Delta pilot taking off his hat

Pilots are often quite recognizable at airports, due to the prominent features on their uniforms. Their uniforms typically have three or four stripes (outside the US, you’ll sometimes see two), as well as a recognizable pilot’s hat.

Yes, as noted by @xJonNYC, if you see Delta pilots at airports in the coming days and weeks, you may notice that some pilots don’t wear hats. It was not a stroke of luck.

Delta pilot expressed his disappointment by wearing a hat and leaving

Pilots are one of Delta’s few unified workgroups, and they are represented by the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). Pilots have been wanting a new contract for quite some time, but not much progress has been made. Animosity between pilots and management is continuing to grow, as pilots feel that executives are dragging their feet.

On Thursday, hundreds of Delta pilots were laid off at airports around the country, in an effort to secure a new contract.

Delta pilots picked up nationwide on Thursday

Pilots have a subtle new way to express their frustrations with management, and that comes in the form of the “Closed to a New Contract” campaign. It seems the union is encouraging pilots to no longer wear their hats, as a small way to show that they want a new contract.

Now, just because the union recommends this doesn’t mean all pilots will agree to it. For that matter, you can see where pilots stand on top of things based on whether or not they’re wearing a hat around the airport.

But in the end this seems like a polite way to express displeasure, and I’m a fan of that.

In the past, we’ve seen pilots at several airlines take very different approaches to expressing frustration with management. For example, in the late 2000s, many United pilots were angry, and some would “slam on the brakes” while driving, to increase fuel burn. So yeah, don’t wear your hat pale in comparison to that.

Don’t expect Delta pilots to wear their hats

Why do Delta pilots want a new contract?

It goes without saying that it’s been a rough couple of years for the airline industry, although at the moment things are improving. There also continues to be a large pilot shortage, so pilots have quite a bit of bargaining power.

We’ve seen a number of airlines in the region massively raise wages. Admittedly, pilots in the region weren’t paid much before these changes, as the goal was always to work at one of the “big” carriers, which always paid pretty well.

At this point, almost all major airlines are negotiating contracts with pilots, as pilots want to be paid more. United pilots have a new contract expected to give them a pay rise of up to 14%, and pilots will vote on that in mid-July. Meanwhile, there are rumors that US pilots are about to vote for a contract that could get them a pay rise of up to 17%.

For example, with the proposed new US contract, senior Boeing 737 captains will have a base salary of $340,000 per year, while senior Boeing 777 captains will have a base salary of $425,000 each year.

Pilots in Alaska, Delta and Southwest are all also fighting for new contracts, but not as far as American or United. I’m curious to see how this plays out. Depending on your economic outlook, I certainly can’t blame the pilots for wanting to lock something in as soon as possible, because I think some dark days are ahead and the pilots are not. public will have much less leverage.

Delta pilots want a new contract

Key point

Delta pilots are fighting for a new contract. In addition to picnicking around the country, you can also expect that a lot of pilots won’t wear their hats at airports. This is something completely subtle that most people probably won’t notice or think about. But as someone who finds this sort of thing interesting, I’m certainly curious to observe this.

If you fly Delta in the coming days, please report back if you see Delta pilots wearing hats!

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