Pilots are supposed to carry out the mandatory checks before the flight take-off or taxi. But what happens when there is a delay, when the aircraft cannot push back from the gate, due to non-clearance from ATC, or due to heavy traffic etc.

  • Do the pilots, re-run the checks, or carry out more extensive checks of the aircraft?
  • Do the pilots just chit-chat, eat, or make phone calls to their family?
  • Is there any standard procedure to be followed during this wait time?

enter image description here

Edit: As someone tagged this as duplicate, my question no where suggests time spent by pilots during long haul flight, its about what they do when the pushback is delayed. Hope it helps.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ They are constantly on the phone with company, handling, airport, ATC, etc. to try to get going. It is extremely frustrating for pilots to get delayed, so they do everything they can to avoid it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 15:21
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @Dave it's related but I think the types of things the pilots have to do on the ground would be different from during cruise. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 15:23
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @fooot Agreed I have removed the vote but ill leave the comment as i think it directs to some relevant material. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 15:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Most seem to have tablet flight bags these days, so they could watch an airline disaster movie. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 18:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A possible duplicate comment appears at any time a duplicate is suggested. It will not be closed as a duplicate until five closevotes happen. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


Apart from what Daniel listed already, they're also nervously watching the clock. If they're late by too much they may miss their mandatory crew rest period and have to cancel the flight or hand over to another crew.

This can of course get very expensive for the airline, especially if all or most passengers have to be accommodated in hotels overnight for a departure the next day in case no replacement crew can be arranged or the forced delay causes the flight to be unable to take off due to closing of the departure airport before departure or closing of the destination airport before arrival there.


I've been on many flights with delays, and here's what I've seen/heard. They check often with ground/tower for estimated wheels up time, and any restrictions on slots available at their destination airport. They also check fuel so that if it drops below reserves, they can call to return to the gate for more fuel. Other than that, just idle chatter I guess.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .