Air Facts has started a great discussion about how having passengers aboard a flight might influence a pilot’s decision making process – especially when it comes to deciding whether or not to fly. In the short article, it was noted that pilots will often comment on the magazine’s go/no-go decision articles where real weather briefings are depicted by saying they would fly the trip solo but NOT with their spouse as a passenger. Moreover, Air Facts mentioned that its natural for pilots to want to make a good impression on passengers and prove they are safe and proficient pilots. And then there is the stress of personal relationships, especially if its your spouse that’s the passenger, which can complicate flying decisions.
In the comments section, Tom Yarsley posted that the presence of passengers will definitely change the way he operates an aircraft with weather and its corollary turbulence being the most obvious factors followed by the length of the flying leg. He then added that for many passengers, lots of otherwise routine and safe operations simply are too uncomfortable and if the flight is optional, why make “more enemies for GA?”
Another commenter named Dave added that in his preflight briefings with passengers, he tells them that the purpose of the flight is to have fun; but if no-one is going to have fun then its time to stop flying. So his go/no go decision rules include:
2 hr legs maximum, at a cruising altitude with the least number of ‘pot holes’, and when possible an interesting destination for the passenger.
Finally, Steve Phoenix commented that the pressure increases with the number of passengers and can turn into a “silent boiler” when you throw in hotel, restaurant and car reservations that might be non-refundable. So when he plans a trip with passengers and even his spouse, he does not allow reservations to be made unless they are made on the day (or day before) of the trip when there is some additional certainty that the flight can still be made. For that reason, he does not do many advanced planned trips with a planeload of passengers.
With the above comments in mind, we want to ask you our readers what you think: Does having passengers (like your spouse or other family members) change the way you plan your flights or fly? If so, in what ways or what is it that you do differently from when you fly solo?