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View Full Version : Life in the Airlines


Fenderbean
04-15-2018, 08:44 AM
So as my retirement date approaches and I start to prep for the airlines I was wondering about the life style. Do most pilots live near the hub they fly out of or do they commute? Im wondering how tough that is, I have a particular place I would like to settle down at that has an international airport there but the two airlines im looking at are in are not there but im sure they have flights to and from. This is going to be the toughest part for me since I have just spent 20 years living out of a bag.


BeatNavy
04-15-2018, 09:14 AM
So as my retirement date approaches and I start to prep for the airlines I was wondering about the life style. Do most pilots live near the hub they fly out of or do they commute? Im wondering how tough that is, I have a particular place I would like to settle down at that has an international airport there but the two airlines im looking at are in are not there but im sure they have flights to and from. This is going to be the toughest part for me since I have just spent 20 years living out of a bag.

passrider (http://www.passrider.com/reservations/advanced-search/)

Check flights there.

Commuting sucks. I commuted for a few weeks to reserve at a regional, then drove to work there for a year, and I've been commuting to my current airline across the country for 2 years. It's a significant PITA and the worst part about this job. My schedule is less flexible, I can't pick up/swap into better stuff that is short notice, and usually if I'm headed to work I'm too close in to swap anyway. Commuting to reserve is about as bad as it gets, especially at a regional. Crashpad life is no bueno.

I'm senior enough to hold commutable stuff now and I got rid of my crashpad, but I commute on a redeye and get home late the night I finish a trip. I had to go in the day before a lot my first 2 years, and sometimes wouldn't make it home until the next day after my trip. That kills QOL, as does riding on a plane in the back 40 hours a month. Also, bidding for commutable trips takes out a lot of good overnights and/or productivity.

There are some short commutes that are highly commuted and you will be fighting for a jumpseat. Commuting offline makes that very difficult and unpredictable. There are some lightly commuted routes that are very easy and people do those commutes with less stress. Some airlines have good commuter clauses...some don't. Mine allows for one online attempt or 2 offline attempts. Some people can handle commuting just fine...I think it depends on your situation. If its a short easy commute, and you have a good crashpad setup, and don't mind being away from home, it may be ok. I would never commute for a regional, but they have gotten a lot better and some even pay for commuter hotels now. The AA wholly owned ones have good flight benefits, so there's that. Commuting on your own metal is always better (priority for jumpseat, etc.).

Regardless of commuting or not, you will be living out of a suitcase for half the month for a while. Assuming you're going to a regional, where most have 11-13 days off on reserve, and after a while you can hold 13-18 off depending on the regional. The rest of that time you'll be in a pad or hotel. I'm gone a lot more than I was in the Army fwiw, but I'm not getting shot at and I come home more frequently.

Sliceback
04-15-2018, 10:08 AM
Commuting - leave home at 1000, back at 0100 on day 3 (actually after midnight so day 4).

Live in base - leave home at 1700, home at 1700 on day 3.

That adds in golf, tennis, chores, etc, and a lunch and dinner at home, along with a normal bed time, 4-5x per month.

And thatís for a commutable trip. For me, depending on the base, a commute adds 4-10 hrs per commute.

Kids out of the house? Rent in base and then commute for awhile(a year?). Youíll figure it out for yourself. Some guys make the commute work for them and for others it stinks.


Grumble
04-15-2018, 10:12 AM
Commuting - leave home at 1000, back at 0100 on day 3 (actually after midnight so day 4).

Live in base - leave home at 1700, home at 1700 on day 3.

That adds in golf, tennis, chores, etc, and a lunch and dinner at home, along with a normal bed time, 4-5x per month.

And thatís for a commutable trip. For me, depending on the base, a commute adds 4-10 hrs per commute.

Kids out of the house? Rent in base and then commute for awhile(a year?). Youíll figure it out for yourself. Some guys make the commute work for them and for others it stinks.

Depending on what airline you get picked up with and what base you wind up in, that commute may save you $30k+ in taxes. Every time I get screwed on my commute (which is rare) I remind myself Iím saving about $4k/month.

Living in base def makes it a better job however.

Live where you want and commute, or live where you can tolerate and drive. If the two happen to be one in the same, youíve won the career lottery.

BeatNavy
04-15-2018, 10:42 AM
I'll also add that there is a retired army guy at my airline who drove 6 hours from Dothan to Savannah to catch a commute flight to NY for a couple years until he moved to Savannah...that was the closest decent commute airport for him, and he had friends there to crash with if he couldn't get on a flight. I don't think his wife saw him very much. I know guys who drive from DFW-IAH or vice versa because driving 4-5 hours is sometimes easier than commuting on a 45 min flight. Ditto for other 2-4 hour drive city pairs depending on how the typical loads are, weather/cancelations, etc.

