Regional to Major Airline timeline

I’m recently new to this site and didn’t see a post about a timeline of transitioning from regional to a major airline. I was wondering how many years it typically takes or flight hours to be considered. I have a Bachelors degree and am planning on attending a flight school pathway with American Airlines.


The reason you will not see that on here is that it can vary so widely. I made it in just under two years, at the time I would say average was about seven years. I have recently flown with FOs that spent about three years at the regionals, but that can vary anywhere from that to ten or more years. So much of it depends on the economy, if the major is hiring, and the other applicants the airline has. I believe American’s program sets a specific number of pilots they will take per month from each regional, so it is more of a formula than anything and simply just a question of when your number comes up.

So to answer your question, anywhere from two to ten years, but with an average of five, based on my very unscientific sampling of people I know.


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In conversations I’ve had with AA pilots, the average seems to be 7-8yrs but as Chris said that can vary.


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Having a 4yr degree and starting at the Regionals with 1500hrs and no military experience: I’d say 4-8yrs is the average today. This is from talking with recruiters and seeing all my Capt friends get called.

3000hrs TT is Spirits current minimum, which is a good ballpark # on the earliest you have a shot at being hired by any Major. I believe FedEx is the only company left that has a hard 500hr PIC requirement.

Chris F