Do Pilots Work Weekends? Life As A Pilot
Do pilots work weekends?
Whether you fly long haul or short haul, regardless of just how often you are away from home, your lifestyle will as a commercial pilot will be unique.
Pilots rostering systems vary from airline to airline. Usually, pilots will have some form of preference system that will allow them to ‘bid’ for what flights they want to do, whether they would like to spend time away on trips, and what days they would like their days off to fall on.
As you can imagine, most pilots will bid for weekends off.
This is to keep their life as ‘normal’ as possible and to help fit into the social conduct of the modern world of Monday-Friday working.
However, every pilot within an airline can’t be able to have every weekend off work, which means as a pilot, it’s common to work over the weekend when flights are notoriously busy.
Ultimately, this does lead to times when pilots cannot attend social events, sporting fixtures and other significant events that take place over the weekend.
Indeed, a dream roster for most would fit a Monday-Friday working pattern to allow the perks of the job of a commercial pilot whilst still fitting into ‘normal’ life.
It’s, of course, not all doom and gloom, and we pilots get some weekends off.
Senior pilots, who have been with the airline for many years, might be granted nearly all weekends off if they bid for them.
This is since most roster bidding systems work on a seniority basis; the more senior you are, the more likely you are to have your bid satisfied.
Do Pilots Work Weekends? Junior Pilots Will Most Likely
Even if you are a junior pilot unable to bid for weekends off successfully, you still do not need to kiss goodbye to your social life.
Planning is one tactic you can use. This ensures you can ask for the time off well in advance by booking it off as leave.
Nearly airlines will have a system where you can book leave and specific days for weddings, birthdays, etc.
You may also be able to swap your flights with other pilots.
For example, some pilots prefer to have their days off during the week. If you work for a large airline, these swaps are not uncommon.
Let’s talk about the worst-case scenario.
You’re a junior pilot at an airline that doesn’t allow swaps, and you work most weekends. Is your social life now over?
No. For example, if you’re a short-haul pilot, you might be on an early flight that lands back at 3 pm on a Saturday, so now you can attend that Saturday afternoon BBQ.
If you’re a long-haul pilot working over the weekend, you can experience the weekend at a new destination with new people. Do Pi
Being A Pilot Is A Very Social Job
Being a pilot is an incredibly social job. So even if as a pilot, you work weekends, life will still be fine (I promise).
You will make memories with people whilst away on work trips. Most airlines will allow you to take friends or partners with you.
Think of it like a short weekend break, without the need to pay for flights, hotels etc!
You will tend to find that your lifestyle will adapt to the job. Pilots tend to have close friends that are also in the industry or indeed who are not confined to a Monday-Friday working week.
This is the case for me personally. Most of my closest friends are in aviation or work jobs where they can work whenever and from wherever in the world, meaning that a Tuesday/Wednesday can be just as enjoyable, if not more so than a Saturday/Sunday.
Days off during the week also comes as a blessing in disguise.
Whilst everyone is hard at work, you’ll find time to do things you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do on the weekend. Things like getting a table reservation at a restaurant booked every weekend.
Going to the beach on a beautiful day to find it almost empty, with carless roads, quiet gyms and much more.
The chances are, even as the most junior and unlucky pilot in the world, you won’t work every weekend.
As covered, usually, airlines rostering systems have protocols in place to stop this from being a thing.
However, you will find that your lifestyle will adapt to these constraints.