A Day in the Life of a Regional Pilot

Capt. Justin Dahan, CRJ-200/700/900

My name is Justin Dahan, and I am a captain for a regional airline in the United States. I’m based in Charlotte, N.C. (KCLT), and I fly the Bombardier CRJ-200, CRJ-700, and CRJ-900. The following is a day in the life at my regional airline. 

I was flying a three-day trip, which means I leave home on the first day and return home on the third day. I am currently on day two of the trip, flying four legs on the CRJ-700, starting in Charlottesville, Va. (CHO), and ending in Greensboro, N.C. (GSO).

At the end of day one, my crew and I arrived at the hotel in Charlottesville and determined our van time for the next day. The hotel had our van scheduled for 1:30 p.m., and my show time at the airport was 1:49 p.m. At my airline, “show time” is 45 minutes before scheduled departure time. 

The following morning, I wake up, shower, and go about my morning routine, leaving plenty of time until I have to meet the van. I take this opportunity to get a bite to eat at a restaurant across the street with a fellow crewmember. After lunch, I repack my bags, put on my uniform, and head downstairs to meet the crew for the van. We board the van and make our way to the airport.

Once we arrive at the airport, we go through security, head to the gate, and are told the airplane is not yet there, as we are actually a few minutes early. I take this opportunity to review my paperwork and the weather, and it seems like a beautiful day for flying! 

Once the airplane arrives and the passengers get off, we swap with the other crew. The crew that brought the aircraft in will now head to the hotel for the overnight. One of the crewmembers onboard introduces himself. He is a check airman, and I am told that I am getting a line check today. Every year, captains have to receive a line check—an observation of us out flying a regular flight—to ensure we are operating safely and correctly. This means that he will sit in the jumpseat (the extra seat in the cockpit) to observe the flight to Charlotte. My crew and I get the airplane ready, and as we are boarding, the ground crew informs of us that something appears broken in the cargo compartment. We give maintenance a call to get it squared away and depart CHO on time. Upon landing in Charlotte, we see that we are changing airplanes for the rest of our three legs that day. This is called a plane swap. The check airman informs me that I passed my line check!

My crew and I gather our belongings, shut down the airplane, and change to a different airplane. We repeat the preflight inspections on this new plane and board up for a round trip to Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. (VPS). We fly down to VPS, enjoying the beautiful afternoon for flying, and are treated to spectacular military activity down in VPS, as it is a military base. We deplane, board back up, and head back to Charlotte. 

Once landing in Charlotte we have over 90 minutes until our next flight to our overnight in Greensboro, N.C. (GSO). My crew and I take this opportunity to eat dinner, as we won’t arrive to our destination until just prior to midnight. Once we are 30 minutes away from departure time, the gate agent begins boarding the flight. After boarding, we depart the gate, taxi to the runway, and fly the quick 72-mile flight to GSO. Upon arrival at the gate, we deplane, and the first officer does an external check of the airplane to make sure nothing is broken that needs to be fixed for the next morning, while I shut down the plane. As we gather our bags, I call the hotel to ask for the van to come pick us up.

Once we get outside, we load up the hotel van and drive about 15 minutes to our overnight hotel. At the hotel, we sign in, get our rooms, and set the van time for the next morning for our departure to the airport. As it’s now 11:55 p.m., once I get back to my room, I wind down, get ready for bed, and plan to do it all again the next day! That will be the last day of our trip, which means I will be home that day.

On this second day of my three-day trip, I was on duty (the amount of time I was at work that day) for 9 hours and 46 minutes (from 1:49 p.m. until 11:35 p.m.), and I logged 5 hours and 32 minutes of flight time over four flights. At my airline, we fly anywhere from one to six flights in a day, but two to five flights is the average. This was an enjoyable day of flying with good weather, good crewmembers, and a good amount of time in the air.

We hope you enjoyed this insight into what a typical day in the life of a regional pilot can be. If you have any questions, please contact ALPA’s Education Committee.

Read a Day in the Life of a Reserve Pilot