What are the things you dislike about being a pilot?

My name is Anna and I am 23 years old. I plan on quitting my job soon and starting along the path to becoming an airline pilot. All the research I have done, plus the single introductory flight I have been on has indicated that this is the career I want to pursue. However, I am interested in learning about some of the things that people dislike about the pilot lifestyle, because while we all love flying, there may be some lifestyle drawbacks that aren’t really talked about. I want to make sure I have considered these drawbacks before making a full commitment to aviation. Thanks!


The biggest single drawback is probably the time away from home. By definition pilots travel away from home and depending on the airline, fleet etc you could (and most likely will) find yourself away for at least half the month or more. Further when you’re new and have no or little seniority that means you can forget about having weekends or holidays off. This can be tough on family life and relationships. Beyond that I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else.


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My only real complaint I have is one that is self induced. Many years ago, when I started at the airlines, I made the decision to continue to live in Virginia and commute to Newark for work. That was a mistake. Commuting takes up serious time that is simply not necessary. If I had it to do over again, I would move to where I was based right away.

Other than that, I really like the job and the lifestyle it affords.


Welcome to the forum! Good question… it’s nice to know what the potential challenges are so you have realistic expectations before making a decision.

I agree with Adam. The single biggest drawback is the time away from home. You expect it to a degree but when you’re junior, have little control over your schedule and then delays/cancellations eat in to the few off days you had…. You see where I’m going with this. This industry is UNPREDICTABLE in every aspect. For people who love stability and control, it can be very challenging. If you have the love for the job, you learn to ebb and flow with changes.



For me I would say my schedule plays a big part in my quality of life.

When I was a new hire FO at Horizon, I experienced what it feels like to be in the top 10% (relative seniority). I may never see that kind of seniority again and if I do it won’t be until the last few years of my career. It is extremely uncommon for a new hire to have that much seniority. Normally, a new hire is in the bottom 90-100% in terms of seniority. 100% being the most junior pilot. I didn’t do anything special to be in the top 10%. I just got hired at the right time. Horizon was bringing on a new airplane to their fleet and I just so happened to be offered a position to fly their new ERJs.

When I upgraded I was sitting at about 65% for the majority of my time as captain. I rarely had weekends off. Forget holidays. My trips were often inefficient with long breaks between flights and very short layovers.

As unenjoyable as that sounds, I still love the job. A good schedule is just extra. Most usually enter the industry knowing full well that it takes time to build seniority, and with more seniority typically comes with a better schedule, which creates a better quality of life.

I am now about to experience what it feels like to be in the bottom 90%. I was recently hired by Alaska earlier this month. Thankfully, now is a great time to get hired as every week a new group of new hires begin their training which pushes my seniority up every week.

That said, I am still preparing myself to be on reserve for a while, and being on reserve is a challenge all by itself.

Again, that’s why it’s important to really love flying. The love for the job and the responsibility far outweighs the negative.


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