Commuter Policy

Can anyone share information on commuter clauses if you were to buy all your airline tickets to your assigned base? This would obviously add up quickly financially, but seems like it could cut back on the stress of making it to work on time.

Seems like each airline will have a different policy, but would you still have to buy a ticket with a backup flight available in case of a cancellation? Or is one confirmed purchased ticket (the one closest to your report time) enough to be in the clear?

Also, any opinions on how long a drive you would make to your base? 1, 2, 3 hours?
Thanks in advance


Under our new contract, you do not need to have a backup if you bought a ticket. Keep two things in mind though:

  1. Getting a seat is only half the battle as a commuter. You need to account for weather and maintenance delays as well.

  2. Trips that are dropped under the commuter clause are dropped without pay.

I drive three hours to my base, I find it tolerable, but if I have a trip that starts immediately after another one concludes, I will usually get a hotel at my base.



I work for the same airline as Chris and the changes to the commuter policy in the new contract is nice. But at the end of the day, there’s the “letter of the law” and there’s the “spirit of the law” meaning it’s on you to get to work on time. Being prudent means looking at the full picture and anticipating weather and ATC delays and planning accordingly.

My first summer in Newark on probation I bought tickets for every commute and it did help ease the stress. At a minimum, I typically tried to non-rev on United first with a full fare ticket back up on the next American flight and a third backup that would still get me in before report time in case of Mx delays or unforeeen issues. Even with the chaos of this summer and the EWR meltdowns, I didn’t miss a trip.

Driving is a bit more reliable but everyone’s tolerance on how long they want to spend in the car and not be too fatigued for duty varies.


I just have this mental issue with taking the money I make at the airline and giving it back to them just to get a seat that I could most likely get for free. Everybody has different thresholds for this though.


Envoy has a fairly forgiving policy that they refer to as a “Good Faith commuting policy”. We are given three opportunities in a rolling 12 month period that we can miss a flying assignment due to difficulties commuting. However, we have to show proof that there were two valid (and actually possible) attempts made. After each failed attempt we need to notify scheduling so that they are aware of the situation. If you miss the start of your sequence (reserve, standby, or a trip) you are still expected to try and get to your base for reassignment. They will add you back in to your trip later if they can. I don’t commute myself, but most that do commute try either the night before or they bid for late start trips and start early the day of the sequence. I haven’t heard of anyone who consistently buys confirmed tickets, but I’m sure it does happen. Envoy also gives us 4 commuter hotels a month, which is a great benefit!



The others have answered this well, I just want to comment on this one question. As Hannah said, there’s always the “spirit” of the language and ALL contracts are based on you making a good faith attempt to get to work ontime and rested. If it’s a junky weather day (or 2) and you’re foolish enough to count on the last flight that will get you to the airport with min time before your report, all the flights are running late, that’s poor planning and purchased ticket or not you’re going to have a conversation with the chief pilot.


Thanks everyone, I appreciate the info.


I can reserve the jump seat 8 days out and it’s first come, first served. My airline requires one attempt and then we can use the commuter clause without questions, until the company and/or chief pilot thinks you’re abusing the policy. Then it’ll probably be an uncomfortable phone call or meeting in his/her office.

Currently I’m on long call in New York and live in DFW. Last week I got a call at 2100 informing me I had an 1800 show the next day. I could’ve caught the 1230 flight that was scheduled to get in at 1730 and been perfectly okay as long as it was on time. Instead I chose the 0830 flight that got in at 1330 because it also gave me an opportunity to catch two different delta fights before the 1230 flight if there was a problem with the 0830 flight. I ended up making it to NY at 1330, grabbing a small lunch and then taking a nap in the pilot rest room before my show time.

If you’re a commuter and you like getting paid you do your best to not let yourself get backed into a corner.

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