United Airlines Pilots and Planes

oldman

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
I was reading my magazine from the pilots’ union today and read that United now has 12,400+ pilots flying for them. That number is up about 2200 since my retirement. United also plans to purchase additional planes of all variations, which will mean more pilots will be needed.

I was also reading that Airbus will be putting regular beds in their planes in the cargo hold. Boeing also plans to widen and make their planes more fancier for the passengers to enjoy.

It sounds like the plane war is on, but the passenger will end up paying for these frills.
 

Ruth n Jersey

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2015
Location
Northern New Jersey
oldman, I'm sure the passengers will be paying plenty for all that you mentioned. I have only flown once and just loved it. Looking out at all the clouds was so peaceful and relaxing. What I didn't like was all the racing around to get to where you board the plane and all the waiting involved once there. I also didn't like sitting next to a stranger. I guess they have their reasons for having 3 across instead of just 2. Space I guess. I'm not a seasoned flyer so I don't know the options a person can have.
 

Aunt Bea

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Joined
Aug 29, 2016
Location
Near Mount Pilot
I keep waiting for a major carrier to start talking about using drones to move people and freight.

It won't be long before we have one scruffy looking kid flying a dozen commercial planes from a creepy little office next to the broom closet.

 

Tommy

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Location
New Hampshire
Boeing also plans to widen and make their planes more fancier for the passengers to enjoy.
As you know, Boeing just manufactures the aircraft. The airline configures the interior. During my career, I flew hundreds of thousands of air miles. Over the years, seat space continually decreased while flights became more and more crowded. This past May, I flew again for the first time in several years. BOS to LAX on American was downright miserable. Coming back, LAX to BOS on United was even worse. It doesn't matter how wide Boeing makes their planes, the airlines will just find ways to cram more people into them.

I'm so thankful I now longer have a need to fly very often.
 

Don M.

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Joined
Nov 3, 2014
Location
central Missouri
I've flown for decades. I can remember when taking a flight was almost a Luxury experience....People dressed up, the cabins were fairly roomy, and the onboard service was great. In recent years, flying has almost become little more than an airborne Greyhound Bus. In recent years, I've been seated near people who smelled like they hadn't taken a shower in weeks..or reeked of booze. Meals used to be part of the flight, but now a person is lucky if they can get a drink of water or cup of coffee. Now, one of the big things is to bring a "service dog" onboard in the passenger cabin...most of the time that is just the persons pet, which will urinate or poop all over the place. Add on fees and charges substantially increase the "advertised" cost of the ticket. I suppose if a person can afford a first class ticket, the experience can still be positive, but back in the rest of the cabin, most people are grateful when the flight reaches its destination. Anymore, our flights are just from Kansas City, to either Denver or Las Vegas, and we just book a "gotta get away" flight on SW Airlines....the flights are short, we only go Non Stop, and the costs are still reasonable....for now.
 

Capt Lightning

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Location
Banffshire, Scotland
You're so right Don. I remember my first flight in an 'Agrosy' of Air support command. In the early days, flying was exciting and the service good. I don't fly much now I'm retired, but in my working days I made hundreds of flights. I drank many glasses of wine in airport lounges waiting for flights and then sat bored through safety briefings which I knew word perfect in several languages. Flying was as much fun as a bus ride and no more comfortable.

Now it's holiday flights only where it's a case of cram them in and charge for everything. Still, I like the fact that I can set off from my home in N.Scotland in the morning and be having dinner almost anywhere in Europe.
 

hollydolly

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Location
London England
I fly a couple of times a year on average.. I like to fly (although I hate being crushed in a seat big enough only for a 6 year old )..but I absolutely hate the Cattle Class airport experience...
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
All good comments and reasonable assumptions as to how flying has migrated over the years. Boeing does build the aircraft and configures the interior to the airline’s liking that is purchasing that particular version.

The spacing between seats has tightened over the years in order to accommodate more passengers on the same plane. Doing that does aid in holding down ticket costs on that flight. I can only speak for United, but they offer varied types of service. Even in coach, a passenger can buy a “regular” seat or a seat with additional leg room for an additional fee.

On the larger aircraft, like I flew, which was mainly the B-767, we had 4 classes of service on coast to coast non-stop service. First Class, Business Class, Coach with additional leg room and standard Coach. On International flights, which I never flew due to my lack of interest of flying a plane over the ocean (pond) and sharing the flying duties with another flight crew just never interested me. My wife used to try to encourage me to bid on International flights, but the closest that I came to flying International was flying the B-747 from Chicago to Honolulu/Kauai for two years.

Some business people would fly with us so often that the flight crew, myself included, would get to know the passengers by name. I remember a few business people that were members of the million mile club, meaning that they had accumulated over 1,000,000 miles that were considered as award miles and they could use those miles to fly their family and/or friends anywhere in the world where United flew.

I also agree that the struggle getting through the airport is a royal pain, especially now that we also have to deal with the TSA. I was sometimes unsatisfied with the way the TSA did their job at times, especially when it came to the way some of them would treat the female members of the flight crew. L.A. and N.Y. were the worse. I will say that the quality of the airport food being offered at the various restaurants has improved greatly.

I often wish that there was a way that the airports and airlines could make flying a more enjoyable experience than it is now. I also liked the days when people dressed more appropriately. I don’t mean that passengers should wear suits and dresses, but some of the attire that I have seen worn over the years, made me wonder how they could even afford the price of the ticket. Heck, I could tell that some passengers didn’t even bother to comb their hair.

I had had the best seat in the house. There is no greater feeling than climbing into the cockpit, preparing for the flight and then the flight itself. At times, it was a challenge, but overall, there is nothing that I would have ever wanted to do.

I would like to see how flying has developed 100 years from now.

(Sorry for the long post.)
 

Capt Lightning

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Location
Banffshire, Scotland
I suddenly realised that my first flight wasn't in an Argosy - it was a Beverley. This was a high wing 4 turboprop plane with a tailgate for loading /unloading as a carrier, or with seats as a troop carrier. I seem to recall that it was as comfy as some of today's budget carriers. Actually, some of my most enjoyable flights were with the Scottish airline, Loganair. They flew 16 seat planes and the catering was great - smoked salmon and a dram of whisky. They still fly the short flights round the Scottish islands. This includes one where the landing strip is the beach and the timetable is determined by the tides! They also fly the world's shortest route. Officially it lasts 1 min 30 secs, but with a following wind it can be sub-minute.

Another feature (I think is still available) was a round ticket - you stayed on the plane while it visited a number of the smaller islands. For some people,(teachers, doctors, midwife etc) this is their daily commute to work.
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
I have heard of Loganair and the short flight that you are referring to. I know that a lot of small airlines fly between many different islands. My shortest flight was 22 minutes. We took off, but our flaps would not extend, so we circled the airport and landed.

Before 9/11, I enjoyed when the kids would come into the cockpit. Some seemed to be just OK with it, while others would be very excited. One young lady, who was about 15 or 16, wanted to come into the cockpit and I thought, “Why not?” She was really into it. She had told us that it was her dream to fly one day. I hope that she did.
 

Tommy

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Location
New Hampshire
Not just exciting to youngsters, oldman. Back in the '90s, we were allowed to book charters if enough (5 or 6?) of us were going to the same job site. Before the plane crash near Dubrovnik in 1996 that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and one of our senior executives, the company would let us fly with just one pilot. On several occasions I got to ride in the right-hand seat. What a thrill! "Best seat in the house". After that crash, we were required to fly with a copilot.
 

Capt Lightning

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Location
Banffshire, Scotland
I had wondered about the requirement for a co-pilot. Some small UK airlines fly with one pilot - some of the Loganair and Air Auringy (Alderney, Channel Islands) 'island hopping' planes. These are mostly "Islander" or "Trilander" planes - more like a minibus with wings!

Trilander (Southampton airport) and Islander (on Fair Isle - the most remote inhabited island in UK)

trilander.jpg islander.jpg
 

Tommy

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Location
New Hampshire
I had wondered about the requirement for a co-pilot.
Yes, that would be interesting to learn more about. I suspect it varies depending on the country and domestic vs. international. Maybe oldman would know more. In my case, it was a corporate decision, along with restrictions on multiple employees above a certain level being on the same flight.

That Trilander is an interesting looking bird!
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
Not just exciting to youngsters, oldman. Back in the '90s, we were allowed to book charters if enough (5 or 6?) of us were going to the same job site. Before the plane crash near Dubrovnik in 1996 that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and one of our senior executives, the company would let us fly with just one pilot. On several occasions I got to ride in the right-hand seat. What a thrill! "Best seat in the house". After that crash, we were required to fly with a copilot.

I remember this crash. I think the plane was a converted Boeing 737 and was flown by military personnel. It was trying to land during bad weather and I think the airport’s ILS system and some radar units were knocked out by insurgents. I also believe that there were other government officials on that plane and someone, not sure who, recommended that they divert and try the next day.

Or, am I way off base and maybe thinking of another accident?
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
I had wondered about the requirement for a co-pilot. Some small UK airlines fly with one pilot - some of the Loganair and Air Auringy (Alderney, Channel Islands) 'island hopping' planes. These are mostly "Islander" or "Trilander" planes - more like a minibus with wings!

Trilander (Southampton airport) and Islander (on Fair Isle - the most remote inhabited island in UK)

View attachment 61198 View attachment 61199

I have to admit that I do not know all of the rules and laws of which aircraft must have two pilots onboard at all times. I do know that here in the U.S. all passenger planes, including planes that are flown by leasing companies that carry passengers, must have two pilots onboard. This also includes planes from foreign countries flying into the U.S. Private planes, such as the Cessna or Piper are allowed to fly with a single pilot.

Internationally, I also know that the many different airlines have many different rules for their pilots. Some must have two pilots, others only one. Some airlines that fly internationally must have three or more due to the fact that some airlines only allow their pilots to fly no more than a 10-hour day and some international flights can be much longer.