Depending on what airline you are at, you can overnight at home if you can bid/hold trips that overnight where you live. That can make up for time lost commuting. It can also result in getting paid to commute to work with virtual basing, jetway trades, etc., or premium trips if someone there calls out sick and they need someone to operate the flight back, etc. and have no reserves since it isn't a base for your airline. Also, if your airline has many trips that start/end with deadheads, once you can hold those, and if your airline allows it, you can self DH, not get on your scheduled DH and pick up your trip where it starts. That's another method of getting paid to commute to work.

You'll figure a lot of this out once you start. But for planning purposes, plan on life sucking commuting to reserve at a regional, then getting incrementally better each month as your seniority gets better and you become a line holder. For me, I will take my transcon commute to NY before I'd move there, and I will eventually move into one of my airline's bases once I'm done with my mil stuff.

Adlerdriver
04-15-2018, 10:58 AM
You could also try coming to FedEx and (assuming you live in a city we fly to) have one of the easiest commutes in the industry. Get a little seniority and get paid to commute on our trips that start and/or end with a deadhead.

BeatNavy
04-15-2018, 11:06 AM
You could also try coming to FedEx and (assuming you live in a city we fly to) have one of the easiest commutes in the industry. Get a little seniority and get paid to commute on our trips that start and/or end with a deadhead.

Until FedEx starts counting helicopter time, I don't think that will help OP in the short term regional plan. Although commuting on FedEx, even offline, has been helpful to me in the past and is worth looking into as an option for him.

Fenderbean
04-15-2018, 01:55 PM
Well I would love to live around Huntsville and the two airlines im planning to go with are Gojet and PSA. Im on the fence about the airlines and from the research I have been doing I completely understand why they have shortages, bad pay for the first 6-8 years and constant travel to and from work gets to you. Even harder pill to swallow after spending 20 years in the Army doing it.

So how does the hub you get work? can you request it or do they send you to one for starters and then maybe later can pick?

Also your saying that 1st officer cant bid on commuter flight seats?

navigatro
04-15-2018, 04:20 PM
Depending on what airline you get picked up with and what base you wind up in, that commute may save you $30k+ in taxes. Every time I get screwed on my commute (which is rare) I remind myself Iím saving about $4k/month.

Living in base def makes it a better job however.

Live where you want and commute, or live where you can tolerate and drive. If the two happen to be one in the same, youíve won the career lottery.

I may pay more in taxes than the non-commuters, but living in domicile makes it very easy to make up for that (if I want) by picking up extra work on my days off. And I still work less than most commuters.

BeatNavy
04-15-2018, 04:55 PM
So how does the hub you get work? can you request it or do they send you to one for starters and then maybe later can pick?

Also your saying that 1st officer cant bid on commuter flight seats?

You keep saying hub...thatís not the right word. I think you mean base. A hub is a big airline base that serves the hub and spoke model. A base is a domicile where you are assigned...not necessarily a hub. Itís all based on seniority and varies airline to airline. Usually places like NYC are junior bases at airlines that have bases there because of the cost of living. You donít get paid more for being based in a high cost of living area, which is why they tend to go junior. For reference, the most junior FO at my airlineís most senior base could hold captain at our junior base. Base/equipment/seat is all seniority based, and youíll figure out where you can hold the best pay/QOL based on your commute and lifestyle. As a regional guy, most airlines only have one or two planes...figure out what bases you can commute to the easiest and go to a regional with a good contract and good movement (ie not expressjet) so you can get some seniority quickly.

Friends donít let friends go to gojet (unless maybe you live in one of their junior bases). I have an army bro who lives in Huntsville and is starting at endeavor in July. Highest pay and one of the best contracts for regionals. PSA may work ok for you too. But check out endeavor since getting to ATL would be fairly easy and cheap from HSV.

shavetail
04-15-2018, 05:08 PM
I retired a few months back after a 5 yr staff gig and timing worked to get back into the game with a regional. Lots of factors for choosing my regional but top on list was ease of commute to DEN. Should be based in DEN after 4 months of flying. Have the option to fly on company jet too and gives priority in the jump. End game stay in ABQ and commute to DEN with a legacy or major (6-7 daily 1hr non-stop flts to DEN). Could take 2-5 yrs to be based in DEN. But I think I limited end game without really taken into account UPS or FEDEX. I need to rethink that and should jump on a seat to get an accurate idea about flying FEDEX/UPS. I need to consider since I assumed commuting to FEDEX/UPS was not ideal until AlderDriver mentioned it. You have me thinking now....AlderDriver, can you give me an idea how a commute from ABQ to MEM or other hub on FEDEX would work? I toyed around with the FEDEX Jumpseat website....has a daily late night flight non-stop to MEM most days. Looks easier to get to MEM than LAX. Assuming MEM as hub, and commuting from ABQ, would duty start the next day or would it be possible to start flight period upon arrival late that night. Thank you

