Surviving Airline Furlough
Sometimes, when the airlines need to cut back which can be due to the economy, a furlough or layoff can happen. Don't be caught by surprise when it does happen as the airlines have a long history of ups and downs.
In 2001 for example, 911 happened and not long after, airlines started to cut back and a lot of airlines furloughed. Some people were furloughed for a short period of time but others were furloughed for years. A lot of people were forced to find other jobs while waiting to get called back from being furloughed.
Most airlines will ask for volunteers for the furlough, then it done by seniority. So if you are at the bottom of the seniority list, you are the first to be furloughed. Then someone who might have a pretty good seniority and schedule may end up at the bottom of the list and back on reserve.
Airlines will sometimes have slow months or season and will ask for volunteers to take a leave of absence in order to cut down in costs. When this happens it is usually only for a few weeks or a couple of months. There are many people who take advantage of this and use it like an unpaid vacation.
So if you are planning on working for an airline, be prepared and know that this can and has happened to all airlines at one point or another. Make sure that you have some back up plan financially if asked to take a leave or are furloughed for months or years.