Groundbreaking ALPA Jumpseat Flight Finder Now Available

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer

The much-anticipated jumpseat Flight Finder is now available in the ALPA mobile app for smartphones and tablets for ALPA members. This innovative search engine gives you the ability to determine the most efficient way to reach a destination, even if the routing requires numerous connections and airlines, which can result in more days at home.

“Approximately 60–70 percent of ALPA members use commuting options for work. Flight Finder is just one more example of how this union is committed to making our members’ jobs more manageable and improving their quality of life,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s president.

Flight Finder, a priority initiative of DePete’s since 2019, eliminates much of the guesswork previously required to determine the best jumpseating option. ALPA's tool searched data for passenger and most cargo flights operated by U.S. and Canadian airlines, as well as those flights of foreign carriers specifically operating in and out of the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

“The Flight Finder feature is a real game changer,” said Capt. Rich Odbert (FedEx Express), ALPA’s Air Safety Organization (ASO) Aviation Jumpseat Group chair. “Combining comprehensive cargo and passenger flight data was the key, since this feature isn’t available on other jumpseat apps.” He noted, “We gathered flight data from a broad range of sources and ensured that the app feature could refresh faster to offer real-time information. In addition, feedback from pilot focus groups helped us customize Flight Finder to better address the needs of our members.”

Flight Finder is the most comprehensive jumpseat research tool of its kind.

“No other app allows a pilot to search cargo and passenger data days in advance like this,” said F/O Ben Wallander (Delta), who helped spearhead this project through the ASO’s Aviation Jumpseat Group in conjunction with ALPA's IT and Communications departments.

Unlike many other related apps, Flight Finder includes many U.S. and Canadian cargo flights, including some flight information that can’t be found anywhere else. The list of integrated cargo carriers is continuously growing. Flight Finder offers advanced search filtering and direct access to specific airline listing resources like usernames, passwords, and contact information. Pilots can save the data they previously searched to review later in airplane mode during flight when Internet access may not be available.

Tailored Known Crewmember information is accessible to assist pilots, and Flight Finder allows users to directly provide feedback to the Aviation Jumpseat Group. Plus, there are no annoying third-party ads.

The initial prototype for Flight Finder was introduced at the Association’s Air Safety Forum in July 2019 by the Aviation Jumpseat Group and was developed in early 2020. Since then, DePete has highlighted the ongoing work on the new jumpseat tool in all-member messages, acknowledging its ability to identify gate assignments, flight status updates, and carrier-specific jumpseat details. Various beta versions were tested with ALPA pilot groups before Flight Finder was officially rolled out to the entire membership in mid-January 2021.

In March 2020, the Aviation Jumpseat Group announced the release of an enhancement to the ALPA mobile app that allows users access to specific information about how to list for another carrier’s jumpseat, as specified in the agreement between the pilot’s airline and the carrier whose jumpseat they want to access. Before this improvement, jumpseating pilots were often forced to maintain separate lists of usernames, passwords, phone numbers, and other codes for the airlines on which they regularly jumpseated—details that are periodically updated for security reasons.

Other airline pilot jumpseat resources are available on ALPA’s jumpseatinfo.org website, including U.S. and Canadian jumpseat guides and the Association’s “Jumpseat Etiquette? Yes, Please!” video, which outlines the expectations and responsibilities to consider when taking advantage of this valued professional privilege.

Look for an ALPA-produced video to be highlighted in upcoming ALPA communications, further explaining the capabilities of Flight Finder. To access Flight Finder and other ALPA jumpseat information, download the ALPA mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. And when you have the opportunity, respond to the feedback option about what you like about Flight Finder and how ALPA might make it even more useful. The Flight Finder team can be reached at FlightFinder@alpa.org.

This article was originally published in the January 2021 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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