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F15 Ret/FDX/InterviewPrep
Nov 25, 2001
Hey aviators,

Hope I didn't seem like a "geek" with my carrier v. carrier thread, but I enjoyed the discussion it caused. DGS and profile both had some good points...as did some others....

I decided based on my own personal criteria to choose FedEx Express over JetBlue. I'm going to expound on why in a moment, because I think both carriers might be the "right" choice for some of you working for your dream job out there.

This will likely be my LAST post for a long time. I'm off to training next week, and I'll be in a crash pad with limited access to my normal communications. First break in training I have I will be back to Tyndall to get sworn into the Florida ANG and resume flying the F-15. My days of terminal leave and surfing the net are about gone... All of you that have been to airline training know how busy I will be...I really don't have an appreciation of that yet. If I do find a computer I'll check in, but time will and access will likely be limited.

First point is this was easily the hardest decision I've had to make in a long time. This isn't a slam on FedEx...just recognizing that JetBlue offered me a very unique opportunity. I tossed and turned, but weighed the pros and cons based on my own situation.

My bottom line came down not to a carrier v. carrier issue, but what my lifestyle would be when I intergrated the Air National Guard into the equation. I chose to stay in the ANG based on a variety of factors. First...stop loss is out there...and at the moment I HAVE TO. Second, after 9/11, based on personal reflection and a lot of soul searching, I think staying a few more years is the RIGHT thing to do. Finally...in case I haven't mentioned it...flying F15s is kind of fun. Having the chance to keep flying fighters for a few more years was a unique opportunity that for personal and financial reasons seemed like too a good of deal to pass up.

Now that I've spilled the beans, let me throw out why I think each carrier has a lot to offer. First...JetBlue...

The people there are first rate. Neelemen is a winner, and everyone I met during my interview process was super. The plane to JFK for my interview was full, and the customers loved it. The FAs were fun. Since 9/11, loads have returned, and everytime I looked in the news there was an article on JetBlue's new security initiatives, etc. When I wanted info on the company, pilots from the inside went overboard to try to give me good gouge. Board regulars JeffG and Speedbird gave me great info, and "Ben Dover" from the old boards offered some good info too. I actually talked to Speedbird on the phone, and Jeff G was generous enough to join me for dinner one night and expound on company lifestyle. If the company is full of guys like those, anyone who joins the team will have a blast. Some of the newhires coming aboard are board regulars....Zulua320, Eagleflip, and Rueterf16. I know of all these guys from their F15 reps, and they are all super guys. Again...if you want to join an up and coming team, make captain your 2nd year, and make 125k year 2....I think JB would be a blast.

What concerned me about JB? Not much. Any start up has risk, but somehow they are making money when DAL, UAL, and AAL are losing money. I think they will quickly morph into the SWA of the east coast. They have a superior product, and great marketing team, and they know how to make money where others can't seem to crack the code. Top end pay won't match the majors, but you get to 6 figures quicker than anywhere else. The benefits package costs you a bit out of pocket...about 250/month for health and life insurance for a family of 4. However...that equates to about 3 bucks per hour in a typical month, so if you factor that into the math you still do well with them. 6000 stock options? Could be HUGE! On the other hand, comparing them to SWA, you must remember SWA had a 10 year bull market run (as well as no similar competition) to get their P/E premium in the market. Those options better do pretty well to match an A/B fund at other majors. I don't know if competitors and the markets will be as kind to JetBlue. However--I do think they will be a major force in the business. My concerns....closest cities were MSY (8 hour drive) or TPA or MCO (8 hour drive). I could 2 hop commute via TPA or MCO, but off line commuting would provide tons of stress and the chance to P.O. the company as I missed trips due to delays by off line carriers. I'd spend 6-8 hours on the front and back of every trip getting to/from work. Additionally, the best commuter lines out of JFK are the transcons...which happen to fly in the middle of the night. If I lived in a JB city it would have been an even harder decision.

Now for FedEx: The bottom line was I can serve in the ANG and still commute without too much pain to work. Some of you will say prioritizing the ANG over carrier of choice is the tail wagging the dog, but my heart said serving 6 more years was the right thing to do. Everyone will have to make their own decision.

