Each month on your flying roster, you have a couple of days of standby. For those who do not know what standby is,it is basically a set of crew on standby( hence the name) to operate a particular flight just in case anyone call sick or unable to fly due to any unforseen circumstances.
Depending on the airline,the one I flew with has a whole month of standby. Yeah,you read it correctly,one whole month. It is known as the "reserve month". It's the time of the month where it's hard to plan for your life as you have absolutely no idea what the month will bring.
Standby period can varies between 8 to 12 hours and you are required to be reachable if crew scheduling were to call you. So you are like being in a prison at home waiting for the “ call of duty”. As the name suggest, if you were called up for standby, it will be the very last min before the departure of a flight and you will be like scrambling to the aircraft like some sort of a 911 emergency.
You got to be prepared,for example if they were to call you to a destination where it is snowing, you got to have your winter cloths ready or if it a long trip like a 10 days duty,make sure everything sufficient is pack up.
Normally if you are call up for standby,it is always the shitty flights where the crew will call sick such as turnarounds. The chances for people to call sick for layovers/nightstop is lower since there are more money/sightseeing to be made.But sometimes you may be lucky as I have been called up for good flights before :)
So during this period, you are stuck by the phone beside you.Of course, you can risk and chose to go out,but make sure you are reachable as failing to answer or turn up for duty during standby can get you fired ( if you do it often ). But there are always some crew who are trying to be smart by unplugging the phone cord or telling the crew scheduler they have no idea that their mobile's batt has gone flat. Guess they have heard that excuse a million times and either way, they will get you!
If you fly for a private jet or charter company, some of them have no roster at all and basically you are on call all the time. Of course they they will compensate you with higher salary and in some cases better perks and benefits.
Though during standby period, it can be challenging, life at times can be like a mystery and exciting as well. You do not know what will unfold. One min you are in your pajamas, the next thing you knew you will be jet setting to exciting destination such as broadway in new york, shopping in Hong Kong or sipping your favorite coffee in Rome.
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