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Thursday, August 18, 2011

What It's Like To Work For an Airline

This is another blog topic by request post. Feel free to put in your request in comments, via Twitter or in email.

What's it like working for an airline? If you've read Dilbert, you pretty much know what it's like. Unfortunately, I'm not joking.

I work in Technical Operations in the office, so I don't deal with passengers, I can't tell you anything about fares or sales, and I can't help you find your luggage. :-) Sorry, I'm useless. I do input information into the database where we organize what work needs to be done to keep the planes flying safely and at what intervals. You're welcome. :-)

The specific questions that were requested involved stress levels, job security, and if this job is different from any other corporate job.

Since Dilbert is almost universally funny to people, I think I'm safe in saying that no, my job doesn't differ much from any other corporate job. Before I moved cubes--twice--my wall was covered with Dilbert cartoon strips that struck a particular chord. Many other people here have Dilbert cartoons up, too. Enuf said?

Job security and stress level go hand in hand. There's never been job security. From the time I started with the airline, we've hopped from crisis to crisis. It seems like there's a continual threat of layoffs and if I had to do it over again, I would have gone into another field, something with more stability. I put off buying a house for years, wanting to wait until there was some smooth waters. Finally, I thought, hey, if I want a house, I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and do it.

I did. I love my house. I picked out the flooring, the wall colors, the fixtures, even the handles on the cabinets. I've been in it for five years--and my job was relocated to Atlanta. I have to report there in January.

I was here when 9/11 happened. I was here a couple of weeks later when half the people on the floor I worked on were laid off. I was here when oil went over $100 a barrel and there were layoffs. I was here when our pilots went on strike and I was laid off after a couple of weeks, then recalled when they settled. This year, oil prices are going up again. There's early outs being offered. Stress is high again. Will I still have a job after I move to Atlanta? And if so, for how long? I have no idea.

I'm kind of focused on the negative here, and there really is a lot of that, but there are definite benefits. The travel for one. It's not as easy to get anywhere now flying standby, but once upon a time, I used to travel a lot.

My favorite trip was when I took four weeks off and went to Australia with my parents. I had some perfect attendance passes, and back then, the company paid the taxes on them, so the flight was completely free. Australia is without question the most awesome place I've ever been. I saw Sydney and Townsville, Cairns and Fraser Island. We went up to Papua New Guinea and over to Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. I wanted this trip badly enough that I would have gone at some point, but working for the airline allowed me to go sooner and stay longer.

And by and large, I work with some awesome people. There's always a clunker or two, of course, but mostly airline people form a bond. After all, we've been through a lot of downs together. :-)

My job has also allowed me to visit most of the United States. It helped get me to the nation of Kiribati, and let's face it, who goes to Kiribati? :-)