Commuting to work

I have a question regarding commuting to work. I understand that you won’t necessarily get the base you want when you don’t have seniority but will the airline pay for your flights and expenses to get to your base everyday for work from you home? For example, if i live in Pittsburgh and my base is in Atlanta, will i have to pay for flight ticket everyday to commute to work of will the airline pay for it?

You are responsible to be at your place of employment for work. If you chose to live elsewhere you will have to pay to get there and that entails flying or driving from one place to the other. My wife commuted for several years with Delta. I do not recommend it. Pilots have other options, i.e. jumpseat, that she didn’t. I know many guys that do it but not because they enjoy it. Weather, holidays, summer and winter breaks all make for an exciting, albeit teduous, commute. Just my opinion.

You can jumpseat from your home airport to your base, provided there is space available. Typically you’re responsible for a hotel room should you need one.

Thank you guys for your answers.


Commuting is a choice. Just like any other job it’s up to YOU to get to and from work.


Yes you are responsible to be there, but most airlines have commuter clauses in their contract. And you won’t have to pay to get there on a flight, you will fly on standby for free with most airlines. Also flight attendants have jumpseats too. I’m not saying commuting is fun, living in base would be much better. But its definitely possible and as you said many people do it.


Some airlines have commuter clauses, some don’t (mine Hawaiian for example). Even with they generally say you won’t get in trouble PROVIDED you make a good effort to get to work (including leaving the day or night prior). Further while you’re right you can JumpSeat, that’s based on availability. Meaning if it’s Christmas Eve, and the flights are full AND there’s another, more senior pilot listed for the JS you better start getting creative or leave a day, or 2 before. Yes it’s possible and yes many do it but I don’t know a single pilot who recommends it.


Adam, I agree with you on that. I was just pointing out that it is possible and you do not have to pay to get there like someone else said.

When using a commuter clause, you might not get in trouble for not showing up to work, but you will not get paid for the missed work either.

Thank You guys for your answers. I’ve been wanting to become a pilot for a long time but i have not been able to due to some family circumstances but i’m finishing up my associates now and plan on joining ATP after i graduate next year. Hopefully regional airlines will still be desperate when it comes time for me to get a job.

Commuting is free if your airline has CASS privileges with the airline you’re trying to jump seat on. I used to commute from Dallas-Ft Worth to Denver and the only time I was afraid I might not make it was during Spring Break. I was also on Reserve a lot so I paid $250 a month for a crash pad in Denver that included shuttle service from the airport to the apartment and a beater truck to run to the grocery store, etc. It wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t as bad or as hard as some people made it out to be. Your experience may vary though.

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Do airlines have a system you can access to see available seats and if pilots have already requested jump seats? Can you tell how senior the pilots are that are requesting jump seats?

I live in a little town near Great Falls, MT. So i would mostly likely be 2 flights away from most bases, especially when I’m very junior. Can someone tell me what they think commuting would look like for me and am I safe to assume I would only be able to safely get home on a 4 day off stretch? I’ve read that lots of senior guys like to have shorter day trips, so its it possible to bid all longer trips with longer stretches off?

Thanks in advance!


From what I’ve learned from a Captain at Envoy American (along with all of the others) have a system that you can see all flights with available seats and jump seat, they will have a list of who has put in for jumpseat and then who put in for available seats (seniority is everything in the airlines) you may not see who it is but you will see codes ie an American Captain, an Interline FO, a Family Ticket, an employee and from my understanding the system automatically ranks them based on that companies ranking system.

Chris will be able to answer better but my understanding talking on this forum as well as networking 2 flights may be an issue where you will have to put a full day before aside to make sure you get to your base with plenty of time. Holidays or peak times you may have to extend that to 2 days out. Depending on how many flights you have to take and how many flights depart the 2 airports you would use. Airlines do have commuter clauses to help but only a few times are covered.


Yes all airlines have systems you can check available seats, jumpseaters etc. Problem is (can be) different airlines have different policies relating to how soon you can check in or reserve a jumpset. You could check the day prior, list for the jumpseat and it all looks good but if I’m senior and get there first the jumpseat could be mine even if I didn’t list. You always need to have a plan B (and often a C and a D).

It would literally be impossible to give you any idea of how jsing would look for you from Great Falls, MT. Where are you jsing to? Are you flying for SkyWest out of SFO or Envoy out of DAL or Republic out of EWR? What will be you connecting airport? How many other pilot’s will be fighting for that js? etc etc. Impossible question. Regardless a 2 leg commute will not be fun, especially living in MT where I hear you folks get some snow. You WILL find yourself coming in a day or 2 early on occasion. Sure you could bid longer trips but you certainly won’t be the only pilot bidding those trips and even if you get those trips many won’t be commutable. Good times.



If you can get on with Horizon and be based in SEA I could see commuting from GTF being doable. If not, I would move closer to wherever you will be based. 2 legs on both sides of a trip sounds miserable.



At my airline the jumpiest is not processed until right before departure time, so it is very difficult to plan for it.

I have done a two leg commute before. I cannot stress enough how bad of an idea this is. You will spend a huge amount of your life commuting back and forth to work and it will have a significant impact on your family life and career. Trust me, don’t do this. Either move to near a base (at least a one leg commute) or consider other career options. I am not trying to be negative, just trying to save you from some major headaches.


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Thank you all for your input. Lots to consider but certainly what I want to do!

One more question… I have seen a couple of my top picks for regionals have DTW as one of their bases and I’m assuming that is usually a junior domicile. Call me crazy, but I’m not going to move my family to Detroit (sorry if there are any Detroit lovers here). Would you guys recommend moving to one of the major hubs so you are always just 1 flight away from home, like SLC, DEN, MSP, ATL?

Thanks again guys!

Another question about commuting, would an hour drive to a bigger airport (MCO) and then a 1 leg commute be easier then say a 5 minute drive to a smaller airport followed by a 2 leg commute?


While commuting definitely is undesirable I wouldn’t move anywhere until I was firmly planted in at my final airline.


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