CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain

Unshaven, Bad Shoes, and Backpacks

Posted by Jeffrey on October 2, 2008

There once was a time when pilots were the standard of sharpness. Their suits looked nice, their hair was cut, they were clean shaven, they were fit, and they didn’t carry around backpacks. So it ercks me to no end when I see my profession eroded by pilots who don’t maintain professional standards. It doesn’t help that other captains tolerate it and don’t say a word, not does it help that chief pilots see it in crew rooms and never address it.

When I was a flight instructor, even though I worked in the sweltering humidity of Florida, I shaved for work every day and had clean clothes. As a captain, again, I shave every day I work, make sure my shirt looks nice and pressed, my hair is cut, shoes are clean and that I look professional.

Over the last two years, I have had to tell several of my First Officers that they needed to shave. Don’t know why that is. You would think that based on the nature of the job and in the interest of professionalism it would be an unspoken and expected action. Take a TSA screeners for example. Have you ever looked at some of these folks? Sloppy. Crazy haircuts. Piercings. The list goes on. I don’t mean all TSA screeners are like this, it’s just what I’m familiar with. An unprofessional appearance sets the tone for what people expect. Police officers and military personnel are good examples of professional appearance.

And lately, I’ve seen the emergence of pilots, both captains and first officers, walking around with backpacks on. Really! This isn’t a school campus. I’ve also seen pilots have the backpack on that straps over the shoulder to the waist. Not very professional looking. I’ve also seen pilots carrying around a guitar which really makes me wonder.

I’ve also seen pilots carrying around as many as FIVE bags. Why? What do you have to carry that requires so many bags? I can understand flight attendants carrying a lot of bags, it’s in their nature. Not all but some. Your overnight bag, your flight bag, maybe a lunch bag, and maybe a compact computer bag. But five bags is a bit excessive. And if you are going to carry so many bags, make sure they look professional. Wild red bags sends up a wild red warning that you aren’t professional.

It’s amazing to me though that even though the majors are in disarray, THEIR pilots still look nice. Some are overweight and some are pack rats but MOST look professional.

So if you are a pilot or you want to be a pilot, consider what professionalism means to you. Look to others as examples and emulate the ones you like and discard the ones you don’t like. Pick up a book on professionalism like “Work and Integrity” and study it.

Till next time…

P.S. And don’t forget to subscribe to Almost the Speed of Sound for constant updates.

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