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Southwest Airlines Community

Change in Pilot Retirement Age?

blusk
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I thought many of our readers might be interested in this article from The Dallas Morning News.
22 Comments
Drew1
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I welcome the proposed change, though I agree with US Airways' Doug Parker that the over 60/under 60 rule is very dumb. ALPA's desire to maintain the status quo is wrong. Currently, younger pilots benefit at the expense of older pilots due to the current absurd rule. That's simply unfair.
Chris3
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Good luck in getting this restriciton ended. It should definitey happen. Obviously, pilots at all ages should be required to undergo testing for vision, etc. But there is no reason to impose an arbitrary age restriction. This issue has become more sensitive for me. I work in information technology--an industry where just about everyone over 35 has been a victim of age discrimination.
Francisco_Delga1
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I think that is great news. I hear of so many pilots who do not want to retire because they love flying so much. I say give them five more years. besides, we are all living longer and looking younger.... THE MAIN BLOG BOY FRANCISCO
Rick_Moree
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It only makes sense to allow the most experienced airline pilots to continue to fly. I applaud the decision to raise the age for mandatory retirement.
chuchoteur
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With the levels of medical fitness required to retain a pilots licence nowadays, and with life expectancy growing longer, there should not be too many issues, particularly as the 60-65 population will be closely monitored. It will be beneficial to everybody, as that generation of pilots has a wealth of experience on large numbers of different types of aircraft, and can thus pursue the knowledge transfer to their younger collegues! :o)
FriendofBlogBoy
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Brian, Although I'm on the road traveling this week and haven't seen the Dallas paper's version, I read the story in my hotel in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-01-30-pilots-retirement_x.htm As we've discussed on this blog before, it certainly seems like an idea whose time for change was long overdue, much like the Wright Amendment. Of course, I'm selfish, because this extension means I'll get to keep reading new blog posts from Cap'n Ray for many more years to come! Kim 🙂
Leah4
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I'm glad to see they've raised the age. I feel like as long as pilots & co-pilots are physically, mentally, & emotionally stable to fly longer, they should be allowed to!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Well, Leah, of course I agree with you about pilots and co-pilots. However, we have to draw the line somewhere, and I think we need to take a hard look at FA ages. Take James Malone for example -- sure he is physically and mentally fit, but can anyone vouch for his emotional stability?? LOL Kim 🙂
Terry_Lessig
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Odd to see Doug Parker's name here. After 9/11, when all the airlines except the one we LUV took taxpayer bailout money, Doug was first in line. The ink wasn't even dry on his Treasury check when Doug and his entourage presented at the gate for a ride home to Phoenix. Mr. Parker actually bumped paying passengers out of first-class so he and his cronies could celebrate all the way home. At the time, I thought of Herb, and how he'd have stood most of the way, passed out the peanuts, or sat in a jump seat if it had been him, but then I remembered that Herb would never have needed such a ride precisely because he cared for the customers-- one of the keys to profitability. I heard it could be two years before this rule to takes effect. Pity for the pilots who are 58 and 59 now. There's no substitute for experience.
Justin3
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I'm with Chris above... I don't care how old the pilot is, as long as he/she gets me from Point A to B and back, I'm fine. Makes much more sense to require continuing testing of vision, motor skills, reaction times, etc. than to place an arbitrary cap on the age of pilots. Sure, maybe it makes sense to perform the above tests more frequently with age, but that's the only way I think age should come into play. Of course, this post is being brought to you by the guy who just came back from his first doctor appointment in which the physician was notably younger than he is, so I'm a little age sensitive today... Justin
Leah4
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Oh, I don't know, Kim! I'd like to meet James, though! :) Is there a mandatory retirement age for FAs? I've never heard of one, but I am curious.
