Working as a Pilot is regarded as one of the most rewarding jobs and a career path that many people aspire to follow. However, after qualifying, you will need to make the decision on whether you desire a career as a short-haul or long-haul Pilot and this can be a difficult choice to make.
At GOOSE Recruitment, we wanted to bring you insights into which type of flying is best suited to you.
1. Work-life balance
A short-haul Pilot will experience flight times of anything from 30 minutes up to 6 hours, and depending on the flight length will complete two to six flights a day, sometimes to a variety of locations. Long-haul Pilots will operate flight times of six hours plus and will only fly to one destination, albeit there may be stops on the route.
Of course, each type of flying will have an impact on your work-life balance. It is important to remember that work-life balance is subjective and will mean different things to different Pilots. It is a good idea to ask yourself, ‘what does work-life balance’ mean to me?
If your priority is to be able to come home every day, becoming a short-haul Pilot might suit you better as due to the shorter flight times you will fly back to your base each day. This may suit a Pilot with a young family who wants to see their children every day for example.
On the other hand, if it is more important for you to have more days off over a given period, long-haul Pilots are given more leave between their flights, which can make up for the time spent away from home.
Communication with friends and family is also something to consider when it comes to work-life balance. As a long-haul Pilot, it can be difficult to communicate with friends and family back home due to travelling across different time zones. For example, if a Pilot from the UK is flying to the Asia-Pacific region with time differences of 8 hours plus, getting in touch with loved ones when away from home could be more challenging to manage.
When it comes to work-life balance you need to ask yourself if you are someone who prefers a routine and working regular hours or someone who would rather work longer hours but have longer periods between flights.
There are pros and cons to both and each Pilot will have different preferences. This is something that is definitely worth talking about with your family.
Many people engage in a Pilot career because of their desire to travel. If this is what brought you into your profession, long-haul will be the best path for you to follow. This is due to long-haul Pilots travelling to a number of different destinations, where they will layover for at least 24 hours.
During this time Pilots are free to do what they want and this is the perfect opportunity to explore the local area and learn more about new places and cultures. Additionally, as long-haul Pilots fly to many destinations, they can benefit from spending half of their month exploring other countries.
It may sound glamorous but during this time you will need to overcome the jetlag to ensure you can enjoy the sights fully; sometimes a 24-hour layover is not enough time to explore and get the rest required.
If you don’t like living in a hotel or out of a suitcase or adjusting to different time zones, short-haul will be more suited to your lifestyle.
Piloting is a high-pressured job and it is crucial for Pilots to take accountability for their health.
Short-haul Pilots may find it easier to keep their health in check. With more routine hours, shorter flight times and the ability to go home every day, it may make it easier to follow a healthy eating plan, as well as take part in regular exercise.
For long-haul Pilots, it might prove more difficult and require more thought and discipline. The main effects of flying that a Pilot might suffer is dehydration, reduced immunity, muscle stiffness and fatigue. These side effects are enhanced by longer flight times and long-haul Pilots need to ensure they are committed to keeping them at bay.
Long-haul Pilots will need to adjust to different time zones on a regular basis and some destinations will be significantly different from others. As a result, jet lag can be a real challenge. Pilots are expected to be well-rested and fit to fly but lack of sleep can have a huge impact on the body. As a Pilot, you need to be mindful of how much sleep you are getting. If you are someone that needs a regular sleeping pattern, short-haul may well be the best option for you.
Ask yourself, could you operate effectively and adjust your body to an 8-12 hour time difference?
For more information on taking care of your health as a Pilot, please read our ‘Guide to Pilot Health’.
4. Flying conditions
The further away from home, your destination is, the more climates and terrains you will fly through. You could be taking off in low temperatures and rain, and land in a hot and humid country 13 hours away.
The impact of weather on long-haul flights can be challenging and Pilots are more likely to face varied and adverse conditions such as thunderstorms and turbulence. Of course, as a Pilot, you will be trained to deal with this but you need to consider if this is the type of flying you would enjoy for long periods of time.
Due to the perimeters of how far you can fly as a short-haul Pilot, you will typically experience more similar flying conditions on each flight. Of course, flying from certain bases across the globe will mean more varied weather conditions, but the flight times and experience will be much shorter.
Long-haul Pilots are typically paid a higher salary compared to short-haul Pilots as they are on duty for longer periods at one given time. They are also paid for the duration of their layover; if this is more than 24 hours it can make a significant difference. They are also provided with accommodation and food and travel allowances during this period. Therefore they are able to save money whilst they are on duty.
On the other hand, short-haul Pilots will have a more steady roster pattern compared to long-haul Pilots. If pay is a significant deciding factor in choosing which route to follow and you are comfortable working longer hours, long-haul is a great option.
So, would you rather be a long-haul or short-haul Pilot?
The GOOSE team is currently recruiting for several Pilot opportunities and could have the perfect role for you.