Adlerdriver
04-15-2018, 06:29 PM
AlderDriver, can you give me an idea how a commute from ABQ to MEM or other hub on FEDEX would work? I toyed around with the FEDEX Jumpseat website....has a daily late night flight non-stop to MEM most days. Looks easier to get to MEM than LAX. Assuming MEM as hub, and commuting from ABQ, would duty start the next day or would it be possible to start flight period upon arrival late that night. Thank you The first thing worth noting to help put the FedEx schedule in perspective is the business model and how we deliver the stuff. We don't deliver Sundays and only limited on Saturdays. So the flying schedule tends to be lighter on the weekends. Everything is getting picked up around the US to start the journey on Monday - so no reason to fly from MEM to any city on that day. With that in mind, it's rare to find scheduled flights outbound from MEM to anywhere on Monday. IND is another huge sort facility and all the stuff I'm describing with MEM is happening simultaneously there as well. However, as of right now, there is no flight from ABQ to or from IND. So, that's not an option for you.

So, the week always starts with Monday night flights from every city we serve (including ABQ). All the packages have been picked up all day long Monday (and every weekday as the week continues). Now they're on the jet and at 20:00L ABQ time, they take off for MEM. Once they get to MEM around midnight, they need a few hours to be sorted and loaded on the correct jets to take them to their final destination later that morning. That works out perfect for you since you can arrive a few hours before your show time, maybe grab a nap and be ready for duty at, say, 0200-0300L MEM time.

Your trip is usually going to start with one of those outbound flight from MEM leaving at around 0300-0400L MEM time. So, you leave your house to show at the ABQ airport at 1900L for the jumpseat that takes off at 2000L. There's one every night from Mon-Fri that will get you to MEM in plenty of time for you to make any morning trip we have.

When you finish your last trip of the week and arrive back in MEM on Friday night (again, just before midnight) - now it's time to go home. You wait a few hours and jump on the ABQ flight that leaves around 0400L and lands back there at 0530L. There is also a daily flight every afternoon (Tues-Sun) roughly 12 hours later departing MEM around 1600, arriving ABQ at 1730L.

Right now the A300 is flying to ABQ. That's 6 seats outside the cockpit and two inside. I seriously doubt you'll have much trouble getting a seat most days you need one. They can be reserved 3-weeks in advance. If you miss your trip because the jumpseat flight is late, you will lose the trip pay but be free from discipline (as long as your schedule meets certain parameters which it should).

Since there needs to be pilots in ABQ Monday night ready to fly to MEM, that means they either fly there Saturday and layover all weekend until Monday night - or they leave MEM Monday morning or Sunday afternoon and deadhead to ABQ on commercial airlines. So, if you get one of those trips - you either spend the weekend laying over at home or you wake up Monday morning already where you need to be getting paid to be there (no need to commute to MEM just to fly commercial back to ABQ. Just cancel the ticket and stay home since you're where you need to be).

Since FedEx need pilots in all their cities Monday night ready to fly to MEM, there are A LOT of trips with commercial deadheads Monday morning. You may not have the ABQ one, but maybe you get the one in DFW. So, you cancel the ticket from MEM to DFW on your trip and used the money FedEx planned to use to buy yourself one from ABQ to DFW. If it's cheaper than the MEM-DFW one and you have some extra, maybe get a car service to drive you to the airport. Jump on a morning flight to DFW (with a confirmed seat, earning frequent flyer miles and getting paid), make your way to the scheduled layover hotel and grab an afternoon nap before showtime later that evening. Fly one leg to MEM, turn to your next trip, fly somewhere else, sleep the day there, back to MEM that night and so on for the week. Finish up Friday night or Saturday morning and look forward to maybe having a whole week off before you do it again.

That's just one simple example of a basic domestic schedule. The deadhead deviation options gives us HUGE flexibility in how we get to work. There are lots of folks who rarely ever have to actually make a true commute to MEM to start a trip. It's common for senior guys who always get deadheads and maybe turn through IND instead of MEM to only go to MEM once every 9 months for recurrent. You mentioned LAX - although it may be closer, it really wouldn't be an option for many years. It's only an MD-11 base and is extremely senior. If you're staying in ABQ, MEM is your best bet for the near future anyway.

