Real Answers from Real Pilots

40 year old looking at a Career change

Hi,

I just turned 40 in October and I’m getting ready to test for my private pilot’s license. I have a wife and two boys, 4 & 6. I’ve done a lot of research about becoming an airline pilot and my biggest concern is my age and how often I’ll be home to see my family. At this point I figure I’m 3 to 4 years out from actually becoming a pilot and I would be leaving a successful finance career.

I’m primarily looking for advice and if someone can give me an idea of how often I’d see my family. Would I work all nights and weekends? When you’re off, are you typically home? Plus, I’m about an hour from Philly, what is the chance of being based out of PHL or KABE? If you are laid over is the hotel room always paid for? Do pilots spend a lot when their not at home?

Any insight would be appreciated plus if you can point me to other topics that might answer these questions that would be great. Thank you in advance.

Daniel

Daniel,

The best thing that I could tell you is to head over to the “Schedules” section of this website and take a look at our various schedules, it will give you a real good idea of how much we are on the road. Yes, as a pilot you will work nights and weekends, there is simply no avoiding that.

I would say that there is a reasonable chance of being based out of PHL, but nothing is certain in this industry. Layover hotels are always paid for directly by the company. Each pilot has their own sending practices, I find that I do not spend too much when I am on the road.

Take a look at the “Schedules” section and the “Flying the Line” section of this website, you will find a lot of good info there.

Chris

Daniel,

Being an airline pilot can mean very different jobs depending on the airline, the airplane and of course your seniority. When you’re new you have little control over your schedule. As you build seniority you gain more. That said if you never want to be gone that long then you shouldn’t work for a freight carrier that can send you flying for 17 days or bid a long haul 777 that does 5 day trips to Tokyo. This is actually one of my peeves. I fly with pilots that complain that they’re away from their families and I’ll ask well then why did you bid the Airbus vs the 717 which would have you home every night? They usually say “well I wanted to fly a big plane and fly to some cool places”. That’s fine but YOU made the choice. Understand what I’m saying? Look for airlines that are based near your home and operations that do 1 and 2 day trips if that’s your most important priority.

As for you other questions I don’t believe there are any airlines based in KABE. Some pilots spend a ton, others brown bag it, your call and yes hotels are paid for when you’re working. If you’re commuting and need a hotel the night before your trip starts that’s on you.

Adam

Thank you Chris and Adam for your input.

I too am looking at becoming a pilot. I made a career change this year and became a flight attendant.
Now I would like to take it further and become a pilot. My problem is that I am 52 and I worry about even getting a student loan for 1 and the second is having enough time to pay it off before mandatory retirement.

Paul,

As you’re aware mandatory retirement is 65. If you started TODAY at 52, you could be at an airline at 54-55 leaving you around 10yrs. You’re never going to fly for a Major but could have a nice career at a Regional. Obviously I have no idea what your finances are, saving etc but paying off the entire loan in that time is doable but you won’t have a whole lot going into your savings. Your call.

Adam