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Preparing for Flight

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If you’ve ever peeked into the cockpit while boarding a commercial flight, you might not have realized that the pilots are in the midst of one of their highest times of workload. Many tasks must be accomplished prior to pushing back from the gate, and it takes a great deal of coordination between the pilots, flight attendants, airline operations, and ATC to prepare for flight. In this article, I’ll walk through a typical sequence of events that leads up to your departure.

While you’re sitting at the gate waiting patiently to board, the pilots are in the process of powering up the aircraft. There are no keys, just the flip of a few switches to bring the aircraft to life. Usually the aircraft receives its power from an electric plug stemming from the jet-way until prior to pushback, upon which an onboard fuel-powered generator called an APU is used. Besides providing electrical power on the ground, the APU also delivers conditioned air to the cabin as well as high-pressure air to start the engines.

With the aircraft powered-up, the pilots run through a regimented sequence of systems checks to ensure both main and back-up systems are operating normally. Upon completion of these checks, flight crews read through a checklist to ensure that all tasks have been completed. The first officer reads the checklist aloud while the Captain responds with the appropriate response, such as “check”. Speaking of the first officer, they are generally the ones who perform an exterior pre-flight inspection ensuring the aircraft is fit for flight. If any problems are found, such as a tire needing air, the captain is notified to call the maintenance folks out to fix the problem.

Beyond those tasks, the pilots must also read through the flight plan that airline dispatch specialists prepare and upload to computers for printout. The flight plan includes important information such as fuel consumption data, route and altitude of flight, weather information, as well as airport remarks such as known taxiway and runway closures. The route of flight, altitudes to be flown, and fuel consumption data are entered by the pilots into an onboard computer called an FMS, or Flight Management System. This computer links the entered flight plan to the autopilot so that it can navigate the aircraft from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. The fuel data entered allows the aircraft systems to track fuel burn during flight, providing the pilots with important information such as how much fuel will be onboard upon landing. For an example of the importance of this information, if ATC directs the pilots that airborne holding will be required, the expected holding time can be entered into the FMS and it will in turn calculate how long the aircraft can hold before needing to divert to re-fuel. Per FAA standards, aircraft are required to carry enough fuel for a given flight such that they can fly to their intended destination, proceed from there to an alternate airport, plus fly an additional 45 minutes beyond that. Any known ATC delays, such as anticipated holding must also be accounted for when planning fuel to be uploaded.

Once the FMS has been fed its required information, the pilots still have much to accomplish. About 30 minutes prior to push back, the flight crew either contacts by radio or receives an electronic message from ATC confirming their filed flight plan as well as assigning the flight a specific four number “squawk” code to enter into the aircraft transponder. The transponder is a device that automatically transmits a signal to ATC for radar tracking purposes. Every flight is given a unique squawk code that allows ATC to decipher each flight on their radar. Transponders also transmit signals between different aircraft, which allows pilots to track the position of other flights in the vicinity with an on-board display called a traffic collision avoidance system, or TCAS. This system will alert the pilots if another aircraft comes too close and will even go as far as to direct the pilots to climb or descend to avoid a collision if necessary. This of course is a back-up system to the services provided by ATC, but nonetheless is a valuable tool.

After the baggage has been loaded and the passengers are boarded, the pilots receive a baggage and passenger count. This information is then entered into the FMS for weight and balance calculations. With fuel, baggage, and passengers loaded, the total takeoff weight can be determined. This weight must not exceed the limitation of the aircrafts maximum allowable takeoff weight and also must allow for the aircraft to meet various runway and climb performance requirements. For example, there may be a weight limit for the runway being used that if exceeded, the aircraft may not be able to clear terrain or obstacles after takeoff in the event of an engine failure. Strict adherence to these weight limitations is crucial for a safe departure in the unlikely event of an emergency, or even during an uneventful flight. On the other side of the equation lies the balance issue. Airplanes are designed to be stable flying machines so long as they are loaded in a balanced fashion. If for example too much weight is loaded toward the rear of the aircraft, it would be tail-heavy and therefore would not handle appropriately. During balance calculations, the pilots may request that the flight attendants move passengers to different locations around the cabin to satisfy this requirement. The balancing issue is also important in setting the aircraft trim for takeoff. The trim, similar to the trim on a boat engine, assists the pilots by reducing the load they feel on the control yoke. Setting the trim properly for takeoff, based on aircraft balance, allows the aircraft to climb safely, especially in the event of an engine failure.

With these tasks completed, the seat belt sign is illuminated and the aircraft is ready to push off the gate. The pilots now shift their focus to preparing for takeoff and navigating you and your baggage safely to point ‘B’. Our pre-flight duties may seem like a daunting task, but I’d venture to say it’s easier than finding overhead bin space for your carry-on in most cases. Thanks for reading.

Daniel Fahl Staff Writer
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julianjim
jim garrity 7
Daniel, great job, but don't forget summer vs. winter flying in/out of LAS or DEN due to the heat/ALT, that pax can't figure out "why" the plane has so many empty seats but were told the flight was "full"!
DanielFahl
Daniel Fahl Staff Writer 2
Jim, good point. This topic is an article in-of-itself; perhaps I'll address it in the near future. In short, the term density altitude comes into play here. Hot air and high altitude thin out the air and decrease aircraft performance. In many cases, flights are weight restricted because of this.
preacher1
preacher1 2
Good point Jim: I can remember when KROW was still a SAC base before it closed and even with 13000', they kept tankers up all the time because the 52's could not get off fully loaded in the summer. That was one reason, among several,that they closed it, as those birds were on alert and had to go. Most times those refuelings would last well out over AZ.
preacher1
preacher1 2
I'm flying on memory but I can't remember that FMS coming into play, even on the early 757's, let alone the 707's. I remember a lot of yellow pads and a whole lot more pre flight manual figuring.lol. I remember we got one of the first 757's in the early 80's and it wasn't until a major avionics upgrade several years later did a lot of the automated functions start coming into play. Once an initial platform was in, a change out to an upgrade was no big deal and when it was traded it was in about as good a shape as a new one off the line. The only reason they traded up to a 767 was for the wider body, giving more interior office and conference space.

[This poster has been suspended.]

preacher1
preacher1 2
smart aleck.lol
smsatgnv
smsatgnv 6
Thanks for taking the time to write and post this; I also found the article enlightening and very interesting.... and I look forward to the next installment.
toolguy105
toolguy105 5
For those not familiar with just what the pilots do during before flight this was an eye opening article. With the automation of today's aircraft many think the pilots are their in case of emergencies and to taxi the plane to and from the runway. For those of us who have been on the flight deck we know better. This is a very good article for the uninformed. Your next one should be about the en-route work load and approach and landing.
JaTexas
Jake Angelo 4
Not to mention that while performing the above tasks, the crew is aware of the 200-300+ people who are relying on their work to be accurate, timely and complete. The above process is made complicated by one passenger who believes the world, the airline and the individuals trying to get them to "point B" owe them something beyond the task at hand which is why I as a traveler have little respect for passengers who cannot seem to just go with the flow.
PaulSieli
Paul Sieli 3
Great article,,,Thanks for the time you spent on putting this together...
psseshadri
Now that the fundas before the take-off have been explained so clearly, perhaps you could tell us what happens in actual flight going from point A to point B. Thanks very much.
justiceshaw
John Shaw 3
"Its the small things that count"!a flight instructor has made this statement to every student pilot. You have presented a very simple but accurately detailed article about a procedure many would take for granted. As aviators, we just go through the routine. But I can certainly see where the average traveler could appreciate the insight you have shared. Great work Daniel!
mjsracing1
Steve Shaw 3
As a corporate jet-jockey I too deal with a longer checklist and no dispatchers, but the passenger demands or requests can be more of a headache than you can imagine. And at the top of the list is, you guessed it,....."get-there-itis". But if I can't get them there safely, they don't go. Great article Daniel.

Blue Skies All !
rwf1001
as someone who has always been been interested in flying, aircraft, and flight operations, but do to physical limitations as a child, was never able to follow up on my dream to be a pilot, this was enjoyable for me to read. Thank you.
chadrawlings
chadrawlings 2
Great article Dan as always and thanks for giving us FO's some credit!
aanacif
Andre Nacif 2
Great Job. Would indeed like to see an article about density altitude. Really tricky....