Hopefully that all makes sense and removes some of the mystery. I haven't even touched on the international deadhead options - maybe another time. Overall it's a great set-up if you can swing it. Highly recommend.

shavetail
04-15-2018, 07:38 PM
Thank you Adlerdriver for taking the time to explain the domestic process. That is a post that I am going to keep on file. Now real excited about learning more.

Han Solo
04-17-2018, 02:44 AM
So as my retirement date approaches and I start to prep for the airlines I was wondering about the life style. Do most pilots live near the hub they fly out of or do they commute? Im wondering how tough that is, I have a particular place I would like to settle down at that has an international airport there but the two airlines im looking at are in are not there but im sure they have flights to and from. This is going to be the toughest part for me since I have just spent 20 years living out of a bag.

1. grill your guard/res buds @ your unit, they should be a primary resource
2. the grass really is way greener
3. commuting just about always sucks but certain circumstances can make it even worse! example: a contemporary of mine lives in Dallas and was thinking it would be an easy commute from DFW to ATL to work for DAL (just look at all the nonstops!!!). what he didn't know was we closed a base there and that commute might be the worst at the company, even more so for a junior pilot. swa is a crappy backup since a lot of former ATL air tran guys now commute to DAL. if you have a specific airline, go to their forum here and ask about your specific proposed commute.

JTwift
04-17-2018, 07:18 AM
1. grill your guard/res buds @ your unit, they should be a primary resource
2. the grass really is way greener
3. commuting just about always sucks but certain circumstances can make it even worse! example: a contemporary of mine lives in Dallas and was thinking it would be an easy commute from DFW to ATL to work for DAL (just look at all the nonstops!!!). what he didn't know was we closed a base there and that commute might be the worst at the company, even more so for a junior pilot. swa is a crappy backup since a lot of former ATL air tran guys now commute to DAL. if you have a specific airline, go to their forum here and ask about your specific proposed commute.

I believe DAL - ATL is generally considered the worst commute in the country.

atpcliff
04-17-2018, 08:49 AM
Kalitta Air has Home Basing.
Western Global has Worldwide Home Basing, but is typically considered a lower-tier carrier.
ATI has home basing, but is typically considered a lower-tier carrier.
NetJets has Gateway Basing.
There are a number of other charter operators with Home Basing.
Atlas has Gateway Travel (not as good as Home basing).

All of the above you do not worry about commuting. The company buys you a ticket, and it is their responsibility to get you to/from work. Some of the pilots at the above companies really like the fact that you don't have to worry about commuting.

PM me if you have any questions (I was Rucker, 86-02, Air Force).

Thunder1
04-21-2018, 07:51 PM
This is one perspective from a 6+ year Southwest Airlines guy that also put in 20+ years flying for Uncle Sam:

Do yourself a huge favor and move to a domicile at your airline!
You've been moving around and making it work with the military calling the shots on where you live so you're obviously flexible about where you live or you wouldn't have stayed for the 20 years.

Your life WILL be sucked out of you spending a full day each week getting to and from work. Anyone that tells you it is not a half day getting there and another half day getting home at the end of your trip is lying to you. That is a full day wasted typically once a week at any passenger airline.

Also, at most airlines, especially Southwest, you will make a LOT more money living in a domicile by being able to pick up short notice extra flying normally at 1.5x regular pay.

Also, don't forget -- you, the wife and the kids now fly for free. They can go visit family in that "other city" that you would have lived in anytime they want -- for FREE!

Just my opinion -- you've worked way too hard to have life suck because of a commute. And don't believe anything else -- COMMUTING SUCKS!! Many do it for a variety of reasons -- but all commuters who are honest will tell you the truth and IT SUCKS.
I did it for 1.5 years and cried uncle and moved to domicile 5 years ago -- best decision ever!! I'm happy, wife is happy. Life is good.
Best of luck on your decisions and thanks for your 20 years of service!

rickair7777
04-21-2018, 08:42 PM
Your life WILL be sucked out of you spending a full day each week getting to and from work. Anyone that tells you it is not a half day getting there and another half day getting home at the end of your trip is lying to you. That is a full day wasted typically once a week at any passenger airline.


There's a stress factor, but a commute doesn't have to be THAT bad. Two hour flight time max, with multiple non-stops on multiple airlines is largely a no-brainer. But if it's a congested hub-to-hub route, and/or populated by senior people it can get hard.

