Crew Scheduling Question


This issue has been striking my curiosity for awhile.

I notice that if I’m on a short flight, for example, SEA-SFO, the crew disembark and fly another leg (I presume). Wouldn’t it be easier for scheduling purposes though, if the crew just flew back from SFO-SEA?

Anyone have any insight on how this works?


Crew scheduling is very complicated. Most airlines have 3 or 4 day trips. Within each one of these days, the pilots are limited to so many hours. Additionally, they are limited by regulation to 100 hours a month. This is often less per union contracts. Then, there’s also an annual limitation (I think it’s 1,000 hours).

See this article: … tr0406.pdf and also enter “airline crew scheduling” into Google to find more.


The pilots may loop around the network. For example, a united pilot may fly ORD-LAX, then LAX-DEN, then DEN-DFW, then DFW-ORD. I think it would get boring for a pilot to fly the same route and many don’t (unless it is the only route operated by that airline at an airport).


I though either TxHorns or Damiross to have the Southwest
model for this question posted. I would think at southwest would
deploy something simplier than the method.


TxHorns, who I believe works for Southwest, may be able to shed more light on the subject than I can. I can only give information on what I’ve read and observed.

Both the cabin crews and the cockpits crews bid for their flights each month. The following blog entries from the Southwest are for flight attendants; they could just a well have been written by a pilot:

So What Route Do You Fly?
A Week in the Life of a SWA Flgiht Attendant


A number of years ago I got taking to the FA on a Southwest flight I was on. He started his trip the previous day in Seattle and flew to Midway. The day I flew he had started in Chicago flew to Providence and then on to Orlando. The third day he was back to Seattle, I believe via Midway or maybe Nashville. His wife was also a FA and they would fly the same routes. But he did say with a smile “I work the front and she works the back, we would kill each other and we worked next to each other all day.”