Real Answers from Real Pilots

Working Towards Major

A concern that I’m sure most of us aspiring pilots have is not being able to make it to a Major. As you guys have said, getting on to a Regional carrier at this point will not be too difficult once you have all of your hours. After spending between 5-10 years at a regional, most of us will want to move up, but not all of us will. I know each situation is different, but can you guys give us some reasons that people HAVE TO stay at a regional for 15+ years. Once you have been with a regional for this amount of time, the number of hours you have logged should be a benefit to your resume. Could the reason possibly be that they don’t like your personality?

In addition to this question, can you guys also tell us what we should expect in an interview for the Majors?

As always thanks for your help!

Cameron,

Typically when a pilot spends an extended amount of time at a regional it is because they chose to stay there, or have skeletons in their closet. What I mean by this is that a fair number of pilots will say that they want to get to the majors, but will not actively put themselves in a position to do so. Getting to a major airline is work, it takes a large amount of time and effort, some pilots are not willing to put that amount of energy in, but are happy to complain about how long it is taking them. Some pilots can also be too selective, only applying to one major airline could result in a very, very long wait at the regionals. It is best to apply to very major airline and see which one offers you a job.

As for the skeletons, some pilots get themselves in trouble with DUIs, FAA violations, etc. These are things that might not get one fired from their current airline, but will certainly prevent the pilot from getting hired at another one.

Lastly, remember that the economy can play a huge factor in this. If the major airlines are not hiring, then everybody will be at the regionals longer.

I only interviewed at Continental, what I can tell you from that is the airline was not looking to see if I could fly an airplane, they already knew I could as I had been flying the Embraer 145 for a few years. Instead, the interview was much more about personality types and seeing how I would get along with other crewmemembers and employees. Most of the questions were HR in nature.

Chris

Cameron,

As Chris said “skeletons” is a biggy (incl busting checkrides or training issues). You also have to keep in mind that aviation is a relatively small community and people make “names” for themselves with bad behavior. I know one individual who takes great pride in his FaceBook page. The guy is a heavily tattooed guitar player who posts countless pics of himself shirtless and always has a beer bottle in his hand. Now this is America and you can do whatever you like but the guy has no blemishes, a degree and tons of time but can’t get a call while every one of his peers has moved on. Perhaps there’s a reason?

With all that the last question you pose is probably the biggest issue. By the time you apply to a Major you (and everyone else) will have the time and the experience otherwise you wouldn’t get an interview. The interviews generally have very little to do with flying (again that’s all been addressed). It’s about seeing who you are and if you’re a good fit. If you come across as a jerk, unpleasant, arrogant etc you could have an issue and even if you’re not you could as well. You just have to do the best you can.

Adam