General Questions

I’m a 28 year old Army vet currently about to finish my A.S. degree before I decide to either start flight training or go for my bachelor’s. My questions are pretty generic, but I didn’t see answers in the FAQs specific to my situation, so here I am.

First, I’d like to know if my tattoos will be an issue. Since I’m former military they adhere to military standards, meaning nothing above the collar or below the wrist, but I have a full sleeve on one arm and a half on the other making them visible in short sleeves but covered in long sleeves. Will this be an issue with the dress code for airlines?

Second, I can’t seem to find any information on financing flight school with my GI bill. I’m assuming since there isn’t any information on it that it can’t be used as such, but a concrete answer would be helpful.

I’m also curious about job satisfaction. I love to travel, but I’m worried that traveling as an airline pilot would be similar to traveling in the military, meaning I won’t actually get to see much of the places I go, but will instead be stuck working or preparing to go somewhere else the entire time. How much do pilots actually get to visit the places they fly to?

Last question, how much of an impact does my degree path have on my eligibility for a position with a major airline? Do they hire certain degree holders such as aviation over others? I’m currently planning on a path in Mechanical Engineering, possibly aerospace, if that makes a difference.



Some solid questions so let’s get you some answers:

  1. As long as your ink “sleeves” can be covered with long sleeves you’ll be fine. Just know that when you’re in Vegas in the summer and it’s 115 outside, no ground a/c and a busted apu you will be the ONLY one wearing long sleeves and everyone will know why. Don’t expect things to lighten up once you’re “in”.

  2. As far as the GI Bill is concerned this is my understanding. It can be used for flight training BUT you need to attend a Part 141 school and they won’t give you more than $10K a year. This is ATP’s forum and we’re all pretty partial to the program so I’ll give you my take. You’re 28. While that’s far from old if you want to have a successful career with the airlines and a eventually make the big money (ie, widebody Capt) you need to get moving. Getting you training done for free is certainly attractive. Problem is using your bennies the additional years it will take will literally cost you 10 times the amount of training in lost wages and benefits not to mention quality of life seniority affords. I would consider finishing you AS, start flight training in an accelerated program like ATPs ASAP, build your time, get hired by a Regional and complete your Bachelors after while at a Regional in time for a Major. You can use your GI Bill to cover the cost of the checkrides at ATP (approx. $8k) and for the BA degree. You’ll be getting to an airline in min time, getting paid and building seniority and have a very good shot at getting to a Major by 35.

  3. Cody you will find airline pilots who love their jobs (me) and others who swear it’s as bad as slavery. Job satisfaction is a very personal thing and really depends on you and your perspective. That said to answer your question there are long overnights and short overnights. I’ve spent less than 18hrs in PEK and I’ve had 5 days in SYD. What type of trips you fly depends on the airline you fly for, the aircraft you fly and as with EVERYTHING in the industry your SENIORITY. Some pilots LOVE being away for days on end, others want to be home. The pilots who enjoy the long overnights bid those and those who don’t don’t. Thing is your seniority will determine whether you get what you want or not. By the way there’s very minimal “preparing” once you land.

  4. Short answer is no. The Majors want their pilots to have 4yr degrees but they care little as to the field of study. That’s why I always recommend getting a degree in something other than aviation. An aviation degree won’t help you and it’s always good to have a Plan B in the event things don’t work out flying wise or even if they do as a side job.

Hope that helps some.