Airline seniority

I know I am putting the cart before the horse, but I eager to know how things can work out down the road.

1: I get the basic understanding of seniority. Am I correct in understanding that essentially a seniority date will matter to bid for flights, so those who have higher seniority get to select their options first? Is there anything else seniority matters for?

2: How many flights are typically bid and how often is the bid? is there a minimum or maximum amount of flights one can bid during the bid period.

3: What does standby in reserve mean?

4: Am I correct in understanding that a domicile airport is essentially your home base? If that is the case, if I am domiciled in Dallas, but live about an hour north of San Antonio would I need to move closer to Dallas or are there any type of options to deadhead at no cost from San Antonio to Dallas?

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  1. Seniority matters for EVERYTHING at airlines. The trips you’ll fly, days off, vacation, pay, the airplane you fly, boarding priority when you travel, selecting training dates, EVERYTHING.

  2. It’s not flights, it’s hours. Most airlines have a minimum monthly of around 75hrs and the FAA limits us to 100hrs per month. If you’re doing short flights that means many, if you’re doing long haul that means few.

  3. Reserve means you’re on call in case someone calls in sick or there’s some operational disruption (weather, maintenance, etc). There are usually 2 types of Reserve, long and short call. Long call is 12hrs or more, short call is typically 2-3hrs. That’s how much time you have to get to the airport. If you live close to the base it’s not that bad but if you commute you’ll have to get a hotel, apt or “crashpad”(shared pilot housing) to stay at so you can get to the airport on time.

  4. Yes, your base or domicile is the airport you’ll start and end all your trips from. The airlines don’t care where you live but it’s you responsibility to get to work on time and well rested. As a pilot you can jumpseat on yours or any airline but there needs to be a seat. If there’s none in back you can ride in the cockpit again if it’s available. In many cases this requires planning and you may often have to get to your base a day early and leave a day after your trip.


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Adam answered your questions well. Just a few things I’ll add:

Why we harp on the importance of timing is because your hire date is everything. The choices you have, the quality of life you have and even the determining factor if you’re laid off during economic hardships or not. There is some things you can control, like how long your training takes and how quickly you build your hours. The things that aren’t in your control, your age and the hiring health of airlines.

Reserve isn’t the best time as a pilot, but it’s temporary. It’s a direct result of seniority. You pay your time as a junior pilot and as more people get hired behind you, you get the opportunity to hold a line.

You can certainly live in San Antonio and be based in Dallas but the airline won’t provide any means of getting you to Dallas. You can fly standby and hop in the jumpsuit but none of those options are a guaranteed ticket to get to work on time. It’s up to you to decide if the extra stress of commuting is worth it.


Thanks, good info. I appreciate the guidance.