I have now been sitting reserve for a couple weeks, at Chicago O'hare. While it took me a few days to get my bearings around one of the largest airport in the world, I now feel comfortable operating within the organized chaos that chicago can turn out to be when weather rolls in. Due to the current hiring at American Eagle, pilots on the CRJ are usually on reserve for about a month and a half, which was the case for me as I already hold a line next month. The difference between the two is the lifestyle. While a pilot is on reserve, he has 11 days off a month, very little control over his schedule because there is no telling where or when he/she may be called to fly and how long the trip can last. To sum up the experience sitting reserve, I would say that it is almost like playing the lottery and with the right attitude, you can almost feel the excitement when you get awarded something you were hoping to get. While pilots get paid a base salary every month, per diem is almost a necessity to make end meet while on a first year pay rate, and the only way to cumulate such hourly income is to fly. This is where seniority really comes into play. The day prior of being assigned reserve, pilots look at open trips available for the next day and select them in order of preference. This process is called proffering. The trips can go from a single turn with 4 hours of flying to a full 4 day trip with 20 hours of flight time and 75 hours of per diem. When crew scheduling pairs up pilots with open time, they proceed from the top of the list. The most senior pilot gets his first pick and the last one, the last trip. Very often there are more pilots then open trips, therefore, the remaining crew members get assigned one of two different types of duty periods. One is " on call " where a pilot can sit at home and be available for 14 hours a day ; the other being " stand by " and has the pilot sitting at the airport for 8 hours a day, ready to go on a moment's notice. While sitting around at home might be good if you live in the city you are based, it is still a big loss of possible income and useful experience. Most of the people sitting reserve are new hires to whom it would be beneficial to spend more time flying to feel comfortable in the plane as soon as possible. The other bad side of not being awarded a trip is the additional expense it can create. As you know, most pilots commute and therefore, while sitting at their base without having any kind of scheduled flying, they have to find a place to spend the night. There are three options that crew members have to choose from. Getting a crashpad, going to a hotel or sleeping on a recliner in the crew room. The two first ones can easily reach 200 dollars a month. The last one, while being obviously cheaper, is very uncomfortable and it most likely will leave you less than well rested. During my month in reserve, I have been at both end of the spectrum. I had three or four day trips during a five day reserve, but also spent days sitting in an hotel room waiting to be called. While this was frustrating at times, it is imperative to find ways to occupy your time. Sitting reserve requires a lot of patience. Before the hiring boom started at Eagle, a lot of junior guys sat reserve for three years. With only a short time in that position, I was very lucky ; and for the time being, I wont have to play the lottery.