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Regional Quality of Life?

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Well-known member
Dec 23, 2001
Can some of you married with kids regional pilots shed some light on how quality of life is while working for a regional?

How many days are you away from home?

You won't be seeing your kids on a regular schedule. I am about to get out of the regionals for that very reason. Too much time away. At first, having a minimum of 10 days off per month (my contract) sounds great since most people have about 8 off per month in the real world....however, what they should ask you in the interview is "how do you feel about being away 20 days of the month?" That would be more accurate. All of this will vary by contract and your tolerance level, but it is not a great place to raise a family. On top of that, if you have to commute, kiss even more of those days bye bye. But people have been doing it for years and years. The divorce rate is high and I can see why. Hope that doesn't depress you, but it is the reality. (oh, and the pay sucks for the most part)

Good luck with your decision.
Some carriers don't have overnights. I think Colgan is one of them. If you really want to be home at night, do some research and you will find airlines that have few if any overnights. Of course this limits your options of airlines and reduces your already low pay, but everything is a compromise. -Bean
If you do your homework.....

You can find some good regionals out there. With mom and the kids you should definitely look for a regional close to home. Commuting can take those minimum 10 days off down to 6-7.

I think the key to regional happiness for people with or without kids is to find a company that is expanding. The faster you move up in seniority.... the faster you get a better quality of life. If you get hired on with a company that is stagnant you will be stuck on reserve with 10 days off for a very long time.

To give you an example.... I got hired on at Mesaba in 97 when they were growing like mad. I never sat reserve. After my third month I had 13-14 days off. I upgraded in a little less than 2 years. I am now getting 20 days off a month with all weekends and holidays off.

BUT... Mesaba is going nowhere for a while...... New hires now are still on reserve after 1.5 years...... YIKES :(

DO your homework and talk to everybody you can at each regional.

Good Luck to you!!!

OakRBust makes a good point about expansion. Unfortunately, right now nobody is expanding terribly quickly. A Buddy of mine had been at Mesa for a year and a half. They told him when he started that he would probably sit reserve for about 5 months. He is still sitting reserve.
This industry is so cyclical it really comes down to timing. If you "got in" the industry when times were good and people were moving up the seniority list, then life was grand. You upgraded quickly, got a decent schedule, and did your time. Now, everything has virtually stopped and those sitting reserve are hating life and those with regular lines are probably feeling lucky that they just got in at the right time.

To answer your question, do as the others have pointed out. If you ask someone with a regular line 15-18 days off you'll get one answer. Ask someone who's been sitting reserve for over a year with no end in sight, you'll get another answer. Then ask people at various airlines and you'll get different answers.

Regionals are "expanding" with a few hiring and receiving new airplanes. But it doesn't necessarily mean you are moving up the list. You're just putting more people below you. Attrition rate is so low at most airlines that you are stuck where you are. I think it boils down to your attitude. Obviously overall morale is very low in the entire industry, but try to make the best of it and hope things will turn around in the near future. :cool:
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Most of the trips at Skywest on the RJ are 4 days -- meaning three nights a week away from home if you don't commute. There are also a 3 day trips, locals, stand-ups(continous duty overnights) and 5 day trips. Occasionally we'll have 2 day trips which are usually back to back meaning you work four days a week. Again the majority of trips are 4 days, so if you don't have the seniority you won't see anything but those or the 5 day trips (you typically would only do 3 - 5 day trips a month as opposed to 4 - 4 day trips).

I have a 1 year old son at home so most of the year I have bid stand-ups to spend time with him. This typically involves three or four nights a week showing at approximately 9:00 pm, flying to the outstation and getting to the hotel about 11:30, then flying back to SLC in the morning and getting off duty at about 8:00 am. It's a great schedule if you want to spend a lot of time at home and it basically pays the same as 4 day trips. Downside I have only blocked about 300 hours this year. Seniority is everything in the airline business. I bid about 70 out of 240 and can barely hold a line like this. I haven't been able to hold 3 day trips or locals since January of this year.
At ASA we have a lot of trips (especially 3 or 4 days) that dutyin late the 1st day and get off early the last day.

My line this month has trips that start at 240pm on day 1, get off at 9am day 4. Then 3 days off, but really an additional 2 half days off if you look at the show and release times of the trip.

What it adds up to is 3 nights a week away from home.

Pretty typical mid level seniority stuff for us, although we're hoping for better constructed trips in the new contract.

To echo what other have already said on this thread, if you value time home with the family, DON'T COMMUTE.

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