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Questions for airline pilots

N

NewGuy

I am currently in college and am going to begin fllight training shortly. I am considering a career as an airline pilot, but I was wondering if you guys could answer a few questions for me about the nature of the job. I would appreciate it. I know that hiring is slow right now, but hopefully by the time I am done training, it will be picking up again. Anyway, here's my questions.

1. Exactly how much are you away from home? How many days a month? How many days at a time? That type of thing.

2. Are most of you married?

3. How easily can you get time off? How much vacation time do you have?

4. How long do you have to be with an airline before the inome gets to be good?

Sorry if these questions are kind of corny, but I'm new and I know nothing about this stuff. Anything else you want to add about the lifestyle or job feel free. Thanks.
 

Andy Neill

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
2,293
Total Time
6200
The answers to most of your questions are "It depends."

1. At my airline, it varies from 4 4-day trips a month to home every night. Our lines are composed (mostly) of locals (home every night), standup overnights (last flight out, 3-5 hour layover, and first flight in), and 2,3, or 4 day trips. Those on reserve get 10 days off a month while others get from 12 -18 days off a month.

2. Don't know.

3. At my airline, it starts at 5.8% of the year off and builds to 11.5% of the year off. This can be lengthened with strategic use of bidding.

4. Define "good". For a 2nd year CRJ FO, the income is decent. For a 3rd year captain is good by many non-pilot standards. It doesn't get above 6 figures until you have been doing about 8-12 years of professional flying (when you get on with a major) or completing a career at a regional.

What would you want to do in an airline careeer? What types of things are important to you?
 
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TriStar_drvr

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 27, 2001
Posts
427
Total Time
12000+
Newguy,

As to your questions:

1. It varies for me. I've been away as much as 20 days in a month to as few as 3-4 when I'm on reserve. Guess the average would be around 15 days a month. This assumes you live in base. Remember one thing about flying for the airlines: Commuting S*CKS!

2. I am. Been that way for nearly 12 years. Don't know about the rest of the guys (used to mean both men and women pilots).

3. Not very easily now. Seniority is everything in the airline business. Those with the most seniority pick the best schedules. I have little seniority and thus get the leftovers. As for vacation, I get almost three weeks a year, but I seldom get to take vacations when I want them. It's that seniority thing again.

4. Don't know when the money gets good. Still hasn't gotten good for me...
 
N

NewGuy

Hey Andy, what exactly do you mean when you ask, what is important to me? I can't say that I'm exactly sure what I want with an airline career, because I don't know enough about the nature of the job to know what I could want. I just know that I want to fly. I love aviation and I want to do nothing more. The money thing is a plus also. If I could make six figures doing something that I love so much, that would be the life. I'm sure there are a lot of negatives about the job that I don't know about yet. However, that is what I'm trying to figure out from this post. Thanks.
 

Andy Neill

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
2,293
Total Time
6200
My question was aimed at things, is geography important to you (do you want to live in a particualr part of the country), do you want to fly the biggest/baddest/newest thing in the industry, do you want to deal with people or would you be more comfortable with cargo, do you want to see the world or master your corner of it? Thing like that. The answers will give you some direction in how you should proceed.
 

F4U

Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Posts
10
Total Time
3000
NewGuy,

1. It depends. Your schedule will change from month to month. I am normally home everynight, because I live at my base. Last month I was off 15 days and I flew about 90 hours. This month I will be off 15 days and fly about 75 hours.

2. I am married. I live at my base, which I would recommend when you first start. Commuting is a pain, however as time goes by you will probably start commuting because it is the only way you will ever be able to call one place home. Bases open and close and you will move to different bases because of upgrade, ect.

3. If you need time off, you can drop a trip, but it will come off of your time unless you pick up some extra time to make up for the dropped trip. I get 1 week per year for the next 4 years then it will go up to 2 weeks.

4. Depends on the airline. My first year as a FO I made about 22,000. You will make decent money when you upgrade to catain. Decent not get rich.
 
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N

NewGuy

To be honest with you, I'm not exactly sure what exactly I want at this point. I will have to wait until I'm to the point to where I can get a job to know those things. I guess I wouldn't mind going the cargo route, if that option was open to me. I just depends on what the airlines offer me. How is hiring in the cargo industry right now? How does the pay compare to passenger airlines? I'm not so sure that I would be wanting to be on the international crews. I don't think I'd want that. I'd probably rather fly in the U.S.

By the way, what airlines are you guys actually with? Cargo, pax? F4U, did you say you are home every night? How is that? I thought airline guys are gone all the time. Do you have a lot of seniority? Where are all of your bases located?

Thanks.
 

H2OK9

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 10, 2002
Posts
74
Total Time
6500
Hey FNG, just kidding,
The most important thing is your love for flying, I left a 75k/year job to fly with a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps. Do what you love and have a passion for and the money will come.
1. I'm away from home 4,5,6 days at a time but I have 10-15 days off per month
2. Married
3.who cares about vacation time, I just had the last 4days of the month off with the first 3 days of the next month and took my family to Florida (for free!) flight bennies, and didn't use any vacation time.
 
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