Denied because of distance


I was recently denied by ATP because my commute is apparently longer than what they set in their new rules.

I just wanted to ask you guys, what is or was your commute like to flight school?

I was honestly flabbergasted when I got turned down. My commute is very doable. I’m truly very upset. It really made me feel like they didn’t want me to enroll as they were picking and choosing who they wanted to enroll.


Well, to start this discussion, how long is your drive in time and in miles?


45-50m, 35 miles

Sometimes it’s even less than 45m.


We generally recommend about 30 minutes or less.




ATPs program is highly accelerated, compressing what normally takes years into months. That means a full time commitment with the bulk of your time dedicated to flying, training, classroom, study, eating and sleeping. Too long a commute will cut into that. Further weather is very dynamic and you may need to get to the airport last minute if what was a canceled day improves.

Finally since everyone had decided to become a pilot, available training slots have become more coveted and ATPs requirements have gotten tighter.



Your comment regarding:

Should not be taken that way. ATP enrollment is at an all-time high, it is EXTREMELY competitive right now, and ATP wants to ensure that you will be successful. I can say with the newest changes of ATP, they want to ensure that you will not be losing out or at risk of failure. Afterall, one of their core values is student integrity. I can say, I have watched students that lived an hour away versus closer to training center, differ. The quality of performance does vary especially when flight events can happen at the break of sunrise.

As Adam mentioned, weather and other training center operations are dynamic, there may be a slot and your instructor finds it, but realizes you live almost an hour away, while another instructor finds their student closer and takes the block. It’s not a competition of block, but an efficiency of scheduled flying.

I went to ATP’s website and prerequisites, saw the changes for my own eyes this morning:



Is it truly just due to your commute time or a combination of things? Pilot training demand is at an all time high meaning admission is more competitive than ever. If I were you I’d ask a few more questions. If it’s simply due to commute time, consider moving and utilizing student housing! That’s what it’s there for.



“Location” according to ATP.

My drive is actually very quickly too…it’s literally crossing a bridge and highway all the way to the airport. It’s almost 50m on a bad day but leaving early in the morning it will never be 50m, so let’s say about 40-45m max. Going back home, 40m max.

Not that long ago I was getting non-stop emails to enroll but I had to wait to get a few things in place before committing. I qualified in every category. I was getting some things together so I can commit fully to the program. This is so disappointing!

Relocating would cost me more money. If only you knew how easy my drive is because of where I’m located you’d understand why it makes no sense to relocate. I can move and go to Florida and do it there, no problem. The program will cost less, but add in housing, food, and everyday general spending and I’ll be paying about the same, maybe even more. Makes no sense.

ATP should make an exception for people like myself seeing how close I am. This isn’t about location. ATP seems to be picking and choosing.

Why? If ATP has a policy, which they’ve made based on decades of flight training, why should they make an exception for you?



The ones that lived further away from training centers and had to drop out or got dropped, that’s on them. It all depends on certain factors and I truly believe it isn’t only about distance. There’s some that can handle the workload and distance where others couldn’t. Don’t let some ruin it for all because there’s people out there who will succeed where the others didn’t. Heck, this career is all about traveling. I’m not saying that this distance rule is unjust, but it can highly give a false narrative to what it might actually be like once you’re in the airline and don’t live at base. Let the student decide. As a school, you don’t turn potentials down.


Your commuting analogy is a bad one. Commuting isn’t training and most airlines provide hotels for their pilots of their training is out of base and those that don’t all pilots will get their own during training because the last thing you want to do is try and commute during.

I understand your frustration, but you need to again understand slots are very limited and competitive. While you’re right some people can handle the work load (and a drive), many cannot. Hence my question, why should ATP make an exception for you? What (if anything) would indicate to ATP that you’re one of those who could? If there’s nothing immediately apparent or tangible, ATP is forced to stick to their requirements and stick with the “potentials” who fit their guidelines.


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I are up in the country where everything was an hour away, so I am sympathetic to your situation. The thing is that ATP has found that students who live far from a location statistically do not do as well in training. They are trying to protect your investment and their reputation. A 45 minute drive is a lot when you have a 6:30 am flight.

And yes, ATP is able to turn “potentials” down. Slots are very competitive right now and they want students who will do well in the program.



Glad we share a similar experience. In my honest opinion, with all due respect to ATP, it truly sounds like a problem with ATP itself, not the students who can’t necessarily relocate.

As a school that prides itself on a number of things, you should have a curriculum designed for people who are turned down because they’re a minute over their distance rule.


I can understand your frustration, but I hope you understand why they must limit the commute. When I was an instructor I saw both sides. I had several really motivated and hard working students, potentially like yourself, who lived 45 mins to an hour away. Sometimes even further. And it was always tough to adjust the schedule last minute with these students; which was often necessary due to weather, maintenance, no-shows, early/late finishes to other lessons. After a few months of the commute, I could tell that they would be frustrated/disappointed with the times that they came in only for the weather to decline. And then when there were open slots, and the weather quickly improves, they were too far away to schedule an impromptu lesson. I always did my best to work around it and help them out as much as I could, but most of them fell behind in the program and it was difficult to catch them up. I even had the occasional decline of a possible short notice lesson because they were so far and away from the house. I was honestly too flexible with them at times. It was very rare that the schedule I had set at the start of the day finished how I planned it. Sure you might think it won’t impact you, but why would ATP make an exception just for you? They’d have to do it for everyone in a similar situation.

Alternatively, I had students who were really close by, and it was much easier to fill slots with them knowing they could get there quicker. There was no bias to the scheduling, but whoever needed the hours for the week was considered first and often it would be the shorter commute people who would benefit the most and remain closer to the designated timeline.

Ultimately, flight training requires significant flexibility. There’s many components that are out of your control, including weather, maintenance, plane availability, etc…, and ATP doesn’t want to add the trouble of a longer commute to increase the difficulty. Just like any university, they have the right to control who they will/won’t admit into the program. And I’d like to echo what Hannah has said, if it was truly about location and you are set on ATP, I’d be asking whether you would be accepted if you were willing to relocate. That might be your only option. To give you perspective, when I was finishing up instructing, it was mentioned in a national meeting that there were several thousand inquiries a WEEK into joining the program. So there’s no lack of prospective students for ATP to accept. Even something as small as a longer commute has an impact on admission.


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Roscoe brings up a really good point about last minute schedule changes. When I was in the commercial phase of my training, we had several weather delays. One day, we thought the whole day would be a wash, so I went back to the student housing. The storm front passed through much quicker than was forecasted and it was absolutely beautiful behind it. My instructor called and asked if I was available, which I of course was. We met at the airport fifteen minutes later and got in an amazing flight before night fall, one that also kept me on schedule. If I had been 45 minutes from the airport, it would not have happened and I would not have finished the program on time.

There’s no problem with ATP itself, they have been training pilots for decades and have a finely tuned machine. They know what will lead to student success and what will work against it. Your choices are to either go to another flight school or move closer. Continuing to complain about it on an Internet forum is not going to lead to an exemption or a change of policy.