You obviously need enough seniority to bid commutable trips. That varies by airline (at mine the threshold is the junior lineholder).

When I commuted, I would depart about three hours prior to show, which would give me one backup flight (down to the last minute). Holidays might necessitate spending a half or whole day commuting (or just buy a ticket if you don't want to deal with it).

If you draw a two-hour circle around all the major hubs, that vastly opens up your lifestyle options... mountains, rural, mayberry, etc. I wouldn't live in a big city just to avoid a commute. For example, with the time on the road, if you can live near family that can be a HUGE enabler for the spouse who has to cover down when you're gone.

kevbo
04-22-2018, 06:47 PM
A good friend commented recently, "I've got 19 years with AA and I'm still on call". Cheers!

Sliceback
04-22-2018, 07:35 PM
A good friend commented recently, "I've got 19 years with AA and I'm still on call". Cheers!

8,000 out of 15,000? Reserve by choice. Even in DFW he could be a top 5% n/b FO if he wanted.

rickair7777
04-22-2018, 07:48 PM
A good friend commented recently, "I've got 19 years with AA and I'm still on call". Cheers!

If he could get by with $250K instead of $400K, he could have any schedule he wanted.

kevbo
04-22-2018, 10:50 PM
8,000 out of 15,000? Reserve by choice. Even in DFW he could be a top 5% n/b FO if he wanted.

DFW captain.

Sliceback
04-23-2018, 05:13 AM
8,000 in DFW holds a line as 320 CA. 737 CA is reserve.

So the OP can see the choices of choosing reserve vs a line, or commuting vs not commuting. As a commuter he wouldnít want to be a CA in DFW at 8,000. Maybe PHL, MIA or LGA. As a commuter w/b the difference for an international long haul flight (real example) is -
Commuter - leave at 0900, home at 2245
Local guy - leave at 1400, home at 1830.

Thatís five rds of golf, tennis matches, mowing, and five dinners per month spent commuting. Leaving in your ideal town has value but it has a physical and financial cost.

Sliceback
04-23-2018, 05:22 AM
If he could get by with $250K instead of $400K, he could have any schedule he wanted.

At that seniority the difference in pay between w/b FO and rsv CA is roughly 5%. Line holding G2 CA is about a 20% bump. Being a commuter as a junior guy can be significantly tougher than living locally. So for several years it will be a $50-60K (?) hit to stay a mid pack G4 FO line holder as a commuter vs being an in-base junior G2 CA line holder.

Everyone has a different answer to the same equation.

crewdawg
04-24-2018, 08:01 AM
A good friend commented recently, "I've got 19 years with AA and I'm still on call". Cheers!

Being "on call" can be one of the best gigs in the airline world. The last month I was on reserve, I never turned a wheel. Spent the whole month "working" from my house and got lots of projects done! In my category Reserve can go super senior. If someone has been at any of the Majors/Cargo 19 years and they're "on call," it's by choice.


To add to what other posters have said, I would highly recommend living in base. I live within short call range of my hub and the QOL is amazing. I left one major for another so I could live where I grew up and sit short call from my house. On top of QOL, you career earnings will likely be higher as well. Not commuting will allow you to take the next upgrade much earlier than if you had to commute. Living in base makes it like a whole different job as compared to commuting.

Han Solo
04-24-2018, 01:20 PM
Junior DAL Captain. Moved from SAT to ATL. Been on RES since I made it into the left seat in November. Total block since 1 Jan: (69 - 2) hours. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop but my phone ain't ringing much. With all the practice I've been getting, at the ripe old age of 47 I'm almost as good at PS4 as somebody half my age!

Fenderbean
05-18-2018, 09:30 AM
Thanks guys lots of good info here, def something to think about because after 20 years of living on the go i think my sanity may take priority LOL

Albief15
05-23-2018, 03:45 AM
Commuting CAN work too. Have a friend in SAT...bids JFK. Has seniority to hold a lot of SAT overnights and the odd deadhead too. Still gets lots of home time--just reverse engineers it a bit.

Options are nice. Most airline gigs give you options...

Han Solo
05-23-2018, 08:33 AM
Commuting CAN work too. Have a friend in SAT...bids JFK. Has seniority to hold a lot of SAT overnights and the odd deadhead too. Still gets lots of home time--just reverse engineers it a bit.

Options are nice. Most airline gigs give you options...

I did SAT JFK for a year. Not a busy commute but not many options. When I was there, it was only 1 direct flight per day that was mainline 9 months of the year. AUS JFK had a few more options but more competition, my backup was usually SAT ATL JFK/LGA which was pretty miserable.



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