Real Answers from Real Pilots

Enough experience for the majors?

Hi there! I wanted to get your guys’ insight on the following:

I am currently an airline pilot flying for and airline in Mexico. I got my FAA commercial license at a flight school in San Diego 2 years ago. I now have 850 hours Total time ( 600 of those are on the A320).
I also have a bachelors degree from San Diego State University.

My question is the following. Once I reach my 1500 hrs, given my experience, A320 type rating and 4- year college, would I have a shot at the majors? If you do not think so, would this experience shorten the amount of time I need to spend at the regionals before moving up to majors?

I am a US citizen and a Mexican citizen, that is why I could fly in both countries.

Thanks for your insight!

Christian,

The majors in the US really want to see Captain, turbine time. I think once you get 1,000 hours of Captain time in the A320 you will be very marketable to the airlines.

Chris

Christian,

With exception of maybe JetBlue I believe you’ll have to spend some time at a Regional. What I always like to ask people is to put yourself in the position of the recruiter. You have 2 applicants, one with an A320 Type and 1500hrs or another with 5,000hr (incl 1000 Turbine PIC) who’s been flying for a Regional partner. While your Type rating is nice, you’ll still need to go through their full training program so they’re really not saving much.

That all said there’s absolutely nothing wrong with applying. Costs nothing and you never know? I just wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Adam

Thanks for your insight guys. So will this precious experience in A320 maybe shorten my time in a regional? I have heard stories about First officers going straight to the majors without being captains at their regional. Is this becoming more popular with the pilot shortage?

Christian,

It certainly won’t hurt. Listen there are no absolutes or guarantees that you won’t get hired without turbine PIC just as there are no guarantees you’ll ever get hired by a Major. Work hard, build time and apply… then cross your figures.

Adam

Thank you Adam!

Hi,

I’m in almost the same situation but I work as a First Officer on the A320 in Asia. I will be trying my luck applying to majors, but if that doesn’t work out I’d like to ask your advice on what you think is better:

  1. Continue working for my airlines (in Asia) until I become captain and build 1000 hours. I see myself getting upgraded in 3 years.
  2. Leave my job and apply to a regional and become a captain there

I currently have 2,500 hours.

Thanks!

Hey! I would honestly recommend becoming a FO at regionals in the states. You will get 121 experience which is something I’m sure mayors prefer. Upgrade time at regionals is as short as 12 months in some of them. I have a friend who has been there for a year and a half and is being upgraded on January. I just feel like working in the Regionals will put your foot in the door faster than staying in Asia. Good luck!

Hi Christian!

Thanks for the advice! You mentioned Part 121 time and that’s also something I’d like to clarify. I read the definition is scheduled air carrier operations. Is it only applicable to airlines in the United States? I’m currently flying for the flag carrier in my country earning a really decent amount of money with a great schedule. Also flying international flights to Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and neighboring countries in Asia. I also see myself getting upgraded to the 330 as FO early next year and flying to Hawaii, West Coast, Middle East, and Europe.

I’m mainly moving because I got married recently and my husband is from there. We’re both concerned that going to a regional would be a step down from my current position in both pay and schedule, but if that’s the better option for getting a chance with a major I’d definitely go for it. We’re just trying to weigh my options and considering everything like quality of living, time, schedule, and of course working on my qualifications for the majors.

A year and a half is pretty fast!

I personally would stay right where you are and upgrade there. Airbus time will certainly be more respected by the majors than RJ time.