Reality of the American Airlines Cadet Program

Hey guys,

I am at a crossroad right now trying to decide my future in the field of aviation. Right now my plan is to finish this last semester at community college and then hopefully be accepted in the AA cadet program and attend either Coast Flight Training or ATP San Diego. Is the AA program really that needed to fly with AA as a career. Is it worth attending a flight school where you are not part of these cadet programs?

I truly never understood the pull of the AA Academy. For example:

Student A: Starts with the AA Academy on Jan 1, 2022. Takes (lets just say) 1 year to finish program, another 2 years to build time with them. Starts at AA regional on Jan 1, 2025 as part of flow to American.

Student B: Starts with ATP (or any other school really) and finishes training in just over 6 months. Builds time in under 2 years. Starts with AA regional Jan 1, 2024 as part of flow to American. 1 entire year ahead of the student who attended the “AA Academy.”

So where’s the benefit? Truly asking if I am missing something. It’s never made sense to me.

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Welcome back, Bayley!

A couple things. If your goal is to fly for American then technically no, joining the Cadet Program is not required. However, there are benefits to being in the program such as becoming an Envoy employee while still a CFI, receiving flight benefits, and financial assistance after reaching 500 hours. Plus, if accepted into the program, no additional interview at AA is required. The whole process is streamlined. Again, you can always fly for a different regional or just choose to not participate in the program and hope you do well in the AA interview and get hired the more traditional way. Or, you can join the Cadet Program.

If I had a choice I would fly for a school that is affiliated with Envoy/AA. ATP is one of those schools and we all believe in their program.



I agree with Tory, I do believe there are some benefits to the cadet programs, as far as getting involved in the process early. Early seniority number, travel bennies, tuition reimbursement, etc.

My problem is at this stage how certain are you that you want to go to AA and why? When I started I was convinced I wanted to fly for Continental. Why? It was my hometown airline. I flew on them when I was young and felt some affinity for them. But as a wannabe I really know nothing about the airline itself, it’s culture, contracts etc. Further even if you believe AA is the best way to go what if it’s not when it’s time for you to go? Is AA that much better in your mind than United or Delta? Would you wait 2, 3 years or more if you had to? It’s for that reason I’d be somewhat reluctant to commit so early in the game.


This is what I needed to see!

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Quick note on the first part. Mostly some people like myself who want to start at the earliest possible time to become an airline pilot through an academy you have to be 18 with a diploma. So to get into this program you have to be 18. Furthermore, the program is three years because to become a regional pilot you have to be 21 so even if it takes a couple months less say 6 months less to get the hours you would still have to be 21 to be eligible to become a regional pilot


Not sure what you’re trying to say. We all understand the FARs for age when it comes to ATP certificates. Just because you can start at 18, doesn’t mean you should. Having a college degree is still highly preferred. Plus committing to one airline before you ever start flying is a bit short sighted. So much can and does change. Best to your options open. Besides, the scenario Jordan describes is accurate. There are more efficient paths.