Real Answers from Real Pilots

Reserve or On Call Pilot Schedule

Good day everyone! I just would like to ask, is reserve Or on call schedule normal or standard for beginning pilots? Primarily on their first year? How long does it take for a pilot to hold a "Line Schedule "? I know it’s base on seniority but i have no idea how long it takes. I hope you all can help me out! Thanks in advance!

Bryan,

I have no idea how long it takes either as it can vary significantly from airline to airline, base to base, airplane to airplane. You could be on reserve a day, a month, a year or never. It varies based on many factors. Airlines have different “staffing formulas”. Some like to run lean on pilots others fat. One thing to keep in mind is reserve is not always a bad thing. I can easily hold a line but I get better days off and generally work less on reserve so I actually bid it. As I said I can always get the days off I want on reserve and in my experience senior pilots call in sick more than junior ones so I often get the trips I can’t normally hold. Bottomline is relax and don’t worry about it because you’ll be on reserve as long as you’re on reserve.

Adam

Can you explain reserve and what this means?

Bryan,

Like Adam said, it can really vary quite greatly. I was on reserve at Continental for two months, the guys that were hired just a few months behind me spent three years on reserve.

Chris

1 Like

Chris,

“Reserve” simply means that you do not have a set schedule of flying. Instead, a reserve pilot has days that they are available to the company and the company will assign them flying if they need them to cover trips due to other pilots getting sick, timing out, maintenance cancellations, bad weather, etc. Think of reserve pilots as the insurance plan for the company in case their plan does not work as predicted (which happens often).

Generally, the more junior pilots get assigned reserve as it is not as lucrative as being a line holder.

Chris

Reserve means, you will only go to the airport and fly whenever they call you. It includes 75, less or more hours guarantee each month depending on the airlines you’re employed with. If you didn’t get call in that day, it’s another day off for you. Some pilots prefers it , some pilots don’t especially when it comes to building flying hours like future pilot like myself. I don’t really have that much knowledge I only base my knowledge from researches due to I want to know more where I’m heading. I know for sure that Adam and Chris can help you much more because they have been in the industry for a long time.

Thank you Adam for the information! I promise I will relax due to there’s no way on breaking the policy anyways! Lastly, how would I know that I’m no longer on reserve? Thanks in advance!

Bryan,

Every month when you bid the company tells you how many lines of scheduled flying will be built, you will see where your seniority falls on that list. Don’t worry, it will be very clear when you have a line and when you don’t.

Chris

Bryan,

The best advice anyone ever gave me when it comes to the airlines is ALWAYS bid what you want, NOT what you think you can hold. Every month pilots bid for their schedules. Junior pilots often just assume they’re on Reserve and have no say and many don’t even bid. The thing is people make error on their bids, they forget to bid, take vacation, move up, upgrade whatever and you could very well get a line if you had tried. The moral of the story is it never hurts to ask so always bid for what you want and you could on occasion be surprised. Just don’t count on it :slight_smile:

Adam

1 Like

Adam,

This might be a dumb question but I’ve seen you say multiple times bid what you want not what you think you can hold. So what happens if you bid a line that you thought you could get but it goes to a more senior? Do you bid multiple lines and if your first choice is gone they go down your list? Also is it easy to see where you stand as far as your seniority compared to others?

Thank you!
Jesse

Jesse,

Pilots bid multiple choices, just in case they don’t get what they want.

It is very easy to see where one stands on the seniority list. Airlines keep this information in their computer system and it is easily searchable.

Chris

Jesse,

I’m actually a really lazy bid. I’m generally about days off and a few choice overnights but there are some really hardcore bidders out there that do every possible contingency. There’s a whole lot of “if not this then this” for pages. I don’t have the patience.

Adam

1 Like

Thanks guys! I’ve learned a ton from this site and I really appreciate you guys taking to time to do it!

Jesse

1 Like

No worries. Feel free to ask us anything else you think of.

:slight_smile:

1 Like