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No matter who I’m talking too, once they find out I’m a flight attendant, the one question that ALWAYS comes up is “What’s your schedule like???”
Now that I’m off reserve and get a set schedule every month, I feel like I can answer this better.
First of all, you will more than likely start out on reserve. Like I have explained in my previous posts, reserve is when you do not have a set schedule of flights to work and have a certain time block where Crew Services can call you to work. Every airline is different but you will most likely be given certain days of the month where you are on reserve for either 24 hour or 10-12 hour time blocks. If you get called you have a set amount of time to make it to the airport (usually 2 to 3 hours). You will also sit Airport Standby- where you hangout at the airport for 4 – 6 hours (maybe more) just waiting for a call to run to a gate because someone didn’t make it to work or called out last minute. Some airlines might only have you on reserve for a couple weeks out of the month, some might give you reserve every other month, and some might have you be on reserve the entire time until you are senior enough to hold a line.
I was on reserve for about 1 year and 3 months. Within that time I had a line for 3 months and had it taken away to be put back on reserve until I could hold a line for good (that can happen until you have enough seniority!). That being said, I have friends who work for different airlines that I’ve heard can be on reserve for up to 11 years. It depends on your airline and your base – within each airline, bases have different seniorities.
Now I’m off reserve and have a line. A line is a set schedule of flights, so you know where and when you’re flying in advance. Always remember, everything in this job is ABOUT SENIORITY! Every month I bid for a schedule that I want. I can bid for days off, what aircraft I want to work on, what position I want to work, and even specific flight numbers I want to work. Then my schedule is awarded to me based off my seniority. That means that if anyone who is more senior than me wants a flight that I want, then they will get it over me. As someone who is not even at 2 year seniority, I very rarely get what I want in my schedule. I might get some of what I asked for (like a few days that I asked off) but as of now, I basically get the trips most people don’t want, because I’m at a very low seniority.
That doesn’t bother me though, because we have a trade board! Each month, I get my schedule and I’m usually not happy with it at first. But I’ve almost never worked a flight that has originally been on my schedule because I’ve always been able to trade or drop the flights I don’t want (and then a reserve will usually get called for it if no one picks it up).
I think that is my favorite part about my job – how flexible it is. Our trade board is on a website. On the website I can see who wants to trade/drop trips or see what trips are in open time and then I can swap my trip for another that works better for me (maybe because its on a different day or maybe it’s on the same day but it has a layover somewhere I would rather go). I’m on the website a lot, but it’s worth it because if a good trip is posted, someone can pick it up seconds later- so I am always checking. I can also just drop trips as long as there are enough reserves for that day, and if I have enough hours for the month, using PTO (Paid Time Off) or UTO (Unpaid Time Off).
So far, I have been able to get every day off that I’ve needed to by utilizing our trade board. It’s great!!
The schedules vary so much – one day I could work one long flight and be done, the next I could work four short flights. If you want to see how different each day could be, check out my post: An Average Week in My Life as a Flight Attendant
Here is an example of what a month of flights might look like:
Sunday: Trip 1 (4 day trip)
Monday: Trip 1
Tuesday: Trip 1
Wednesday: Trip 1
Saturday: Trip 2 (2 day trip)
Sunday: Trip 2
Monday: Trip 3 (1 day trip – I leave and come back in 1 day)
Friday: Trip 4 (3 day trip)
Saturday: Trip 4
Sunday: Trip 4
Tuesday: Trip 5 (2 day trip)
Wednesday: Trip 5
Sunday: Trip 6 (4 day trip)
Monday: Trip 6
Tuesday: Trip 6
Wednesday: Trip 6
I hope this helps- if you have any questions please feel free to ask!!