In a jumpseat thread, I wrote,"...the labor pool for regional pilots would be a fraction of the current pool if regional pilots had to live within driving distance from a city served by the regional.", which triggered the following question:
Is the incidence of crash pads higher among regional pilots higher than among pilots for the majors? My anecdotal data: every regional pilot I know has a "share" of a crash pad, but none of the pilots for the majors that I know currently have a "share" of a crash pad.
The anecdotal data is probably related to the difference in work rules between a regional airline and a major airline and the pay differences.
When I had to get a crashpad to commute after upgrading to captain, It was about $250/month or just an hour of pay. So it's just a matter of bidding to get an extra hour of credit to cover the cost of the crashpad.
At the regional airline level however, $250 is a significant amount of money for a first-year regional FO. Although regional FOs now are probably making more than second-year regional FOs due to signing bonuses, etc. The actual pay rate for a regional FO remains mostly unchanged - $250 is about 5-6 hours pay or more if they're still on first year pay.
So I probably wouldn't want to do a crashpad at my advanced age, if I had to commute again, and needed a crashpad, I'd probably just rent my own apartment for $600-$1000/month , and maybe share it with another commuter. -just because I can afford it, whereas regional airline pilots especially regional FOs couldn't afford another apartment lease, and probably still have student flight school loans that consume a significant amount of their monthly pay.
At major airlines, there usually is some mitigation with long call reserve - allowing pilots to commute in with 12 or 14 hours notice depending on the contract. There are a few regional airlines that may have long call reserve, but mostly reserve at regional airlines tend to consist of short call reserve - usually around 2 hour call-out or airport ready reserve. So a pilot who doesn't live at their base at a major airline can probably bid long call, and not have to get any accommodation to be on reserve unless they get converted to short-call.
The individual circumstances depend on the relative seniority of the pilot - as seniority increases, the need for a crashpad lessens. When I commuted to Chicago as a regional airline FO, I was able to hold trips that were commutable on both ends, so all I needed to do was ensure I had two flights that got me to Chicago the day the trip started, and then after I finished my trip in Chicago, I was able to fly out the same day. Pilots junior wouldn't be able to hold commuter-friendly trips. It also helped that the airline I flew for acknowledged the need for commuting and built trips to allow for commuting, There are regional airlines that don't care and they don't build commutable trips for consideration. The trips start early and finish late, so those pilots need to find a place to stay before and after their trip.
Although I didn't need to obtain a crashpad, the regional airline (and the parent major airline) still charged a service fee to non-rev travel because I didn't have 5 years longevity - I still had to pay $20 to fly from home to Chicago, and $20 to fly from Chicago back home if I was in a cabin seat and not the cockpit jumpseat. So whenever I could, I would try to jumpseat (and ride whereever cabin or cockpit) on another airline before trying to non-rev on my regional airline/major airline partner flights. Once I had 5 years longevity, the airline no-longer charged for non-rev travel.
So lots of factors go into the need for a crashpad or not.
The thing that pilots deal with that's difficult is with mortgage companies.... Mortgage companies just don't understand and have a hard time wrapping their heads around pilots commuting... "So you work in Chicago, but want to buy a house in Texas? Why do you want to do that? Why don't you just buy a home in Illinois? So you're telling me your lodging and travel expenses in Chicago is just $120 a year? plus $500/year in airfare?" Or "So you just work part time? You pay statement only shows 75 hours a month? If you're full time you should be getting paid at least 160 hours a month..." "We'll need a letter for your HR to prove that you can afford this mortgage... (watching my blood pressure spike.)
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.