For me and if I was a passenger on any plane, I would much prefer to have a minimum of two pilots. I stand by the old saying, “Whatever goes up must come down.” It’s the coming down part that I would be concerned with. ��
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
I am sitting here watching an episode of “Air Disasters” on the Smithsonian Channel. This episode is about passengers getting out alive when a catastrophe occurs. My main fear of flying and being the pilot was always what to do if we had a fire onboard.

I studied this occurrence more than any other incidents. When possible, I would have a Trainer set up a flight simulator that would have a fire event onboard and then use different methods of either putting out the fire, or getting the plane on the ground. I always assumed that the biggest thing that I would have to deal with would be panic. It’s only human nature to want to save your life and want to live.

The closest thing that I ever experienced while in the air was when a grinder under the toilet in one of the lavatories became jammed and the motor began to smoke. At first, the F/A thought that we had a fire onboard. I sent the F/O back to check it and he called me on the intercom phone and told me that smoke was pouring out of the toilet. It was because of my training that I knew what the problem was, so I had reached over to the circuit breaker panel and tripped the breaker for that lavatory. Problem solved. BTW, never put a disposable diaper down the toilet in an airplane.

Thankfully, I never had to deal with any flames, but it always remained a concern of mine.
 

Geezerette

Active member
Joined
Feb 14, 2014
As a passenger I had on experience in a plane with an engine on fire, & another one where there was danger. The first, flying from NYC to Albany on long gone Mohawk twin commuter plane. Barely out of Ny one of the engines started to smoke & pilot flew us right over th Hudson River at about 500 ft. Guess he was going to put us down in the water instead of th densely populated shore. Landed at a far end of Albany airport with foam trucks & all & everyone applauded.
Second was supposed to be direct from Rome to NY pilot announced that a "light had come on & we were going to dump fuel & go into Heathrow. Well, we had to fly round & round while the fuel was draining, could even see it going by the Windows & smell it strongly. Then some idiot lit up a cigarette about 3/4 of the way from the front &'the passengers near him jumped him& the flight attendant took his cigs & lighter. Finally landed at a far corner of Heathrow & herded into an empty hall where we were locked in till they put us on another plane.
 

oldman

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Joined
Jan 14, 2013
Location
PA
Original Poster
As a passenger I had on experience in a plane with an engine on fire, & another one where there was danger. The first, flying from NYC to Albany on long gone Mohawk twin commuter plane. Barely out of Ny one of the engines started to smoke & pilot flew us right over th Hudson River at about 500 ft. Guess he was going to put us down in the water instead of th densely populated shore. Landed at a far end of Albany airport with foam trucks & all & everyone applauded.
Second was supposed to be direct from Rome to NY pilot announced that a "light had come on & we were going to dump fuel & go into Heathrow. Well, we had to fly round & round while the fuel was draining, could even see it going by the Windows & smell it strongly. Then some idiot lit up a cigarette about 3/4 of the way from the front &'the passengers near him jumped him& the flight attendant took his cigs & lighter. Finally landed at a far corner of Heathrow & herded into an empty hall where we were locked in till they put us on another plane.
WOW!! Those are some experiences. Any idea what the light was for? I was kind of surprised he dumped fuel over a light coming on. I can’t imagine what it was, unless it may have been electrical.

The guy with the cigarette was lucky he was able to walk off the plane.

Even the thought of a fire onboard would sometimes give me the shivvers. Just a few years ago, a United flight inbounds from Germany made an emergency landing in Boston. I was retired then, but I spoke with the F/O during a visit to my home airport
a year later. He told me that the fire was in an oven in the rear galley. I think one of the pilots actually spotted it. Scary!
 

Pappy

Living the Dream
Joined
May 15, 2013
Location
NYS and Florida winters
As a passenger I had on experience in a plane with an engine on fire, & another one where there was danger. The first, flying from NYC to Albany on long gone Mohawk twin commuter plane. Barely out of Ny one of the engines started to smoke & pilot flew us right over th Hudson River at about 500 ft. Guess he was going to put us down in the water instead of th densely populated shore. Landed at a far end of Albany airport with foam trucks & all & everyone applauded.
Second was supposed to be direct from Rome to NY pilot announced that a "light had come on & we were going to dump fuel & go into Heathrow. Well, we had to fly round & round while the fuel was draining, could even see it going by the Windows & smell it strongly. Then some idiot lit up a cigarette about 3/4 of the way from the front &'the passengers near him jumped him& the flight attendant took his cigs & lighter. Finally landed at a far corner of Heathrow & herded into an empty hall where we were locked in till they put us on another plane.

Mohawk Airlines right in my neck of the woods. Use to service terminal and hanger machines when I worked for ARA vending co. in Oriskany, NY.

872CC1C1-4E34-4920-BAB0-6F727AF7E7A2.jpeg 7E884349-7EAE-458C-80E2-648B6A288488.jpeg
 


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