Besides higher pay rates, why do widebody/long distance planes go so senior? What’s so enticing about being in a plane for so many hours?
While many pilots do enjoy traveling far distances and spending time on different continents, overwhelmingly the main reason is pay. I did not enjoy long haul flying and personally would like to never do it again BUT the pay difference is significant (close to 6 figures) and that makes it hard to say never.
Pay is the main issue, but widebody flying also has other benefits. The flights are much longer, so pilots typically only fly a few flights per month and have more days off. They get paid to sleep during their breaks and some people really enjoy the destinations. I am a domestic guy myself, but I can certainly see the benefits to international flying.
Pay would definitely be the benefit. I’ve done quite a few 14 hour long-hauls from Narita, Japan to Dulles in the Navy. I can honestly say the time off seems necessary for recovery from jet lag. I guess it also depends on how long you are at your destination before returning to your base. Either way your body won’t know what time of day it is. That’s why they pay them the big bucks.
For how long are long haul pilots away from home and how much time off they get at home after they return from a long international flight within the major US airline industry?
Depends on the airline, aircraft, the destination and the operation. Most airline trips don’t usually go beyond 4-5 days and may we only 2 our 3. Long haul cargo airlines like Atlas can send their crews out for up to 18 days.
Also all airline contracts set a min amount of days off per month (usually 12). As you gain seniority you gain more control over your schedule and have more days off.
If the pilot works for a passenger airline, usually no more than 4-5 days. If they work for a cargo airline, it canoe upwards of two weeks. Long haul pilots tend to work about half the month.