International home base

I was wondering if it is possible to have an international home base rather than an address in the USA? For example if I was to receive my ideal route of flying back and forth to Japan, would it be possible to have the finish destination in Japan and live there? I’ve studied in Japan before and love the culture and food so I would really love to find a way to stay there. How long does a typical pilot have to fly before being considered for an international route? And last is it possible to be hired for an airline like Japan Air Lines(JAL) as a US citizen?

Hi Barb,

As an airline pilot you can live anywhere you want so long as you show up to work on time. If you’re going to be working for a US airline that means ALL your trips will start and finish in the US. The only way to be based in Japan is to fly for an Asian airline and yes they hire many US pilots. Thing is they too (just like the US carriers) want to see some experience so that still means starting at a Regional in the US, building some time and then applying over there. There is no “set time” but it’s similar to getting on at a Major in the US so you’re talking 3-6yrs at a Regional.



Several decades ago US airlines had bases overseas, to my knowledge Fedex and UPS are the only ones that still do. To fly international routes for a US airline can take decades of seniority. I was able to fly western Europe routes after four years at Continental, but to fly to Japan would have taken another ten years.

Foreign airlines can be very discriminatory in that they generally only hire their own citizens. You will likely find it incredibly difficult to get hired on at an airline like JAL.



Do all international airlines like Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways etc. have bases at all the destinations they fly to. If “YES” is it possible to ask for specific International Base ? For example if I’m being hired by Qatar Airways and start off at Doha as my base, can I ask for a another home base ? Lets say London.


Some do, some don’t. You said you’re already scheduled to start with Qatar, ASK THEM.


1 Like

Hello Adam,

How does the bidding for a specific base work ? Does that have anything to do with flying hours and seniority ?


At most airlines seniority has EVERYTHING to do with base assignments. That said I know some Middle Eastern Carriers have rotating seniority groups (which would never happen in the US with our unions). Again you really need to speak with someone at Qatar for details.



Thanks for helping me out. Could really use the information.

Kind Regards