ASF Jumpseat Council: Captain’s Authority, Collaboration, and Professionalism are Essential

In the constantly changing world of airline mergers, shutdowns, and shifting regional alliances, ALPA maintains one overriding concept when it comes to jumpseating: the captain alone should make the final decision on who sits in the cockpit jumpseat.

Protecting Captain’s Authority was a focus when ALPA’s Jumpseat chairs, joined by Jumpseat volunteers from 25 non-ALPA carriers and five nations, convened at the Association’s 59th Air Safety Forum.

“Our top priority is keeping the cockpit secure, keeping the captain in control of that access, and getting people home,” said ALPA’s Jumpseat Council chair, First Officer Rich Odbert.

But with industry partnerships seemingly realigning every day, it’s increasingly difficult to determine who should get jumpseat priority, especially when heavy passenger loads make it more and more difficult to get a seat in the cabin.

Jumpseat chairs discussed how to make the process fairer, and how to instill professionalism in a new generation of pilots who may be unfamiliar with jumpseat protocols.

“We need to educate our pilots again, especially right now with loads so full,” said American Eagle Jumpseat chair First Officer Robert Bowlin. “It’s not nonrevving or riding on your own carrier—you are considered an additional crewmember. You need to look and act the part.”

A delegation from the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association urged captains to take advantage of the FAA’s recent decision to reinstate cockpit familiarization flights for air traffic controllers.
Allowing controllers to observe how ATC works from the pilots’ perspective will promote greater collaboration, understanding, and communications for both pilots and controllers, said ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak.

The more than 50 Jumpseat chairmen also discussed updates to ALPA’s Jumpseat Guide and webpage, discussed TSA and CASS policies, and received briefings on international jumpseat issues at the forum, which continues on Tuesday.