Real Answers from Real Pilots

Schedules and Domicile Questions

Hello all,

New to this forum, some excellent information here. I am 25 and have been interested in aviation for a long time and being a pilot has been something I always wanted to do, but there is one main thing that has kept me from making that leap into the profession; schedules, i.e. time away from home, missing holidays and such. So my question is, how much seniority do you have to build up in order to eventually get the big holidays off, or does it vary? I love spending time with family and would hate to miss Christmas and Thanksgiving every year, but I could deal it for a couple years if that’s what it takes.
Does living in a base of a regional make a difference? I live 30 minutes from DFW and if I were to get hired at Envoy what would be my chances of getting based here in the future and would that allow me to just do day trips and be back home at the end of those trips?

Hopefully this makes sense! Any advice you all could give me would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Hi Landon,

I’m sure the moderators will chime in here shortly but after being on the forum for a while now I can answer the first question on scheduling. Think of seniority as a “checkout line” at Target or something. You are basically asking how long until I get to the front of the line? As you can probably tell no one really knows that because there are several factors that are involved. It all depends on the number of pilots above you, the schedules they choose, the base you are at and then of course the equipment you are on. Eventually, you will be senior enough to get most of the days off you want but saying when is a moving target. My understanding, from what I’ve read, is that most pilots say being able to drive to base gives the best QOL, so look at airlines that have a base at DFW. I think there are a few others besides Envoy.

Landon,

Virtually impossible to answer as it can vary significantly from airline to
airline, base, equipment etc. I know pilots who have been at Hawaiian for
20yrs and still can’t get Christmas off. Most pilots try and adapt.
Sometimes you can manage a Christmas eve or have your trip finish on
Christmas. So people will celebrate early or late. Bottomline again is
there’s no set answer but if flying is what you want to do you should get
used to the idea of having cold turkey.

Adam

Landon,

The nature of the aviation industry is flying to far away places, that takes time and means that most trips are multi day trips. Even if you live in base and are senior, that is no guarantee that you will get single day trips. To consistently hold holidays off usually involves being very senior, but to put a number on it in terms of years would just be a guess.

My advice is to look at our schedules section and see if you can handle that amount of time on the road. The three mentors represent different types of flying at different levels in the industry, so it should give you a very good idea.

Chris

Jason, Adam, and Chris,

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it. This has always been the hardest thing for me to accept about the profession, time away from home, but on the other hand i guess you can make up for it with up to 15 days off per month like Chris has based on his schedule. It’s gonna be a tough decision for me for sure, but one I want to make soon.

Thanks again guys, if I have any more questions I will be back!

Landon,

I have no experience in the aviation world (yet), but I do have something for you to consider. I come from nearly 20 years working as a Firefighter/Medic. Because of the erratic nature of our schedules and the fact that we NEVER close, I and my family learned a long time ago that the holidays are what you make them. Yes, I would love to be able to have most holidays off, but 98% of what I wanted was to have the day off to be with family. As long as your family is as accommodating as mine is, who cares if Christmas is a day or two early/late? Just get together when you can. After all these years, it hasn’t made a bit of difference. Actually it has, because now we no longer have the stress of wondering if I can be there or not. We just make plans on a day off and I’m guaranteed to be there. This goes for any holiday, birthday, ect.

So, it’s a bit cheesy, but, “remember the important things”. And don’t forget the new opportunities this career might afford you. Personally, we’ve been looking at a European vacation just before Christmas (like this https://goo.gl/dWTsdc)

I hope this helps.

Hey Chris,

Thank you for your input, I appreciate it! You make great points, I actually have a brother who is a part time paramedic (he is currently working Harvey relief down in south Texas), so I have seen how those schedules can be erratic, but like you said, working around holidays and such has never been a problem for him. So really, this just comes down to me having to make an adjustment and whether I am willing to make it, I guess. I know my family would be very flexible with schedules, which is great.

Your Christmas trip to Europe would be awesome! Definitely something that I would love to do someday, living in north Texas means we get little to no snow here, so being able to travel to a fun wintery destination for Christmas would be cool.

So, do you plan on getting into the pilot profession?

On a side note concerning tickets, how does reserving of tickets for family and friends work as a pilot? Are you able to get them tickets for an actual seat or do they have to fly reserve/stand by?

Landon,

Family flies standby, friends can get “buddy passes”, which are also standby. While I have flown standby all over the world, if I really need to be someplace, I buy a ticket.

Chris

Landon,

Travel benefits are wonderful things but standby can and often is very stressful. The key word is be flexible but as Chris said if you need to be somewhere, even pilots buy a ticket.

Adam

Thanks Chris and Adam.
That is how I figured it worked, I personally think I would hate flying standby! So if you buy a ticket is that discounted any?

United does offer discounted tickets, they are about 20% off.

Hawaiian does as well but they’re not always available for all dates.

Adam

Got it, thanks guys. I want to be prepared knowing that working for an airline means family members would want some tickets, lol!