Real Answers from Real Pilots

July 2016 Schedule



Yes, you can bid based on many different factors, including destination and length of trip. Keep in mind that the vast majority of pilots want to be home more often, so there is competition for the shorter trips.

Yes, we can trade trips between pilots, but more frequently than this, we trade trips with ones that are “open” meaning that for whatever reason they do not have a pilot assigned to them. It is generally difficult to trade dates, but easy to trade trips on the days that you are already assigned.


(bob saggot) #23

Also, not related to scheduling, what do pilots typically do during longer flights- are you allowed to do anything other than monitor the equipment and talk to your co pilot?



First off there’s more to do than just monitor systems. We also need to keep an eye on weather, fuel, send position reports and plot if we’re not on a route. On flights over 8hrs we’re required to have an extra crewmember so we get a rest break on those flights. Aside from that many pilots will do some light reading. Main thing is you don’t want to get too distracted.


(bob saggot) #25

I have a question about aircraft types and the transition process. how does it work to switch to a larger aircraft? (bid, approval, and training?) and how long does this transition process take?

Also, is seniority affected by this. in other words, is the seniority list (for first officers) exclusively based on the rank of all first officers from hire date. or do you drop to the bottom of the seniority list of the first officers on a particular aircraft type when you make the switch to a new aircraft?



Transitioning to other aircraft, like EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on seniority. Your seniority starts the day you’re hired and continues to accrue after that. If I am hired the day before you, regardless of what aircraft I fly I will ALWAYS be senior to you. Periodically due to changes in staffing needs (new aircraft, new routes, retirements etc) the airline will have a vacant pilot slots and will open a “vacancy bid”. These bids can happen a few times a year or not at all a year. Again it depends on need. Any pilot can bid any slot they want on any aircraft, any seat (CA or FO), at any base. Whether you get that slot is based solely on seniority and NOTHING else (there is no approval). If we’re both 737 ORD FOs, both bid ORD 767 FO but there’s only 1 ORD 767 FO slot and I’m senior to you, I get the slot and you don’t. End of story. There may be no ORD 767 slots but there may be a SFO 767 FO slot. Maybe I live in ORD and don’t want to commute but you don’t care and simply want the plane. If you bid it and I don’t you would get it even though I’m senior because I didn’t bid it. Now once I’m awarded that slot there will be an effective date of the bid and the company needs to train me by that date (usually 6 mos) or they must pay me for that aircraft whether I’m on it or not (bypass pay). You’re trained for that position in seniority order so. If there are only a few transitions it will usually happen fast, if there are many it could take a while.

Now again your “system” or company seniority never changes BUT your “relative” seniority within a certain airplane or base can and does. There are junior airplanes (usually based on size/pay) and junior bases. When I was at ExpressJet I was based in EWR which was a Junior base. I gained “relative” seniority at that base very quickly because many pilots wanted and did move to other bases when they could but I stayed. Right now at Hawaiian we only have one base BUT I’m currently a mid-seniority A330 FO. I’m going to be a very junior 717 CA once I get trained but I could be a very senior 717 FO if I chose to be. It’s really a matter of personal priority what you chose. There are many pilots who could hold A330 CA but stay 717 CA because it offers a better quality of life vs pay.

Make sense?


(bob saggot) #27

definitely! thanks for that extensive reply!

(Ryan Felshaw) #28

Looks as if I am kinda late to this party so I hope some are still around. Currently I am a Paramedic trying to figure out my life, I have wanted to be a pilot since I was 8 years old. My wife introduced me to medicine and I found it to be a second passion of mine, but since it has not been a lifelong passion I find the glitz and glam of continuing on to PA/NP/MD/DO waning. I am seriously considering returning to my original plan of commercial flight training. I know all about the flight programs, pathways to get there ETC.

NOW Chris I love that you posted your schedule, it honestly looks a lot like my current Paramedic schedule so that sets some things straight. The main thing is finances, do you recall your initial salary? - As a paramedic I am currently in the 42k range. Would starting in a regional airline be taking a pay cut? Everything I have found says currently regional puddle jumpers are getting 33k-38k, is that accurate?

  • Do airlines really look for “diversified” backgrounds? I have seen both positive and negative remarks about obtaining a degree in aviation studies. Some articles say airlines wont look at you if you didn’t get an aviation science type degree. Others say getting a degree not affiliated with aviation increases your chances of being interviewed.
  • Are you, or do you know colleagues who are married? Do their marriages struggle? My wife is mostly concerned with me being apart from her for 4-5 days at a time. This is her main and really only reservation to this career path.
  • FINALLY. (Thanks for reading this far if you have) have you worked in any other profession as a pilot? i.e. Pipeline work, Law Enforcement, Corporate flying, Sales of Aircraft, etc. What are you insights into those types of professions if any?



Until Chris checks in I’ll try and answer a few of the questions.

  1. Regional salaries are currently in the upper $30s plus there are initial hiring and retention bonuses. FYI, in the future please don’t call the Regionals “puddle jumpers”. Some of the best pilots on the planet fly for Regionals and they (and I) take offense to that reference to the equipment. These are pilots getting paid to do something you aspire to.

  2. Not sure what articles you’re looking at but I know pilots at Major and Regional airlines with every conceivable degree you could imagine. I was involved in hiring at my last airline and other than a possible topic of conversation your field of study is unimportant.

