[revised 1/31/2020 to include increased pay rates]
WHAT IS CREW SCHEDULING?
The Crew Scheduling Department plays a critical role in CommutAir’s flight operations.
The airline flies roughly 1,000 segments a week to more than 50 cities along the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada, with a fleet of nearly 40 aircraft. Scheduling the captains, first officers, and flight attendants is a logistical puzzle that must be solved daily. It all happens in CommutAir’s newly remodeled Systems Operation Control center in North Olmsted (Cleveland), Ohio.
Nicolle Crabtree, senior manager of crew resources, likens the flight crew schedule to a beautiful work of art. “But then, operational issues such as weather, maintenance, and call-offs destroy it. Our department puts it back together to resemble what it was. We restore beautiful art,” she explained.
[VIDEO 1 of 3: Crew Scheduler, promoted to Crew Planner Colin McDevitt]
HOW DO THEY DO IT?
Using crew management system software, the team ensures crews are within their legal duty times, and have received appropriate rest. They handle all of the sick calls, schedule changes, and disruptions to operations with calm patience.
Customer service is a vital skill for the role and schedulers have to remain calm under pressure. “The flight crew is an absentee workforce. You talk to people on the phone, but you rarely meet them. Our schedulers have to handle each situation firmly, but still display empathy. Communication is key,” Nicolle explained.
When a flight crew member calls scheduling, it’s typically because he or she has an issue that needs resolved —and a good crew scheduler is a problem-solver. Admittedly, it can be stressful and the position isn’t for everyone. “The best advice I have for them: Be like a duck,” Nicolle said. “Don’t take things personally.”
Each month, CommutAir offers training sessions for new crew schedulers. The training consists of 2 weeks in a classroom setting, followed by hands-on introduction to the crew management software used by the team.
“After that, we have anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks of on-the-job training, paired with a more experienced scheduler,” Nicolle said.
Crew Schedulers work 10-hour shifts, 4 days on followed by 3 consecutive days off. The industry itself is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 a year, and that means schedulers work nights, weekends, early mornings, and holidays.
Shifts are bid on quarterly and distributed based on scheduler seniority within the department. (Flight crews also bid for schedules, but they bid more frequently.)
“This department allows shift swaps,” Nicolle said. “It’s a big perk. The first year, schedulers are still earning vacation time, but by swapping, they can add to their 3-days off and really enjoy their flight benefits.” (Like all airline employees, crew schedulers receive free travel on United Airlines, and deep discounts on partner airlines. The benefits even extend to family members. )
Despite the high level of importance the role carries within the company, it is considered entry-level in the industry. “For someone wanting to get a foot in the door, Crew Scheduling is usually where they start,” explained Nicolle. “I’ve lost good schedulers to almost every department in the company.”
These types of lateral moves and internal promotions are a big part of the culture at CommutAir. The company encourages employees to learn about other aspects of the airline industry and the business, even developing professional development programs to facilitate it.
The Crew Scheduling Advancement Program (CSAP) was designed to create a pathway for schedulers interested in a dispatch career. After 6 months of employment, schedulers age 22.5 and older can apply for the program. The company will pay for training and certification for schedulers who commit to 2 years as a CommutAir dispatcher.
[VIDEO 2 of 3: Colin McDevitt discusses other opportunities]
IMMEDIATE OPENINGS ARE AVAILABLE
The team operates best with 16-20 members but with frequent promotions to other departments — it’s always looking for new people.
The position is located in North Olmsted, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (with a cost of living much lower than other airline hubs.) The office is within seconds of high way access, offers free-on-site parking and is within walking distance of a shopping mall, a variety of restaurants, and several big box stores.
[[VIDEO 2 of 3: Colin talks about Cleveland]
- Attention to detail
- Calm in high stress situations
- Ability to multi-task
- An affinity for logistics and puzzles
- Good communicator
- Interest in or prior knowledge of aviation
CREW SCHEDULING CLASS DATES
- February 24, 2020
- Check back for March and beyond dates
10 hours, 4 days on, 3 consecutive days off
Quarterly bidding for shifts, based on department seniority
- 3am – 1pm
- 5am – 3pm
- 8am – 6pm floating
- 1pm – 11pm
- 3pm – 1am
- 7pm – 5am
PAY – Hourly
- $14 start, $14.50 after 6 months.
- $14.94 after one year, with raises annually after.
- Medical, Wellness, Dental, 401k with company match [See a complete list]
- Shift trades
- Internal promotions
- Crew Scheduling to Dispatch Program (company-paid dispatch training)