I was looking for something else and came upon this once again. I’m sure that you have seen it, however, I thought it was worth re-visiting since I work for a regional carrier. Now, I am a flight attendant for Comair (Delta Connection) and this is my view not perhaps the companies.
The article, written by Ben Mutzabaugh with USAtoday, ‘How safe are regional airlines’, is in regards to the Colgan (Continental) crash that killed it’s passengers and the pilots. It questions the safety of these smaller planes and the training the pilots receive on top of the low wages and rest requirements.
When I first started almost 12 years ago, I made more than a first year First Officer. I honestly have no idea about my co-workers salaries these days, however, one of the right seat pilots I flew with not too long ago was bragging how he would still have the same $4 in his pocket at the end of our three days. He is simply smart and brought food from home instead of paying $6 for a lousy sandwich in the airport. Or perhaps over $9 for a California Kitchen pizza!
Do they make a decent wage for what they are doing for us? No. Do they know this going in to it? Yes. Are they made big promises? Yes. As far as their training goes, I am perfectly comfortable flying with the pilots I have met so far and if I am not, I will be very quick to let them know otherwise because this is my safety also. A lot of these pilots are military guys and have had the same training as the Mainline pilots. Those major carrier pilots did not start there because you need a certain amount of flight hours to be able to work at each level. Comair definitely has very safe and qualified pilots.
Then of course is the rest issue. No, I do not agree with that. Some of our overnights are less than 8 hours and are called continuous duties. You fly the last flight out and the first flight in. Don’t be too worried though because some people work very well on little sleep and this allows them to work another job during the day to supplement the income they are not getting by working at a regional. What I personally do not agree with is the ones that are on reserve and are being worked and transported all over the place to work 6 days in a row for up to 13+ hours a day. The flight hours are a max of 8 hours a day but this does not include the sitting around waiting. The boarding and deplaning. The commuting to work.
Yesterday alone, I flew from Cincinnati to RDU to sit for a couple of hours, to fly to Boston to sit for a few hours and then fly to BWI. By the time I got there, I was exhausted. Since my first flight was not a working flight for me, I actually only worked less that 4 hours of flying and yet I was on duty for almost 12. Why is this necessary?
Do not be afraid if you are flying on a regional airline because they are not necessarily bad. They are important for the major carriers and you can find out in advance who you are flying on or may be flying on by visiting the airlines website. Come see me anytime. It would always be my pleasure to serve you on what I think is the best regional:
Delta Airlines owned Comair! Fly the friendly skies.