Galley Gossip: Airline seniority, bidding & working undesirable trips

Dear Heather,

Since when do you have Oklahoma City layovers? Heather, Heather, Heather……I’ve always envisioned you as A View From The Top, Transcon, 767, New York to LA Princess. It’s really hard for me to picture you on a Super80 Oklahoma City two-day. What gives?

Yours truly,

Ron “The frequent-flyin, two-timin cheat

PS Did Miss Oklahoma really sit in economy?

PSS Did your dress really rip because of that leap out of the crew van, I mean…. well, we ALL now know what you had for breakfast that day! LOL!

Dear Ron,

Ya just had to go and bring up the Cracker Barrel, didn’t you! Thanks a lot. It’s official, I’m now on a diet. As for Miss Oklahoma, not only did the lovely Miss Taylor Treat sit in economy, she sat in a middle seat! Not once did she complain about it, either. I know who I’m going to vote for in the upcoming Miss America pageant!

I completely understand why you might be disappointed to learn I’m not the transcon princess you’ve dreamt about. From time to time I really do bid for Oklahoma City / El Paso / Nashville / Kansas City layovers. I know it’s hard to believe, but It’s kind of nice to shake things up. No matter how great a trip may be, after awhile it gets boring knowing what passengers are going to say before they even say it and only stocking the beverage cart with diet soda, club soda, bottled water, and extra limes when flying back and forth from New York to LA. Anyway, ya gotta do what ya gotta do to hold the holidays off. My Oklahoma City layover was just the price I had to pay to spend Thanksgiving at home with family.

SENIORITY – Refers to a flight attendants years of experience. Years of experience with an airline is based on date of hire. Seniority is everything at an airline. It determines what trips a flight attendant can “hold” and whether or not a flight attendant will serve reserve.

I have fifteen years seniority at my airline, which isn’t much considering many flight attendants have forty – plus years with the company. That’s why I commute from my home in Los Angeles (one of our most senior bases in the system) to New York (our most junior base). In New York I can hold great trips. More importantly, I’m off reserve.

BID, BIDS, BIDDING – a request of choice routes made by each flight attendant to fly specific monthly schedules. At the airline I work for, our bid sheet offers over hundreds of lines to choose from. Bids are awarded by company seniority. Ever wonder why the flights to Asia and Europe are staffed by our most senior crew members? Because it takes a lot of seniority to hold the best trips!

Each month I bid for the exact same trips: San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Dallas turns. Normally I’m awarded one of my top ten choices. But during a holiday month every flight attendant is trying to get the exact same days off, so I’ll bid a few “undesirable” trips just in case I can’t hold what I want. And that, Ron, is how I wound up with Oklahoma City layovers in November.

This month I got lucky. I’m off on Christmas eve, Christmas day, and New Year’s Eve! Of course it came at a price, a very steep one – a line of turns on the 757, and not just any line of turns, but a line of New York-Vail turns. I shudder just thinking about it. I mean what could possibly be worse than working a full 757 crammed with 160 passengers who all think they belong in first class. Not bad enough? Now imagine all those full length fur coats that MUST be hung at once in a closet barely big enough to house the coats and jackets belonging to those who are actually seated in first. And that’s just the beginning. We haven’t even taken off yet! But I’ll be home for Christmas and that’s all that matters.

Not to worry, Ron, things will be back to normal in January.

Happy Travels,


Photos courtesy of Heather Poole & Jennifer Pickens