Real Answers from Real Pilots

Working part time at a legacy carrier?

(Scott ) #1

Hi, first off thank you to all the pilots on here who respond to these questions! I am currently 21 and will be graduating from college this spring and I am heavily considering a career in aviation as it seems to be a good time to get in.

I am curious about working part time at a legacy carrier someday. For instance, if I’m 45 or 50 and want to slow down to be home more is that an option? Can I choose to fly only 35 or 40 hours a month at an airline like American or Delta?



While it is occasionally possible for very senior pilots to fly low time months, or to drop their trips, to fly as little as you are asking is not possible. The airlines hire full time pilots, not part time. They invest a lot of money in training pilots and as such expect them to be full time employees.




As Chris said the airlines hire pilots to work full-time. The benefits they provide cost them the same regardless of hours so the less you work the more of an expense you become. There have been times of aircraft or base transitions, closing etc when they’ll offer reduced flying lines but that doesn’t happen often. Further, as you may or may not be aware, there’s been a pilot shortage plaguing the Regionals. Everyone is desperately waiting for the shortage to hit the Majors and Legacies so they can all advance rapidly, spend minimal time at the Regionals and make the big bucks. If that does happen and they’re short on pilots you can expect the airlines to try to increase the hours and productivity of the pilots not reduce it. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.


(Scott ) #4

Thank you for the responses. I definitely understand where the airlines are coming from.

On a similar note what would happen if you requested 3 days off one month for an important family event but they assigned you a trip for those days? Could you try to see if another pilot would pick up that trip? But at the same time would that upset the carrier because then you may only be flying for 60 hours that month?



There are a number of ways a pilot can get days off. First, if you know about it way in advance you can bid vacation for those days. If that doesn’t work then yes you’d bid them off. Most airline bidding systems will also allow you to “post” your trip for pickup or trade but as you point out there’s only so low an airline will let you drop (to clarify the carrier won’t be “bothered”, they simply won’t let you do it and deny the trade). What that means is if I REALLY needed those days off and knew that based on seniority it might be an issue, I might also bid for max credit that month (which might give me a line with 90hrs vs 75) to give me a better shot at dropping the trip if someone was willing to pick it up. The most common method however is to trade the trip for another on different days either with another pilot or from available open time. As with everything the more you gain seniority the more you get what you want.




People often develop temporary illnesses that prevent them from coming to work during those scenarios.

It is difficult for other pilots to take your trips, most will not do it as they are already flying quite a bit themselves.

If you drop below a certain minimum hours at my airline, the company will stop providing benefits for you.


(Tory) #7


Although flying part-time is not probable, a lot of pilots have side jobs anywhere from real estate, health clubs, oyster farms, aircraft maintenance, part 91 or 135 flying jobs, etc.