,000 or more before you can even get on a boat.
- Now you can be on a small boat, but lose your license if you get paid even 10 cents or even if not paid at all if the USCG thinks you are sailing the boat to get free hours, i.e deliver my boat for free but log the time.
- At this stage you cannot sail in bad weather, if you can’t see 3 miles you stay at the dock.
- When you have sailed around for a year or so at your own expense, you can spend another $10,000 to get the rating to sail in bad weather. You STILL cannot be paid.
- Eventually you get a license that allows you to be paid. You now are a commercial sailor. The jobs for commercial sailors are few and far between, the only realistic way forward is to get ANOTHER rating and become a sailing instructor.
- Now about 2 or more years, maybe many more if you have a job, and probably about 80-100 thousand dollars in, you are teaching others to sail small boats. The pay is not great and highly weather dependent. If you are lucky you won’t starve.
- You still need, at YOUR expense, to get a rating for multi-engine boats. This will be 5 or 10 thousand dollars and at the end of it almost no one will trust you to take a twin engine boat out, they usually want to see 100 hours in that specific kind of boat.
- Eventually you get enough hours teaching to get a “Boat Transport Captain” rating. Once again the rating is at YOUR expense.
- Now more jobs open up. Many of them involve long hours and relatively low pay. You are building hours towards working on a cruise ship where the big bucks are made. Many of these jobs are quite dangerous too compared to either cruise ships or what you were doing before.
- Now for the final obstacles, once a boat is over 100 tons you need a specific rating for that specific type of boat. There is no such thing as a generic “unlimited license”. The cruise line might pay for this and they might not. Then you get to how hiring works, sometimes they are short on sailors and will hire anyone with a Boat Transport Captain rating, sometimes they are not short and just one Space Shuttle landing is not enough. Sometimes they have too many sailors and not only don’t hire any new ones, they furlough the ones they have. It is entirely possible that you can age out of sailing before you hit a good spot in the hiring cycle.
- Don’t forget the every 6-months medical! Lose that and no more sailing. Past age 65 and you are kicked off the cruise ship, you can still drive the tugboat though
I don’t think most people are arguing we should have the same setup or rules or whatever, I think it’s more that we wish we had adequate union reps to get us raises that at a minimum keep up with inflation and cost of living. It’s easy to compare our industries because they’re mostly unionized and require workers to be away from home for long period. I think most rational sailors understand the difference in the industries and what comes with that.
I stopped reading your post after your second bullet point.
Then you missed the important ones.
#10 for example, when “furloughed” you cannot look for another equivalent job. If you are hired at another airline you lose all the seniority you had when laid off and you start from scratch as a newborn pilot with no prior history, you go from hero to zero and start all over again.
Captain to captain between companies is very rare except in unusual times (like now) and then usually only when moving to a startup or a tiny little 3rd world airline that just got new equipment.
What’s so important about that? Does it apply to us as mariners?
If you have to ask …
If I have to ask what? Why won’t you just tell me?
Where does this happen for us? What union doesn’t allow you to move between companies within the same union?
The last captain I sailed for came over as master and it was not a 3rd world company with new equipment. I agree it’s fairly rare but what’s the point? We’re not company unions like airlines. We’re unions that encompass multiple companies.
ALPA (the major airline union) represents pilots at over 40 different airlines. That does not mean a pilot can move from one of those companies to another at the same or higher position if one comes available. There are no job calls where a member can bid on a seat at a particular company or run. Seniority is company time, not union time or flight time.
…And if my grandmother had wheels she’d be a bike.
This is a whole lot of yapping for an apples to oranges comparison.
That being said, watching Facebook, I have a surprising number of High school friends going into aviation though a number of programs. I have a buddy doing trans Pacific airline flights before I landed a 2/M gig, and when we crossed paths he was a year behind me at the academy before transferring to Emyr Riddle. No one I know is perusing the maritime industry other than me.
We’re both “highly” skilled professionals who spend half the year away from home, facing a labor shortage, we should be paid more than people who go home at night.
How does that apply to us? I asked what sailing union has that policy?
This is what I was trying to say earlier. We’re not an airline union, but it would be great to have a union that worked as hard for their members as the one they have.
That’s the only way I’ve experienced it in the maritime industry. I’m not sure if there’s any instance in this industry where union seniority passes between companies (we’re taking about permanent jobs, not rotary shipping).
Are you referring to seniority in the sense of within a company, not within a union? Like the only way to master or chief is via staying with the same outfit?
Yes, where the first person to be laid off is the newest one to the company not the newest one in the union.
In my experience it’s the same in both industries. Change companies (or quit and come back) and you list your seniority and start over.
(Though maybe permanent positions on unlimited ships are tied to the ship and if a ship is stacked or scrapped that crew gets laid off regardless of seniority. I haven’t had to deal with that yet so don’t really know how it works.)
I’m not sure I follow. Aren’t most people who are laid off (theoretically) incompetent, defying company policy, breaking a law, etc? Or do you mean if there’s layoffs like in the gulf or something?
If you lose your seniority at that company, sure. But it doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the halls and pick up a CM or 1AE job off the board?
No, those people are fired not laid off.
Most union mariners in this country don’t have hiring halls.