Anyone have the latest scoop on Great Lakes? I was invited for an interview today. I'm scheduled to interview in 3 weeks. Any info would be helpful. Current pay, morale, equipment, management, etc, etc.?
I'll start by saying I have no current "inside" information. However, you probably won't find anyone here who does, so I'll help you.
I used to work there, before they were dropped by United. I left right before that happened because things were getting really bad and I quit to go to A "Delta Connection". Morale was low, maintenance was bad, etc. Then UA deopped them and things got worse. It became "Great Lakes Airlines". They got a codeshare with Frontier but remained independent. Employees lost United benefits. They had a revolving door in management, finally settling on a Chief Pilot that was basically the only one in the company who was willing to do the job. He used to be the director of training, and had a bad reputation then. He's a hard a__, known for going on power trips and pushing people around. He has a short fuse and threatens to fire people for minor things. He's a GLA "lifer" because he has "some skeletons in his closet" (Lakers know what I mean). Basically he's not Chief pilot material, but he's running the show now.
When I left, most of my friends stayed on to see what would happen. Most of them got furloughed or quit to go elsewhere. Just recently, the last few that remained were hired by my airline. A couple of them were Captains at GLA, but it was so bad that they are basically starting over as FOs. Fortunately for them, it's not much of a pay cut because 2nd year FOs at my present company make more than 2nd year B1900 Captains at GLA.
All FOs make around $15 per flight hour, 75hr guarantee for about $10K to 15K per year. B1900 CAs make around $26 per hour.
Training at GLA is He!l. You are paid nothing in training. They used to provide hotel rooms (don't know if they still do). You will be required to put out 150% at all times in training under constant threat of being let go. They will try to wash you out because it's cheaper to let you go before they invest in your sim training. It was the hardest airline training I've even been through. The up side to that is that if you make it through there, you can make it through anywhere. The down side is that the washout rate is around 70%. You don't want to blow your career by washing out. I think the Chief pilot mentioned before also runs the classes now (oh joy).
Basically, it was bad when I was there and it's 10X worse now. Go there if you have no other offers but I think you can do better. I think anybody can.
I used to fly at Great Lakes as well. In fact, IF4F was on the same equipment as me. Here's another point of view. Great Lakes has an extremely demanding training program. Many of the instructor pilots are "screamers". You need to have a thick skin to make it through. The current Chief Pilot, Jeff Pomeroy, does have a reputation for being a hardass. From my personal experience, he is a nice guy and fair. I took my annual PC with him. He never swore at me and when he was in error on an emergency procedure I performed, he promptly apologized. He never hit me either. I found him to be professional but intolerant of stupid mistakes (my recurrent partner got a severe tongue lashing after completely blowing the stepdown on the last approach (VOR) of the night with a 200ft overcast and "legal" vis mins). I cannot verify that he has a short fuse although I'm sure that it's not far from the truth. I disagree with the maintenance being poor. I found the ORD mechanics to be great. They listened to me (even when I was a lowtime FO) and a couple of times they even dug into the books to provide detailed systems info for me to study. The level of detail I wanted was above and beyond what we as pilots needed to know but they provided it anyways with no complaint. The maintenance over in DEN on the other hand could be considered atrocious. They would argue with you about squawks. They would also try to cajole you into flying unsafe/illegal airplanes. Case in point. A mechanic snapped the rudder pedal cable adjustment which left the rudder pedals in the full aft position. I was unable to reach them. He stated we should simply fly the 15 minute leg since the captain could fly the aircraft. That's all fine and dandy except it was my leg and if the captain were to become incapacitated, needed assistance, etc...there was only one set of fully operable flight controls. We really needed to stand our ground. Ridiculous.
EVEN WITH ALL OF THIS....I would still reccomend Great Lakes. The experience gained at the company and the friends you will meet (people band together in times of hardship) will be a huge asset. People in the industry like to hire Lakers.
After reading AWACoff's post, I want to add something.
I didn't mean to be so hard on GLA. My personal experience at GLA was great. It was the most fun job I've ever had. What was bad was the way the company treated us, which made the crews stick together that much more. The crews and ground workers were what made it a fun place to work.
Of course, I was on the Chicago side and things in Chicago were way different than Denver, as AWACoff alluded to.
I just fear that those times are gone for GLA. Most of what was good about it is gone, and most of what was bad is still there.