Thnx :)
billywarthog87
Being an "armchair pilot" I found the article enlightening and very interesting. During my many sightseeing trips (now no longer possible) with spotting the main objective, I had the enormous privilege of being invited to the flight deck on routeing KIX to AMS in a 744, (this was prior to 911) This occurred over Moscow with still 3 hours to run. I was in the jump seat behind the Captain and had many things explained to me, even the 3 times rule even made sense to me now. Asked to stay for the touchdown you can imagine my reaction. It turned out that I was the last passenger disembarking, but hey ho, who cares, that once in a lifetime experience will now never be repeated. My most grateful thanks and appreciation to the KLM flightdeck crew and a special thanks to the FAs for making this possible.
skycrewaircraft
Andrew Major 2
Great article but I don't take kindlythe comment that Wayne as made about corporate pilots or gaggles as he commented. I have flown both 121 and 135 and as a corporate pilot the preflight workload is actually more. Corporate pilots don't have the luxury of dispatchers to do all of the flight and weather planning for the days legs. Nothing taken away from 121 pilots but if that's all you have done in your career then don't think that the others flying world doesn't have plenty to do before there pax show up to get on the plane.
yukon1
EDWARD moore 2
Now I see what my sons work day is like.....thanks good article...
preacher1
preacher1 2
Daniel, in spite of my earlier reminiscing comments(lol), your article is excellent as usual. Most PAX, not even a corporate gaggle that flies all the time, has the foggiest idea what is being done. I had the luxury in my career of getting there a little early and taking my time going through the lists and generally by flight time, we were ready to go, if not waiting on someone. Since that retirement, I have done some fill in work for both DAL and AA. I guess I am set in my ways, but it bugs me to have to hurry. I don't know if I'm just getting cranky or afraid of being rushed and miss something but that lack of time bothers me in the commercial world. It is not uncommon for a flight to be late getting in and that just cuts your time, what with all the pressure to get out of the way. It won't go until I'm ready but I guess it's just all the innuendo that goes with it.lol
julianjim
jim garrity 2
Daniel, from reading these posts, it sounds like you should do en-route phase? I remember the crash pad we had next to LAX! I would NOT stay there now,due to the very high crime rate (and I'm retired now anyway)! Pax don't know what it takes when it's just LAX or SAN to LAS or PHX vs. LAX to ORD or JFK. Just don't try to explain the "over the pond" flt's!! Have a great day all, we here @ JLI are saying BYE-BYE to our 12" of snow and WX over the past three days!!!

mg21
Mary Gift 2
Thanks for sharing this important bit of safety information. I will think about the pilots as I await take off on my next flight. I appreciate the measures taken before each flight for me and my fellow passengers.
gjrockhound2000
KC Hoover 2
More than once I have had FA's come back and tell us that they had to reseat some of us to balance the aircraft. Those FA's are serious about it as they say we get people moved or we don't leave the gate. End of discussion. Boy people start offering to change seats ASAP.
EmeraldRocket
Daniel, nice to see the growing attention your articles are getting. Hard work pays and the readers get the benefit of your insight. Thanks. SSS
trennor
Thanks for this: I'm not a real pilot, but a mere flight simmer (yea, I know, but I can't get a pilots license due to illness so it's the next best thing, maybe.) Any aviation related articles like this are so welcome to people like me; I posted the link to our Virtual Airline website, so you'll have more avid readers. Keep 'em coming! These are great!
DanielFahl
Daniel Fahl Staff Writer 2
Thanks, Wayne. There is certainly a lot of pressure in today's airline environment to depart on-time. That always falls second to safety however. The pilots flying wish to get home to see their loved ones as well, so with that said, thoroughness is paramount.
preacher1
preacher1 3
i agree in that safety first and as I said, it won't go until I do. I guess it's old age; I just don't like to be rushed.lol
Teresa022
Teresa Reagan 1
Now Andrew, you must read Wayne's comment more throughly. I beleive he meant all the coporate heads you fly here and there do not appreciate what effort you put in to making sure they have a safe and uneventful flight.
preacher1
preacher1 1
read my comment, and specifically about the GAGGLES; I'm speaking of PAX, not the pilots.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
Some student pilots have a problem understanding density altitude. Most flight problems are covered in high school general science class, we just don't remember the applications. A Google search brings up pages and pages of information and articles in this regard.

Basically, when you warm something like a liquid or gas it becomes less dense or "thinner". DA equates the density of heated air to air density at altitude. A take off roll takes more distance in Denver at 5200 feet let's say than in Baltimore at 120 feet, assuming both airports are at 60°F . Likewise, the take off distance will increase at Baltimore if the temperature raises to 95°F in Summer and is equal to the air density at a higher altitude. Simply put, that's all there is to it. The calculations of aircraft weight, weight and balance, take off distance and usable runway are mathematical formulae for specific application.
CavaliersDoc
Craig Bales 1
Michael or someone else please explain the 3 times rule... Thanks
Boentgru
The first thing I did before flying any aircraft, before getting in the cockpit, is to do a walk-around on the aircraft. To check for damage, locking pins, restraints, chocks, open inspection doors, condition of tires, fuel state, ground power attachments, pitot tube covers, etc. I never delegated this task, insofar as I have the duty and the capacity to perform it. My aircraft are not commercial but the task is a necessary one.
Dhelens
patrick tit 1
Interesting comments on hidden side of airflight.
haroldschiffman
My son is a pilot flying 757's and 767's, Can I say I am jealous, as my mother said to me "no pilot. Well my son was born and I then sat by the airports with him out here in Long Island. I said he was either going to like the planes or not. He loved them and the rest is history.
Thank you to the entire crew for all you do from safety to fling those planes.
julianjim
jim garrity 1
Trennnor, have you looked into flying R/C airplanes? Besides my family being in the airline biz(which caused me to fly),I did very little r/c flying,but love to watch(youtube)the planes are almost as big as a real one!!!
wavagp
Britt Brain 1
Outstanding Daniel! Three cheers! No doubt a fine article with everything well summarized for the flying public and an interesting read for those in the industry as well. The only thing that came to mind for me are of course the caveats and details. And, Whew. Is he going to get some questions! Thanks very much! Enjoyed it.

Signed,
EX-CON, Work Hard, Fly Right!
julianjim
jim garrity 1
Trennor, sorry for the extra "N",MY HAND HAD A "TRIMMER"! HOPE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FIND r/c FLYING SOMETHING YOU LIKE? Up here @ 4500ft., we have a wind issue(yes,and den/alt.)!
dieterl
Very interesting, I enjoyed reading it
Miki11
Mike Jass 1
Wow!
I travelled in an airplane only a dozen of times, and only the last few times I really enjoyed. Generally, I was very anxious, but this reassures me a lot. Great article. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
hansthart
Hans 't Hart 1
Daniel,

Good job writing this! You can't cover everything, as some comments already show, which stresses the purpose and intention of your text even more.

Thanks!