Micah1
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Yes, I totally agree with all of you. Terry, that was a sad story about US Airways. But it isn't surprising. On one of my flights with them, the flight attendant grumbled, "I've worked way too long (seventeen years)." You wouldn't hear that from any of Southwest flight attendants that have been flying more than twice that long. Maybe we should pass legislation saying that all pilots based in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, and Texas should be able to fly when they are older than 65. "SET OUR PILOTS FREE!!!" On a different note, I did enjoy reading the article. They cited Southwest pilots as being most adament against the retirement age at 60. No wonder. Southwest pilots enjoy their work the most. I also found it humorous that the American pilot complained, "Sometimes I hate going to work with all the negativity at the airline." Maybe if you Senior pilots are worried about retirement, you can train new pilots (Does Southwest train its pilots? I don't believe it gives the pilots degrees, but doesn't it brush up the pilots' knowledge?). The woman who checked my brother off was a short 5-foot woman in her nineties that had fought in combat during World War II.
Anonymous948
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If a pilot can continue to pass the rigorous Class 1 Medical and does well on the check rides, I see no reason why there should be ANY mandatory retirement age! (Except if he WANTS to retire!) I knew a pilot in his mid-eighties who continued to fly a Sabrejet, a King-Air, and his own Cessna 182, probably as well as or better than other pilots. I know pilots in their forties that I feel shouldn't be flying, but as long as they can pass their tests......... Anyway, I don't think age should be the deciding factor.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, Yes, there is a mandatory retirement age for FAs. It is not highly publicized, but it is an obscure rule that Southwest vigorously enforces. They use this unilateral measurement device and apply it to all FAs, so there can be no question of age or gender bias. No matter your tenure with the company, if you can no longer pass this test, you are terminated. But, I'm sure you can understand that they are thinking of the overall safety of the passengers and the ability of each FA to perform their jobs in a way that is expected of them. I've heard that many FAs have tried to manipulate the test artificially, that some have tried bribing the evaluators and that some have even tried to convince friends to stand in for them for the test. Nevertheless, none of this works, as the SW testing committee is used to all sorts of tricks and schemes. By now, you may be wondering just how strenuous and complicated this test is. It is actually quite simple. A flight attendant is summarily dismissed on the spot once they can no longer toss a bag of peanuts from the aisle all the way to the tray table of the sleeping businessman in the window seat. Kim 🙂
R__L__Penberton
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I feel safer knowing there is an older more experienced pilot at the controls.
kelli-bartlett-
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Kim, Let's leave Flight Attendant age out of this. This blog is about Pilots! You are always trying to stir up trouble! xo K.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Hey, DAL FA, Who, moi? Stir up trouble? Au contraire, K...I was merely answering Leah's question above. It would be so unlike me to stir up any trouble among the very ladies who could pour a cup of cold Coca-Cola over my head while I slept in my comfy aisle seat! If any of them knew what I looked like, of course... LOL Speaking of FAs, did you hear about the blonde FA who... Hee hee, Kim 🙂
Scott5
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I hope change doesn't catch too many pilots in the window of where the pilots turn 60 before implimation of the change and the actual date of implimation.
Scott5
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Regarding Micah's post on Feb 2nd, state legislatures don't have juristiction in the air. The feds have claimed the air above the states and the United States Supreme Court have upheld this.
ken_willard
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There is an old saying around airports that there are old pilots and there are bold pilots...but no old, bold pilots That pretty much sums up my attitude about cockpit age. I'm 64 1/2. As I remember from my former life as a newsman...this has long been nothing more than a pilot's union issue, designed to keep a continued supply of new union members. There is no doubt us geezers need more frequent check-ups. However, as a more-or-less regular flyer (mostly on SWA), I absolutely believe that physical/mental test results should be the determining factor. Frankly, the NASA episode this week raises far more serious questions to me about emotional stability of the encroaching number of non male pilots . And, we should be much more questoning about maintenence programs on those foreign busses which financial losers (like AWA, AA, Delta, etc) buy "on the cheap" and, I worry, they may maintain the same way. .
Mayer_Zimmerman1
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No age limit to pilots! If a pilot passes his semi-annual physical and his periodic check ride, let him keep flying. There is nothing like experience up there in the cockpit. MZ
Houston1
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I agree- would rather fly with a seasoned pilot than one with less experience, as long as health is no issue. But what about the pilots who look forward to retiring at age 60? If you've worked for an airline for 30 years, and then the big 6-0 rolls around and they tell you you've got five more years? I can see why SWA pilots love their jobs, but some people have worked hard for their retirement and want to enjoy it I'm sure! Just another thing to think about... Any chance these pilots would get an option to retire at 60?