Typically, my days start early in the morning or late in the evening. If I’m starting out on a trip, I first go to the pilot lounge, located at the airport, and check in at a computer. I also check the weather and the radar and catch up on any memos. I have to be to the airport one hour before the flight departs. I am usually to the gate 45 minutes prior to departure.
When I get to the plane, I do the walkaround (yes, you will keep doing walkarounds) and then get the cockpit configured. The pilot flying loads the FMS and the pilot monitoring does the systems checks. After pushback I will start the engines.
The captain taxis while I talk to ground and tower. The takeoff is performed by the pilot flying, except under certain weather conditions where the captain must perform all takeoffs. On the 737 most of our legs are long, what we call transcon flights. There are shorter hops too, maybe 2 per trip; e.g. SLC-LAS. I usually fly only 1 or 2 flights per day.
I’m typically gone about 75-80 hours per week— which includes the hours I’m sleeping in a hotel. I usually fly between 18-24 hours per week.
Difficult arrivals in bad weather, like the LDA into Washington Reagan.
Looking at beautiful scenery on clear days and flying challenging approaches on bad weather days.
Once you leave your house to go to work you don’t come back for anywhere between 3-5 days, more if you fly to Europe or Asia.
I have experienced a furlough and stagnation. That was the trend for many years. It seems things are changing for the better. There are some regional airlines where the upgrade times are very short. Try to find a regional where you can upgrade quickly and start to get that PIC time and earn a livable salary.
Delta has been hiring like crazy and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. I think most majors will be hiring for quite some time. United and American have the most retirements coming up in the next several years. In the meantime, Delta is “upgauging” many of their flights, meaning that where regionals used to fly, smaller Delta 717s are now flying. Or, there is less frequency to a city and a larger plane is going in, like the MD-88 or 737.
You must have a Bachelor’s degree at Delta. I suggest you get at least a bachelor’s degree to be competitive at any airline.
Delta hires military and civilian captains and first officers. I would think 4000 hours minimum total time.