When we worked there, everybody knew the company sucked, but no one cared. The point was to live with it, upgrade fast, get your 1000hrs PIC and move on to a major or national airline. That's exactly what most Lakers did in those days. Now, with virtually no major or national airlines hiring, you can't do that. You could be at GLA for a long, long time, and it's not the kind of company you want to spend 10 years at.
This is why I advised you not to go there. In your position, in these times, I would look to a place where you wouldn't mind spending 5 to 10 years... a place with decent pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Again, good luck.
hi suze, i flew for great for about 2.5 years and the company in short, requires 150% effort, 100% of the time. if you have that attitude there you will do fine. ..when i was there if you where not prepared and didnt show that you worked hard and had a positive attitude then they might try and break you!!!!!!
yeah it is stressfull knowing that you have to know ALL the limitations, everything in the ops specs, FOM AND GOM and emergency checklists by name(not the engine failure after t.o checklist, but the engine failure during t/o at or above v1 takeoff continued checklst.) i was there for 2.5 years and didnt run into losing my job or getting suspended type trouble. dont take anything lightly there, every checkride and ground school recurrent or not, treat it like a type ride and you will do fine. my impression at great lakes was if your prepared and have good flying skills, and your up to speed on studying you wont have many problems, if your not, they will know and tell you about it!!!!! good luck with the interview
I did not know that Great Lakes was hiring again. I guess its about time considering we only had over 1000 hours of unassigned flying for the month of March.
Suzy, congrats on getting the interview. Im sure you must be pretty pumped to get an airline interview. However, think it over before you accept the job offer. Depending on what you want GLA may or may not be the place you want to work.
If you want to work for a company where you will fly a lot depending on where you are based and have a pretty quick upgrade....get no respect and appreciation from the management of the company....have absolutely no quality of life....this is the place to be.
If you want to be treated decently, make decent $$ in comparison to other regionals, have a decent life.....STAY AWAY.
Well lets start from the beginning. TRAINING. As you have read training here is extremely rigorous, and is quite over whelming, especially as a new hire. As the saying goes.....it is like attempting to fill a gallon water bottle with a fire hose...or something like that. Not only that, the quality of instruction is not always the best, groundschool or flight training, depending on who you get. I remember when i went through ground school it wasnt uncommon to have wrong info being taught every now and then, ie the instructor forgot what the duty times were and had to triple check himself. Now dont get me wrong, there is a good instructor here and there and even a couple excellent ones, but overall i would say quality of training is below average. As far as flight instructors...its not uncommon to get a drill sargent type screamer. Like I said there are a couple excellent ones who will go the extra mile for you. As far as UPGRADE goes, groundschool is 4 days long and you are expected to know it all before you get there. I have heard that if you learn anything new at upgrade you are not prepared. I think in the last class last month only 1 or 2 out of the class of 8 or so made ith through.
Our BASES at GLA are as follows: CYS...ORD...MSP....DEN... and PGA (Page, Arizona). CYS is the jr base i think but i hear they have the best schedules. Like 90-100 hours and around 14 days off. Of course this can change from month to month. Plus..if you want to commute CYS wont work bc all the trips are out and backs. Then again come to think of it CYS maybe somewhat Sr. bc guys who live north of den bid cys and do the drive. not sure though. ORD is pretty sr as far as FOs go. if you get hired most likely you will be DEN based and who knows may hopefully (for us guys who get jr manned all the time) be on reserve.
As far as SCHEDULES go. Well you wont have to sit reserve, because there is no such thing here. The company can't afford to pay pilots to sit at home and not fly. So, if anyone calls in sick, or the company has any open and unassigned flying it is a sure jr man. Minimum days off per month is 10. Most of the time you will end up with only 10days depending on where you are based. Depending on where you get based...you will fly anywhere from 60-100 hours. Even if you get a schedule with only 60 hours of flying, you will still only get 10 days off bc the company will assign reserve days on a line holders schedule in order to bring them up to the 75 hour guarantee. Also, it is not uncommon to have a schedule where you will work 10-12 days in a row and have a 24 our break somewhere in there to make you legal. Or something like working 5 days...1 day off...5 days on...1 off and another couple days on. Be prepared to be gone away from home a lot.
