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A Day In The Life Of A Pilot/FA  
User currently offlineAmerican B757 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 370 posts, RR: 0
Posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3177 times:

I was wondering, could some one please describe what its like to be an FA/Pilot? How early do you have to get to the airport? What do you need to do before you board? [is there a meeting or something of that nature?] How many days per months do you work?

And please add anything else about how its like to be A flight attendant or pilot.

Thank you,
American B757

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineFLY777UAL From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4512 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2919 times:

For pilots, I believe www.jetcareers.com (By Doug Taylor) might have some of that info.

For FA's: here it goes!
(all info pertains to UA)-FA's must checkin about 1:30 (one hour thirty minutes) before scheduled departure. The check in time varies with the route, time of day, and aircraft flown (widebody vs narrowbody). Once you check in for the flight, a briefing is held with all FA's working the trip. The purser will introduce all the crewmembers, give any information pertaining to the procedures, products and services aboard, and assign duties (such as greeting the pax, be incharge of government documents[internationally], be incharge of unaccompanied minors, etc). Then (on international flights only), duty breaks will be assigned to the different flightattendants.

Approximately 60 minutes before departure (intl), the FA's will board the plane and do their safety checks (which, prior to contrary belief, do NOT include looking for life vests and making sure pillows are on each seat!) such as: "preflighting" the safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, emergency flashlights (making sure that they are operable and the pressure is in the "good range"). They will also check the door pressure gages to make sure that if they need to evacuate, there will be enough force in the slides to deploy them.

After all the saftey checks are done (there are SO many to do!), generally, pax. boarding will commence. During this time, the FA's working the galleys on the trip will do a quick meal count to make sure that there's enough food, check the liquor supplies, start in on liquor paperwork, and do anything they need to do to quickly start the service once airborne.

Internationally (domestic is much worse!), the work month will be between three and four 3-day trips (so 9-12 working days/month), which would be SFO-NRT, LHR (KIX is a four-day trip), or two 5-day trips (SFO, LAX-SYD, AKL, MEL) followed by one 1-day or one 2-day trip to Hawaii (LAX, SFO-Hawaii). Basically--International FA's don't work more than 12 days/month.

I will try and dig up some domestic trip lines to see how many days they're working!


User currently offlineClippedWings From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 2877 times:

FLY777UAL described the job very well. I worked for Eastern some time back and flew mainly on domestic routes. I would work about 18 days a month. A day's work might include waking up at 430 am, arriving at the airport by 6 am, meeting with other crew members and be on the aircraft by 630am. A typical trip was LaGuardia - Greenville/Spartanburg -Atlanta - Charlotte - Chicago, overnight in Chicago, leave the next day to Charlotte, fly on to Orlando, Atlanta, and New Orleans, overnight in New Orleans. The next day leave New Orleans for Atlanta, Washington National, Atlanta again and finally back to New York. I'd have a few days off and then start again.

User currently offlineTanguy From Australia, joined Sep 1999, 154 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2862 times:

....And across the Pacific in Australia the details sound very much the same as provided by FLY777UAL. I fly for the long haul division of Qantas. Short haul is the domestic division, though the short haul crew also operate some regional international services to New Zealand, Bali, and Noumea using B737 aircraft.
I live in Brisbane (BNE) and to travel to SYD each time I sign on for duty. The choice of living 1000km from my sign on base was mine. SYD was too big and fast for this country lad!!
There are hundreds of commuters working for QF. We don't get any free flights to or from our home ports and SYD mind you. It all comes out of our pockets and isn't a tax deduction either! Still it is the sacrifice one makes to live where we want to live.
It costs me about A$120 in air and taxi fares each time I go to work so I bid for long trips to reduce the total number of commutes per 2 month roster. Generally I fly four trips in the roster period. These range in duty days from four (SYD-LAX-SYD) to 11 or 12 days when one shuttles all over south east Asia and beyond. In each 56 day roster we are guaranteed 18 days at home. I usually have 22 to 23 days off.
The first few days at home following a long haul trip are spent in "ga-ga land" as the body clock tries to find the local time!!
Every month or so prior to sign on crew are called into the emergency procedures room for a preflight check. Fail that and you are removed from the flight. It is a good incentive for all to be up to speed with knowledge of aircraft safety equipment locations, usage and procedures.
QF has a preferred language requirement for long haul crew though I was one of the lucky ones to get through without that skill. Must have been the personality eh?!!!! Short haul has no language requirement and crew can apply to transfer from short haul to long haul and vice versa after two years of flying. That said I've had my name on the list to transfer to the Short haul BNE base for 4 years and am still waiting!
I joined the airlines thinking I would fly for 3 years and go back to teaching after my 'fling'. It's now 11 years down the track and I love the job too much to want to leave just yet. It has been a dream come true despite the fact that I am well aware of the down sides of the job. It's like anything. You have to be prepared to take the good with the not-so-good.
I sincerely hope that you achieve your dream to fly whether it be in the cockpit or in the cabin or both! (I fly light planes for an expensive hobby!)

User currently offlineJETPILOT From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3130 posts, RR: 27
Reply 4, posted (16 years 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2862 times:

As a pilot we check in with operations 1hour before our deparure time. I like an hour and 20 minutes as an engineer. We get he weather for our departure and destination in addition to picking up the flight plan.

Upon reaching the assigned gate I walk the jetway to the palne and stow my belongings and get out My checklists and other paperwork I will need for the flight. I then check the aircraft logbook to see if maintenance has signed off the aircraft. Their signature makes the aircraft airworthy.

I then procede with my cockpit inspection. Circuit breakers and switches checked and on. Fire Axe on board, extinguishers charged, PBE sealed. Life vests on board. Gear handle on board and stowed. Headsets proper number on board. I then do my systems checks, Fuel, Hydraulic, fire detection, and suppression, electrical and so on.

