Real Answers from Real Pilots

Day Vs Night

I was wondering do pilots have any say if they prefer taking day or night routes. I definitely don’t mind doing either but I would prefer flying at night than the day. Is there a way you can set your preferability or is randomly assigned by the airlines?

Thank you, Androu

Every month the company will have a schedule of trips made. Every company is different, but most airlines have the majority of their flights during hours people are awake. Cargo carriers can lean more towards night flying. Anyway…

All the pilots bid for the trips they want, and people get the trips they want based on their seniority level. If you’re JR and Senior pilots want the same trip as you, they will get it and you will get something else.

SkyWest has a decent number of trips called Split-Duties or Standups. An example would be at 9pm you fly Chicago to Detroit, Sleep at a hotel for 5-8hrs and then fly Detroit - Chicago and are home by 9am. These trips pay 6-8hrs, but you only fly 2-4hrs and are home every day. You cannot hold these trips all month long until you are decently senior (50% or better usually).

Chris F

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You may have read us say “seniority is everything” at the airlines and its true. Every month you’ll bid for the trips you want. If your seniority is high enough OR you want something that others don’t want you’ll get it. If not you won’t.

The one thing that allows junior pilots the opportunity to improve their schedules is trip trading. Every month there are trips that are unassigned or trips that other pilots have called in sick for. If a better trip than you were awarded on you bid shows up in “opentime” you can trade your trip for it. I have had months when I was awarded a terrible line and with some vigorous trading (and luck) I was able to turn it into a great schedule.


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You can get as creative as you want with your bid preferences, from preferring night vs day to preferring one Captain over another. You can bid for virtually anything (within the program’s abilities). Your seniority (and bid strategy) dictates what you get and what you don’t.


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You can bid whatever you would like to fly when you do your monthly bidding. That being said, you will get a good mixture of day and night flying., regardless of how you bid.