Hans
KLM MD-11
ondine
Jo Hammond 1
It seems to me that passengers should be weighed as well as the baggage. Why not?
timothy0716
timothy nguyen 1
Wonderful and very detailed. Thank you very much to the one who wrote the article. I enjoyed reading every word of it. And last but not least, a special thank to Captain Tom, whom I received the link from.
GaAubie
Ken Hardy 1
First flight I ever had was in a Aeronca Chief, first thing was push the master circuit on, then turn on the fuel selector, turn on the switch key,prime the carb, yell clear and tell whoever was going up with me to spin the prop, we flew out of a dirt strip field and did a 360 at the end of the active to see if anybody was in the pattern to land then away we went. THAT WAS THE REAL DAYS OF FLYING
Danubio
Thanks for taking the time to write and post. Really good article.
jmedina94
Julian Medina 1
Great article! I had some idea of what goes on before flight, such as the FO doing a preflight inspection and the start of the APU, but this is really in depth! Thanks!
skuttlerats
Jeffrey Babey 1
That was a GREAT read! Thanks for the great information! :)
julianjim
jim garrity 1
Daniel or whoever, THANKS for at least adding "NEW" to the posts!
skuttlerats
Jeffrey Babey 1
I've been on flights where they moved us around, granted these flights were about half full. So this makes perfect sense to me.
mnrossphd
Murray Ross 1
One other passenger and I were pushed out of our bulkhead seats today for "balance." Hard to believe a 319 is such a finely balanced machine that moving 2 people 6 rows back makes a difference. If that's the margin of error, we should all be praying more.
iflyfsx
iflyfsx 1
"Strict adherence to these weight limitations is crucial for a safe departure..." but neither passengers or carry-ons are weighted, so the captain is relying on some kind of average, an educated guess. I can only assume these averages are pretty reliable, but what if they were off by 5% on a certain flight? I don't see how moving a couple of passengers makes any sense, when those other variables/unknowns can be so much greater.
SharynMichali
Very interesting and timely, as three minutes B4 receiving this email, my husband informed me he was on the plane FRA to come to ERI via DTW.
There was a ground workers' strike @ FRA for the past 2 days.
I don't know if the ground workers are back tO work or still on strike;
jbourliere
SUPER ARTICLE ?ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO FLY EVERY SINGLE WEEK OF THE YEAR.....IT GIVES YOU A MUCH BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT HAPPENS
Josephgirone
Joseph Girone 1
Great article Daniel. Thank you!
DaveBFlying
Dave Klem 1
Thanks for the education. I use FA for educational purposes at home where I study navigation and procedures on my home built Flight Training Device. One of my mentors uses FA and he fly's a Kingair 200. I hope to apply what I've learned from FA and the rest of my training resources in the near future.
gsegura
That is a great article Daniel. I been have in flight deck many times, in flight, and even the comple flight from gate to gate :D, but for my wife, who still no understand the work around a trip, this article was very educational.

Thanks so much for the info!!

Have safe flights!
HIZZHONER
Ed Wagner 1
Great article. Thanks for posting.
ric2roz
For someone who sits in the back, I found this information enjoyable reading. Here, I thought you guys were checking what horse was running the next race at Churchill Downs. Cheers and nice job.
dherman
Doug Herman 1
Daniel described about an hour's worth of work. What gets left out of done high-speed on the 20-30 minute gate turn, e.g. Southwest?
CaryA
Cary Alburn 1
Interesting article. Years ago as a SE 135 pilot, I was occasionally faced with questions from my passengers, and the import of it was, "if you know how to fly, why do you have to refer to the checklist?" Of course, our systems were relatively simple, but I always figured that it was generally that they were equating just hopping in the car to drive somewhere, since our airplanes weren't (to them) much different from the family car. But for all airplanes going anywhere other than around the patch, there is significant preparation that the passengers never see, and depending on the circumstances (weather, distance, etc.), that can take as much as several hours.

