Conflicting information about majors

Hi, my apologies if this topic has been brought up before. I ask because I’m one of those people who are considering a major career change late in life (turning 47 this month) and weighing whether I can pay off the loans before the mandatory retirement.

On the ATP website, it says the following about airline hiring partnerships, this one is for United:

" After gaining 2,000 hours and 24 months of experience flying at your United Express airline, you can then transition directly to United Airlines with no additional evaluation or interviews required. You’ll be at the top of the priority list, and once a first officer position at United is open, you’ll receive a job offer."

So this makes it seem as if you are almost guaranteed a job at United after only 2 years at a regional.

This seems to conflict with most of what I have been reading in all the ‘am I too old to become a pilot’ posts, where the experienced people all say it takes a good 6 years and for those starting later, flying in a major and/or “flying into ____ (some overseas airport)” is not going to happen.

I really appreciate all the honest answers given here, it’s just that if what the pros are saying is true, the ATP website is being misleading by giving people unrealistic expectations as can be seen by the attitude of some of the people posting questions who more or less expect to fly in a major immediately.

Also on the ATP website, there is a testimony of a Ms. Kane who was placed with United in under 3 years (35 months) from when she began training.

That means that she got into a major less than a year after finishing the program. Now it seems like her story omits a lot of details, it doesn’t even seem like she took a CFI job as most people seem to do. As I recall, being a CFI seems to be a required part of some of these partnership programs like Aviate.

Again, perhaps she is a one-off fluke, but this kind of information will only continue to breed unrealistic expectations. Suffice it say that there are other testimonials where it took much longer.

So I guess my question would be, if it realistically takes 6-8 years (no guarantees) to get into a major, why does the United partnership program tout essentially 2 years? Again, for someone who is staring late, time is a factor.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Ok first the United transition you’re talking about is there Aviate Program and there are a number of prerequisites required for acceptance. Second they state after 2,000 you “CAN” transition and will be at the top of the list. Doesn’t mean you WILL at 2,000. They’re simply saying it’s possible.

As for Ms Kane 35mos to United is very impressive and I’d be willing to bet she had some folks with juice in her corner. She’s really more of the exception than the rule.

The reality is at 47 you still could have a very nice 15yr career but whether or not you end up at a Major will still be a question?



Good questions, let’s get to them.

The United Aviate program is brand new, just announced within the last two weeks. What you read about the 2,000 hours and 24 months is a minimum time that needs to be spend at the regional airline to qualify to transition to United. It could take longer.

As for Ms. Kane, she is a United pilot, I do not have any more details than that. Her story does sound impressive. United used to have an experimental program where they were taking pilots right at 1,500 hours, I am betting that she was part of that. The program no longer exists.

Her story is not beyond crazy though, I made it from starting the program to getting hired at Continental in 38 months.