Being on Reserves as commuter pilot?

I know this question is based on a case by case situation. But I was wondering how do pilots fly reserves while they are considered a “commuter pilot”? Is it possible? If so what do you do in the mean time hopping you get a call. Do you just stay at your crash pad all day? lol

Thanks hope it makes sense.

Hi Earv,

Different airlines have different Reserve rules. Usually there’s Long Call (12hrs) and Short Call (2-4hrs) depending on the airline. Long call means they have to give you at least 12hr notice and Short 2-4 hrs but yes when you’re on Reserve you have to be ready and available to fly within a call out period (usually 8-10hrs). If you live in base it’s not an issue. I often bid Reserve because I usually make out well. Here in Oahu we don’t have weather issues so not many cancellations or reschedules. We have a 3 hr call out and there’s literally no where you can go on the island that’s more than 3 hrs from the airport so I keep a bag packed and have a water-proof cell phone case and I go do my thing. If you’re a commuter it’s quite the opposite. You need to get to your base prior to you call out period hence the need for crashpads. Obviously Long call gives you some more flexibility but either way you must be ready to fly. While you don’t necessarily need to just hang at your crashpad you do need to get to the airport quickly and remain in the area. Now if the weather gets bad that may mean you need to get there the day (or even 2) before. Definitely not fun.


How does commuting factor into your crew duty day and crew rest? Say if you commute the morning of or arrive a couple of hours before your show/duty time?



Commuting time is not factored into your duty day. The FAA looks at commuting via airplane just like it does commuting via car, mowing your grass, watching TV, etc. Commuting is something that you do on your own time and is therefore not part of your duty day. That being said, it is important to exercise common sense on this. To me it is not responsible to take a 6am flight to work and then take off at 6pm on a nine hour flight across the Atlantic. I always try to make sure that I have plenty of opportunity for sleep prior to flying.



Just to chime in, this is a somewhat “hot” topic as everyone knows there’s a huge potential problem and many pilots aren’t as responsible as they should be. If the FAA starting factoring in commuting it would literally cripple the industry as they would either have to make certain the pilots were “in theater” well before their trips start or simply not allow any pilots to commute and force them to live in base. They therefore have a honor system and “hope” pilots will be responsible and professional enough to do the right thing, even if it’s inconvenient.


thanks @Adam and @Chris also @ryanh9

Thanks Earv for asking the original question.

Thanks Chris and Adam. Makes sense and I could easily see how someone could push their personal limits and be overly tired. Having flown 20+ hour sorties in the military (2 pilots only, no extra or room for reserve pilots on the B-1) I definetly need my rest and would not want to push my limits, especially as I get older. It is helpful to know that you can commute the same day if possible, but I can see many reasons and situations where it makes more sense to commute the day prior, despite the additional cost and time required.


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