Being an airline pilot isn’t the most conventional of jobs where there is a standard 9-5, five-day work week.
Pilots can work odd hours and the number of flights they fly a day can vary significantly by airline, assigned flight routes, and seniority.
In general, a senior pilot who primarily flies ultra long-haul, international flights can fly as little as 2-3 flights a week, whereas a junior pilot who only flies regional can fly 20-30 routes a week, which could amount to 3-4 flights a day.
Airline pilots are permitted to fly no more than 30 hours in any 7 consecutive days, 100 hours a month, and 1,000 hours a year.
On average, airline pilots will fly around 85 hours a week, and 700 hours a year.
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Number of Flights Pilots Fly a Day
Seniority is everything to an airline pilot.
It determines a pilot’s monthly schedule, the routes flown, and when a vacation can be taken.
It also determines where a pilot will be based, what aircraft they can fly, as well as how much they earn.
Seniority also determines how many flights a pilot will fly in a day.
Senior pilots will fly fewer flights in a day because they fly international, longer routes.
As mentioned, as senior pilots are more likely to and even prefer flying long-haul, this might mean they only fly a few legs during a week, or just 2-3 legs in the case of ultra long haul flights.
The number of flights a junior pilot does in a day can vary significantly to their more experienced, senior counterparts.
Compared to a senior pilot, over the course of the same week, a junior regional pilot may fly 20-30 legs.
The difference can be explained by junior pilots who fly for major airlines being required to fly domestically for a few years before being able to fly internationally from international airports.
When Pilots Find Out How Many Flights They Will Fly
A pilot usually receives their schedule by mid-month and will then know how many flights they will fly in a day.
However, some airlines give pilots their schedules a month before their first scheduled flight or just a week or two in advance.
When Pilots Get to Rest
A study, published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, found that on their most recent flight, 60% of long-haul pilots had experienced moderate to severe fatigue.
It’s therefore very important for pilots to get the rest they need, which is why they take turns sleeping in a comfortable resting cabin area on long flights.
Pilots also get plenty of days off throughout the year.
Pilots Get to Enjoy Many Days Off
Senior pilots get to enjoy as many as 20 days off a month, compared to a minimum of 12 days off for a junior pilot.
15 days is approximately the average.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).