Dear American Airlines customers, your pilot is a United Airlines intern today


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When you travel, how often do you think about the person flying your plane?

Do you listen to their voices and wonder if they sound soothing? I confess I do. British, Polish and Croatian pilots were often among my favorites for calming the cockpit.

However, are you also wondering where your pilots spent the night before and if they had an excessively enjoyable time?

Wondering how many hours they have flown or maybe they are actually training for another airline?

No, I hadn’t thought of that before. It seems strange, doesn’t it?

But I’m only asking because a lovely announcement which was brought to my attention by Ethan Klapper of the Points dude.

It came courtesy of the Mesa Air Group† This is an airline that flies under different logos, for example United Express, DHL Express and American Eagle.

It is a regional airline where many pilots start their careers flying smaller planes before moving up to the more mainstream airlines.

Many Mesa pilots participate in the United Aviate program. Given the pilot shortage, this is a crucial way for United to get more pilots over the wings.

For perhaps understandable reasons, Mesa pilots who are part of United Aviate were previously only able to get credit hours when flying a United Express aircraft.

But now they can carry American Airlines customers under the American Eagle banner and earn full credit for becoming a United Airlines pilot.

Also: United, Delta and American Airlines customers may soon face a scary dilemma

When I first heard this, I wondered whose generosity was at the heart of this move. Mesa’s press release made it clear: “Mesa is pleased to communicate this opportunity to our pilots and is grateful to United for expanding the eligibility requirements for the transition of the program.”

How nice of United. And how convenient that Mesa pilots and United Airlines pilots are represented by the same union, the Air Line Pilots Association.

However, I wonder how an American Airlines customer would feel if they knew a United Airlines intern was flying them.

Also: American Airlines just launched something that is guaranteed to get on your nerves

Or, indeed, how American Airlines itself feels. With my usual naivete, I asked the airline for its opinion, but haven’t heard anything yet.

And what about the pilots at American itself? Could they see this development as another eye for the airline?

The American Airlines pilots’ union has long besmirched the airline’s image and perceived reality. They argue that American’s management simply cannot cope with the post-pandemic customer surge.

Oh, and they would also like higher salaries. How strange, American? has just given pilots on two of its regional airlines, Piedmont and Envoy Air

American Airlines pilots made videos suggest that the life of an American Airlines pilot is one long flight to purgatory, entangled in organizational incompetence. They even made a video that clearly stated that Delta and United were much better airlines

And now some junior pilots will fly American Airlines flights while getting credit hours for United? That feels like flying American and getting United frequent flyer miles.

It’s not a perfect branded look, is it?

Which, of course, may have occurred to United.

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