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AirTran or Continental

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Pulp Fiction

Sep 2, 2005
I was blessed enough to be offered jobs at both AirTran and Continental within days of each other. I have been an admirer of this board for a while and have read every thread out there on both airlines. I will be living in Dallas and trying to do Military reserves in Dallas as well if they will have me. Just looking for some input to see what the folks out there think. Thanks in advance for the replies.
Hey Pulp,

What a nice dilemma! I am not going to help you much since it’s you decision to make and you can weigh the known pros and cons on your own.

Continental is the traditional airline with European flying, 777s, lots of pilots retiring and an ALPA contract. Airtran has a growth rate in excess of 20% and you’ll have 20% of the seniority list behind you by this time next year. DFW may be a crew base by next year too.

What ever decision you make, there are some things that you MUST do to insure you have a stable life (notice I didn’t say stable career)

1. Stay married to the same person. A FedEx guy I met recently said he was working on his retirement ‘A’ fund. I asked him what was that? He said, “staying married to my first wife!”

2. Stay in the reserves. No matter how much money you think you’ll make in your airline career, having the part time job with your Uncle can benefit you in so many ways. It’s the closest thing to a guaranteed retirement out there. Plus the medical benefits in retirement (A huge thing for an aging populace) and a great support group/job networking system if the airline thing hiccups.

3. Live well below your means early in you career. Again, being married to right person is key.

4. Start reading about how to become well off. The Rich Dad Poor Dad series by Robert Kiyosaki is a good place to start.

You are embarking on the best temporary career you’ll ever have. Treat it this way and you’ll never be disappointed.

GVEtrucker, some of the best advice I've ever heard on here!

Saw this post earlier and really didn't know what to say. Being at AirTran, I hope to never leave. However, given the choice prior to coming here, would have been tough, to say the least.

Pulp, you are blessed, many thousands of professional pilots would love to be in your position. Life at AirTran is pretty good. I started 16 months ago and am 175 of 384 (and growing) of FO's. FO's right now are spending 3-4 months on reserve. Wish you the best on your decision. I know going to a legacy like Continental is hard to pass up.

GVE, to your points,

1. agree, I'm lucky to have a wife that understands this business, and have heard that advice before.

2. agree, wish I had.

3. agree

4. agree, my dad just gave me one of them a few days ago, a must read, he says.
Continental if you are interested in any international travel and flying heavy iron. If that doesn't interest you, it is a toss up because you can always bid the 737 and sit on it at CO as well. I have heard nothing but positives about AirTran so that wouldn't be a bad choice either. The commute might be easier with CO if you can bid IAH early...

Let us know what you decide.
BSkin said:
I started 16 months ago and am 175 of 384 (and growing) of FO's. FO's right now are spending 3-4 months on reserve.

Before anyone who reads this gets confused about the number of pilots here, he is saying that he is bidding #175 out of 384 B717 FO's who are eligible to bid. That number does not include all of the people currently in training, those on the 737, those on Mil leave or Sick or Family leave, or working in the Training Center.

As for which one to take, well, I have been very happy at AirTran, but if I were a newhire looking at both, I would have to give CAL strong consideration. I would want to know the time on reserve at CAL, quality of life for reserve pilots and junior pilots, ease of commute form where you want to live, and the number of years you have left to fly, but CAL looks pretty good, with its fleet, international flying, frugal management, and upcoming retirements.

Whichever you decide, good luck!
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Look at how both companies handled last post 9/11 downturn. CAL furloughed 20% ASAP. Airtran employees agreed to temporary wage concessions and kept everyone on property.

How optimistic are you about getting enough seniority to dodge the next furlough?

If airlines do well for next 4-5 years, CAL will seem like a good investment. If the market stutters and staggers along, you might well have wished you had gone somewhere that didn't blink when it axed 20% of its workforce. I'm not knocking CAL--as a business it is doing well and as a place to work (if you are working) the equipment and routes seem exciting. In a downturn, however, know you are cannon fodder.
Ty Webb said:
Before anyone who reads this gets confused about the number of pilots here, he is saying that he is bidding #175 out of 384 B717 FO's who are eligible to bid.

That means he is bidding in the middle of the list (which is great after 16 months), but the number of total FO's is much higher than that number suggests.

Very true Ty, my bad for not saying of 717 FO's, not total FO's. Guess I've got more to learn before upgrading:)
Pulp, you're finally on the board. BMW got me addicted. I would go w/ CAL (probably an easier commute to Houston when you get it), but Albie has some really good points. We'll talk off-line. Holla!
Unless you have a crystal ball, Go with your gut.
Reserves are running 1 month at AirTran right now. Also, you will make around 45-50K first year at AirTran - I think it's around 25-30k at CO. (i could be wrong) Of course first year pay doesn't make a career. I used to work for COEX back when CO owned them - they ran a good business and treated us very well. I'm at AirTran now and i'm looking to upgrade in about 3 years - but you don't get treated quite as well. This is a tough call. Good luck - you'll be happy either way!

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