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Pilots are capable of flying all over the world. But that’s just part of their job. What about during their time off, do they get free flights?

One of the biggest perks of becoming a pilot is the discounted — and sometimes free — flights that they get for themselves and also friends and family. Pilots are not guaranteed free flights or anything, it all comes down to their specific employer and what they’re willing to offer.

Sure throughout the week or month, a pilot might be flying all over the country or even all over the world. It sounds exciting, but those flights are just their job. Many people want to be pilots for the travel perks such as free flights. As you continue reading, you’ll learn about the flight perks that pilots can potentially get, if pilots really get to enjoy the exciting destinations they fly to and some input on if pilots really want to hop back in a plane during their time off work.

All the information that you read in this article has been researched and vetted to ensure it’s as accurate as possible. Here at SkyTough, we have first-hand experience with the perks of being a pilot and the flight benefits that are out there. To ensure this is as accurate as possible, we’ve corroborated our experience with input from other pilots in the industry.

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Are Free Flights A Perk Of Being A Pilot?

Let’s start with the obvious here — pilots get to fly all over the country (and even the world) every day as part of their job. So even more than getting free flights, pilots actually get paid to fly around the world. But the caveat to this is that these flights are of course part of their job, not leisurely travel. So it’s not quite the same as the real question being asked here.

So do pilots get free flights outside of work that they can use to travel for fun and leisure?

The short answer to this question is yes, oftentimes pilots do get free flights as a perk of their job that they get to use just like any other passenger. But that’s not always the case as it really depends heavily on the airline that the pilot is working for. One pilot might get free flights as a perk of their job, but their friend working for a different airline might not get any free flights.

Pilots And Discounted Flights

But other than free flights that pilots may or may not have access to, there is a more common perk that most pilots do get: heavily discounted tickets. Through a program known as ID90, most major airlines offer their pilots airfare at massively discounted rates. And by massively discounted rates, we mean massive discounts. 

The “90” in ID90 refers to the discount that pilots get the tickets for under this program. That’s right, most airlines offer their pilots airfare at 90% off the regular price. This means that a pilot can potentially travel around the world for just a couple hundred dollars. Or they can make a quick domestic flight a couple of states away for $20 or less.

To make the ID90 program even better, most major airlines actually work together with one another in this aspect and have travel agreements with each other. That means that pilots buying ID90 tickets are able to get the discount across a variety of major airlines, not just for the airline that they work for. And while this certainly can be an amazing deal, there is one caveat to keep in mind.

ID90 tickets are sold to pilots on a standby basis, meaning that the tickets only become available if the flight in question is not full or if another passenger doesn’t show up. This means that the pilot is subject to whichever seat is available, anywhere from First Class to the cheapest seats in Economy. Not only that, but there’s also the chance that there will never even be a seat available on any given flight, so it can be a bit difficult to plan any sort of travel with ID90 tickets.

Can A Pilot Get Discounted (Or Free) Tickets For Friends And Family?

While pilots can get access to free or heavily discounted airfare as you just read above, most people don’t like to exclusively travel alone using standby seating! So that then begs the question if pilots have access to discounted tickets for friends or family so that they can go on vacation with loved ones for a fraction of the cost.

Similar to the above, this largely depends on the airline that the pilot works for. But most of the major airlines do offer discounted flights for a certain number of friends and family members for their pilots. Some airlines even offer free flights on occasion for friends and family of their employees, but a discount is much more common.

The friends and family discount also isn’t going to be the same 90% discount that pilots have access to with ID90, of course! Most airlines offer friends and family discounts of around 10% - 25% off depending on the airline, which is still a heft savings!

Do Pilots Get To Enjoy The Destinations They Fly Passengers To?

One of the reasons that many people want to become a pilot is because of all the amazing places that you get to fly to. As a pilot, you might get to fly all over the world on international flights or to some of the most amazing cities in the country on domestic flights. Or maybe you’ll get to fly a group of passengers to a tropical paradise like Hawaii or the islands of French Polynesia. Sounds incredible, right?

Unfortunately for pilots, they don’t really get to enjoy the destinations that they fly to. They might get to catch the best views in the world as they fly into wherever they’re headed, but they don’t get to really experience the places they fly as the travelers do. More often than not, pilots have a relatively short layover before they need to fly another plane somewhere else or back to where they came from.

In most cases, pilots will get a room at a hotel right there next to the airport and have enough time to get some rest, take a hot shower, and relax for a bit. With how hectic flight schedules are and just how many flights there are in general, pilots don’t typically get time off at these locations. They are at work, after all. So it might not be as glamorous as it seems at first glance!

Do Pilots Ever Get Tired Of Flying And Going On Trips?

One final thing about pilots having access to free or discounted airfare that many people don’t consider is the fact that pilots might just get tired of being inside an airplane and flying all the time. After all, that is literally what they do for a living, so many pilots in the industry would prefer to take their time off work to relax at home. As far away from an airport and an airplane as they can be.

But that’s not to say that pilots don’t go on vacations and fly to other places in the world during their off time! It just isn’t as amazing as it may seem on the surface looking in from the outside. You might see the amazing deals pilots can get, but after years of flying an airplane to different places all over the world, getting right back in an airplane during their time off is the last thing that some pilots want to do!