Real Answers from Real Pilots

Domicile determining plane?

I was talking with some Skywest pilots today who were on the E175 and asked them about junior FO’s and weighting the decision of choosing plane type vs domicile priority.

Ideally I want to end up based in San Diego which, I know, will take longer than other places. They fly E175’s out of SD. Would it not be smart to go fly from another domicile (DTW is most junior now) on a different aircraft (CRJ for example), just to build seniority?

In other words, would being on a specific aircraft delay your transition into the base that you want that uses a different aircraft?

San Diego will be all 175’s, but it looks like the junior FO positions are on the CRJ’s.

Is it easy to get the aircraft type that you want if you’re willing to live anywhere? I don’t mind living elsewhere as long as I could keep the time needed to be away from San Diego, to a minimum.


As you’re probably aware, everything at the airlines is based on seniority. EVERYTHING. The day you’re hired you begin to build seniority regardless of base, aircraft or anything else. When you’re hired you’ll be given the aircraft and base where they need you. After that it’s a matter of bidding for available slots. Now you could be a DTW CRJ FO but if you bid SAN E175 CA and your seniority can hold it you’ll get it. If you can’t you won’t. Now I have no idea what base or aircraft is junior or senior at SkyWest but when slots become available it doesn’t matter. The only caveat is some airlines (not sure about SkyWest?) will allow pilots to base trade with other pilots with the same seat on the same aircraft but that’s rare since if a pilot is senior enough to hold a particular base that’s where they’ll usually be.

Whether getting a particular aircraft or base is easy or not depends on the amount of movement within the airline. If guys are moving on to Majors or if they’re expanding (buying new planes or flying new routes) you’ll be where you want in no time, if there isn’t, you won’t. No guarantees but always bid what you want, not what you think you can get.


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Keep in mind that there are no major airlines with bases in San Diego. So, if you are limiting yourself to only being based there, you are also limiting yourself from ever going to a major. Also, just because SkyWest has a base there today, doesn’t mean that they will still have one there in six months, you could end up commuting

As San Diego continues to grow, smaller airplanes will continue to be replaced by larger, mainline, airplanes. I could very easily envision SkyWest closing that base, but that is just a guess and I am certainly no expert on these things.


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