Commuting vs non-commuting pilot jobs

There are several differences in contract pilot jobs depending on whether the contract position is a commuting contract (where you travel to your operating base each roster) or a role where you live in the country that you are operating from (non-commuting).

If you have decided to go down the path of contracting, be sure to keep in mind the points we will discuss in this blog about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of contract work.

Commuting pilot jobs

Working on a commuting contract means that you will be living away from your country of usual residence and away from your family while flying for the airline at your designated base. You will commute back to your home and family on your days off.

Commuting contracts are generally better paid than non-commuting contracts, when you take into account all the additional benefits you are provided with. Accommodation is often in hotels so it is of a high standard and you may be allocated business class travel to get to and from your operating base.

Before committing to a commuting contract, it is important you have considered all the factors influencing your decision. Questions you should ask include:

  • How far away is your home from the airline’s operating base and how long will your travel home be?
  • How many times daily/weekly does the airline travel to your home base?
  • Does the airline provide you with firm tickets on your days off and in what class is the seating provided?
  • Does the airline cover the cost of connecting flights (on another airline) if you need to get to/from a particular port of departure?
  • How many actual days will you spend at home with your family, excluding travel days?
  • Does your family understand the implications of you being away for extended periods time and are they supportive of your decision?

All these questions should be considered prior to making your final decision.

Non-commuting pilot jobs

Non-commuting contract positions mean that the pilot will be living and working at the airline’s base. Many pilots in non-commuting positions have the option to bring their family with them and choose to do so.

This means that traveling home is not an issue and depending on the airline’s roster pattern, you may be able to see your family most days of the week and hence spend more time with them.

The compromise with non-commuting pilot jobs means that often the pay and benefits tend to be not as good when compared with a commuting opportunity. Depending on the package offered, you may receive an accommodation allowance but you might be responsible for finding and arranging your own accommodation.

In some countries accommodation, such as a two or three bedroom apartments for a family can be very reasonably priced, whereas in other countries, depending on the location, of course, accommodation can be quite costly. We recommend you research the price of accommodation in the area you want to live in before accepting the opportunity.

Medical Insurances may be offered to you as part of your contract. We would advise that you check the quality of health care in that country, as well as the cover you and your family will be provided with as it may be necessary to arrange a repatriation cover enabling you to obtain quality care in your home country. As part of our commitment to contract pilot support, WINGS Recruitment provide all Contractors who work away from their home country free of charge repatriation cover.

Many airlines offer an education allowance for pilots who have children living with them. There are some excellent international schools abroad so this is a great benefit for families with children.

Traveling and exploring the new country you live in and other countries nearby on your days off is another benefit of this type of contract.



No matter what type of contract you decide to take on, when working for an airline as an expatriate pilot there will be cultural differences, understanding what these are will be a very important part of the familiarisation with your new airline. We recommend you take a look at our blog on Cultural differences when working abroad for more information.

The majority of reputable airlines utilise the services of an agent, such as WINGS Recruitment who will support pilots during the recruitment process and while on contract. It is important to choose the right agent for yourself. A good agent will offer quality insurances while you are on contract and support you during your time on contract.

Another important consideration is taxes, ensure you seek advice from a tax expert regarding your tax responsibilities and understand what will be required in your particular case.

Knowledge is power, so research the airline, the opportunity and the country you will live in before making your decision. The team WINGS Recruitment are here to help also if you have any queries about contracting and the types of contracts available. To view our current opportunities please visit our website or contact us on