I know a ton of FedEx pilots--and all are great guys. I've gotten lots of great gouge from site regulars, with a special thanks to Profile who gave me some good perspective on company life. With FedEX (henceforth FX), I can hop a truck in my town at 1845, show up at TLH two hours later, and fly on MY carrier to work. Granted--it will be LATE hours but with a minimum of commute pain. In any case...as an ANG guy and a commuter I'm flying in the middle of the night in either case.

FX offers all the traditional benefits of a major...great pay, wide bodies, international, etc. All I give up are travel passes...which I'm in the process of rationalizing are hard to use with high load factors anyway. The stability and piece of mind working for a rock solid freight company verses wondering if my upstart will get bought out (maybe) or go out of business (I doubt it) also are worth some value. I can pursue my "other" interests flying for FX, with the security (as much as you can have in this business) that I will fly with great people, have a bunch of choices as far as routes, aircraft, and trips that I can drop or add to meet my scheduling needs (obviously based on seniority).

Bottom line: I had some great options, and I got a TON of gouge from lots of you folks on this website. If I can help ANY of you, Military, Civilian, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Black, White, Union, Non union, he/she/other, with interview tips, gouge or general words of encouragement....send me a PM. I can't promise a timely reply, but I will get back to you with whatever info I can offer. My JB interview was in July, and my FX interview was in August...so my gouge may be a bit stale. However...I'll add my 2 cents if it helps.

Thanks to everyone on the boards for all your help.

Fly safe,

Albie -- Good luck at FedEx and I'm sorry I'm not going to get a chance to meet you Sunday night in Miami. I think this January jetBlue class must have a higher percentage of forum participants and active contributors than any other airline training class in the recent past. As you mentioned, I think that speaks well for the kind of people jetBlue is hiring--good guys who are active, energetic, and enthusiastic about the business. It probably also doesn't hurt that jB wants people with a touch of computer geek in their bag of expertise.

I feel your concern about the commuting problem. When I first learned of jetBlue almost two years ago I viewed them as a Northeast regional carrier. Since I had no desire to commute to JFK, I didn't think twice about them. Then I clicked on Mike Barger's video clip from an Air Inc. seminar about a year ago and heard him talk about the possibility of Long Beach as a new crew base. That helped me realize that they are far from a regional airline. The more I learned, the more I liked, and the rest is history.

Once I was excited about jetBlue, the idea of commuting to JFK was more acceptable. Yeah, I know it will be a painful two hop. But once I learned about their scheduling and preferential bidding system and talked to the pilots at the interview, I realized there are ways to minimize the commuting pain. I'm also liking the idea of spending some of my free time in the "Big Apple" between gigs and enjoying what the city has to offer. I still have my fingers crossed that Long Beach will open in the near future because I have lots of places I'd like to live in So Cal or the Southwest U.S.

I personally want to thank you for your active forum participation, insights, and interesting posts. I've been enjoying what you've been writing for quite some time. Good luck at FedEx, enjoy, and Godspeed. -- dgs

P.S. I can't fault you for wanting to continue to fly the Eagle. It has been my dream jet since my father was working in the program in the early 70s. Now my dream jet is the A320. It's a pretty cool piece of new technology!

Congratulations! Although we don't know each other personally, by reading yours posts on this forum I can say your
"A-Okay" in my book (not that it means anything).

My wife and I have a close family friend who flies for FedEx and he obsolutely loves it. We live in the Keys and I don't think he has much of a problem commuting.

Also, I would like to say "Thank You" for serving our country.

Good Luck and Fly Safe,

Plane Crazy

Albie -

You were killin' me with the suspense!

Tough call -- I didn't think you could really go wrong either way. I'm sure you'll be happy with your choice. Thanks for all your insight on this board. Hope to see you back here as soon as you can.

Congrats and Good Luck!!

Well if it helps, the FDX shareholders agree with you, Albie. Worst case, if you had bought FDX on September 10 you'd be up almost 30% right now. I harbor a fondness for loud aircraft and the peace of darkness, so I envy you. I wish you a great career.