What do pilots carry in their bag(s)? It is a question that I have been asked by a lot of people I have met, and I know there is a certain amount of curiosity that lies within it.
It is not an easy thing to list out everything pilots carry in their bags, because it is highly personal, and what one pilot carries in his or her bag might not necessarily be in some other pilots’ bag. However, there are certain items or things that must be carried by all pilots at all times.
In days gone by, pilots carried huge bags because they were required to carry a lot of items, such as chart binders, and company manuals. These days, things have become more electronic, and almost all the manuals and charts are on iPads. Thus, pilots are no longer required to carry a huge load of items.
Photo: Getty Images
The must-carry items
These items must always be present with the pilot.
- Pilot license and a valid class I medical certificate (the license is dormant without the medical, so they go hand in hand)
- A valid Passport (if flying an international route)
- Entry visa (required for some countries even for pilots and cabin crew – for example, China)
- Aviation security pass and the airline identification card (both are important as they are the main sources of identification both at home and abroad)
- If the pilot medical says he or she needs to wear corrective glasses, a corrective eyeglass plus a spare must be carried (the spare can be corrective lenses)
- A flashlight (necessary item to perform walkarounds during night hours)
- Pens (to fill up the flight documentation, aircraft tech log, etc.)
- Tri-coat or a high visibility jacket (provided by the airline with their logo – used when roaming around the apron area)
The items carried as per pilot preference
The items listed below are carried out as per the personal requirements of the pilot in question. The list below is the items most pilots, including myself, carry.
- Mobile phone
- Personal iPad
- Chargers (for both the phone and the iPad)
- Pilot logbook
- Personal headset
- On longer trips, a laptop and its charger
- A universal electrical plug
- GoPro or cameras (for photography and videography enthusiasts)
- Perfume or deodorant (on long flights, you need it)
Things that are picked up at the briefing room
In the briefing room, the dispatch hands over the flight briefing package, which includes items like the Pilot In Command (PIC) report, the flight plans, weather reports, deferred defect lists, General Declaration (GD), and other vital documents required for the flight.
Photo: Met Office UK
These days, we are also handed over the Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) at the dispatch. EFBs are controlled iPads that contain company manuals, aircraft manuals, airport and en route chart software, flight performance software, etc. Typically, two EFBs are provided, one for each pilot. Once we get the flight documents and the EFBs we put them in our bags. So, they also become a part of what we carry to the aircraft inside the bag.
On layover trips
When going for a layover, we usually carry extra items just like anyone else would if they were going for a trip somewhere. For this, most pilots usually take an extra bag in addition to the flight bag. Some pilots also do carry empty bags if they are going on a little shopping spree.
What we carry for the layover depends entirely on where and how long the trip is going to be. If we are going somewhere in the winter, winter clothing is a necessity. Here is a list of items I usually carry.
- Extra uniforms (the number depends on how long the trip is)
- Running shoes and gym clothes
- Toiletry bag
Rest requirements will influence the number of pilots on longer flights. Photo: Lufthansa
Are the contents of a pilot’s bag surprising to you?