Real Answers from Real Pilots

Making it to the majors with a criminal record... is my situation possible?

Hey guys, my name is Alec I’m 24 and am seriously considering becoming a commercial airline pilot. My dad flys international for delta so this has always been on my radar… after 2 years in sales I have come to the realization it isn’t for me and I’m ready to begin a new career.

The issue, when I was 18 I received a misdemeanor for petty theft and when I was 22 I received a misdemeanor for domestic battery. I have a few speeding tickets as well… I could explain the stories but I understand it doesn’t make a difference. I take 100% responsibility for what happened and my record will be squeaky clean here on out.

I have a 4 year degree in finance from a major university 3.2 GPA & will do whatever extra steps possible to make my resume look better.

Before I spend 40k to get my CFI I was wondering if I still have a shot to fly majors? If I have a shot does it come down to my ability to interview or is this not in my hands? Thanks for your input!


A couple of things. First I’m curious what you’re father says on the subject? If he’s a Delta pilot he should be able to have this conversation with his people in recruitment and get their take.

Now you say you “will do whatever extra steps possible” but you’ve got 2 arrests and a mediocre GPA. I’d stop thinking about “extra steps” and start focusing on the basics. Working hard and staying out of trouble.

Now the answer to your question is maybe? If you keep your nose clean, do better in training than you did in college and conduct yourself as a professional you could have a shot. If however when you interview at a Regional one of the pilots on the panel has a daughter was just the victim of domestic battery, you’re sunk and won’t even get there.

The best thing you can do is try and put a much distance between yourself and your record as possible, and then how for the best. The reality is you’ve added a huge question mark to scenario. Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of our industry and many pilots, even those who do everything right, never get there. You’ve made it that much harder.


Thanks for the reply Adam!

My dad has contacted some of the people in his network to see what they think.

When you say maybe Adam is this based on knowledge of anyone who has been hired with a similar record or is this an assumption?

Before I commit my life to this I would like to make sure I have a fighting chance. Thanks again for the insight


My responses are always based on actual experiences unless I say otherwise. Chance sure but no guarantees. Also keep in mind things often can and do change. Years ago if you had a DUI you were done. When the pilot shortage was raging that went out the window. Now that things have slowed the bar is raised again. It’s all about supply and demand.


Appreciate it Adam, thank you


Honestly, I don’t know. The first thing I would do is check to see if you are criminally inadmissible to Canada. If you are, that is likely a deal breaker. Next, I would recommend talking with recruiters at several regionals and see what they say. Of course, I would have your father ask his contacts at Delta and see what they say.