dr1

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  1. dr1

    WestJet 787

    Hey Kip, it's been a while. This is going to be a bit of a threadjack but what the hell. It's always amusing for me to read people's take on this stuff and their perception of history, and Johnny's is not even close. I can answer this one definitively for you. When WestJet started, grooming was part of the flight attendant job description. Full stop. There was no pilot or "voluntary" grooming it was just the flight attendants. There certainly was no culture of "we are all equal" in fact back then the pilots were all considered management. None of the original flight attendants, with the exception of the inflight managers had any airline experience. Actually very few people outside of the flight ops and tech ops groups had any airline experience and so the pilots were expected to lead. We didn't wear leather jackets to dress down, we wore them because we were trying to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Plus they are just cool. There was no "social experiment." The culture at the beginning was simply a culture of survival although having fun was also a big part of it. Everyone was prepared to do whatever was necessary to get the airline up and running and keep it aloft. There was a common goal and everyone was pulling in the same direction, a very rare occurrence in aviation and probably in most any business but it was immensely satisfying. Back then 6 legs a day was common, we often did more and our long haul flight was YEG - YVR at 1:20. I hated that one. All the rest were 60 minutes or less and it was 25 minute turns all day, if we were on time. It was awesome! But it became apparent to me very early on that the flight attendants were really challenged by the short sectors and short turns. They were rarely off their feet and never even had a chance to eat their lunch or get off the aircraft just to use a real toilet. They were part of my team and if I could help them in any way I would, so I did. It never occurred to me that grooming was beneath me or that I was demeaning my profession. Hell, when I was flying corporate I had to wash the damn dishes after the flight! If me donating 5 minutes of my time to help groom the cabin meant that a flight attendant could go up to the terminal and use the washroom, or sit down and eat a sandwich or just go stand on the bridge to get some un-recycled air or if it might get us out on time, why wouldn't I? It was immediately obvious how much they appreciated the help so it just became routine for me. I never told the FOs I flew with that they should help but they started to anyway and, well, here we are today. So I guess I will take the blame for starting pilot grooming at WestJet. Pilots don't want to groom any more. Cleaning up a 120 seat aircraft after a 60 minute flight is one thing, cleaning up a 170 seat aircraft after a 5 hour flight is something else again and I get that so maybe it's time for a change. One of the arguments trotted out though is that pilots need to spend their time focusing on "safety related" duties, not grooming. That would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so pathetic. Somehow we managed to complete all our safety related duties and help the FAs when we were doing our 25 minute turns and back then we had to do our own weight and balance and performance calculations, on paper no less! All that is spoon fed to us now and our turns are usually 60 minutes. Mind you, back then safety related duties did not include sitting in the flight deck for 20 minutes, feet up, sipping a coffee and staring at a phone. That seems to be priority one for a lot of individuals these days. So there you go Kip. Like many things, pilot grooming at WestJet is an evolutionary thing that has now become a financial issue. Grooming was just one of the things our illustrious union was supposed to take care of but our boys got thoroughly schooled at the negotiating table. That's another story entirely. DR