Real Answers from Real Pilots

Pilot Roster

I was just wondering how a typical roster is for a pilot in a major US airline (eg DEN based united 737 capitan). How many 4,3,2 or 1 day trips do you get, how many hours do you fly, how many days off, etc.

Martin,

Go to the “Schedules” section of the forum and take a look at our schedules, you will see exactly what each of us flies each month.

That being said, our schedules are a reflection of what we bid. For example, I like doing the longer trips so I have to make less trips back and forth to the airport, so you will see mostly three and four day trips on my schedule. We do have one and two day trips that a lot of pilots that live near the airport like to bid for. Once you switch over to international flying the minimum length of the trips is three days and can be as long as eight days.

Of course, keep in mind that your ability to hold any type of trip is determined by your seniority, so in the beginning you won’t have much say in the manner.

Chris

Martin,

There really is no “typical” when it comes to schedules. How many 1,2,3 and 4 day trips depends on what airline you fly for, what you bid and what your seniority will get you. Same for days off and hours. But most airlines have a minimum days off per month (usually around 12) and the average “line” is between 80-90hrs. Again how that gets spread out can vary significantly.

Adam

Thank you very much for answering,
I also have a very quick and kind of strange question,
When you arrive in the crew room/lounge where do you meet the other pilot and how do you know who it is,
Thank you,
Martin

Martin,

At my airline we are able to access a directory of employee pictures, so it is pretty easily to tell who you are flying with.

At the larger pilot bases we have little signs with the destination airport code that we put on the flight planning table that we are sitting at, that way the second pilot to arrive can easily determine who they are flying with.

Chris

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That’s an interesting way to do it! At a place the size of United, how often, if ever, do you find yourselves flying with the same pair of pilots?

Not very often. I would say over ten years at this airline I have flown multiple trips with less than a dozen Captains.

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Chris,

Can you request to fly with a certain Captain, say you happen to know someone and like to fly with them or would you just have to put in the same request when bidding and see what happens. Just curious.

Ryan

Ryan,

Once again I get to express my favorite answer. SENIORITY. As with EVERYTHING you must bid what you want, if your seniority will hold it, it’s yours, if not it’s not. That said I have my favorites and there are people who like flying with me (believe it or not?). It’s pretty common if I see my trip is missing a CA or a friend’s trip is missing an FO to get/make a call saying “hey grab my trip” and it can be picked up from open time.

Adam

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Ryan,

When we bid our monthly schedules we can request to fly with certain Captains, if your seniority enables it you will get trips with them. On the flip side of that, we can also request to avoid certain Captains.

Chris

Ryan,

I recently flew a trip on the CRJ2 (1 FA) where the CA and FA were a couple. They bid to fly with each other and get most of their schedule awarded together.

I believe he said that CAs don’t have the option to bid to fly with others but everyone else (FOs/FAs) does have the option.

Yarden