  3. I’m married and I know many pilots who are, many who aren’t, many who WERE etc. You will be gone for days on end (especially if you’re commuting). Some struggle, some don’t. If you have a solid marriage you’ll be fine, if you don’t then it probably doesn’t matter what your job is.

  4. I did some banner towing. Lot’s of fun, lousy pay and ridiculously dangerous (not sure what I was thinking?). I have many friends flying corporate. Some love it, some don’t, depends on the operation, owner, company etc.


(Scott) #30

Greetings! Still in research mode myself. Looking at ATP, as well. I know they recommend both Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae for financing. Does anyone know if there is a period of deferment until you actually start working/making money? Preferably for a few years at least? How have others navigated this part of high monthly repayments with potentially making 20-30k in your first 2-3 years after completion of training?

(Ryan Felshaw) #31

Thank you for the reply!

  1. Just to be clear there were no derogatory connotations tied to puddle jumpers. Being from Idaho a “puddle jumper” aircraft is highly respected / sought after as all we do in those backwaters is, in the most literal sense, puddle jump from one airstrip to the next, over rivers, lakes and mountains (puddles) in Huskies, Cubs, Cessnas’ and what have you. So there is no offense that should be taken by you or other pilots. I am well aware that some of the best pilots can be found in any and all types of aircraft. But as you have informed me, it is frowned upon in the professional world, I will refrain from referring to the regional airlines with the term puddle jumper.

  2. I have looked at every reputable source of information I could drum up using Google and airline websites. I have spoken with ATP representatives as well as a few commercial pilots, namely Southwest and Delta, when I fly to visit family. As I have mentioned many of my encounters and findings show that its 50/50 when it comes to an individuals background. I suppose it remains the same, just depends on who is the person responsible for hiring at the time?

  3. I realize I will be gone days on end and that shouldn’t be the issue, at least I hope. A starting regional airline pilots schedule will reflect Chris’s? Will there be those stretches of 4-5 days off often? (Assuming I don’t commute) Or do the new guys typically get fewer consecutive days off? I know I am just kicking the tires, I apologize, in the end it comes down to my desire to do it. I joined this forum to more truthfully inform my wife and family about the first few years of pilot life.

  4. I have heard banner flying is challenging! Interesting you did that! In all honesty I actually watched a documentary on banner flying just a couple of weeks ago on either the Discovery Channel, Science Channel of one of those types of channels. It was interesting how they captured the banner I had no idea!

Again thank you for your reply!


(Tory) #32


I will admit it can be tough, but it is possible.

Loan payments are deferred for 9 months. This allows a student to at least
finish the program before payments are required. It’s a good idea to make
payments before the 9 month grace period if you can.

Once you become an instructor I highly recommend the tuition reimbursement
program. That takes a big burden off of one’s shoulders.


(Scott) #33

Thanks, Tory.

Question 2: I live in Washington, DC and the closest ATP to me is Richmond, ~110 miles from me. It’d be a grind to commute for the 9 months but doable and I’ve seen that others have commuted when necessary. But, after completing the program, would it still be logical for me to continue as a CFI with ATP, again, commuting; and, how many days a week/hours per day would that look like as a CFI for them. Or would I be better off finding a flight school closer to home to try to find a CFI spot around here to instruct and build hours? Thoughts?



I am well familiar with that stretch of I-95. It will take you much longer than two hours each way to make that commute. You will be spending at least five hours per day in the car. That is time that you won’t be studying, resting, or accomplishing anything else. I would STRONGLY discourage you from attempting to make this commute. I see it as being very harmful to your studies.


(Scott) #35

That’s the one part I am familiar with it. I graduated from the a University of Richmond and know that drive. It’s a reverse commute from the congestion going into DC in the AM and out of DC in the PM. It’s opposite and not that bad other than the normal Travel time. That’s the only reason I’d consider doing it this way.


Even with good traffic, it is four hours per day in the car. I am not knocking the college experience at all, but ATP is considerably more condensed and fast paced than college. You will not be able to fully dedicate yourself to the program if you take on this commute. Remember that failed checkrides matter to the airlines.

(Scott) #37

Point taken. Thanks. Ok, play that out as a separate scenario, then. Assume I stay on the Richmond area through ATP accommodations or another. Upon completion of the program, going back to my original question: would I be better served finding a local school around me to instruct at or commute in and out to instruct at ATP for hours to be able to take advantage of that facility, their programs, regional airline partnerships, tuition reimbursement, etc…?



I personally believe that it is best to stay in the ATP system. It is a proven flight school that had produced thousands of airline pilots, the airlines know this. Plus, the reasons that you mentioned are very valid.

Again though, it will come down to how much of a commute you are willing to make. ATP will of course still expect you to show up on time and well rested for your flights. If you feel that you can do this while commuting then I would stay within the ATP system.




Just to chime in I think you answered your own question. ATP has amazing facilities and resources, Regional partnerships, Tuition Reimbursement and one of the best reputation in the industry. If you can instruct for ATP you should.


(Tory) #40


If it’s available and if your family situation permits, student housing is
a great option.


(bob saggot) #41

I have a question about which planes pilots are able to bid for in their schedule. For example, would a senior pilot who has already been trained on multiple aircraft types be able to bid for one aircraft type one month and switch to a smaller aircraft type the next month?