Airline Pilot Daily Stressors

Hello everyone!

I did a search on this topic in this forum and saw one question and response back in 2016. However, it’s 2022, and a whole pandemic. I’m interested to see what’s changed since.

I’m very interested in training and potentially pursuing a career change to an airline pilot.

I have worked for 22 years in Advertising. And, the single thing that has caused all of my hair to go grey is my career. Corporate America and its job stress. In my field of work, I deal with making clients happy when they’re rude and wrong, dealing with colleagues when they are rude and wrong, and fighting (yes, fighting, with words) on a daily basis to defend my position as someone who has been in the business for 22 years.

Needless to say, I’m over it!

Aside from:

  • Having hundreds of lives in your hands on a daily basis
  • Commuting (by air or driving), and making sure you get to your aircraft on time
  • Inconsistent schedules; and, being away from family for long periods of time
  • And, I’m sure there are others…

What are a pilot’s typical daily on-the-job stressors? And, I’m talking about the ones that are incessant and aggravating.

Thank you!

Andy,

Welcome to the forum. While we do not directly deal with passengers, we sometimes deal with them when they are rude and wrong, deal with colleagues and other work groups when they are rude and wrong and yes, have had verbal interactions that are not pleasant with other co-workers. I would say that those interactions aren to frequent, but they certainly do occur. I have been an airline pilot for seventeen years and I have had to tell a new hire FA when we would board the flight as he thought better. Whatever patterns you notice in your industry will probably follow you to any new industry as people are just people, no matter what industry.

It might sound odd, but having people’s lives in my hands is not a stressor, I am simply used to it. I did find commuting to be rather stressful. Other than that, I would say the biggest stressor is the inconsistent schedules, but even that you get used to with time. I did not care for the large time changes with international flying, hence one of the many reasons I switched back to domestic flying. Other than that, I do not really have anything that Would consider to be an incessant or aggravating stressor.

Chris

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Andy,

The cockpit is my happy place. According to my Gear watch, my heart rate actually goes down when I’m working. In truth I find life and family to be far more stressful then my job. As far as the items you mention I offer the following:

  1. While I appreciate the responsibility of all the lives sitting behind me, there’s an old saying “if I get home safely, so do they”.

  2. I don’t commute other than a 20min drive to the airport. I bid early trips so there’s no traffic and I always leave early so if anything pops up it’s not an issue. In 17yrs as an airline pilot I’ve never been late.

  3. Consistency comes with seniority. I fly interisland which means I’m home almost every night. I sacrifice income to do this but my lifestyle is a greater priority. Always amuses me when my fellow pilots complain. Most could have a better quality of life, it’s their choice not to.

Honestly the only thing that really bugs me is being late. The passengers often have tight connections and being on time is important. It’s also a source of pride and I’m fairly goal oriented. When I see other work groups working at a snails pace I do get frustrated. Beyond that again the cockpit is my happy place and is the lowest stress job I’ve ever had. That said everyone is different. If you’re the kind of person that gets stressed regarding the items you mention, as I explain they can be mitigated.

Adam

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Adam,

I thought you wore the epitone of aviation timepieces in the cockpit, now I read you are wearing a Gear “watch”? I am confused.

Chris

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I do and as a rule I’m usually wearing my Breitling (or my newly acquired Traska), but I do have a Gear watch for when I’m on Reserve and if I’m in a hurry will just leave it on. Please don’t report me :wink:

Adam

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@Chris and @Adam, thank you so much for your responses. They were very helpful in understanding what could potentially be stressors as a pilot.