Experience valued by the majors

Hello moderators, I’d love to get your input on the type of experience major airlines (especially Hawaiian) most like to see in a pilot applicant. Before Covid I believe your answer would have been “join a regional, upgrade to Captain and network”. Given that regionals are not currently hiring and nobody knows when they will resume, I’m thinking about backup options. Cargo, corporate and charter seems to be thriving (although I’m guessing competition for those positions is fierce, with lots of highly qualified underemployed pilots).

So please look into your crystal balls 8-10 years into the future for a moment…Covid is gone and the pilot shortage is back. You are on the hiring committee for your major - will you be attracted to someone who went Part 135 after building 1,500 hours as a CFI? Flying turboprops or only if they flew jets? What about corporate flying? Or is the priority given to people who stayed teaching people how to fly sky chickens until they could land a regional job flying passengers into busy airports in a range of (bad) weather?

Thanks for your input!


Did you mean to say REGIONAL airline? Major airlines won’t be looking at CFIs with 1500 hours or 15,000 hours for that matter. Major airlines won’t be looking at pilots with part 135 experience either. Majors really do want to see part 121 TPIC. So yes, preference does go to those who have part 121 TPIC from a regional.

Whatever time building job(s) you, or anyone, choose(s), the next step would most likely be the regionals before a major will take a serious look at you.


That answers my question, thanks Tory

A small portion of major airlines’ new hires do come from the private sector if that’s something you are able to get your foot into. It’s very much a who-you-know business and as you can guess, competition is high at the moment. But you could potentially fly your way up a smaller cargo carrier to a place like Atlas and get on to a major from there as well. Lots of options - regionals aren’t the end all be all.


I can tell you Hawaiian doesn’t look as much at the airplane but more the type of flying you’ve been doing. They definitely want to see turbine time and do like Regional jet experience. If that’s not an option they like international and trans-pac. Honestly there’s no hard rule on it and honestly if you meet the mins it’s more a matter of recommendations, having island ties and simply being the kind of person we’d like to hang with.



I think that you should do whatever steps possible to advance your career. If the regionals are not hiring, try to get into the corporate world. Now this might mean that you still end up going through the regionals at some point, but there is no point being a CFI if you can get your hands on a good corporate job where you fly and gain experience.

United seems to have a preference for regional pilots, I have flown with very few former corporate pilots, but they are out there. I personally would avoid turbo props and try to get on with a company flying jets, but again, turbo props are better than flight instructing.

By the time you interview at a major, they will be looking at the sum of your experience and will most likely not be terribly worried about how long you were a CFI for.


Thank you Tory, Jordan, Adam and Chris, these insights are all very helpful.

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Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you.