The other day I was sitting in the waiting area at the airport. The plane had just arrived so we had to wait for everyone to deplane, then get the fresh crew onboard, clean the aircraft, etc.
I happened to be sitting next to a deadheading pilot who asked me how much I fly. Well, I told him how many miles I fly so I was curious how many he flies in a year. Funny, he had no idea because crews measure their performance based on hours, not miles.
That got me wondering: just how many hours do I fly each year?
I know everyone will have different results but here are mine as a baseline. Just looking at the current year, I have 86,904 status miles for the first eight months. Note that some of this is skewed because sometimes I have the fortune to fly up front on international flights. In other words, I earn bonus miles which help me to hit my elite status sooner than some others but it does not include any credit card miles or rollover or anything like that.
I measured my flight time based on the schedule, not wheels up/down. I did not include the typical 30+ minutes for early boarding even though I tend to do that. In my case, it worked out to 212 hours. Annualized, this would be about 300 hours per year, though it will pick up for me in the last four months with more international travel. Wow, only about 25 hours a month in the air. It sure seems like much more.
So how does this compare to pilots and flight attendants? More than some, less than others. But now I have at least a rough idea how many hours I fly each year. It has me curious enough that I will calculate this again at the end of the year and do the same for next year to see if there are any significant changes. Last year the majority of my travel was international; this year only partly so.
Of course there are many travel hours not included in flying time. They are the hours set aside for things such as packing, getting to the airport, parking or picking up/returning a rental car, maybe checking a bag, getting through security, hiking to the gate, often sitting around because of flight delays, driving to a hotel, checking in, and finally getting to a room to get unpacked. And then there are the connecting flights which require more hiking through airports, often with long layovers.
The travel hours beyond the flight times account for hundreds of hours each year but I wanted to compare their flying to mine as close as possible. Nevertheless, the flying portion of traveling is less than half of the time required for all the travel.
And of course, flight crews require additional time as well. They have briefings, walkarounds, and getting the cabins ready for the following flight. But at least now I have an idea how I size up against flight crews.
So how about you, how many hours do you fly each year?