Living in Base

Hey guys,

I’m a little confused about the whole living in base versus. commuting thing. Assuming I was hired at an airline and chose to live in base, could i schedule my trips so that I had mostly 1 day out and backs? Or are these extremely rare/senior? Chris, I have looked at your schedules and while I know you are based in Newark, you rarely spend overnights there. Is this your choosing, or do most trips start and end in base with no base-overnights in the middle?

In terms of bidding for the most out and backs, would you guys say that cargo companies like FEDEX and UPS offer the most? Or would also this be possible (with some seniority) living in a big base with a big airline. For instance, an AA pilot living and based in Dallas; Delta pilot living and based in ATL; United pilot living in based in EWR.

Really appreciate all of your help. Thanks!

  • Alex


If you lived in base you could certainly bid for out and backs (called day trips), but that doesn’t mean that you will get them. When I worked for ExpressJet there were a fair number of day trips and mostly local pilots flew them, in part this was due to the short length of the flights that we flew. At United we fly all over the country and the world, due to the FAA regulations it would be impossible to fly from Newark to San Diego and back in a day, or of course anything further like into Europe. The short domestic flights are a small portion of what we do, so most of our flights are several day trips.

Cargo companies do have day trips, but they also have trips that can last for a week or more as they fly odd hours all over the world.

If you want to maximize your time at home then living in base is the way to do it, but I would still plan on spending several nights per month on the road, it is just the nature of the business.


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EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on seniority. The more senior you are, the better chance you get what you want. Let me ask you a question? Do you think that you’re the only pilot at ABC airline that would like to be home every night with their family? Of course not. This is why if there are day trips they traditionally go very senior. The only exception is say at Delta if you were flying the 717 which is a junior aircraft but then your pay will suffer as well (bigger plane, more money). The majority of Majors focus on long flights, transcon and overseas so you’d actually see more of those while you’re at a Regional than at a Major. Overnights in base are actually very rare. You have to understand when you start a trip the clock starts counting and you’re getting paid and the company pays for your hotel. If you’re in base they’re not going to pay for that so it’s easier (and cheaper) to simply end the trip. Same goes for cargo. Bottomline there are very few airline pilots who are home every night.