Real Answers from Real Pilots

Sick Days


I have a question about how sick days work. So I believe you get a certain amount of “sick days” every month. What will happen if you use up all your sick days and need to call out of work? Will you be consequenced or is it excused if your truly sick?

Also, If you take a sick day to you get paid for that day or do you get nothing at all?

Last question, when is it too late to call in sick? For example if you have a 9am flight and you wake up at 5am realizing your really sick, can you call out still?

Thank you guys!


Most airlines you don’t get sick days you get sick hours every month and they go into your sick bank. When you call in sick the money to pay you comes out of your sick bank (ie, you call in sick and your trip is worth 20hrs, you’ll be paid those 20hrs but the pay will come from your sick bank). If your bank is empty you can still call in sick but you won’t get paid.

No pilot should ever fly sick and if you get sick when you’re sitting down in the cockpit you should call out sick. That said the airlines obviously appreciate as much time as they can get. Call in only a few hours prior to your go time and you’ll probably get a friendly call from your Chief Pilot. After that the call will be less than friendly.



As Adam said, you should always be paid for calling out sick as long as you have credits in your sick bank AND as long as you don’t abuse your right to call out sick.

No one wants a pilot to fly sick. Calling yourself off of a trip or a portion of your trip because you are sick is always the right thing to do no matter when your trip begins or if you are already on a trip as long as you truly are sick. Obviously the more lead time that you can give the company the better.


I’ve got some experience from this today actually. I’m relatively new to Skywest and was supposed to commute up today for a trip starting tomorrow. Our minimum call out sick time is no sooner than 30 mins from report time. Unfortunately I was feeling pretty awful the last few days and took an at home Covid test this morning just to be safe and it came out positive… so now I’m home quarantining for the next 5 days.
First I notified crew support so my trip could be reassigned to a reserve pilot. Then the scheduling department assigned those days to sick time. I will probably be short covering all 5 days so I’ll probably be hearing back about how some of the time will be unpaid. Next I emailed the chief pilot notifying him of the Covid positive and was directed to contact the Covid department within Skywest for directions on the return to work protocol.


At my airline, we generally accrue one sick day per month. If you call in sick, you use that time. If you run out of sick time, you are unpaid until Long Term Disability kicks in at 90 days.

I have called in sick in the airport once in the middle of a trip. As it was a genuine sick call (food poisoning) I never heard a word about it from my boss. Ironically that was my very last trip at ExpressJet before moving onto Continental.