Life as a pilot can be an incredibly rewarding career, whether you look at it in terms of job satisfaction or financially. All aspiring pilots and aviation enthusiasts have dreamed of and thought about what will await them in their future careers. It’s important to know what you are looking for both in your career and personal life as this will impact which airline you may choose to work for.

Different airlines offer different opportunities. Depending on who your employer is, you could have anywhere from 28 to 42 days annual leave. Flight rosters vary from airline to airline with some offering 5 days on, 3 days off and others offering 5 early duties, 3 days off, 5 late duties, 4 days off. Some airlines offer a guaranteed 7 days per month at your home base, whilst others offer varied days on which you may not be home.

Short Haul Pilots

Typically, short haul pilots for low cost airlines start and finish their day at their home base. Night stops aren’t a regular occurrence and flights tend to last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Short haul pilots will usually have fixed rosters with set days off and tend to be much more stable in nature than long haul flights.

Flying short haul flights is where most pilots start. You can do anywhere from 2 to 6 flights per day so short haul does involve a lot of take-offs and landings. You become familiar with your destination airports as you regularly fly to them.

Some pilots choose to stay on short haul routes for two main reasons. Firstly, jet lag can get difficult on long haul. Secondly, Pilots are more comfortable sleeping in their own beds and being home at night.

Long Haul Pilots

Long haul flights are defined as any flight time of 6 hours or more. Long haul pilots fly all over the world, in larger aircraft. Salaries are typically higher than that of a short haul pilot, as are the number of days off.

Trips can last from a few days to over a week which does mean a lot of time away from home. Constant time zone changes mean that adjusting body clocks can also be difficult. Jet lag is the reason why long haul pilots get more days off overall, in comparison to short haul pilots.

To become a long haul pilot you generally need to gain experience in short haul.

Personal Preference

Short haul or long haul, it’s a personal preference which varies from Pilot to Pilot. For those who want to be home more often, short haul is as close to an average 9 to 5 job as you can get. Those who want to fly bigger aircraft, earn a typically higher salary, see the world and can handle the jet lag and being away from home, then long haul is the perfect option!