How pilots spend their downtime

The lifetime of an airline pilot is an odd one. Typically our alarms go off within the small hours of the morning when it’s nonetheless chilly and darkish outdoors. We scrape ice off our vehicles and make our solution to work when solely milk supply companies are out on the street.

Different occasions now we have the whole day at dwelling, and we sleep within the afternoon earlier than heading to work at a time when most individuals are making their approach dwelling.

The eccentricities proceed whereas we’re away. Relying on the kind of flying that we do, we are able to spend lots of time in resorts. Time in resorts can vary from 12 hours to typically every week or extra relying on the airline we work for and the kind of journey we’re flying.

As soon as we step off the plane, for probably the most half, the time till now we have to move again to the airport is ours to spend how we would like. For many individuals, the chance to see the world, go to new locations, expertise new cultures and style new meals is what attracts them to the job.


The principle motive airline crews spend time in resorts all over the world is for passenger security. After an extended day at work, it doesn’t matter what job you do, you’re inevitably drained. For those who wakened within the early morning or have been flying by means of the evening, this tiredness is much more marked. Because of this, it doesn’t matter what different actions the crew members stand up to throughout their time away, the core goal is to make sure that they’re nicely rested for the return flight.

If it had been only a case of moving into your lodge room and falling into an uninterrupted deep sleep, then the job could be straightforward. Sadly, the truth could be very completely different.

The early begins, lengthy days, nights away from bed and naps at random occasions of the day are onerous sufficient to take care of on their very own. Throw within the added complexity of jet lag and physique clock synchronicity, and it will possibly shortly develop into troublesome to sleep when we have to.

Getting respectable sleep is the core goal of downtime. TETRA IMAGES/UNSPLASH

When individuals discover out that I’m a pilot, most of them ask one query: Do you ever get used to jet lag? I’ll at all times be trustworthy with them and say that we by no means get used to it however we do all discover our personal methods to take care of it. There is no such thing as a silver bullet to completely eradicate it.

Some pilots merely sleep after they’re drained and eat after they’re hungry. If this works for them, then that’s nice but it surely doesn’t work for me.

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Lengthy-haul flying specifically is all about being alert and awake when that you must be (takeoff and touchdown) and drowsy and asleep when that you must be (dwelling, lodge and inflight relaxation). Because of this, planning once I sleep is extremely essential.

Earlier than every journey, I’ll look forward on the return flight and assess how I might want to relaxation for it. If it’s a late departure from the U.S., I’ll attempt to have a couple of hours of sleep earlier than leaving the lodge. If it’s an early begin in India, I’ll sleep little or no the day earlier than to make sure that I’m drained and capable of sleep by the night.

I attempt to sleep and eat in accordance with regardless of the native time is. I then full the under actions to make sure that I’m drained and able to sleep once I must.

Associated: Tips about methods to keep away from jet lag to your subsequent journey


In my view (and that of many specialists), the easiest way to make sure that you sleep nicely is to train. The job of a pilot is especially sedentary. If we’re not sitting in our seats on the flight deck, we’re asleep within the crew relaxation space. Because of this, after a 14-hour working day, we might have taken as few as 2,000 steps.

The fantastic thing about the job, significantly with long-haul flying, is that this exercise can are available a number of types. Utilizing the fitness center is okay, however it’s also possible to make the most of the train choices wherever you are staying. If are staying in Los Angeles, you may lease a motorcycle and go for a experience alongside the seashore. For those who’re within the Caribbean, you may go windsurfing, and in case you’re in New York, you may go for a run round Central Park.

No matter it’s, getting out of my room and doing a little train ensures that I’m drained at simply the fitting time and may sleep nicely once I must.

Getting out for some train is an effective way to handle your tiredness. JORDAN SIEMENS/GETTY IMAGES


One of many nice advantages of the job is flying to locations all over the world and exploring them throughout your downtime. Not solely is that this nice for the thoughts however spending the day exploring a vacation spot on foot is an effective way to get some train in. Sightseeing helps be sure that I’m drained once I must sleep earlier than the flight dwelling.

When visiting a metropolis for the primary time, I’ll usually perform a little research on the must-see places earlier than I get there after which create a plan to see as a lot of them as doable within the time obtainable. If that is only a few hours, I’ll look to create an environment friendly strolling and public transportion route. If I’m within the vacation spot for a couple of days, I can unfold out the actions, possibly spending a full day in a specific space earlier than going elsewhere the day after.

