Long-Haul vs. Short-Haul Flying

What are the Positives and Negatives as Cabin Crew?

When you apply as Cabin Crew one of the things you’ll have to think about is whether you would prefer to work on long-haul or short-haul flights, or perhaps a mixture of both!

This will have an impact on choosing which airlines you apply to work with too. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Long-Haul

long-haul aircraft

  • Pros

The idea of working long-haul routes is an enticing one– far flung and exotic destinations, and interacting with passengers and crew from all over the world.

Working long-haul you’ll get a longer turnaround time, with layovers at your city of destination.

Sometimes you can get more of a chance to catch a breather on these types of flights between your scheduled duties, especially on overnight flights where the majority of the passengers are asleep or resting.

The aircraft on long-haul routes are bigger too, meaning you have more space to move around and carry out your duties.

Your airline will typically provide accommodation and an allowance for meals, and when you’re off duty your time is your own and you’re free to explore the area you’re staying in – as long as you’re back to work on time for the flight home of course!

Crew have also commented that on long-haul flights and layovers they get more of an opportunity to get to know their fellow crew members, and form friendships.

  • Cons

Sometimes you might simply be too tired to go out and see the sights – a downside of long-haul flying is how tiring it is.

In addition to jetlag you’ll have been on your feet for a long shift, in the artificially maintained atmosphere of the cabin – this can cause you to become even more fatigued.

You can get some downtime in the sleeping quarters for crew on certain flights, but depending on the time zones you’re flying between this will only help so much.

Short-Haul

short-haul flight

  • Pros

Short-haul flights are more likely to come with a more regular roster pattern, and one of the major advantages is that you get to go home to your own bed at the end of the day!

This is a big advantage for those with families or in relationships. It’s also easier to maintain routines with exercising or socialising out of work.

On shorter routes the knowledge that you’ve, at most, only got a few hours to go can help motivate you to get through a difficult shift.

  • Cons

Short-haul rotas generally bring with them many very early starts, and there is usually next to no turnaround time when you reach your destination – especially if there have been delays.

This can make things stressful, and in addition to this the work environment is already problematic as most short-haul aircraft are small and cramped.

You’ll still have days when you’ll be exhausted, as it can be an extremely long day. If problems outside of your control cause the flight to run late you’ll be expected to cope and get on with the job – you can’t just clock out because it’s your supposed finishing time.

Some might argue it’s better than constant jet-lag however!

The shift patterns might have an impact on how quickly you get to know your fellow crew – you won’t have much time to chat as you’ll generally be flat out on the shorter flights.

 

All in all…

There really isn’t a better or worse option – it’s up to each individual crew member and their preferences.

Some people cope better with tiredness and jetlag than others – it’s not a weakness, we’re just all different!

And different people have different priorities – a single member of crew with a love of travel would think differently to a colleague who is married with children.

You just need to think carefully about what’s right for YOU, and what you want your ideal cabin crew career to look like.

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Hannah

Hannah is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist specialising in recruitment, selection and assessment. This means she designs and assesses at selection days just like the ones airlines use.

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