Easier to Move up?

With the HUGE pilot shortage fast approaching, i will be hitting that right at the sweet spot as a senior in high school currently.

My question is if you think this huge increase will lead to better benefits/pay for pilots becuase of the huge demand for them.

My other question is whether you think it will be easier to go from FO to Captain and then get picked up by the majors.

Finally how long is it typically to get from FO at a regional to FO at a major. I know this is hard to answer but a rough estimate would help.

I don’t know specifically about the pay/benefits because I am not a pilot yet, but I can tell you, I know a DAL pilot who showed me their retirement schedule for the next 5 years.

It goes from something like 600 retirees this year to 1250 or so in 5 years… So in 5 years, the amount of retirees will Remember that’s not factoring in the more pilots they’re going to need to hire to open new routes and what not. What he told me is that with this rate of people leaving the industry, it will take significantly shorter to get to where he is today. Exciting timing, huh?

I think it’s reasonable to expect to be at a major within 7-10 years of starting flight training. Two years getting ratings and flight instructing. Five at a regional, and then you flow.


The pilot shortage has already led to increased compensation packages and will likely continue to do so.

You will most likely need to upgrade to Captain at a regional before you are able to make it to the majors. The majors place a huge emphasis on Pilot in Command flight time, which means upgrading to captain.

It is impossible to really put a number on your question as there are so many factors that can affect how long it takes to move to a major. However, I would say that a safe bet is 5-10 years.


what does a FO to Captain at a regional look like in terms of time and the same progression for a Major. I understand a lot longer but just wondering how much. Just trying to get my bearings!

You’re asking for a 5-6 year forecast on an industry that evolves very rapidly. I don’t think any advice you’ll get right now will be any better than a WAG. My former instructor made “street” captain shortly after starting his indoc training with his regional because he had more than 1,000 hours of turbine time under his belt. I’ve heard Envoy is upgrading at 10-12 months. But all of that can and will change by the time you’re actually old enough and qualified to go to the majors. The upgrade times at majors vary widely based on the airline and even the type of airframe you’re flying.

when trying to move up, do you keep applying to the major over and over until you finally get the okay?


Airlines typically require a pilot to wait one year after a failed interview to reapply. Although, generally if a pilot gets turned down by an airline, that is the end of their career prospects at that airline and they move onto applying to other airlines.


isn’t this a little concerning as a captain at a regional trying to move up to a major?


Yes, career progression in any field is a major concern for any employee. There are no guarantees in life and aviation is certainly part of that. A pilot that positions them self well should be able to move up to a major, but bombarding a company with applications is not the secret to getting a job.



Honestly its about expectations and goals. While I think it’s safe to say all airline pilots aspire to get to the Majors, which is the pinnacle of our industry, the reality is not everyone does. I applied to Hawaiian because yes I wanted to see how far I could take my career but honestly I was very happy at the Regionals and if that was as far as I got that honestly would’ve been fine. I actually believe that’s why I did so well on my interview and got the job. I was very relaxed and went on with the attitude I definitely want this but if it doesn’t happen I still have an amazing job.


thank you so much for the insight