- A graphical way to see the pilot position assignments
- Instantly shows you your position and what position you could hold
- Shows you if you'd be a Block Holder or Reserve
- Expected pay and number of days worked
- Looks at the seniority and working conditions you’d hold in a new position by looking at similar seniority pilots
- An essential tool to anyone thinking about changing positions
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!
I've been a Crewsware subscriber since I joined Air Canada, and what for me started out 10 years ago as a slick, well presented schedule package has aggressively transformed into a robust premier and feature packed service that touches on everything from my monthly bidding and schedule presentation to equipment bidding and layover information and tips. Dave Neale's product has exceeded my expectations repeatedly, and has been enormously helpful whether I was junior or senior.
Crewsware is often thought of merely as a means to beautify the company's raw schedule product. It absolutely does this. An example is the Family Calendar which I share with parents and crash pad hosts. The raw company product would be indecipherable to them but I can simply forward them a single sheet Crewsware pdf and they're immediately aware of where I am, when I'm there and they rave at Crewsware's multi colored easy to read calendar. Packed with features for family members, they can track me with easy to read information like arrival and departure times and hotel contact numbers.
For a crew member it's not always about visual presentation and this is where Crewsware steps in and far surpasses that visual presentation, enhancing our operational effectiveness with tools like the pairing briefing sheet with max duty times, hotel and transport numbers, exchange rates, hotel discounts and more. At times I've noticed fellow crew members jotting on sheets of paper to determine when we might duty out and I can stop them right then; my pairing brief tells me with one glance.
Linkable to many online calendars all the schedule information available on printable schedules is embedded and can be linked to your phone, with available hotel and transport numbers, discounts, features and such. I've noticed of late that even the most drastic and last minute changes to my block are almost immediately reflected in my linked online google calendar.
With monthly bidding, Crewsware is indispensable to me with tools like Pairing Filters and Award Builder. Filters enable isolating exactly and only the pairings you want with screen to capture or avoid everything from dates, layover locations and length, credit, expenses, DH legs and the almost endless list goes on. What starts as pages and pages to scroll through can be reduced down to the 3-4 pairings that fit my personal profile.
Award Builder enables one to drag and drop these pairings into a calendar while accounting for DBM, and every contract and CARS limitation, for vacation credits and such. As is typical with Dave Neale, he immediately adjusted this programming to account for new FOS schedule limitations, limitations which many to this day are still unaware of. If I mess up while building my desired block and bid something that will exceed any restrictions, Block Builder will provide an error flag and actually refuse addition of the pairing in question. This has prevented numerous months of schedule misery for me, paying for my subscription in peace of mind alone many times over.
As is typical of the aggressively progressive nature of Crewsware's business model, Dave has stepped beyond the schedule world and now offers a tool that offers a fascinating projection within our equipment bidding with something called the Position Planner. It is a helpful snapshot of what you could hold now or you can use drop downs to project the years ahead. It facilitates a rough idea of where you would sit whether block holder or reserve and what one can expect salary wise. This feature has filters which make it a highly useful tool come bid time or simply for dreaming of the years ahead.
From a support standpoint Crewsware sets the bar high. At times I've needed clarification on tool features or wondered about the addition of new sub products. Response time is lightning fast, usually answered by Dave himself. Responsive and efficient I know that if I need help it’s always there.
I won't highlight every feature available in Crewsware but can attest that it is easily a product worth vastly more than the available subscription prices, and Dave offers discounts even then for longer terms. If that's not enough his well-known pay and expense claim system makes the process as streamlined as possible, going so far as to print the claim forms filled out for you. I estimate I've recovered over $1,000 in missing expenses in the past 5 years alone, paying for my Crewsware subscription many times over.
Going to work without Crewsware is like flying without a chart…..Blind! From its infancy, I have watched this program expand and grow into the invaluable tool it is today. First off, the website is simple to use. It has made my bidding easier thanks to Position Planner. It has recouped thousands in lost cash simply using pay and Expense Tracker, and for my family, having the ability to see, and add to my calendar has made their life that much easier when it comes to event planning. Prior to going to work, I have a good idea of what clothes to pack thanks to the weather brief. During a pairing, I only have to use the Crewsware download that was automatically sent to me to see my check in times, my crew, hotels, exchange rates, etc. Using the company information is time consuming, and very labour intensive due to the multitude of web pages you need to log into.
I have been subscribing now for over 3 years and I really like the built award tool. It give me a visual information of how I can bid because positioning the selected pairing on the grid shows me the legality of the 40hours in 7 days, stick time. Knowing this I can place them accordingly to my choice of life and days off require. This is the best feature for me. Instead of wondering why I did not get a pairing now with the Award Builder I can adjust my selection on PBS and I hardly miss any flying and get very close to my first choice every time. There are many other cool features such as Position Planner, claim and expenses, log book. I get more than I can chew, excellent value for the money. Money well spend. The best part is that it doesn’t cost me anything really, I get it back with one claim meal expense.
I am not terribly organized. For starter, Crewsware has enabled me to put a decent bid together. I was always breaking scheduling rules when trying to plan a block. This was very evident when I was a senior RP.
The Expense Tracker has basically made Crewsware free for me for the rest of my career. I will be using Crewsware until the end of my time here at Air Canada.
The 'Who's in Town' option is great. If I see an old buddy on the same layover it's just too easy to pre plan some "volunteer work at local charities".
The Position Planner is also nice, although depressing, because it gives me a good idea of what my last 10 years will be like at the company.
All in all, it is a brilliant program. I recommend it to anyone that asks me about it.