Real Answers from Real Pilots

Employer location

Hello,

I’m trying to research how working for a company not based out of my home airport would work. I am in Des Moines and we have a decent sized airport but I doubt many airlines/aviation companies are based here. I’ve heard stories that pilots need to get apartments to stay in at the city of their airlines headquarters. Is this true or how does it work? Besides hotels for your overnights, have you had to have creative arrangements for your housing when working?

I moved to my base because I didn’t want to commute. Some pilots I work
with live out of state and pay $250-300 a month for a crash pad near base
for convenience.

Austin,

Commuting is considered one of the perks of the job in that you can literally live anywhere you chose. How troublesome your commute is often depends on where your base is and how busy is the airport you’re flying out of? What I mean is if you live near DSM and are commuting to ORD or MSP, no biggy. It’s 1 short flight and there are usually many of them. If however you’re based in EWR or MIA, there may not be any direct flights (or only 1) and that makes it more challenging. Now once you gain some seniority it’s often not that big a deal because you can bid for (and get) “commutable trips”. That means trips that start later in the day and finish earlier. That way you don’t even need a place to stay. However when you’re new and can’t get those trips or are on reserve you will need accommodations. The good news is this has been going on forever so by virtually every airline base in the US you will find crashpads. Crashpads can be anything from access to a single bunkbed at a hotel filled with a dozen to sharing a pretty nice apt with other flight crew members. Obviously the nicer they are the more expensive. As I said this is very common and you should have no problem finding something that suits you.

Adam

Thank you for that information…but I’m still a little confused. So let’s say I live in DSM and my airline is based out of Chicago. Would this mean I would take a flight from DSM to Chicago every time I start a ‘work stretch?’ And to my understanding you could finish your stretch in any city…So I assume I’d need to take a flight back to Des Moines from wherever I end the work week at?

Austin,

The way horizon builds our trips, they start and end at our base.
Occasionally a trip begins or ends away from base. In that case, we have a
deadhead scheduled on the front or end or both ends of your trip.

Austin,

Yes that’s exactly what that means. Let’s just say you weren’t a pilot and you had a job in Des Moines. A year later you decide to move to Chicago. If you didn’t want to quit your job and your company didn’t have an office in Chicago you’d have to commute to Des Moines every day right? Well it’s the same with the airlines. When you get hired as a pilot you will be assigned a base. If you live there great if not it’s up to YOU to get to work.

As for finishing your trips in most cases you will always finish your trip where you start which is at your base (which is why it’s YOUR base). The times you don’t you’ll be “deadheaded” back to your base.

Adam

Austin,

I have always lived in South Bend, Indiana and Norfolk, Virginia, but worked in Newark, New Jersey. I maintained a “crashpad” there, which is essentially a house that is rented out by several pilots and used for as a place to occasionally spend the night. I spend about $200 per month on it.

Chris

Austin,

At every airline that I have worked for your trips almost always begin and end at your base, so you would need to get to and from DSM every time you started or ended a work block.

Chris