Starting PAY for FOs here is $15.30 and goes up to $17.22 after one year. When I went through over a year ago you were not paid until you completed your checkride. They did provide double occupancy hotels during training. Per diem is $1 per hour away from your base. Up until March 1st of this year we were being paid actual flight time. Now we are being paid scheduled block (ie if the flight is scheduled to be 52 min, but it ends up being 95 min due to weather or sitting in the deice line at denver for ever ...you only get paid for 52 min). I do believe you can submit paper work and challenge such situations.
Well, not sure what more would be helpful. I think i have thrown in my dollar as far as details go.
Overall, i know you can do a heck of a lot better. Or maybe you are low time who knows. If thats the case...come here and get some good 121 turbine experience in the right seat and then move on to something better. Or if you really dont care about quality of life come here...upgrade...and move on. But like it has been said...who knows when the big guys will start hiring again. Hopefully it will be soon. But this is definitely not a place you want to be at long term. It will burn you out and make you miserable! FOs here will pass up the opportunity to upgrade in order to go somewhere like AWAC, ACA, etc. And captains will do the same to if they cant go to a major in order to leave this place.
I will say though this is a fun job as far as the people you work with (ie other pilots and the station agents). A lot of good people and good friendships can be made. It is good experience flying the BE1900 since there is no autopilot, but being the FO/FA sucks.
Anyway, good luck with the interview. It definitely wont hurt to interview, but if you are qualified enough to go to another regional i would think twice about coming here!
Not to change the topic....but have you considered CommutAir? I know, they dont have the best rep on the board...but from what everyone says about great lakes, CommutAir is WAY BETTER.
Training dept is great, paid from day 1. $16/hr first 90 days then $18/hr after that...$19 your second year. There are April and May new hire classes. I got that from Doug Gardner himself, the director of training.
Morale seems to be getting better since the loads are picking up and the CQF's are getting upgraded in the next few months. The mighty Beech 1900D is a great plane to fly. Im not sure where you live and if that is a factor to where you want to work....but give it a shot.
I flew for Lakes for 6 months back in early 99, and quit for another commuter. Everything the other ex-Lakers are saying is true. The training is by far the hardest you'll ever come across and they do have an extremely high failure rate. However, after you make it through, you'll find your next airline's training rediculously easy.
They pay terrbile and fly the snot out of you. But, since times are tough they might be your only option right now.
Lakes isn't the greatest thing going out there when it comes to regionals, but you do get some excellent experience and become a great pilot. You get a lot of time and upgrade when you think you can be a captain. Upgrade failure rate is high but newhire failure rate is average. If you had a lot more hours or you have other options I would recommend you trying to go for something else, but with your time you may want to give it a shot. I've been trying to get on with other carriers for a long time since I was laid off from lakes, and it is extremely difficult if not impossible. I was just recalled last week at Lakes, and agreed to show up for a class coming up in the beginning of April. You know what, I'm excited about it eventhough you hear a lot of complaining. Or you can sit around for a long time to come and wait for something better.
Now, the previous thread about Commutair being a better place than Lakes, I don't know where that guy got his information about Lakes but I would not listen to him. The airline industry is still unstable and needs time to adjust. Definetely consider a backup plan while at Lakes.
PM me is you need anymore info since I know whats going on with current events.
For what it's worth I worked for Lakes for about 9 months before getting furloughed. One difficult aspect of Lakes is that for three of those months, during training, I wasn't getting paid. So if you are planning to go that is something to consider. That being said it is some of the best flying around in my opinion. You will do quite a few raw data approaches to minimums and get some great experience flying into mountain airports. I can't imagine many commercial flights that compare to flying into Telluride, especially if you come over the ridge at 14,000. So aside from the crappy pay, training department, contract, etc. you can get a lot of time and some great experience flying at GLA. Everybody complains while they are there and I found that it is only in retrospect that one grows an affinity for lakes. If you do go try and stay positive, study your butt off for upgrade and plan on moving where you're based. Good luck!
Yeah, those MGT types at GLA were all a bunch of , of, of, of folks who thought that their individual ideas could make a difference.
PS - You have to freefall over the North Ridge at TEX at 15,000' since that land below is National Park land!!!!
Great Lakes <is> still a UAL codeshare partner. What was dissolved was the exclusive United Express carrier agreement. To say that United dropped Great Lakes would be only half-true. It was kind of a mutual parting of ways.