Seniority Related Questions

1.) Are captains and first officers on different(?) seniority when they are bidding? So if you want weekends off, and you are a first officer with the most seniority, can you win the bid?

2.) In the major/regional airlines approximately how long do you need to work to have a fair chance of winning the bid to get weekends off.

Extra question: Will the rigor of pilot training make even the most motivated students to quit and should I worry about not being smart enough to complete the pilot training?

The reason I asked these questions were because I am a Christian and I would like Sundays off. Although I understand that if every Christians get Sundays off then that’s not fair for others and there won’t be many pilots to fly the planes on Sundays.

Sorry if my questions were too unnecessary, since I’m not even a pilot and I’m already asking questions about getting weekends off.

Thanks for always trying to answer our questions!


  1. Yes and yes. When it comes to seniority there are really 2 factors. There’s your system seniority and your relative seniority. Your system seniority doesn’t change and it’s where you are in relation to all the pilots at your airline. Relative seniority pertains to your seniority in relative to other pilots in your specific group (Capt, FO, aircraft, base). I’m a mid seniority at my airline which makes me a mid seniority 717 Capt who can occasionally get weekends off. I could be a very senior 717 or 321 FO officer who would easily get everything off I want. I’m close to being 330 Capt but that would put me on the very bottom with no hope of anything off I want. So again the answer to both your questions is yes.

  2. Literally impossible to answer. Depends on the airline, the base, the aircraft etc. Could be months, could me years, could be decades. But if getting weekends off is your top priority, by bidding the most jr airplane at the most jr base you’d get there faster.

  3. Sorry but your question literally makes no sense. IF the “rigor of pilot training make even the MOST motivated students to quit” there would be no pilots. The fact is there are lots if pilots so obviously not only don’t the rigors dissuade the MOST motivated students, it doesn’t dissuade those with less. Listen, flight training isn’t rocket science but it does require some level of intelligence. In my experience a strong work ethic is more important that being a genius when it comes to pilot training. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you should be fine.

Finally the airlines make ZERO consideration for religion. Christians work on Sun, Jews on Sat, etc. You’ll also be working Christmas and Easter. That’s really between you and your maker but as for me if I gel l feel pretty confident that if I’m going to hell it won’t be for a Sabbath violation.




  1. Everybody is on the same seniority list at the airline and pilots can chose to bid Captain or FO, some chose to remain an FO for a certain period so they can enjoy more seniority and a better quality of life. Amongst the respective two, pilots bid on monthly schedules, vacations, etc using their seniority within that group.

  2. This could vary widely. You might gathered and things grow really quickly, resulting in weekends off in just a few years, or you could get hired and if nobody gets hired behind you, sit stagnant for a while.

  3. I have seen students quit, but not the motivated ones. Pilot training is hard, but it is not near-science. Most students that have good study habits, are motivated and try hard do well.

I would not plan on consistently having Sundays off for many years into your career.


Again thanks for all of yalls answers. You guys help us so much!

Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you.

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I too had a question about seniority. I’m looking at this chart for SkyWest, in particular the PDX airport.

Underneath the chart it says that the dates displayed are the most junior for each location.

Looking at PDX, does this chart mean to say that no new FO has been hired here since 2018 and that the last time someone was able to upgrade to captain was 16 years ago in 2005? That sounds way too long to be true.

Am I missing something here? I currently work right by the PDX airport and watching the planes fly in and out all day is one of the reasons I’ve decided to pursue this path. I know I can’t expect a guaranteed position there, but now that I see these time lines I’m not sure if I would even want to.


That does appear to be the situation based on the chart, kind of (I’m sure someone from SkyWest can give you more insight). What it means is the most junior pilot that could HOLD PDX was hired in 2018 and Capt was hired on 2005. As you can see they’ve hired plenty of pilots since but none have been able to get to PDX. There’s a chance PDX is a very senior and possibly smaller base (at least on the ERJ). When I was at Xjt CLE was a similar situation (small super senior base). No one retired and no one moved on to the Majors. They were all very fast and comfy there.

Not sure what you mean by “not sure I even want to?” means but if you’re basing your whole career on whether or not you can hold a certain base you might seriously want to re-think this whole thing? I know pilots who have waited decades for a base and others who had their base shut down. As you say there are no guarantees but beyond that there aren’t even any promises. Bases are business decisions made by upper mgmt for a variety of reasons, none of which are a pilot’s quality of life or desire. Best you can do is hope and have a Plan B, C, D, E…



It would appear that the chart does mean what you think it does and that PDX is thus a very senior base for SkyWest.

