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Old 10-01-2008, 04:43 PM   #1  
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Default Regionals...shady?

hey I'm sorta new to the airlineforum. I want to become an airline pilot someday and know where I need to begin in terms of schooling, ratings, instructing for a while and all of that....but, I have some additional questions before I decide to sink my wallet into this profession.
(1) On an average basis, how long does it take a FO to upgrade to a captains chair at a regional? I've heard a lot of instructors say that is only takes a couple of years, but I've read on some other forums that it can take up to five years....any truth to that?
(2) is it true that if you should happen to leave an airline or even become furloughed, that you have to completely start over with another airline in terms of pay? what about if you already typed in one aircraft and you get hired by another airline flying the same aircraft....do they still start you over at first year pay? Even if you have years of experience already built up?
(3) Furlough to my understanding is basically a temporary lay off, in which you basically are still employed by the airline you just don't get paid and you don't fly....correct? So...on an average basis, how long would you guess an pilot would be on furlough at a regional? I would assume it depends on the airlines revenue as well as economic factors, but is it very often that you can expect to be furloughed for more than a year?
(4) currently, I don't have a degree. I am a software engineer and have been in the business for over 7 years. Is that going to someday limit my exposure to airlines that will actually hire me? Say Southwest or Delta? I know that many of the majors and legacys look for degrees, but are they willing to look at overall work experience instead of rather or not you have a piece of paper from a university?
(5) Reserve time I interpret is the amount of hours the airline pays you for each month regardless of how much you fly? And can someone please help me understand what is the difference between being on reserve, verses a line holder, and whatever other "holder" there is in between? That's all over my head and I can't find a forum that explains it in detail.

Any airline pilots out there....I'd appreciate your tips and answers.
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:47 PM   #2  
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The search feature will solve all there brother...
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:07 PM   #3  
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(1) It's not possible to predict how long it will take to upgrade to captain anywhere. Always keep that in mind--it doesn't matter if anyone tells you it's a sure thing to upgrade in a year. Some regionals were upgrading in 1-3 years, but they aren't now. Amer Eagle's most recent upgrades took 8 years. I doubt if the future will see any 1-2 year upgrades anywhere for a while. The biggest factor in shortening upgrade time is whether an airline is growing and thus needing more pilots. Regional airlines boomed in the 90's and into the 2000's because more flying was being delegated by the majors. That's not really true anymore, so places like Skywest are losing flying instead of gaining it, which means the seniority list is pretty stagnant. Also, many regionals require you to have a certain amount of hours before you can be a captain, so even if the list is moving fast, you may need to wait until you have a few thousand hours anyway. The picture is not looking rosy right now, and personally I doubt it will get much better any time in the next few years, especially with the new age 65 rule.

(2)If you change airlines or get hired by a major, you absolutely are straight to the bottom, doesn't matter if you're 57 with 90k hours or 22 with 300, you're gonna be the whipping boy and make crap money again.

(3)Impossible to say how long a furlough could last.

(4)Regionals don't care, major airlines do. Are there major airline pilots out there with no degree? Sure, there's a decent amount. But there definitely is no shortage of people who want to be pilots, and you're competing with all of them. This is one reason, among multiple, that it's very important to ask yourself this question before you decide to become an airline pilot: "Could I be happy as a career regional pilot, or do I want to fly 747's?"

(5)Being on reserve means you have a schedule of days where you are on call and days off. Holding a line means you have a schedule of trips and days off. There is a minimum guarantee of paid hours for each. With a line, you know when you're flying and when you're done.
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:15 PM   #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by widebodyjunkie View Post
(1) On an average basis, how long does it take a FO to upgrade to a captains chair at a regional? I've heard a lot of instructors say that is only takes a couple of years, but I've read on some other forums that it can take up to five years....any truth to that?

It largely depends on how much attrition occurs at the airline and how much growth the airline experiences. At some regionals the wait to be senior enough to upgrade can be as long as 8-10 years and others it might be right after you get hired... it all just depends. There are so many factors that contribute to progression at a given carrier, just know that if regional A is hiring street captains today, they might be furloughing tomorrow... the industry is that cyclical.

(2) is it true that if you should happen to leave an airline or even become furloughed, that you have to completely start over with another airline in terms of pay? what about if you already typed in one aircraft and you get hired by another airline flying the same aircraft....do they still start you over at first year pay? Even if you have years of experience already built up?

YES! This is indicative of all airlines. If you change airlines, whether that be move up to a mainline carrier or switch regionals, you will be at the bottom of that seniority list and be at year one pay. Even though you might have been captain with 10 years seniority at your previous carrier making 75K/yr, you would find yourself as junior FO making 20K/yr if you switch regional carriers. It is just how the system works. In the corporate world, there is a little more leverage for wage negotiation based on experience... if you can land a corporate gig, take it! These tend to be the most stable positions in aviation.

(3) Furlough to my understanding is basically a temporary lay off, in which you basically are still employed by the airline you just don't get paid and you don't fly....correct? So...on an average basis, how long would you guess an pilot would be on furlough at a regional? I would assume it depends on the airlines revenue as well as economic factors, but is it very often that you can expect to be furloughed for more than a year?

Your basic assumptions of a furlough are correct, you are essentially laid off. You turn in your company badge and manuals and you do not fly or get paid during this time for that carrier. Usually you keep flight and health benefits anywhere from a month to 3 months after your furlough but then you are on your own. Furloughs can be short or last a long time. When Comair furloughed in 2005, everybody was back on the property in 3 months. The furlough coming up at Comair, which I am unfortunately going to be apart of could be 3 months, a year, or indefinite... who knows... American airlines, I think still has pilots out on the street from the fall out of 9/11.. so they could last years.

(4) currently, I don't have a degree. I am a software engineer and have been in the business for over 7 years. Is that going to someday limit my exposure to airlines that will actually hire me? Say Southwest or Delta? I know that many of the majors and legacys look for degrees, but are they willing to look at overall work experience instead of rather or not you have a piece of paper from a university?

To answer your question directly, yes. It will hamper your ability to get hired at a major airline. It still isnt impossible, but highly unlikely in todays competitive market. Whatever you do, get your degree. Even do it online part time if you have to. That piece of paper on your wall will pay you great dividends someday it may help you get on at a major or help you land a non flying job if you get furloughed or your airline goes under.

(5) Reserve time I interpret is the amount of hours the airline pays you for each month regardless of how much you fly? And can someone please help me understand what is the difference between being on reserve, verses a line holder, and whatever other "holder" there is in between? That's all over my head and I can't find a forum that explains it in detail.

Reserve guarantee is the amount of pay you are guaranteed per month regardless of how much you work. At my airline, Comair, it is 75 hours of pay per month. When you are on reserve, you are on call. They will use you to cover trips that lineholders call in sick for or if the weather is bad, you will pick up misconnect flights at a hub. You will also do maintenance repositioning flights in the middle of the night, or charters during the day. You will do a lot of different type of flying when you are on reserve. If you are a line holder, you basically have a set schedule for the upcoming month. The schedule will usually consist of four, four-day trips or 5, 3-day trips... etc. You will then show up, fly your trip and go home. Holding a line is nice because you are not a slave to the pager, but you traditionally fly more when you are a line holder (75-95 flight hours/month), so it can wear you out if you are used to only flying 30 or so hours a month while on reserve.

Any airline pilots out there....I'd appreciate your tips and answers.
I hope this information helps you out and clears up some of your questions. Good luck on your flying career... it is a tough and long road... one I have been driving down for the past 6 years since I was 17 flying cessnas. It certainly has been hard getting to this point... all to see it fall apart in front of me, but hopefully things will turn around in this industry sometime soon. Good luck and fly safe!
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:58 PM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by widebodyjunkie View Post
(1) On an average basis, how long does it take a FO to upgrade to a captains chair at a regional? I've heard a lot of instructors say that is only takes a couple of years, but I've read on some other forums that it can take up to five years....any truth to that?

Yea assume 5 years. During times of industry movement it takes 1 to 3 years depending on the regional. But it usually takes about 2-5 years. If more than 5 years, then you're not trying to upgrade.


(2) is it true that if you should happen to leave an airline or even become furloughed, that you have to completely start over with another airline in terms of pay? what about if you already typed in one aircraft and you get hired by another airline flying the same aircraft....do they still start you over at first year pay? Even if you have years of experience already built up?

Yes, you're still considered experienced but you lose seniority and have to start all over. This is one aspect of the job that most outsiders can't comprehend. It all has to do with the union and seniority lists. I think it's fair.

(3) Furlough to my understanding is basically a temporary lay off, in which you basically are still employed by the airline you just don't get paid and you don't fly....correct? So...on an average basis, how long would you guess an pilot would be on furlough at a regional? I would assume it depends on the airlines revenue as well as economic factors, but is it very often that you can expect to be furloughed for more than a year?

Furlough at the "regionals" is basically a complete layoff. You have no attachement to the airline, you're not employed, you're not being paid, nothing, zip. It just means when they have openings, they'll have to call you first before they look for street pilots. You can be called that month or be called months into years from the furlough. Unless you're waiting for a recall from FEDEX, you're probably not going to stick around for the call for more than 3 months. If you're furloughed, you can pretty much consider it the last time you flew for that regional.

(4) currently, I don't have a degree. I am a software engineer and have been in the business for over 7 years. Is that going to someday limit my exposure to airlines that will actually hire me? Say Southwest or Delta? I know that many of the majors and legacys look for degrees, but are they willing to look at overall work experience instead of rather or not you have a piece of paper from a university?

Actually all that matters is your flight experience and your performance at the interview. You will need a degree for top airlines, mostly because it's competitive.

(5) Reserve time I interpret is the amount of hours the airline pays you for each month regardless of how much you fly? And can someone please help me understand what is the difference between being on reserve, verses a line holder, and whatever other "holder" there is in between? That's all over my head and I can't find a forum that explains it in detail.

Reserve means you don't have a schedule. It means you only know when you're going to be off and that's it. The days you are on, you are at the mercy of crew schedulers. If you are a line holder it means that you have a schedule. It's actually very simple, reserve is bad, line holder is good. That's all based on how much seniority you have in the company. Luckly most reserve time is at the regionals is only a matter of a few months

.
Good luck.
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:06 PM   #6  
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Holy Hell.....I should stick to my original plan and be a part-time mime. So then here's another set of questions, if the majors mimimums are in the low thousands...what is the incentive for a FO at a regional to stay there verses just going to a major and start working? Ex: say you're FO at eagle, and you've been there for five years and have 5K TT under your belt, why wouldn't you just go on to work for American instead of continuing to work at a regional making chicken scratch for pay?
And so I guess my question about how long is a pilot typically on reserve has already been answered huh? There's no way to know as it depends on what the general move of pilots are like at the time that you get out of training and start flying?
What about commuting pilots? Is it free to travel when even when you're off duty? Do airline pilots gets to fly for free with other airlines?
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:14 PM   #7  
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what is the incentive for a FO at a regional to stay there verses just going to a major and start working?

Senority and QOL are a few. Also, 9 times out of 10 a FO will not go to a major from the right seat of a regional, it is about PIC turbine time, not total time and you only get the PIC when you move to the left seat.

And so I guess my question about how long is a pilot typically on reserve has already been answered huh? There's no way to know as it depends on what the general move of pilots are like at the time that you get out of training and start flying?
What about commuting pilots? Is it free to travel when even when you're off duty? Do airline pilots gets to fly for free with other airlines?
This is a great site and you clearly have lots of questions. Take an hour or two and surf through the site and all your questions will be answered.
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:22 PM   #8  
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this is a nice thread
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:31 PM   #9  
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Most majors require in the neighborhood of 1000-2000 hours of PIC time in a jet, AKA Captain time to get hired. Not competitive; required. Now, there are some that don't require this, but most do.

You can travel for either free or a greatly reduced fee (depending on where you work, generally in the $50 to $100 a year range, unlimited flights) on your own airline and any agreements you have with other carriers, even if you're off duty. These benefits generally extend to immediate family members and in some cases, parents, however, they usually have to pay a nominal fee per flight, usually in the $25-$50 per flight range. As the actual pilot, if you're with a carrier that has reciprocal jumpseat agreements and you're in CASS, you can travel with any airline you have agreements with (most airlines, in otherwords) for free, either in the cockpit or in the cabin, depending on which is available.

One small thing about reserve: your monthly guarantee is a MINIMUM guarantee. If you work five hours over your guarantee, you get paid for your guarantee plus the extra five hours. Also, no matter where you are, you get a "per diem" that gives you anywhere from $1-$3 per hour that you're away from base. So you leave today at noon and get back tomorrow at noon, you'll get 24 hours of your per diem pay.
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Old 10-01-2008, 08:21 PM   #10  
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Holy Hell.....I should stick to my original plan and be a part-time mime. So then here's another set of questions, if the majors mimimums are in the low thousands...what is the incentive for a FO at a regional to stay there verses just going to a major and start working? Ex: say you're FO at eagle, and you've been there for five years and have 5K TT under your belt, why wouldn't you just go on to work for American instead of continuing to work at a regional making chicken scratch for pay?
And so I guess my question about how long is a pilot typically on reserve has already been answered huh? There's no way to know as it depends on what the general move of pilots are like at the time that you get out of training and start flying?
What about commuting pilots? Is it free to travel when even when you're off duty? Do airline pilots gets to fly for free with other airlines?
It's a lot more complicated than 'just go to work for American.' Most majors require PIC time. The ones that don't require it outright will take the guys with PIC time ahead of those without it. And major airlines go years without hiring anybody at all. But equally important is, if you've been with a regional for 5 years, you've got some stability in your life, you're probably getting older and maybe have a family or a serious girlfriend, and you maybe don't want to sacrifice more years of your life to long-term training, reserve, commuting, and the worst schedules. What if you switch to a major airline and then get furloughed? Or what if you jump over to ATA and they go bankrupt?

As a pilot, you get free travel domestically on pretty much every airline there is with the CASS program. This allows you to live outside of your base and commute, and you can also get around when you're off-duty, which is great. Commuting is not a whole lot of fun, though. It's stressful, takes up a lot of time, and you will spend nights sleeping in the crew lounge because you can't afford to get a hotel all the time. I would strongly, strongly recommend that you live in base if you ever decide to be an airline pilot. Particularly on reserve.
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