Flight Following


Well-Known Member
Good Afternoon,

I'd read about numerous 'flight following' jobs (not sure if I referenced the correct thing) where you don't necessarily do dispatch duties but I think it's somewhat similar?

Does anybody know of any opportunities like this or can shed some light on it?


Well-Known Member
"Flight Following" is usually a position within a Part 125, Part 135, or Business Aviation operator. Although some of the duties can be similar to what Part 121 dispatchers are doing, for the most part it's a completely different job. SOME non-121 companies have their Flight Followers doing all of the same exact duties as 121 dispatchers, but they don't have any legal responsibility or (rarely) joint decision making authority.

Part 121 operators are required by law to have a certificated dispatcher, and the dispatcher is jointly responsible (along with the pilot in command) for the safety of the flight. For example, the dispatcher has full legal authority (and the responsibility that goes along with that) to not allow a flight to leave if s/he feels it is not safe. All operators have a two-person legal requirement to release a flight, but in non-121s that responsibility is with the pilot and the director of operations. But even still, some of them will only hire people with dispatcher tickets and might even delegate the authority to "act on behalf of" the DO. However, even though the DO might delegate the authority, they may not delegate the legal responsibility.

The actual "flight following" part of a Flight Follower's daily job duties is keeping an eye on the flight while it is in progress to ensure that nothing abnormal occurs and, if something does occur, upchannels this information to higher management. They may stay in communication with the crew to relay information like changing weather at the destination, a change of plans for the next flight leg, etc. However, the majority of Flight Followers are also doing a lot of various "duties as assigned" within the company: greeting passengers, booking flights, slinging bags, fueling the aircraft, cleaning and re-stocking the aircraft between flights, cleaning the waiting lobby, etc.

Many 121 Dispatchers will look down in disdain at Flight Followers as a "dispatcher wanna-be". But I know a lot of people who would much rather be a Flight Follower than a Dispatcher.

Here are some advantages:
- You're in the aviation business! And who doesn't love that?
- You get to be involved with the entire operation of a flight from start to finish (except fly it).
- You're frequently more involved with the company, as a whole, because there are usually a lot less people to dedicate to all of the jobs that need done.
- You get to frequently be around, and work in and around, the aircraft.
- There are many more "Flight Follower" job positions than there are Dispatcher positions. (A figure for which I have zero data to back up, other than knowing the ratio of 121s to non-121s from the FAA Database of Operators)
- There are many more locations to chose from as a Flight Follower than as a Dispatcher. (again, no data other than there are more non-121s in the world)

However, there are also some disadvantages:
- Not a lot of upward mobility within the company.
- Pay will almost never be on par with a 121 dispatcher's pay (at least long term... I know a lot of 135s that pay their starting flight followers more than many starting 121 dispatchers get)
- Much fewer jump-seat or other flight benefits.

Does anybody know of any opportunities like this?
There are opportunities all over the place! Many of them are even posted here in the jobs section. But all of the standard online job boards will have these positions posted as well.


Good Afternoon,

I'd read about numerous 'flight following' jobs (not sure if I referenced the correct thing) where you don't necessarily do dispatch duties but I think it's somewhat similar?

Does anybody know of any opportunities like this or can shed some light on it?
Pretty much exactly what JimAk said! Great summary. I would just add that you can be a flight follower at a 121 though, albeit a 121 supplemental. I started out at a 121 supplemental / 135 operation, but have since moved on. Any specific questions, feel free to message me.


Well-Known Member
Though I've had my license for some time, I currently work part 135 flight following (been working at my current company for about a year). The starting pay was honestly higher than I thought it would be (I get paid a little more than what I imagine a lot of regional 121 dispatchers get paid), and it's comfortable enough to live on decently for a single guy like myself, but Jim is right about a lot of things; no jumpseat privileges, flight benefits aren't that great (perhaps non-existent at most places, depending on who you work for), not much upward mobility, and in addition to flight following duties you get stuck with many extra tasks you feel like are outside of your responsibility. For example, at my company we don't have crew schedulers 24/7, so lets say a plane gets grounded somewhere where we don't normally overnight, or a crewmember calls sick, we're stuck with having to find a replacement crew, get hotels, transportation (often in tiny towns with few resources in the wee hours of the night), book deadhead tickets/flights, work things out with customer service agents, etc. That's in addition to working out plans for recovering routes with grounded airplanes, reviewing/approving weight and balance manifests, bugging crews about their paperwork...it's a lot of stress to deal with and I'm trying to look for other opportunities presently.

One big upside though is that, especially since we're a scheduled 135 operator, it's sort of a microcosm of what goes on at a 121 carrier minus the actual planning and filing of routes - you're still talking to crews, maintenance control, crew scheduling, taking ARINC calls occasionally, monitoring weather and certain MEL items to forecast how certain routes might be negatively affected...You will still learn a lot and that will give you a leg up when moving onto 121. After I first got my license I had quite a few 121 interviews (with no prior aviation experience) with no luck getting a job, but now I feel like I'm in a pretty good position to get into just about any regional.

I wouldn't stay at one of these places long term, but it's a decent start to get your feet wet and learn if you have no other experience.
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Careful the tale You Tell
Some FF jobs you'll get lucky, strike gold, see rainbows etc etc., and that company will quickly become a second home. I can't speak for everybody but the 5 years I spent at my New England based freight doggin' express carrier were hilarious. We also had a monopolistic hold on our base as a company, so the FBO was us, too. Flight following was just a side. I'll sometimes look back on it fondly with friends and former co-workers -- but, truthfully, that well-rounded ramp experience is the nice cherry on top.