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Phase 1: The First Day of Ground School at a Major Airline

The first day of ground school on February 13, 2017 proved to be an Interview attire was required, so we all looked the same as the last time we had seen each other. Most of the other guys in my class I had interviewed with, so it was nice to see them again. There were a few introductions and then we headed down to the museum to take a class photo with the sexy DC-3 on display there. I wish every company would do this because I really enjoy having the photo hung on my wall now. I have great memories with all the guys I went through training with, so it's nice to remember all those good times.

For class, they had us sit in seniority order. Seniority was based on the last 4 of our SSNs with the first number of 9 the highest seniority and a 0 the lowest seniority. The last four of my social started with a 2, so I figured I would be one of the most junior pilots in class. Much to my surprise, however, I was smack dab in the middle. How did I luck out with that?

As a side not, from the moment I got the job offer the year before, my husband and I planned on me getting the MD-88 and being based in either Detroit or New York, because my social number was so low. I'd heard there was going to be a 2-year seat lock, so my husband and I planned on having to move (we were living in Seattle at the time) because commuting for 2 years is not our cup of tea.

Right before lunch came the most nerve-racking time of the entire day-- the listing of the airplanes and bases that were available for us to bid on. For our class drop, there were a few A320 slots [Atlanta or NYC], four 7ERs [Atlanta] (757-200, 757-300, 767-300ER), a few more 717s [Atlanta or NYC], and quite a few MD88s [Atlanta or NYC]. During lunch, I began to get a feel for what some of the guys were going to bid for. I knew if I could get the 7ER I would be able to eventually get back to Seattle as that plane has a base here, but I had to play it off cool because I didn't want some of the guys senior to me to know how much I wanted that.

The 7ER was my first choice, for obvious reasons stated above. The A320 was my second choice because I knew I could at least get to SLC with that plane, and we have family there so we could always move. My third choice was the 717 because I knew I could eventually get to LAX, and I was okay with living in SoCal again. My fourth choice was the MD88, and I really hoped it wouldn't come to that.

After lunch all our nerves were high as the bidding began (except maybe the 4 most senior guys in class who knew what they were going to get). The A320s were all gone within the first few guys, so my option 2 was gone. One guy senior to me bid for the 7ER, then another. There were still more than 2 guys ahead of me at this point, and only 2 7ER slots left, so it wasn't looking very promising for me at this point; I was already telling myself I'd have to go to option #3. However, none of those guys bid for the 7ER- they bid for the 88 and 717. What?? This allowed me to get the 7ER. Being able to announce my bid out loud, "I'll take the 7ER Atlanta" was a wonderful and surreal feeling. I could not wait to tell my husband the good news.

This doesn't have to do with the first day of class per se, but a few times a year the company will come out with a bid for pilots to change bases, airplanes, and/or seat position. It just so happened that there was a bid still open for 2 more days, so for those of us that wanted to, we were able to put in bids to change our bases. I wasn't that confident I would be able to get Seattle from that bid, but I put a bid for #1 Seattle, #2 SLC, and #3 LAX hoping that I would at least be able to get one of those 3 bases. The results for that bid came out the following week, and I got Seattle! What? How could this be? I was going to be the most junior first officer on that category for who-knows-how-long, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to have to commute and I was going to be on reserve at home. I could handle that.

After the bidding was over we were finally able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. We learned a bit more about the company, which got us even more excited than ever to work for them. We all left class feeling motivated and excited about our future careers.

To learn more about the airline interview, I have compiled ALL of my many many interview notes into one easy to read book. You can purchase that here. It's 50% off for a few more days, so don't delay!

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