Now if you could just get this message out beyond the Flight Aware crowd!
RobSJC
RobSJC 1
They manage to do all that, and still aloow an occasional photograph or question as people are boarding .. Very impressive .. Thanks for the briefing, All buckled up and ready to go !!
cwb2409
Colin Brooks 1
As a solely vacation flier, it was very interesting to read what goes on before I get on board. Perhaps now I'll have a bit more patience when I have to sit in the airport lounge for longer than expected. Many thanks.
Dorlaw
David Dore 1
Excellent article Daniel, adds helpful info that shows how detailed the prep is pre-flight!. nice job
Ronwal50
Thanks for this article, Daniel.
I hope for more interesting articles in the future.
jhenriquez28
jhenriquez28 1
Very illustrative article...Good job
docroc3
I'm glad that the flight crew work so conscientiously towards a safe flight. Meanwhile, what are the cabin crew doing, and can they deter those who want to bring all their possessions into the cabin?
margensa
Thanks for putting this article together. While knowing all of this takes place before a flight, it's great to have all of the details laid out in sequence along with which parties handle what tasks. Again, thanks!
gortmull
Thomas Gorton 1
This is facinating stuff! As for weight calculations, you must use an average for the weight of each passenger since, unlike checked baggage, we are not weighed in prior to boarding. What is that "average"? And due to the fact that Americans are becoming heavier, the U. S. Coast Guard has recently revised the capacity limitations on ferries due to the increased "average weight per person". Is this true in the airline industry as well? Thanks so much for your insights!
preacher1
preacher1 1
Daniel: I got's a stupid question, and I'm flying on memory and a copy of the word for word regs not available, BUT as a matter of routine, I have always used the sterile cockpit rule from engine start to about 10 grand and vice versa. How come that thing is not in effect from the time we set down in the cockpit. It was never much of a factor in corporate flying as in most cases we were done with checklists before anybody boarded, exchanged a few plesantries, shut the door and off we went. As a PAX, I have seen that open cockpit door and pilots doing their thing as you say. It would just seem that there is a big chance there for distraction as well, which is what the rule is designed to prevent in the first place.????????????
Michaelwright395
This was very interesting maybe when people arrive at the gate late will or should read this.
giovannidipace
Thanks for writing this interesting article,now more people know how valuablemuch your job is . It may be daunting in same moments ...But when you are airbone... what splendid and beautiful sensations you have !!
bobus64
ROBERT LING 1
Brilliant and fascinating expo on cock-pit procedure which could only be improved by detailing the various checks that the pilots undertake
YvesDUFEIL
Yves DUFEIL 1
Thanks Daniel
STD +10
Hotter, higher, faster !
Rgds
Honu1
Robert Galus 1
Thanks for that. Nice insight to activity on the flight deck!
leblond29
Gilles Caron 1
Daniel, very interesting informations. We, travellers do not realize the importance of those small details in order to travel safely from point A to point B. Thanks for sharing that with us.
DanielFahl
Daniel Fahl Staff Writer 4
First off, you're correct about average weight being used. The only time we use "actual" passenger and baggage weight is when performing military or sports charters. As for everyday passenger operations, the FAA has composed a list of average weights to be assumed for passengers and baggage for both winter and summer months. In the winter months, those average weights increase based on the assumption that people wear heavier clothing.

At the end of the day however, you're right; there is most definitely a discrepancy. I've seen many folks board my aircraft that without a doubt weigh in excess of the average weight! But on the flip side, I've seen many people who weight less than the average. Considering the errors run in both directions, even if the weights are still more than average, there is a great deal of tolerance built in for this. Call it a "fudge factor" if you will.

On the balance issue, the reason moving so few passengers can make such a big difference is based on the theory of leverage. The balance of an aircraft mirrors the principles of a teeter-toter. Based on leverage, with the fulcrum located at the aircraft wing, it doesn't take much to significantly adjust the balancing by moving a little bit of weight over a long lever (long fuselage). The length of the lever in aircraft weight and balance terms is called an "arm".

I hope that answers your question. The tolerances built into these calculations are very padded. They even account for such assumptions as the flight-attendants moving throughout the cabin with a beverage cart during flight. Even a passenger moving from the most forward seat, to the rear lavatory is considered when calculating to ensure the aircraft operates within a safe balance envelope. And that's the key word here - envelope. We don't have to fall precisely onto a narrow line to satisfy balance, rather wider-range envelope suffices. If we happen to fall outside that envelope range, then we move passengers or add weight to the cargo bin to get into that range.
Boentgru
I've read at least one accident report which cited actual total passenger weight almost 1000 lbs over the "average passenger" weight calculation which resulted in a (regional) aircraft which could not be controlled on takeoff, killing all aboard. We are on average all getting heavier and the 20 or so people on a fully loaded small aircraft cannot even be assumed to be a representative samnple of the average population. Actual weights of people and cargo really needs to be measured and used.
preacher1
preacher1 1
That's actually coming from FA. I was fussing at them the other day about the same thing and the told me it was a BLE DOT and it was a couple of days then they changed it to NEW.
preacher1
preacher1 1
You know, part of that familiarity, so to speak, could come from hearing about military alert birds and how quick they can get in the air. On any alert pad, whether fighter or bomber, you will see security guards around those planes. They are not only there for the obvious to stop terrorrist or such but those planes are like a loaded gun and basically COCKED. Checklists have been run and they are ready for engine start. Those checklists were ran after the pilots brought them off the last mission hence they can get airbone fast. Now like you said, if there was a way to get this outside this forum.lol.
Guhor
Ira Hargis 1
I fly international frequently and this information is fascinating and illuminating. Cockpit and cabin crews are not paid enough for all the work that is required.
Thanks for this great article.
DaveBFlying
Dave Klem 1
The biggest problem that we have with "not paid enough" is corporate cutting corners to sell you cheaper tickets. Most pilots don't start getting paid until the doors close. All the time spent traveling through the airport or catching a shuttle from their hometown to wherever they are needed is done on their own time. They pay for their own hotels too.

