johnstro12
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Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:19 pm

Question for you commercial pilots!

Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:26 pm

I absolutely love flying and want to pursue a career in piloting. The problem is that I’ve heard being away for so long and constantly takes a massive toll on family and relationships. Is this really true or has it been over reacted? What about flying domestic? Is it really as bad as it’s made out to be? Thanks!
 
Babyshark
Posts: 226
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:48 pm

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:49 pm

I was hardly home when I was junior. I now work 14-16 days a month for around 90-110 hours of pay (not flight hours but pay). I'm at delta so multiply that against A350 FO rates and multiply it by about 15% for profit sharing and another 17% for 401k (not a match).

It's a lot of money and a lot of time off for the money. I just took 18 days off for Christmas.

But I can also show you years past I worked a lot more with no holidays for far less. In fact I didnt have christmas off for 12 years. Go back 20 years and it was turboprops for $1000 a month and 18 days gone. Luckily those days are mostly gone.

Basically it's all about seniority.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:16 pm

johnstro12 wrote:
I absolutely love flying and want to pursue a career in piloting. The problem is that I’ve heard being away for so long and constantly takes a massive toll on family and relationships. Is this really true or has it been over reacted? What about flying domestic? Is it really as bad as it’s made out to be? Thanks!


When you’re young, live cheaply and don’t own anything you can’t put in the car. Don’t start a family until at your career destination or, at least, a pretty good gig. Starting out as a civilian pilot is tough and flexibility and no worries about home are key. Military flying (US) is about as guaranteed a path to legacy carrier as possible, but same deal at home. I married at 38.


GF
 
Woodreau
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:01 pm

It’s really up to the person and any of the significant others in the persons family.

You find a way to make it work or you don’t and you join the statistics and become another one of those old grumpy captains whose pay is going to support the first and second ex-wives and their family.

About the best perk of the career - virtually no responsibility outside of work - your time off is yours. No being tethered to a phone or email on your days off

military aviation has a lot more responsibility for way far less pay.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:46 pm

It very much depends on the airline. At some airlines you're home almost every night. At others there's much more time away. But yes, you will most likely be away weekends, holidays, nights, birthdays and so forth. On the other hand you will be around on normal weekdays quite a bit.

If your partner/family can't get on board with that, you have a problem. That being said, most pilot families seem to make it work. It's just a different way of life. I'd much rather do this than sit in office and work regular hours.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Tartarus
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Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:36 am

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:50 pm

I can count the number of friend's weddings/Christmas's with the kids/wife's birthday I've had off in the last 20 years on one hand.
If you can't cope with that, then the job's not for you.
 
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tb727
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Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:40 pm

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Tue Jan 07, 2020 7:55 pm

When I flew freight, I was single for most of it thankfully. I would be gone up to 16 days, occasionally extendable to 32. Back in '06 I flew 88 of the first 100 days of the year doing air ambulance flights and 64 of those days I was out on the road. I met my wife towards the end of my freight days on the 727 and she got a taste of how crappy it could be but stuck with me through it. Now I am a Captain at a ULCC and love it. I'm 39 with 2 babies at home, live in base which is a big plus for quality of life. The most I am gone is 3 nights, all domestic, and it's just right. I prefer to work weekends now so it works out. Once I get a little more seniority my kids will be in school and I should be able to bid for whatever I need off.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
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SierraPacific
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Tue Jan 07, 2020 11:23 pm

I grew up in a major hub and went to high school with countless kids of pilots. It is completely possible to have a normal family as an airline pilot especially towards the latter stages of the career. The early regional days are tough so I have heard (ask me about it once I get 1500 hours :lol: )

Now both parents being pilots makes it a bit more difficult but that was still common enough.
 
e38
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 10:09 pm

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:46 pm

Quoting johnstro12 (Thread starter), "Is it really as bad as it's made out to be?"

