Real Answers from Real Pilots

A Typical Trip At A Regional Airline

(soonsa) #21

the fact is that you usually don’t end up your four day trip in your base but in the other city or country. So I’m wondering if an airline provides you your return flight and all you need to do is just come to the airport or you have to manage (I mean: book a ticket earlier, pay for it and then fly back to your base) it by yourself?

I hope you can understand me, I’m sorry for my bad english but I’m still learning. You guys are doing such a great job here, I really appreciate that we have an opportunity to ask you the questions. Working in an airline is my dream job so hope to see you one day in a cockpit :slight_smile:



Typically our trips do end at our base, in fact that is almost always the case. In the rare instances that they do not the company provides positive space transportation back to our base. My airline offers the additional perk of offering transportation back to your home of record, if you do not live in your base.


(soonsa) #23

thank you for your answer. So do they tell you before your trip that it’s not going to end at your base?



Yes, we generally know our entire trip before starting it. Sometimes things change last minute because of cancellations or aircraft substitutions, but usually we know our whole schedule.


(John Fergus) #25

I was wondering if I went to Auburn Flight School, got all of my ratings and licenses needed, graduated, and became an instructor to earn my 1500 hours for ATPL, would a major airline, like American, United, Southwest, or Delta hire me?

Thanks for your help,

John Fergus

P.S. I love your posts and content!!



No. Pilot positions at major airlines are very sought after and the applicants are highly competitive. The typical new hire has thousands of hours of jet time, either from the military or a regional airline.


(John Fergus) #27

Thanks for your help!!



Deja Vu? :slight_smile:


(Peter Pham) #29

This may seem really dumb, but if you wanted to, on a day where you ended early, can you get a jumpseat back home to hangout with family for some time before returning back to work?


Yes, of course.



Not dumb at all. When you’re not working you’re off and you can do pretty much whatever you like. As long as you show up on time for work, fit to fly, why not. I’ve actually done that many times.


(Peter Pham) #32

If you’re staying in another city, you get the per diem pay correct?



You get per diem regardless of where you stay. From the time you “check in” (show time) of your trip till the time you check out the per diem clock is running. But yes if you’re on a multi day trip that clock is running around the clock until the trip ends. The reason I point out it doesn’t matter where you stay because you could (on a rare occasion) have a trip with an overnight at you base. As long as that’s a SINGLE trip again the clock keeps running.


(Peter Pham) #34

Wow! So you could jumpseat back home and still get payed for that time you’re at home???


Technically yes BUT that’s really not a good idea. When you’re in the middle of a trip you are not off (hence the reason you’re getting per diem). Airline schedules can and often do change. Let’s say you’re on a trip and go home and were planning on getting back the next afternoon. To use current events let’s say a hurricane changes tracks and they move your departure time up to get the plane out. If you’re not there that’s on you and it’ll cost you a lot more than that per diem not to mention a somewhat less than pleasant conversation with the Chief Pilot.


(Jesse) #36

Hi guys,

Quick question about low-seniority scheduling. I’m considering making the jump from rotorcraft to the airlines and will be a commuter if I do. I would much prefer a longer duration of days in-a-row followed by hopefully the same number of days off, more or less. With that in mind, it seems like generally the shorter 1-2 day trips are sought after and may go to those with senoirity. Is it realistic for a new guy to fairly regularly get a 5/5 or longer rotation? Also, is there a maximum amount of days that airlines will allow you to be scheduled?



There are basically 2 things that govern pilot scheduling. One is FAR Part 117 Flight and Duty Limitations and Rest Requirements AND the airline’s pilot contract which will have minimum days off per month (typically around 12). Beyond that no it is not realistic to have any consistent schedule. Some months you’ll be fine, others you won’t. EVERYTHING is based on seniority and until you build some you will literally be at the mercy of those senior to you. This month was my first month with a line as the most junior Capt at my airline. I actually did surprisingly well schedule wise, in fact I was shocked how good it was. I got the days off I wanted and the trips I wanted. I was giddy, until Feb’s schedule was posted and it was the complete opposite. Lousy trips, min days off and none that I wanted. As you said yes the shorter trips are more desirable, but that’s for those who live in base. You will most definitely not be the only commuter and the others will be thinking the same as you.




Basically in the airlines it is hard to work more than six days in a row due to the FARs. Generally speaking, the average trips at the airlines I have worked for are four days in length. Five or six day trips are rather unusual.

I have an uncle who flies helicopters to the rigs, he is able to really condense his schedule down, it will not be possible for you to do that at the airlines.


(Shane Meeks) #39


You (and others) have used the term “lousy” trips. Can you be more specific as to what defines a “lousy” trip?

Thanks much,



As the term “lousy” is a purely subjective term the definition of a “lousy trip” varies from individual to individual. Simply put every pilot has their own definition of what “lousy” means. It could be the duration, the destination, the crew. I like early am trips so to me any trip that doesn’t start early is a lousy trip. There are pilots who feel completely opposite. When I was at ExpressJet EWR pilots hated going to Mexico. I loved it and went all the time because no one else wanted to. There’s an old saying “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”, or is it the other way around? Regardless once you get there I promise you’ll have your very own personal definition of what a “lousy trip” is.