I understand that part 135 isn’t as strict as part 121, since you typically only need a commercial rating rather than the full ATP certification to work for a part 135 airline. Likewise, I also understand part 135 pilots make less. What’s the difference in lifestyle? Do part 135 pilots for commuter type airlines take day trips exclusively? Do they get employee travel benefits? What other differences are there?
Great question but not the easiest to answer. Part 135 can cover a wide variety of operations from small cargo to fractional corporate operations to smaller commuter airlines. Companies like NetJets actually pay very well while a bank check service does not. Lifestyle? Mokulele Airlines will have you home every night, small cargo you may be flying only at night and NetJets might send you to Asia for a week. If you are talking 135 commuter you’ll probably only have flight benefits on that carrier BUT your company might have a jumpseat agreement with some Majors which would allow you to fly for free.
As I said there’s a huge spectrum of 135 flying out there (some obviously better than others). You really need to look at each separately.
I would say the upper end of 135 like Netjets or solid corporate flight departments have an excellent quality of life. The company I flew for was 7 days on, 7 days off. Add to that 2 weeks vacation (week off+week vacation+week off) and it meant two 3 week vacations my first year on top of all those other weeks off.
So while I didn’t fly heavy metal aircraft I also was guaranteed to work less than half the year, hardly ever dealt with TSA major airport mania, and flew clean equipment without so much as fingerprints on the windows.
I have a buddy who is a Chief Pilot at a major corporate flight department and his pilots average 9 days a month away from base.
I can’t speak to the other end of the spectrum of 135 flying but for me, coming off the Regional Airlines to fractional was an eye opening quality of life change. Bear in mind, this was a while ago and the regional airlines have come a long way in making it better for pilots in the last 10 years.
Does ATP offer part 135?
All pilots receive the training, they then chose whether they want to work in a 121 or 135 operation.