Real Answers from Real Pilots

Staying At The Regional Level


(Oliver) #1

Hello community, and hello pilot mentors!
First off, thank you all so much for sharing all your insights and also your opinions. Fantastic source.

A little while ago I already posted a question about becoming an airline pilot at age 51 and got great answers from the mentors in the forum. Thank you for that. My followup question shifts the focus on the “career” itself.

Being “late to the game” at 51, I think it is fair to say that, in spite of still having about 12 years of service to offer to an airline, it is reasonable to look at a career entirely with a regional. I was wondering if there were pilots out there who never moved up to the majors and stayed at the regionals and what their view on their career is or was. Can it be desirable to stay there? While of course subjective, would one generally say that with a greater seniority, the perks can be considerable? … like: Better bids, routes, schedules, time off, pay? What is realistically achievable in terms of salary? Is it fair to say it is highly improbable to reach, say, 6 figures? … Or what other points would you make in favor of or against a career with the regionals?

Your feedback, factual or subjective comment, is welcome. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
Thank you so much.
Oliver


#2

Oliver,

I LOVED being a Regional pilot. While I’m glad I was able to transition to a Major, the decision was more about taking this career as far as I could and my desire to live in Hawaii more than anything else. As you point out, as a senior Regional Capt I had a great schedule, flew great trips, made a decent wage (low 6 figures), and had lots of vacation. I was also worked in the Training Dept (which helped with the pay) and was about to become a Check pilot. Seriously it was a great gig and honestly if had a never gotten to Hawaiian (the only Major I applied to) I would have been fine staying at ExpressJet. Fact is I have quite a few friends who remain Regional pilots. They have great lives and their schedules afford them a great deal of free time to pursue their hobbies and interests or run side businesses.

As always it’s your call but the truth is I often miss the Regional flying.

Adam


(Tory) #3

Oliver,

Watch that video that Adam posted about the CFI that quit the airlines.
https://www.airlinepilot.life/t/waaaaa-i-was-only-going-to-make-50k-my-second-year/16163

That should give you a good idea of what regional airline life is like :wink: kidding…that guy just wants to get famous from his channel. He talks about his experience as though he was planning on quitting from day 1. Everyone knows that dues have to be paid in the beginning.

Anyway, you already mentioned most of the other positives about being a senior captain at a regional. You can see the pay rates yourself if you visit airlinepilotcentral.com. There’s a pay calculator at the bottom of every airline’s page. I don’t think you’ll reach 6 figures but you could reach $80-90k during your last few years at a captain. Being a check airman might bump you up to $100k.

Tory


#4

I have known several pilots that chose to stay at the regionals. Some regretted it, some didn’t. As long as you go into things knowing that you will not make it to a major and thus have realistic expectations, than you should be fine there. I actually miss some of the smaller cities that I used to fly to, especially in Mexico,


(Oliver) #5

Thank you Adam, Chris and Tory for taking the time and sharing your insights.
Greatly appreciated.
Oliver


(Bryan) #6

Chris,
Regarding your comment above:
“I have known several pilots that chose to stay at the regionals. Some regretted it, some didn’t. As long as you go into things knowing that you will not make it to a major and thus have realistic expectations, than you should be fine there. I actually miss some of the smaller cities that I used to fly to, especially in Mexico”

You said “as long as you go into things knowing that you will not make it to a major.”
If you opt to stay with a regional does it lower your chances of getting into a major some day ? Just trying to understand that sentence. Thank you!


#7

Bryan,

I was addressing somebody who is just starting to think of flight training at age 51, odds are that he will not ever make it to a major. I was telling him to just be aware that that is a distinct possibility.

People are usually in one of two camps, they either get out of the regionals as quickly as humanely possible, or they chose to make a career of the regionals. It is rare to find somebody that choses to stay at a regional for an extended period of time, then jumps to the majors, but it certainly does happen.

Chris


(Bryan) #8

Thank you for clearing that up for me!


#9

Anytime, let us know what other questions you may have.