So tell us a bit about what it’s like being a pilot? What are the main perks?
Felix: There are so many great aspects about flying such as seeing the world, sunsets over the Himalayas or having a fun crew and not to mention being able to steer a 200+ ton piece of metal and fuel. However the perks vary from airline to airline; I’m pretty well-off working for a legacy carrier but it’s not the same for many of my colleagues, especially those at low-cost airlines. Low pay, sometimes overly long working hours and different company cultures will mean those guys have a very different life to mine.”
“I work for a cargo airline so conditions are a bit different compared to commercial pilots. I’m away from home for two-thirds of the month and get between 12 and 72 hours off between our various destinations. Schedules change regularly depending on the season, with December being a very busy month due to Christmas. The number of flights from Kenya and Ecuador increases just before Valentine’s Day and during winter we get a lot of fresh produce from countries outside of Europe. My flight schedule changes every month but I can usually bet on specific rotations or destinations.”
“While pilots on passenger aircraft usually fly to a destination and back, we do a lot of chains. A typical rotation might start with a flight to Dakar in Senegal, then to Campinas in Brazil, Montevideo in Uruguay and Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. From there we might be flying as passengers on a regular flight to Santiago de Chile and then start our journey back home on the freighter. We will have time in between those flights which is a great chance to enjoy some local food (you will never be the same after having had a real steak in Argentina!). But it’s definitely not like being on a holiday. You are just catching a glimpse of what is going on and it sometimes feels like you never arrive.”
“Having no passengers on board does have its advantages. There is no worry about late passengers or missing baggage. We leave when we are ready and in the rare cases we are late, there are no complaints from the cabin. Otherwise, it’s not much different than flying with passengers in the back, especially considering cockpit doors are always locked.”