No matter it’s I select to do, analysis is essential, significantly relating to security. All massive cities have their threats, so I at all times converse to lodge workers, allow them to know my itinerary and ask for his or her opinions. Most of the time, the well-trodden vacationer routes are advantageous but it surely’s essential to make use of warning if you wish to enterprise farther afield.

When working my plan previous the concierge in a single European metropolis, he suggested me to not take one route I’d highlighted as there was an opportunity that I may get chased by packs of canine.

For sure, I used to be grateful for his recommendation and as an alternative opted for his recommended route.


I really like meals. It’s one of many nice joys of journey. So what higher solution to indulge on this ardour than doing so when away on work time? It’s at all times good to take the recommendation of locals and be cautious of the place you do and don’t eat.

Beforehand, two pilots weren’t allowed to eat the identical meals on board the plane, simply in case the meals had been contaminated and each pilots grew to become unwell. Nonetheless, as a result of the hygiene requirements at airline catering amenities are so excessive nowadays, many airways have relaxed this rule.

Nonetheless, pilots should concentrate on the hazards of meals poisoning from the native meals that they could eat earlier than a flight.

Testing the native delicacies is among the finest perks of the job. DAN ROSS/THE POINTS GUY

Whereas it’s unimaginable to 100% rule out occurrences of meals poisoning, there are easy steps they will take to cut back the danger. The most typical step is to be very cautious with ingesting water. Most airways be sure that the resorts at which their crew stays present bottled water for them to drink at some stage in their keep.

When exploring outdoors of the lodge, I’m at all times very cautious about the place I purchase food and drinks in addition to what I eat within the hours earlier than the return flight.

This doesn’t imply that I don’t throw myself into native meals tradition, as a result of I completely do. Nonetheless, I’m at all times acutely aware of the place I’m and the way any adversarial meals results may have an effect on the flight dwelling.

Associated: 10 nice cities all over the world for avenue meals

Attending occasions

One other perk of the job is attending occasions all over the world which might usually price you the value of a flight and lodge along with the occasion ticket. If the flight and lodge are already coated, why not profit from that chance to observe a sporting occasion or attend a live performance?

Many pilots attempt to plan their flying schedules across the occasions by which they’re . Whether or not it’s attending to the F1 in Singapore, watching an NFL recreation in Los Angeles or attending a rugby match in South Africa, with the ability to go to among the best sporting occasions on this planet whereas away on work time at all times looks like an enormous win.

This after all takes some severe planning and may typically finish in big disappointment. A crew member can swap journeys with a co-worker to get on a sure flight to the fitting metropolis on the proper time for an occasion, solely to search out the flight canceled attributable to a technical drawback.

Aspect hustles

Historically, since they’ve extra day without work than regular workplace employees, many pilots have aspect jobs they will work on the street. These days, with Wi-Fi in each lodge and information roaming on our telephones, it has develop into simpler than ever to remain on high of a aspect hustle whereas away from dwelling.

An web connection opens up every kind of prospects to earn some further revenue and these job alternatives do not at all times should relate to aviation. Pilots come from every kind of backgrounds and plenty of have expertise in different industries.

Because of this, I’ve met pilots who’ve companies in property growth, sports activities teaching, inside design, authorized recommendation and software program, to call a couple of.

A aspect job is an effective way to train your mind and additional be sure that when the time involves sleep earlier than the flight dwelling, your physique is drained.


Generally there’s no higher feeling than taking time to your self simply to take a seat and do nothing. With busy household lives at dwelling, it’s an awesome perk to have a mattress to your self and get up whenever you wish to, with out worrying about taking kids to high school or canine out for a stroll.

Although I’m very a lot a “doer” whereas I am away, typically it feels good to be indulgent and spend the morning in mattress studying or watching some Netflix. Within the night, I could deal with myself to a therapeutic massage within the lodge spa after which order room service earlier than attending to sleep early.

Spending a while simply doing nothing may also be very welcome. ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Backside line

The lodge time between flights helps be sure that pilots and cabin crew are nicely rested for the return flight. How crew members spend their day without work is totally as much as them and is dependent upon what works for them personally.

For me, the easiest way to make sure that I’m drained once I should be is to spend as little time within the lodge as doable. I’ll get up and go to the lodge fitness center, then spend the remainder of the day trip exploring the vacation spot. Irrespective of what number of occasions I’ve been to a metropolis, there’s at all times a brand new space I wish to try or an outdated hang-out that I’d like to return to.

Even when the climate is just not conducive to spending the day outdoors, I set alarms to get up at tactical occasions after which both watch TV or learn. This fashion, I’m capable of handle my tiredness to provide me the very best likelihood of sleeping earlier than the flight dwelling.

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