What Do Flight Crews Do When Getting Timed Out?

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Just had my second flight crew time out on me waiting at EWR. In this instance the plane arrived at the gate on time and the cleaning was completed on time, but boarding was delayed (I haven’t heard why). I’m genuinely interested in what the flight crews are doing on the plane? Are they just on the plane chillin? If not, what are the flight crew doing when delaying boarding that causes time outs? I’m genuinely interested and not attempting to be harsh or harmful to flight crews who are working hard during the holidays.

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3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They know what time they time out. If the plane was about to board the flight crew was on the plane. When the delay happened they likely called ops and told them/confirmed the time at which they would time out. I can’t remember now but I think the time for each crew member was also printed on the paperwork. They then sat there in the cockpit for 45 minutes or whatever until they timed out in case the cause of the delay cleared up. Sometimes we’d turn the volume up on the radio in case ops called us and sit in the passenger seats and chat with the flight attendants. Occasionally the gate agent(s) would come down and hang out with us for a bit. Once out of curiosity after a maintenance delay that was going to take 4+ hours because the replacement part had to be flown in on the next scheduled flight I went out into the terminal and sat in one of the seats near the gate agent and listened to them dealing with all the passengers who were going to miss their connections to Europe or wherever. Glad I’m not a gate agent. Then the flight crew called crew scheduling for their hotel assignment and left. Often without the flight attendant because they were allowed to work a lot longer than we could. And to answer a possible follow up question there are *always* hotel rooms for the crew. While I’m sure it has happened, I never saw or heard of a case where the crew didn’t get an immediate hotel assignment. Sometimes when shit really hit the fan it was downtown in a five star crazy expensive hotel, but they *always* got us each a room.

Former airline pilot.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Flight crews are only allowed to work a certain number of consecutive hours. If they would hit their limit during a flight, that flight can’t depart until they get a fresh crew. They always know when they will have to stop working. Long-haul flights have at least 3 pilots, with one asleep at any given time.

While at the gate, the pilots are in fact busy. One will be in the cockpit setting up the plane for the next flight and doing the paperwork for it, the other will be outside doing the preflight inspection of the plane. By the scheduled departure time, they’ll both be done with these duties.

Anonymous 0 Comments

One thing you might also want to keep in mind about the flight attendants in particular: they generally don’t start getting paid until the flight leaves. If a flight is delayed for hours on the ground, all they time they spend talking to passengers, reassuring them, absorbing their anger and frustration, bringing them drinks, etc, they don’t get paid for it. Please be kind to them, everyone.