Wow, johnstro12, what a negative comment! Who in the world ever said a career as a professional pilot is bad? !!! If you have friend that told this to you, well, then you need to find a new friend.

It's an outstanding career!

However, like most things in life, the answer to your question is, "IT DEPENDS."

If you are accustomed to working in a job that is essentially Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. then a career as a pilot will be much different (although I do fly with some pilots who manage to adjust their schedules to something similar to M-F, 8-5).

There are so many variables involved--type of flying (passenger airline, cargo carrier, corporate, etc.). Also seniority. Also, types (and length) of trips offered by the company. Also . . . many other variables.

Yes, in many cases, you may be away from home for an extended period of time (but not in EVERY case). If you are in a relationship or have a family, they will need to be fairly independent, flexible, and understanding of the requirements of the job. You may be away for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, soccer games, . . . but you will be home for some of them as well. Also, you need to discard the concept of weekdays and weekends--in a flying career these are more realistically classified as either "days on" or "days off." -- But not always--depends on the operation.

It's an outstanding career; but requires considerable flexibility, patience, and perseverance--not only by you, but also by those people close to you.

e38
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:42 pm

I'll add that at many (most?) airlines, there are mechanisms for getting a few days off on very special occasions, such as weddings and big anniversaries. For example, we get three "highest priority" days off requests per year. These are requested and assigned months in advance, so you can plan ahead. Since they are the highest priority, higher than leave and rostered days off, you are almost guaranteed to have such a request granted.

It doesn't mean you won't be working nights, weekends and holidays, but if your best friend is getting married, most likely you'll make it.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
e38
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:11 am

johnstro12, I have one additional comment with regard to something you stated in your original post.

You stated, “I’ve heard being away for so long and constantly takes a massive toll on family and relationships.”

No, not if you don’t let it.

e38
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:18 am

e38 wrote:
johnstro12, I have one additional comment with regard to something you stated in your original post.

You stated, “I’ve heard being away for so long and constantly takes a massive toll on family and relationships.”

No, not if you don’t let it.

e38


This is on point.

I know people who come home every day to their families and don't have very happy relationships. And I know pilots who travel all the time and are very happy with their lives. Quality is better than quantity.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
CosmicCruiser
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Thu Jan 09, 2020 1:57 pm

True Stalionblue. I agree completely. At least it was my experience.
 
gtae07
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Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:41 pm

Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:11 pm

SierraPacific wrote:
I grew up in a major hub and went to high school with countless kids of pilots. It is completely possible to have a normal family as an airline pilot especially towards the latter stages of the career. The early regional days are tough so I have heard.


My dad got out of the Navy and on with a US major airline when I was 6. We were already accustomed to Dad being gone for stretches of time so him being home or not home was just a matter of routine. Yes, he missed some holidays, but we just held our own either early, or when he got home.

Even with him being gone sometimes he still made it to plenty of our events/sports/etc. and he was very involved with us. I never felt that he was shortchanging us and it didn't have a negative impact on our family, as far as I can tell. But that works well for my parents and it might not work well for everyone.

Dad's now a fairly senior grumpy captain on the verge of retirement. It wasn't being away per se that made him grumpy; I think it's sleeping in hotels and eating out a lot, and dealing with TSA and "the other BS", and said flying for the airlines all but destroyed his love of flying (saved only by building his own airplane).

I don't think I could handle that much travel, myself. And my wife nearly flipped out when I told her I might have to travel for a couple days a few times a year, thinking I'd ruin our son's childhood....
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Question for you commercial pilots!

Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:56 am

Periodic separation isn't always a bad thing.

A couple of times when I've had to call in sick my wife has come home from work, seen me and rolled her eyes.
"What? You're still here?"
Expecting some sympathy, I'd say, "Not feeling too good. I had to call sick..."
"But I was planning for you to be away so I could have some 'me time' and get stuff done around the house. Now you're underfoot. Go watch some TV or something...."

:lol:
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo

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