Oh the joys of commuting!
Nothing better than trying to show up on time for work rested and ready to tackle the friendly skies. Grab a coffee past security, make a left, check out the flight board, and bam! Red demon letters CANCELLED. Well now what?
Many pilots do not live in the base they work out of. We commute, because we live in nice places and don’t want to move to BFE for a job that makes less money than a Hooters waitress in SFO. Some airlines, the smart ones, will actually buy a ticket for their pilot and provide them with a hotel the night before their trip is supposed to start.
This saves tons of money reducing the possibility of the flight the next morning getting canceled because of a lack of a crewmember. Most airlines give their pilots two opportunities to make it before their showtime which is usually an hour ahead of their flight time. Even with the amount of flights available it is still hard for pilots to make some of these constraints.
Some pilots will fly in the day before and pay for a hotel just to not deal with commuting the next day and pushing it close to their showtime. It’s like a full other job trying to look, then list, and possibly having to sit in the jumpseat trying to get to work. Most of the time as well you’re not the only pilot trying to get to work and some aircraft only have one Jumpseat so it becomes a battle for who gets the Jumpseat. The priority goes to the employee of the original airline first, then whoever shows up and list first.
Weather plays the biggest role in commuting. Adverse weather conditions can delay flights, cancel flights, and roll passengers on to the next flight creating basically zero seats available. This makes it extremely tough for the pilot to make it to work in a timely fashion with much unpredictability. If the pilot misses his trip he is in jeopardy of losing his job, his pay, or he could try later and meet up with this trip if it comes back to his hub.