Regional v.s Major Airlines

I am 19 year old and finishing up my senior year in high school and I’m looking to attend an associates degree program before ATP training. I was wondering what the pros and cons are to only working at a regional airline vs a major airline.


An associates degree will be fine for attending ATP and for the regional airlines, but you will need to get a four year degree to apply for the majors.

The main pros of working for the major airlines are that the pay is significantly higher, the equipment better, the flights longer and more exotic and the business and career outlook more stable. Major airline pilots make dramatically more than regional pilots do and have what I consider to be better schedules. I have more days off and fly less flights per day than a typical regional pilot does. The locations that we fly to are more diverse and all over the world, versus flying around the US. Also, who doesn’t want to fly the big iron?

All of this being said, the regionals can be a great place to work as well, but at your age I would be focusing on making sure that I was eligible to be hired by the majors.


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Chris beat me to it but I agree with his pros. Biggest being the pay and the opportunity to see much more of the world. There’s also the stability aspect since the Majors sell there own tickets to passengers. You see all the Regionals basically work for the Majors they support. The have contracts with the Majors but when those contracts expire there’s an opportunity for another Regional to under cut them. If that happens the first Regional could lose some flying and that could be bad. Not so with the Majors.

The only real con I see is unfortunately if/when you decide to move on to a Major you’re starting again from the bottom. This can mean a paycut and a lousy schedule for a while until you build up some seniority again.


Thank you for the advice! You have a lot of good points and I’ll be sure to consider them.