- Add or read recommendations and tips for the hotel/local area
- Post pictures or maps
- Ask questions or offer advice
- Things to do and see
- Add discounts offered to crew at nearby restaurants/bars/tourist attractions
- Post "Beware of" or "Gotcha" scams
When I think about how Crewsware has made my life at Air Canada easier, the toughest question to answer is "where to start?'. I don't know that there's an aspect of the site that I don't use on a regular basis.
For starters, I simply could not bid every month if it weren't for the amazing pairing filters at our disposal. With all the published pairings organized only by check-in time (and not by day, date, or anything else), finding pairings to bid for would be next to impossible. Having the ability to use Crewsware's filters allows me to choose the days I want to work, then identify the best pairings for those days. As a commuter, being able to filter pairings by date, number of days, check-in/check-out time, productivity, and layover destination/length (among others) is crucial to the way I bid. I'd say that my schedule satisfaction has been far above average on the Embraer, and I can attribute that directly to the tools that Crewsware has to offer.
After the bid closes, I routinely have not only my family, but also our Nanny, constantly asking what my (and their) schedule is going to be for the following month. Being able to generate a user-friendly copy of the schedule with the Award Builder as soon as it is released on PBS is a huge asset, as it allows me to share my schedule with those concerned parties a few days before Air Canada makes our schedule available in a similar format.
Once a month starts, Crewsware just keeps on giving. The Pairing Briefs generated the day before a pairing starts are a huge help. Being able to gather all the relevant information in one place is extremely useful. I download it onto my phone, so that it's available offline (especially useful in regions where I don't have data). This gives me access to everything I need -- phone numbers for hotel AND transportation companies, pick-up times, hotel discounts, etc...all in one place! This, combined with the "Who's In Town" feature, gives us all the tools we need to make every layover better.
The "My Layover" section is a great tool as well...having one place that we can use to learn about great new spots to eat/drink/run/visit/avoid in every layover destination is fantastic. I've discovered some of my favourite spots by following recommendations, and have been able to share some of my own discoveries the same way. I've lost track of the number of times that I've heard colleagues say that they enjoyed trying one of the spots I wrote about -- it's a great feeling!
Being pilots, we know we have a reputation for not liking being separated from our money. ;) The same goes for not being paid money that is owed to us! This is yet another example of where Crewsware shines. The Expense Tracker is extremely effective in finding all the missed per diems that would otherwise go unclaimed. One expense claim per year can EASILY cover the far more than the cost of your Crewsware subscription, not to mention having the form automatically filled out for you. Score one for the lazy (or smart) folks among us. :)
I also really enjoy having a look at the Position Planner every now and then. Seeing as how I was hired at a slightly later age than most, it gives me an idea of where I can expect to be as my career progresses, which is nice because I know I won't be retiring after a decade in the left seat of the 777. Knowing roughly how far up the seniority list I can expect to progress before my retirement is a great asset, and helps me have a rough plan of how to use my course rights going forward.
I haven't even touched on what many people see as the most important (and useful) tool on Crewsware, and that's the Electronic Logbook (eLog). I am one of those throwback pilots who still carry a little red logbook with me, and fill it out on every leg. Call me crazy (and delusional), but there's part of me who thinks that maybe one day my grandchildren will find Grandpa's logbooks, and find them interesting. The looks I get from the majority of people I fly with are priceless. Most of them laugh, and say "Umm...I haven't made a single logbook entry since I came to Air Canada, thanks to Crewsware." If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd be able to pay for Crewsware for the rest of my career. ;) Clearly, it must be an impressive tool.
In the last year, many of my former colleagues from Jazz have joined Air Canada. When they ask about what's different at Air Canada, one of my first answers is usually that their work life is about to get far better/easier, thanks to Crewsware. After a couple of minutes extolling the virtues of the site, they inevitably ask where/when they can sign up. It's just that good.
As I've said in many emails to Dave over the past few years, I am extremely grateful for the work he puts into the site, as it truly is an indispensable tool in making our careers easier. The fact that Dave is always available to answer any queries, and is constantly listening to (and implementing) suggestions to make Crewsware better, is the icing on the cake.
Keep up the great work, Dave, and thanks again!
As a father of two young kids, previously divorced with a new fiancée also working in this industry, I can assure you the word schedule is a major one in my vocabulary. My monthly personal scheduling routine is a reverse Swiss cheese model where I’m trying to align all the holes together so everything works out.
Firstly, I use the Pairing Filters when I bid to quickly sort out all the interesting pairings on a given month.
Then, every month, as soon as PBS releases the blocks, I immediately use the Award Builder to create my family calendar. This way I don’t need to wait for all the blocks to be released in Aeronet to get a visual schedule that everybody understands. This saves me precious time that I can use to start the ‘’negotiations’’ and create my final all-inclusive family schedule...
But that’s not all. Another cool feature, the Expense Tracker, allows me to claim hundreds of dollars a year in missing expenses. That makes Crewsware a self-paying tool in my opinion.
Finally, there’s the other cool features, like the logbook (eLog), who’s in town and My Layover that are all small plus-value items that make Crewsware an must-have tool for the modern AC Pilot.
My experience with your Crewsware product over the last several years has been fantastic.
I started out (like most, I suppose), using your software to help with building the best block of flying that I could hold at my seniority month after month. Let's face it, the Pairing Filter function is a must to allow an individual the ability to plow through the hundreds of possible flights and pairings from month to month and make sense of what's available.
As time went on I started using other functions such as Award Builder to fine-tune my bidding as my relative seniority increased on my equipment. The Pay and Expense Tracker was a God-sent, allowing us to track and then claim for lost pay and expenses that fell through the cracks from month to month.
I personally feel that the best feature that your software offers is that it is continually being improved and expanded upon. It's seems that you're never content with the current version, always looking for customer feedback and ways to fine-tune your product.
A few examples are "My Layover", great ideas here for new things to do while away from home. "Who's in Town" and "Friends Blocks" allow us to connect with buddies and keep in touch. I've even found the "Currency Converter" very helpful recently since the Canadian dollar has been fluctuating as of late against other world currencies.
The best new tool that you offer is the "Position Planner". Here I can take a snap-shot look to see what I could hold on equipment bids, allowing me to make an educated decision as to future moves.
To sum things up, your software is ever-improving and more and more useful every year. It's like opening up my tool-box at home and finding an cool, shiny new tool there and realizing "yes, I can definitely use that !!"
Thanks for not being content with mediocrity and continually striving towards putting the best tools in our hands year after year. I look forward to seeing what you have to offer in the years to come - keep up the great work !!