Pilots that are just out of school make so little that they mostly stay overnight in what are called crash pads. They are like a small apartment filled with bunks and one bathroom.

All in the name of cheaper tickets. Check out a documentary called "Flying Cheap."

It all started with deregulation.

Thx
preacher1
preacher1 1
Dave: there's not a thing there that you have said that isn't true. BUT, if they stopped cutting those corners and had to pick up some of those costs, naturally the cost of a ticket would go up and you would have the increased clamor from the public about high prices. It has been 30 years, give or take, since deregulation. You have a whole generation and start of another that has no idea of how things used to be and think it would be a cardinal sin if prices were raised, God forbid.Sad to say but that's the way it is.
toolguy105
toolguy105 1
Unfortunately that is the difference between the main line carriers and the regional carriers. Main line pilots are better paid and hotel rooms and per diem are paid to all crews. The regional carriers are worrisome to the FAA and they are looking into this as it is sited in the Buffalo incident as part of the cause.
abowland
Andy Bowland 1
Terrific article Daniel. It does offer some insight as to what occurs during that 45-30 minutes before departure, and why sometimes we as airline pilots can't always accommodate a quick tour of the cockpit before a flight (there might be an issue with the airplane, the fuel, the route, etc).

Dave I would like to address your ill informed issues you seem to have.

Regional airline First Officers are paid less than a F/O on the second step of the pay scale. While this is still a relatively low salary, it is typically $30-40 an hour for a regional jet F/O. Legacy carrier F/O's are paid a relatively low salary to start as well $40-50 an hour or so during the first year of service, the next step in the pay scale has a significant increase.

Also, as a pilot for a US airline I can assure you that pilots never pay for hotel rooms during a trip assigned by the airline, and every airline I can think of paid its pilots per diem. You may be confusing the matter with the crash pad issue, a pilot who commutes form out of town to his domicile might have a crash pad or may choose to buy his own hotel room, which isn't the Hyatt Regency, it will be an off brand worse than a Motel 6.

As far as crash pads are concerned, some might be a small apartment filled with bunk beds and one bathroom, or it could be the house of a fellow pilot who lets a friend stay there. I've stayed in two different crash pads during my career one was a four bedroom house with 2 and 1/2 baths. We did have as many as 16 beds in the house but never did we have more than five or six people at a time in the house, due to our different schedules and also because people don't live at the crash pad. The second crash pad I stayed in was a brand new two bedroom apartment with 2 full baths. We had eight beds and we were (and still are) friends. And again, only three or four of us were ever there at a given time.

Additionally crash pads are not unique to low paid regional pilots, Delta Airlines Captains stay at crash pads as do FedEx pilots, UPS, United...honestly every airline has pilots that commute from other cities and they use crash pads.

Wayne, almost nothing Dave said was true. Just because he watched a documentary about a crummy crash pad does not make him an expert.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, he can be off an entitled to his opinion but you and me both know that he is right on one part and that is that it all started with deregulation. That being said, one thing that deregulation did for not only the Airlines, but truck and rail as well, was to force carriers to come to grips with and recognize their actual costs. Some have been more agressive than others and much animosity between labor and management has arisen. As I sai in my comment, we have a generation and more, that this current environment is all they know and that to change anything about will bring an increased cost to the carrier.
tabfn56
Toni Nestore 0
Thank you for Daniel, so informative, now if only you can give advise on dating a pilot. Its been fun yet challenging.
Brian1000
Brian Gough 0
Lots of info there to bad a lot of passengers are not aware.of what is taking place.
hansthart
Hans 't Hart 1
How come Toni?
Would love to hear your stories with a cup of coffee or a beer when I am staying over in the States again! ;-) Hans