As many people in the airline industry know, a lot of conversations happen between on-duty pilots and pilots jumpseating on flights. Thankfully for Captain Alissa Thody, and for PSA Airlines, these conversations can often be career changing.
“One year ago, I had never heard of PSA,” explains Captain Thody. Thody was in the right seat at that time, flying for another regional carrier, when a jumpseating PSA pilot gave her the rundown on his own experience at PSA and how maybe it would be a good move for her too. After seven and half years at that carrier, with capped FO pay and retracted upgrade opportunities resulting from a merger, it was an easy decision.
Captain Thody’s story went a bit differently at PSA. “I went into FO training studying. I never quit studying. If I had a break, I instructed. I stayed current on policies and procedures. I was always preparing for upgrade.” This paid off for Thody when at the tail end of her FO training track, out on her IOE, she received her upgrade class date. “They don’t hold your hand in upgrade. Or anywhere in our training program. There’s no compromising safety. Don’t put in for upgrade unless you’re ready to upgrade.”
So is being a captain living up to the dream? “It is so much fun. All the FOs are so positive. They know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel; eight to nine months and they’ll be upgrading, and they want to be prepared. I try to be encouraging and tell them to keep studying… They didn’t know the industry when it was stagnant, the kind of growth here at PSA is unheard of. I tell them they’re lucky.”
“I still wouldn’t have upgraded if I had stayed where I was. I’d still be living in my parents’ basement if that pilot hadn’t been singing PSA’s praises in the jumpseat. I think that says a lot about the morale here. It’s about what we’re saying when no one is listening.”