What is the difference between an airline base and a hub?

I will probably retire from my first career once I land a CFI job at my flight school. I’m 44 years old and an aspiring airline pilot. Trying to plan for my transition, I researched various regional and major airlines to include their hubs/bases. I understand that a hub is the airline’s central collecting point or home. But what is a base? I live just outside of San Antonio, Texas, and all the majors have daily flights from SAT. Does that mean SAT is a base for one of the airlines? FYI, I don’t mind commuting to work but prefer to stay at a base airport. My wife and I have three grandchildren, so there’s no way we’re relocating. LOL. TIA.

A hub is where an airline chooses to operate out of, and is a center for an airlines flights, e.g. ATL is a hub for Delta Airlines, and a lot of their flights go through ATL.

A base/domicile is where an airline will provide facilities for their pilots and employees. All hubs are bases, but not all bases are hubs. It is a good idea to live close to a domicile airport of your airline to avoid long commutes. Once you become an airline pilot you will begin and end your day at the same Domicile. It is like your home base.

You can use this online map to find out the Domicile for any Airline based in the US.

According to this map there aren’t any Major Airlines that have a domicile at SAT.

Understood, sir. Thank you for the advice and map.


The majority of pilots do commute. While I don’t know any who recommend or enjoy it, it’s definitely doable (especially if you’re near a busy airport with lots of options).

The main thing to keep in mind is its YOUR responsibility to get to work on time and rested for duty.




A hub is where an airline connects passengers through. For example, I cannot fly ORF-SBN on United, but I can connect and go ORF-ORD-SBN, this makes ORD a hub for an airline. Where an airlines has a large presence and people can connect, that is a hub.

A base, or domicile, is a place where pilots start and end their trips. Typically these are hubs, but some airlines have outstation bases. At United, we have bases in CLE, LAS and MCO. None of these are hubs for United, but they are places where pilots can report to work.

Clear as mud?



I understand, sir. Thank you. :+1:t3: