How often are you actually gone from home as an airline pilot or cargo pilot?

Hello, I am an employee of Boeing in Seattle who loves the industry with the ambition to fly as a pilot. Whether it’s cargo planes for UPS or for American airlines, Hawaiian airlines, etc. But now that I am engaged and want to have kids. My main focus is on my family and wanting to have a career where I can spend the most time with my wife and kids in the future but also support a family. My career is already promising for that reason especially since I can just about go to any school. But since I am young and being a pilot has always been my dream I still would consider it. My question is as a pilot in the airlines or in cargo how often are you away from home? I know this question varies with the airline but since I am from Washington. Hawaiian airlines, Alaska, Southwest, American, Delta, Amazon, UPS, FedEx, are companies I am striving for. Thank you.


As you said (and are therefore aware) that answer varies not just from airline to airline but by aircraft and operation within the airline. I’m at Hawaiian, when I flew the Airbus I was gone anywhere from 2-5 days. Now I’m back on the 717 and we have no overnights at all so I’m home every night. You mention Amazon who’s flights (at least for now) are operated by Atlas Air. Atlas pilots can be gone up to 17 days in a row. What you also need to consider is you won’t be working for any of the airlines you mention for quite some time. You’ll need to build time and experience at a Regional and most of those operate 2, 3 and 4 day trips. In both cases your schedule will be based on your seniority. Since most pilots like to be at home the shorter (more efficient trips) are generally more desired and therefore go to the more senior pilots. The good news is as pilots we’re often able to group our days off (again based on seniority) so in time you’ll be able to get longer stretches of days off vs the average person who simply has weekends. That said in the beginning you can and should expect to be gone quite a bit and miss a few holidays.


1 Like


I would encourage you to look at the “Schedules” section of this forum as it will offer you some pretty good insight into what our schedules are like. The bottom line though is that pilots should expect to be on the road 14-18 days per month. The good news is that the 12-16 days off per month are true days off with no take home work at all.