I am glad we are having this discussion now, before you commit to flight training. If you are only going to be happy working out of PDX and PDX only, I would not recommend going into this career field. The reality is that even if you were to get PDX right away, there is no guarantee that the base will stay open. Part of being an airline pilot is being flexible and this means either moving to a different base if need be, or doing what so many of us do and commute to work.

I recommend sitting down and really thinking of whether or not you would still want to do the job if you were not ever able to be based in PDX. If that answer is no, then you have your answer.


Thank you for the clarification. I read a bit about senior bases and how they could affect your career. I just didn’t realize how true it was, especially out of a humble location like PDX.

Also, I didn’t mean to say that I was only willing to work out of PDX, I just thought it would be nice to should I have the chance. However, with how long you’d have to wait for upgrades, I think I rather not work there at all.

If anything, this chart is a confirmation that working as an airline pilot means that I WILL be leaving my hometown and relocating, which I’m okay with since I don’t like the idea of jumpseating to work. Im fully prepared to move to wherever I get hired out of.

On that note, is it normal to spend your regional time at a single base? I’m planning to buy a home near my regional base, unless I’ll likely be moved around a lot during those years. I’ll sell once I upgrade to the majors, which I’m expecting to once again have to relocate for.

Hi Leon, not sure if you’ve already seen this, but Horizon Air PDX CA seniority looks more recent …(at least for now)

Thank you Ravi for that Horizon chart. I’ll admit, I haven’t looked into the different regionals too closely. I’m still too early in the process to be weighing my options.

I’ll definitely remember the name Horizon though for when I’m getting closer to my applications!

PDX is a a small and old base. Only about 35 Capt and FOs each. As you can see by seniority, most have been with the company for decades and settled into that location.

The 175 also has a long upgrade time right now as more CRJ pilot transition to the it. (4-6yr upgrade). As the fleet grows this could change.

CRJ was less than 2yrs pre-Covid, for now looking like 3yrs. As the fleet slowly shrinks eventually this will likely take longer.

Spending time at 1 base has many factors but I’d say it’s mostly pilots decision.
I can stay in my JR base Chicago and delay upgrade just a few months so I stay here. Right now I have bid first available, so if a slot opens in LAX they could call me if no one senior wants it, then I could be commuting until I can hold Chicago.
But if I want to stay in a Senior base then I could be waiting years longer to upgrade and stay at that location.

Renting the 1st year is always a good idea IMO. It takes awhile to learn the schedule, get a feel for upgrade times, get to know the area. I bought a multi-family home in ORD and am house-hacking it. Only downside is now I am a little more cemented to ORD until I feel the place will run itself.

Cost of living and upgrade time were probably my biggest decision on base choice.

Chris F

It’s something to think about while getting in to this career, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much right now. So much could change between now and when you’re choosing your base. Keep your options open though, don’t laser in one one regional and one base. If you do, you could miss other opportunities that may change your mind. Also, think about the 135 side. If you’re set on being based there or living there and “homebasing” that does exist… just something to think about.


Are base assignments given for an entire year, or is there not a set amount of time you know you’ll be at the same base? Seems very hectic not knowing if you might need to move. I agree that renting sounds like it’d be preferable until you have enough seniority to ensure staying at the same base for multiple years.


Once you’ve got your base you’re there unless they shrink or close the base. If they don’t you could be there for life. As Chris said you may choose to leave if there’s an opportunity to upgrade or different equipment but that’s your choice.



Does changing bases to purse an upgrade/equipment within the same airline also reset your seniority? In my current and past jobs, your seniority is per-location not from your sign-on date for the company.


No. You’re seniority is based on date of hire and never changes. What does change of course is your “relative” seniority. Relative seniority is your seniority within the you base or fleet.



Here’s a decent example. My Girlfriend is 100ppl senior to me in the company.

in Chicago she’s on the E175 and bidding 75%. Been on Reserve 2yrs.
In Chicago I’m on the CRJ and bidding 45%. Had a line for 2yrs.

If we move to Denver then we will both be bidding about 60% for both our aircraft and have lines.

She will likely eventually upgrade to a CRJ Captain, once we both upgrade to CRJ Capt, she will be Senior to me when it comes to scheduling too.

There are a lot of factors that determine how good life is in a base. Nice thing about SkyWest is that it is so big you can usually move around if where you’re at isn’t working out.

Chris F