After completing my cockpit check I do my walk around checking the condition of the pitot probes, landing gear and tires, engines, APU extinguisher pressure, engines and cowling latches, vortex generators, and lights. All the while looking for fuel or hydraulic leaks.

Upon my return to the cokpit I will get the latest weather observation and prepepare my takeoff performance card. Then I prepare a new logbook page for the aircraft for that date. Once the passengers are on board we call for a push and get clearance to start. Once cleaqrance is given we run the before starting engine checklist. Then turn all three. A pumps off of course.

Then we run the after start checklist, and start moving to the runway. Once clear of the ramp we extend our flaps and check our flight controls, and run taxi/before takeoff checklist which should be complete to the line by the time we get to the runwway.

Once cleared into position we run the remainder of the checklist get the continuous ignition on and arm the auto pack trip system (727 system). Power is advanced to takeoff power and the bleeds are checked for closure. Rolling down the runway we pass through V1, Vr, V2 speeds and were flying getting the gear and flaps up running the climb checklist through 3000 feet. Climb power is set and through 10,000 feet landing lights off. Through 18,000 feet 29.92.

Then I'm usually asleep until top of descent. That's why pilots keep the cockpit so dark.

User currently offlineBizJet From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 275 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (16 years 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 2850 times:

I assume you are either a FO or FE on a 727. What airline?


User currently offlineJETPILOT From United States of America, joined May 1999, 3130 posts, RR: 27
Reply 6, posted (16 years 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2838 times:

I work for US Airways. I flew the 727 in the FE position for the shuttle. I will be transitioning to an FO spot on the 757 next month. I have a month and a half off til then. You gotta love this job.

User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5089 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (16 years 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2837 times:

A couple questions. If you're only allowed to fly x number of hours a month, what do you do the rest of the time? Work as a desk jockey doing paperwork or something, or training others, or anything else that is non-flying? Or do you just go fishin' ?  

Also, I was reading the site by Doug Taylor. Very informative. Is this Doug Taylor guy a member of this forum? Which one is he?

Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlineBizJet From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 275 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (16 years 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 2813 times:

Doug Taylor is a lurker that sometimes posts under "Delta737" I haven't seen him lately. He'll usually chime in if someone asks a Delta and/or 737 question.

As for what you do when not working, some pilots have part time jobs just to bring in more money, or some pursue hobbies or interests, etc.

I guess you are based now at BOS/LGA/DCA now. Where will you be based when your FO on a 757?


User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5089 posts, RR: 13
Reply 9, posted (16 years 4 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 2791 times:

When you're overnighting away from your home base, obviously you have to eat in restaurants unless they give you a suite in the hotel which I doubt they do. So do you have to pay for it yourself, or do you get a food or meal expense allowance? I've never seen a pilot ordering an extra value meal at McD's  

Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlineTg 747-300 From Norway, joined Nov 1999, 1318 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (16 years 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2787 times:

On longer flights were it's more than one pilot onboard, is it the same pilot who takeoff, and lands the plane, or is it the first who flies the first half, and the next one the last part, and the landing??

Tg 747-300

intentionally left blank
User currently offlineDelta737 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 517 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2762 times:

Yup, it's me, Delta737 aka Doug Taylor.

Hey Jetpilot, USair pushes the 727 with the a-pumps off? Generally at Delta we only did that unless we didn't have the bypass pin on the nosewheel. But of course I'm a little rusty since I haven't been on the panel for about a year or so.

Anyway, to all the other people with questions about airline flying, I have a hobby/website that I made talking a lot about this stuff.

Doug Taylor
Delta 737 FO

User currently offlineFLY777UAL From United States of America, joined May 1999, 4512 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (16 years 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2760 times:

All of the crew members on the trip (FA's and pilots) have a per diem built into their pay check. The per diem basically takes care of the food, etc. that you'll eat while on the trip. For example, a 23 hour layover in HNL will get you approximately $40.00 for your per diem, whereas a 30 hour layover in LHR or NRT will allow you from between $80.00 to $105.00.


User currently offlineAmtrakGuy From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 500 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (16 years 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2747 times:

This is very informative...question...what about a short turn around...the Pilots or FA doesn't have an hour...for example, Southwest Airlines usually have 20 minutes turnaround and changed of crew?? I have been on some major airlines and at some stops, they changed the crew, but the layover is about 30 or so minutes?


User currently offlineDelta737 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 517 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (16 years 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2743 times:

I'm not sure that I'd really discuss per diem rates because it's such a broad issue. An extra couple hundred per month for food sounds like free money but there is so much more than that.

Say you're on a 21 hour layover in BOS (Boston Massachussets). A decent breakfast will cost you about $8 while lunch or dinner is at least $20 unless you want the "airport hotdog" or a slice of "mall pizza" from Sbarro at a shopping center. Then considering if you're on a downtown SFO layover, it's much more expensive.

International per diem rates are slightly higher however the availability of "compatible" food may be a larger issue. You could be laying over in New Delhi and the hotel bellhop may mention an excellent Tandoori chicken right down the street, but if you don't want to spend a 12 hour flight with the "fuel dump valve" open full throttle in the lavoratory all night, you'd best avoid it and stick to something a little more mainstream.

Just thoughts!

Doug Taylor
Delta 737 FO

User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5089 posts, RR: 13
Reply 15, posted (16 years 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2740 times:

Thanks for the laugh Doug. I cracked up reading your last response. The "fuel dump valve" open in the lav. !!!!!!!!!! hahaha  

Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlineAirwaysdc9 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 204 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (16 years 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2723 times:

How did you get past the 18 month newhire seat lock?
Were you displaced?

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