Pt 135 upgrade or 121 transition

Hello all! Any personal opinions are appreciated and encouraged.

I didnt go to ATP but have found this forum extremely helpful over the years. I find myself at a crossroads as I near 1500 hours. Im a first officer at a 135 company flying lears and Ive been accepted to mesa and am awaiting interviews with envoy and Skywest. My boss is wanting me to upgrade with a few year commitment (but i can buy out early). My end goal is a major airline and would love any opinion on this question: do majors like to see 135 pic jet or should I join a regional and upgrade there… Or does it not matter?

Thanks in advance.

The main things that matter for Legacy are:

  • PIC (if 135 or 91 are you signing for the aircraft? Not just sole-manipulator of controls).

  • AMEL , Turbine , Typed, Over 12500lbs.

If your 135 or 91 job meets that then you have a decent shot of getting to a Major or high end corporate. If it doesn’t then I would definitely look at 121 Regionals now. Note, it will take 1.5-3yrs before you get PIC time again, but also note most Majors want 3000hrs TT minimum.

The choice is really yours.
Chris F


121 hands down. Airlines like airline pilots. They know you’ve done the job, understand how things work (bidding, schedules, policies, etc etc) and have successfully gone through a 121 training program. While the legacies like turbine PIC time, they like 121 turbine PIC better. All they need to do is teach you to fly something bigger and fit you for a new uniform.


I was faced with the same decision you have just a few months ago. Keep it simple… if your main goal is to be at the airlines, then go now. Of course airlines would rather see 121 time because they are hiring you for a 121 gig. It’s less risky to hire someone they know already has relevant work experience. The 135 world is very valuable and you learn a lot of great lessons but unfortunately the 121 side doesn’t value it the same as 121 time. Plus, airlines are hiring like crazy. Get in and get that seniority number so you can get flying and upgrade quickly. The longer you wait, the longer it takes you to get that 121 time and that upgrade you need for the majors.


I would absolutely recommend going to the regional airlines. The major airlines hire airline pilots, regionals guys/gals already know the ropes and just need to figure out a new, but probably similar set of policies and procedures. The vast majority of new First Officers that I fly with come from the regional airlines.


Thank you all for the awesome advice everyone! Thats along the lines of what ive been hearing elsewhere. Ill likely take the 121 route seeming as though thats where i plan to end up.