Realistic Expectations at 45

Hi Everyone, hopefully post is not too redundant to others. As stated I’m 45 (zero flight hours) and considering a career change. From the other posts I’ve read, I believe I’m on the borderline to stay at a regional vs. trying to work my way to a major. Please feel free to correct me otherwise. That said, one of my concerns is replacing my current income and how long it will realistically take me to get there. The last six years I’ve averaged ~$160k annually (Technology sales so some fluctuations). Additionally, I’d like to be based in Atlanta.


  1. Does this limit me to Frontier and Endeavor if I want to stay in Atlanta? Speaking with a couple of pilot friends they warned off of being based in another city if at all possible.

  2. ATP has relationships with both of these airlines, assuming they are a high probability I could get hired there?

  3. Based on my research it appears it would be six years (2 years training and being a flight instructor to build to 1500, 2 years FO, and 2yrs capt) before I could approach an annual level ~$150k and that would most likely would require the move from Endeavor to Delta. Is this logical or am I missing something?

  4. How realistic is the timeline above. I see these times quoted at ATP for the training and Endeavor lists 48 months as achievable from new hire to transitioning to Delta. Is this a strong reality or only achieved by a select few?

  5. ATP and Frontier have an alliance as well. I haven’t asked ATP directly yet, but any idea how many pilots they place per year directly there?

Thank you,

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Very redundant Nathan but that’s ok :wink:

The age question comes up daily and there are multiple threads but you do have some specific questions so let’s try and get you some answers:

  1. To my knowledge SkyWest, Endeavor, SouthWest and if course Delta all have an ATL base (not sure about Frontier). Obviously you’d like to avoid commuting if possible but also know due to Delta being there ATL is a popular base so you might not being able to get there until you gain some seniority.

  2. Right now ALL the airlines are hiring. Do well in training, have a clean record and you should be able to get hired wherever you like.

  3. Regional Capts top out at approx $80-90k. To see $150k plus that will mean a Major or LCC and that’s after a couple of years so make it 8+ before you recapture your salary.

  4. Possible? Sure. Probable? Maybe. Delta is optimistically quoting 4yrs RIGHT NOW, but that’s with a) things remaining exactly how they are and no industry hiccups. Better to be prepared for something a little more realistic than very disappointed.

  5. I don’t have the numbers but I can tell you the Frontier program is a fantastic opportunity and is and will remain highly competitive.


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Welcome to the forum. I would encourage you to check out the FAQ section as there is a detailed post there on age and the airlines.

What stands out to me as a potential red flag is having to stay in Atlanta. Yes, there are numerous airlines with bases there, but what if you never get the call for one of those airlines? What if the American gods decide to smile on you whilst the Delta gods do not? Locking yourself absolutely into one place is really limiting. Just be cautious of that moving forward.



None of us have crystal balls, but I will do my best to answer your questions.

  1. Here is a link to airline domiciles: Airline Domiciles Map / ATP Flight School
    One other airline that I see near Atlanta is Jet Linx. They are based out of PDK.

I would advise against commuting if you can pull it off. That said, I would not let that limit you if your top 3, for example, don’t hire you. If you don’t get your preferred airline and/or base right out of the gate, there is still a chance to make your way back there.

  1. Focus on being successful in training with zero checkride busts and your chances at getting hired by your preferred airline, whichever it may be, will be as high as they can be.

  2. Check out the pay scales for each airline on Slide the Bid Periods scale to 12 (for 12 months). Then, slide the Pay Rate scale until the total reaches your desired value. Check the pay rate against the pay scale shown on each airline’s page on APC.

You could reach $150k at a regional but that probable won’t happen until your last few years as Captain.

  1. 48 months to Delta seems fast. I see that happening right now with all the hiring going on, but before COVID, it was more like 5-6yrs. So, not far off, but 4 years is what is happening now. Who knows where we will be when it is your turn?

  2. Actually, YES! I just learned something new. If you visit Airline Hiring & Placements / ATP Flight School there is a filter. As of today, ATP has placed 17 graduates at Frontier in the last 12 months. Keep in mind, Frontier JUST started accepting ATP Instructors not that long ago.


Adam/Chris/Tory, thank you for your responses. Like most decisions in life this one will not be cut and dry. Your input will definitely help in the process.


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