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What Does Deadhead Mean?

While the word “deadhead” has different meanings in different industries — and of course when referring to fans of the Grateful Dead — the term “deadhead” in the aviation industry has a meaning all its own.

So, what does deadhead mean in aviation? The term refers to those times when a pilot or flight attendant fly on a plane as a passenger on their way to or from an assigned route. Let’s say a pilot’s assignment ended in a city that isn’t where the pilot lives. In order to get home, the pilot flies as a passenger on a flight. While not on duty while deadheading, they are still required to be in uniform and are paid for their deadhead travel time.

Another possible reason a pilot needs to deadhead is when they must get to from one airport to another for their next assigned route on a Republic Airways aircraft. While airlines try to create schedules with consecutive routes from airport to airport that do not require a pilot to deadhead, you can probably imagine with the number of flights in the air on a daily basis, it’s not always possible to create those seamless schedules.

At Republic Airways, when a pilot must deadhead to get to their destination, they receive 100% pay. Republic is one of only a handful of airlines that offer pilots 100% deadhead pay – it’s one of the reasons we can say that we offer the best work rules in the industry, improving our pilots’ quality of life.

Another industry practice that speaks to our outstanding work rules is junior manning. Junior manning is when a junior pilot (“junior” meaning lacking in seniority) is called on their day off or when they are not scheduled to be on duty to pick up one or more unscheduled flights. It’s a practice that is disruptive to pilots’ lives as they end up having to work on a day off or extend their schedule when they were about to be done and go home. As you can imagine, junior manning is not a popular policy at other airlines. Should a pilot, whether First Officer or Captain, choose to “pick up” on select trips, they are eligible to receive 150% and sometimes 200% of their pay!

Republic does not practice junior manning as a hard policy, so our pilots are not subject to this practice. Like our 100% deadhead pay, these work rules mean that Republic pilots experience better quality of life and work/life balance.

Other benefits Republic pilots receive include:

  • Long-term, sustainable contract with our three codeshares American, Delta and United
  • Industry-leading benefits including 401(k) vesting and company match
  • Free basic life, employee dental and vision
  • 8 paid holidays and 12 guaranteed days off per month
  • Duty and trip rig
  • Flight privileges to anywhere in the world

Now that you know what deadhead means and that Republic pilots receive 100% deadhead pay rather than a lower rate of pay, and that we have no junior manning, are you ready to fly for Republic? Discover our many pilot career pathways at Republic also has a state-of-the-art Training Center with eight full-flight sims in Indianapolis, IN, with in-house instructors and a hotel on the premises for a world-class experience.

If you’re new to flying and excited about becoming a pilot, check out our flight training center, LIFT Academy. LIFT offers several pilot pathways, including a defined pathway to becoming a First Officer at Republic.

Should you fly for Republic, you will likely have to deadhead at some point…but you’ll never run into a dead end! All of our 6000+ pilots and Associates experience personal and professional growth opportunities with many pathways to success.