Job Shadowing

About a month ago I made a post about having the opportunity to shadow a crew scheduler.  It’s all part of my airline’s plan to mend the relationship between crew members and schedulers.  Our VP says that of all the airlines where he’s worked the situation is the worst he’s ever seen here.  It’s this whole “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” thing.  I think it’s also a good thing; there is definitely a lot of animosity between the two groups.

Picture Courtesy http://sarahmaidofalbion.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.htmlYesterday I finally got to shadow a crew scheduler.  Thankfully, I had met this scheduler a few weeks prior and she was one of the nice ones there.  Had she not been friendly it most certainly would have been a long 11-hour shift.  I can’t imagine sitting beside someone lame for 11 hours watching click the mouse so fast and barely explaining to me what was being done and then listening to a 30-second phone call about a canceled flight.

Yesterday was a relatively busy day for our crew schedulers.  There was some snow and ice in the Charlotte area, which is where my airline does the bulk of its flying, so of course there was a cluster %#$& at the airport.  People were stranded and misconnected, and luckily I didn’t really have to deal with a bit of it.  However, those schedulers really had to earn their money trying to get people and planes into place to recover as much of the schedule as possible.

I used to joke around that the only thing schedulers did all day was sit around playing solitaire on their computers planning their next smoke break, but that’s not the case at all . . . at least it wasn’t yesterday.  I’d say for the first five hours of the shift there was maybe a total of 20 minutes of downtime.  When the scheduler I was paired with wasn’t making or taking a call from a crew member, she was busy trying to make sure flying was covered.  People were having trouble commuting into base for work because of the bad weather so their flying had to be covered, entire crews were stranded in another city so she had to find another crew to work flights, people called in sick, reserve assignments had to be made, and tons of different reports had to be run and all kinds of things reconciled.

After sitting there and watching these people work for almost half a day I can’t really say that I know what they do.  I can say, however, that they do a lot, and it doesn’t seem to be very easy.  I can’t speak to the level of stress they may or may not feel because nothing that happened was my responsibility, but I can say that were it my job to make sure everyone was in place to keep an airline running smoothly and weather issues arose I’d be stressed to the max.

The training takes about a month to complete, and then it’s about a year before a scheduler really gets comfortable doing the job during irregular operations.  After sitting in on a shift I can say that I learned a lot.  Those people have a tough job to do, and sometimes we as crew members don’t like the message they bring to us, but we need to remember that it’s not always their decision.  It’s a business that’s being run, not a friendly game of “Fly Around the Country.”  That’s not to say that there aren’t some jerks working in there that need to go to nice school and take really good notes, but I just don’t think they’re out to get us.  At least I hope not.

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