Real Answers from Real Pilots

Regional to Major

I appreciate what you guys are doing here, it’s a very useful resource for me. I am currently beginning my airline career with a regional airline.

The regional I am with has a flow through with a legacy carrier and is advertising 5 year flow through to the legacy airline. It seems like I will have the required minimums to apply on my own much quicker than 5 years. What are the typical hours you see with a new hire at major airlines? Would you say it is wise to stick with the flow through or apply on my own much earlier?

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James,

Minimums and what’s competitive are 2 very different things. In my experience most Majors want to see some turbine PIC time (aka CA time). Without some “in” like a flow-thru or SERIOUS internal recommendations 5 yrs is definitely on the low side (the real reason they have minimums). That said there’s no harm in applying early. I doubt you’ll beat the flow (especially when they see where you’re flying since they figure they’re going to get you anyway) but again it can’t hurt.

While I appreciate you’re anxious to “move up”, I can’t stress enough how valuable your time at the Regional is to gain experience. Take advantage of that time to learn and become a better pilot.

Adam

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Adam,

Thanks for the reply! My thought process was my airline/most regionals are advertising upgrades to CPT at 2-3 years. I figured at 4 years I would have a competitive enough resume to apply at most legacy carriers vs wait for a flow through. I understand the need for experience at the regional level but also want to make sure I’m not at the back of the line for the majors and start gaining seniority as early as possible.

James,

New hires at United typically have at least 5,000 hours total time with a minimum of 1,000 hours turbine PIC time. There are people who get hired with less time, but they are few and far between and have serious connections.

That being said, I would of course recommend applying to the majors as soon as you are eligible to. It never hurts to apply and you never know who you might meet that can help you. As a backup you can flow through to American, which is a great airline to work for.

Chris

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James,

Think of it this way, if the Majors thought you’d have competitive numbers at 3-4 years why wouldn’t they advertise the flow-thru at 3-4 yrs? It’s because they’re saying at 5 yrs that’s about where they want you to be experience and hours wise.

Adm

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Kevin,

Former interns are many times hired as soon as they meet United’s published hiring minimums. The company places a great importance on the intern process as it is basically a several month long interview where they really get to know the applicant.

If you have an opportunity to be an intern for UAL, I would absolutely take it.

Chris