What does a pilot usually do when they're early ( like WAY early )

Hey IFC,

Not sure whether to put this in RWA or keep it in General, but what do pilots in real life do when they are early? I’m talking extremely early. All I know is that the arrival gate is subject to being changed. I’ve looked on Google and nothing comes up.

Thanks, Chris
p.s Sorry for the unnecessary topics.


Probably better for #real-world-aviation, but it’s too late to change now. I assume they would just walk around the terminal, kill some time, grab some coffee, maybe get ready for the next flight… you know, what normal people do at the airport when they have free time.

@DeerCrusher probably goes to the store and grabs some grease butter for his flight back


I flew into JFK a few months ago and I arrived about 45 minutes early. Sometimes you won’t even actually get off the plane if you arrive at the airport early, because your unexpected arrival causes issues for the ground crew. In my case, there was no ground crew to drive the jet bridge, chock the tires, unload baggage, etc. So we sat at the gate with the engines running for a solid 20-30 minutes so a crew could be dispatched to us to service our plane. It all depends on the situation, though.
Another time I got to Atlanta 40 minutes early, and because there are practically always an abundance of crews available there, we deplaned immediately. I’m sure the pilots will take the few extra minutes to relax, grab a drink (if they don’t have another flight), or head to a hotel or do some exploring, go to the beach, etc.


Try avoiding tagging mods and devs such as deer crusher :)

It’s staff that you should be avoiding. Tagging mods usually isn’t a problem unless they state they don’t want to be tagged.

Sometimes if aircraft arrive way early ahead of schedule it may make sense to instruct pilot put on a hold circling until landing clearance is granted (circumstances permitted).
Otherwise I think the pilot and crew will have more time to take advantage.
@Joseph_Spinner basically answered the topic question so I’ll end it there

Oh ok lol but I’m sure they still get tagged so many times

DeerCrusher and Butter don’t belong in a sentence together


I bet Deercrusher loves Caribou coffee, a DEN favorite.

Id either go to, A- the lounge and relax, or B- get starbucks, well both actually

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I once flew from New York to Gatwick during a very strong jetstream and landed about an hour and fifteen minutes early - and that was about it. Just got an earlier taxi home was all

Other times I’ve been held on the ground before take off if a flight is expected to be early; the only time I can remember this clearly was when flying from Mauritius to Gatwick, and as the first arrival of the day the aircraft couldn’t be early or it would break curfew, therefore we waited for 35 minutes on the ground before pushing back.

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When you say early you need to define if you are talking about the pilot to the airport personally is early vs an entire plane is early from a flight. These are two different scenarios.

If they are on the way to the airport in their car then they relax or check forecasts, charts, plan.
If they are flying in and early you turn off the engines and sit and wait. Not much you can do at that point.

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A couple of years ago, I landed at DEN 40 minutes early. Thankfully, there was no wait to get a gate, as the one we were assigned to was already opened, since I was on Southwest, and they have a larger operation here, so there was a crew to service my flight.

Around 5 years ago, I landed in DTW around 25 minutes early, but since we landed on a red-eye, and since I was on Frontier, a smaller airline in DTW, the crew most likely had to get ready and stuff (since we landed around 4 in the morning, yikes) so we had to wait for a couple of minutes for the crew to be ready (and most likely awake too, lol)

I would just say it depends on the airport, and what airline you are on.


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