Loaded with questions

After reading some of the threads I have realized that I am just loaded with questions any answers to the following couple of questions are well appreciated…

  1. What exactly are reserve pilots and line pilots?

  2. From my current standpoint on this it sounds like that once you are hired by an airline you are put on the reserve list and you get off of it after a certain time period. So the question being what is the difference between a line and reserve pilot? How long until you get taken off of the reserve list? Do you fly less while on reserve or more same thing with being a line pilot?

Thanks all!


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The difference between Reserve and Line pilots is simply when you’re on “reserve”, while you will have set days off, the days you’re working you’ll have no idea (or control) over where you fly, how long or with whom. When you have a “line” your schedule for the month is set. You’ll know where you’re going, with who and for how long. Now most pilots prefer to have a line (but not all) so lines usually go senior to reserve which is why when you start off you’ll often find yourself on reserve until you’re senior enough to bid a line. That said depending on what’s most important to you, you may decide to stay on reserve. Personally depending on what I have going on, based on my seniority I can’t always get the lines I want so I’ll often bid reserve to get better days off. How long until you can hold a line can vary greatly from airline to airline and depends on hiring and movement at that airline. Could be weeks, could be months, could be longer.


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Phew! Thank you so much Adam now I have a much clearer understanding of reserve and line pilots are

Thank you again!

  • Jack

So, a reserve pilot can determine what days they work? Or, is that overly simplistic? If so, what are the cons to being “reserve”? Are you still eligible for call and/or premium pay work if you desire?



Reserve pilots can bid for what days they would like to work, but there is no guarantee what days they will get. The company will assign the work days as they see fit and wishing their contractual obligations. Yes and no on being eligible for premium pay, each contract has its own nuances so it is difficult to give a blanket answer.



Traditionally Reserve goes to junior pilots since most pilots want to know where, when and with who they’re flying. Since EVERYTHING is based on seniority you can sometimes make this work to your advantage. What people don’t seem to get is that seniority allows you to bid and get what you want in relation to the rest of the pilots. Since few pilots bid Reserve, I as a more senior pilot (who really isn’t concerned where or with who I fly, with only when) often bid Reserve because it allows me to get the days off I want. Also at my company you can (and often do) get called and offered premium pay on days off. If you look at the schedule I just posted you’ll see I got paid for 86hrs but only flew 71. I like that :slight_smile: