Advantages and Experiences Flying for a Regional

Hello all,

I have seen quote a few posts about the differences between regional and major airlines. While it seems almost everyone wants to work for a major, are there any things that you may have liked about working for a regional when compared to a major?

Also, if someone has the goal of working for a major, does flying for a regional give a good insight into the business culture of a major that the regional may associate with?

All the best,

Christopher

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Christopher,

I’m currently at a regional. So, my perspective is limited to my experience. However, I do enjoy the fact that we fly to a lot of smaller airports, some non-towered after certain times of the day.

Working at Horizon has definitely given me a good sense of what kind of company Alaska is like.

Tory

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Christopher,

The Majors are the pinnacle of our career and as such something most pilots to aspire to. Flying big planes around the world is to many the definition of being an airline pilot and if you don’t you’re not viewed as a “real pilot” (seriously, I know this from experience).

That all said I had a wonderful time as a Regional pilot and if I had remained or gotten stuck there that would’ve been fine. We went to over 200 destinations, had great overnights and flew some great equipment. Obviously the Majors fly larger aircraft and pay better but other than that the operations are quite similar. I actually wanted to fly for Expressjet because they were Continental’s main feed and I had aspirations to go there. As their Regional you work with their support crews and gain alot of insight as to the operation (for better or worse).

Aside from the pay and desire to advance the biggest factor for many people to move on its stability. While the industry itself can be somewhat volatile it’s more so for the Regionals. You see the Regionals don’t sell their own tickets so their “customers” are really the Majors. They sign agreements that expire every few years and since the Majors are always looking at cost if another Regional comes in with better rates they can lose a good portion of their flying overnight which obviously can be very hazardous to your career.

Adam

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Tory,

That is the one thing I heard about the Regionals and that is the domestic destinations. I think there was an article this week that said the Regionals serve the most airports in the U.S.

As for the culture, since Horizon is owned by Alaska, are a lot of Alaska’s operating procedures and training methods passed down to Horizon?

Christopher

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Adam,

That was what I noticed about Regional flying in regards to the industry volatility.

In your situation, at least you were happy and you learned where you did not want to fly. As a result, it looks like you are pretty happy at Hawaiian! I wonder if pilots at Ohana feel the same?

As for destinations, if you like the U.S., the travel seems awesome. I do not know where Ameriflight falls as a cargo carrier, but I see the destinations they fly to and while they are not making what a pilot at a Major or even some Regionals would make, at least they look like they are having fun traveling and just doing their work.

Christopher

Christopher,

I’m sure there are happy Ohana pilots and unhappy ones as well. It really comes down to perspective and expectations. It never ceases to amaze me that you’ll meet 2 pilots from the same airline doing the same job and some will swear they have the greatest job on earth and others it’s one step from slavery. I see it daily and it blows my mind. Bottomline is don’t let anyone tell you where or what you should be flying. It it makes you happy that’s all that matters.

Adam

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We have adopted Air Group’s culture, but our policies and procedures are unique to our operation.

Tory

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Christopher,

Good question. One thing I really enjoyed about working for ExpressJet was flying into smaller cities all over the US and Mexico. We flew to some great cities that were both challenging and fun. The airports were easy to get in and out of, versus the twenty minutes that it can take to get out of ATL.

While working for a regional does give some insight into the major, they are very much separate entities so the knowledge is limited.

Chris

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@Adam, @Chris, and @Tory,

Other than just talking to pilots at the potential airline employers, do you have any recommendations for getting a really close insight into a Major or even a Regional airline’s culture? I know web surfing can only do so much, recruiters can sometimes give a glossy viewpoint, and at some point you want to see how things work in person. Does booking a flight and traveling on a potential airline employer provide good insights?

Christopher

Christopher,

I do not think that flying on an airline will give you any real insight into the company. The only real way to find out is to go work for a company.

Chris

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Christopher,

Honestly that’s something that’s really difficult to know. Taking a flight (or even a few) won’t do much as there are thousands of flights a month with different crews and different challenges and frankly everyone has good and bad days. I believe talking to employees is the only way to get any idea BUT you need to talk to ALOT of employees. As I said everyone has a different perspective and talking to a small sampling won’t really give you an accurate picture. I was very fortunate back in the day instructing for ATP. Before the 1500hr rule anyone could take the ATP written with none of the new requirements. ATP offered a very successful one day course and we’d have pilots from every Regional coming in daily. I had the opportunity to speak with probably close to 100. That will give you some legitimate insight. Once I was at ExpressJet flying across the country I again had the opportunity to speak with many many crews from every Major and again was able to get a much broader view. Not sure how you’d do it now but anytime you’re at the airport or have the opportunity to speak with any crews I would.

Adam

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