Real Answers from Real Pilots

"This is your Captain speaking......"

Aloha folks!

So yes as Chris announced I just finished upgrade at Hawaiian and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty darn good. I had been a CA at ExpressJet for 6 years so it’s really good to be back in the left seat. There’s an old saying the best part about upgrading is you get to fly with your favorite CA everyday :slight_smile: Anyway I figure now that I’m done (didn’t want to jinx anything) I’d give you some overall logistics of the process.

First of course you need the seniority to hold CA which in my case happened in about 4yrs 9mos. Fortunately Hawaiian has been doing well and expanding so there’s been a lot of expansion which explains the relatively short upgrade time. Now there are actually 3 upgrade programs at the airline. Short, Medium and Long. The short course is for current and qualified FO’s on the airplane. They know the plane so it’s simply a matter of moving left and start thinking like a CA. The long is for pilots who never flew the plane so they obviously have to learn it. I had the medium course because I flew the plane and have my Type rating but I’ve been away from it for 2 yrs. The course consisted of 5 days of systems and VPT (Virtual Procedures Trainer, basically a non-moving sim), half day for each. We then had a Procedures Validation and a Knowledge Validation before we could go to sim (Simulators are very expensive to operate and you don’t want to be wasting time). We had 5 sim sessions. Day 1 of sim was nice and easy. We basically just got reacquainted with the airplane but Day 2 was a nightmare! EVERYTHING you could possible lose we did. Total hydraulic failure, total electrical failure, losing engines, you name it we did it. It was exhausting and humbling. Fortunately things relaxed some after and by Day 5 we were both back in the saddle. We then had our Maneuvers Validation and LOE (Line Operational Evaluation) which is basically just a flight with some issue. Me and my sim partner had our Type Ratings so we didn’t require and formal Oral or Checkride. Finally I had 4 days of UOE (Upgrade Operational Experience) which is flying live flights (with passengers) with a Check Airman as your FO. At some point the FAA observes, gives you their blessing, the Check Airman signs you off and you get your stripes.

This is quite literally the culmination of many years of hard work, sacrifice and yes some luck. I’m exactly where I want to be doing what I love to do and consider myself extremely fortunate. This is no time for a commercial but it all started with a dream and ALOT of help from ATP and I will be forever grateful.

Capt Adam Feldman
Hawaiian Airlines


Congrats Adam, awesome news! Thanks for breaking down the process.


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Congratulations :airplane::earth_africa:

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Awesome to hear Captain, and congratulations, that is great,
and, as always, thank you for helping spread the word.
Blue skies, Aloha.

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Congrats Capt!!

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Fantastic! Congratulations! You have earned your Stripes! Thank you for sharing your journey to being Captain on a Major airline!
I am new to this forum. Unfortunately,
I am starting to realize that I have pushed my dream aside far too long. I am 49 amd always dreamt of being a Captain on a Major Airline or even on a Regional.
But, life has it’s paths. I admire the younger people who are able to dig in and go for such a journey.
My wife wasn’t into having me go back to school, then go thru the flight school instructor time to aquire flying hours.
I guess if I wasn’t married with a 12 yr.old son, I would go after this dream. Anyway, that’s life.

I truly enjoy hearing the stories and following this forum.
Congratulations Adam, you made it! :slight_smile:


Apologies for pulling a really old conversation back up! I have been searching for an answer to this with no luck, so I just wanted to ask how you know you’re eligible to bid for upgrade. Can you just bid every single period to just see if you get lucky, or are there requirements you have to meet before being eligible to bid for captain?



As I said at the beginning of the post you need the seniority to hold the position and there needs to be an open slot. It’s got nothing to do with luck. The only requirement is if it’s your first airline, you need at least 1,000hrs as an FO. Now while luck again doesn’t enter the equation, bidding smart does. Someone a very long time ago taught me “bid what you want, NOT what you think you can hold”. Many pilots study the vacancies (open slots) and then try and anticipate what the other 12,000 pilots are going to do and only bid what they believe or anticipate they can hold. Big mistake. My upgrade here at Hawaiian was a perfect example. Just like you state above, I, from day one bid every slot I WANT all the way to the top slot of A330 Capt. Now I’m probably at least 10yrs away from that position but there’s no harm and it doesn’t cost you a dime. So as I said I ALWAYS bid every Capt slot. When this bid came out I was an A330 FO and on paper I should not have been able to hold 717 Capt based on my seniority. The bid came out and low and behold there was my name with 717 Capt next to it! Over the next 2-4 days I got a bunch of calls and texts from other pilots who were senior to me saying “WTH!?! I’m senior to you! How fof you get Capt?!?”. My response was the same for all, “did you bid it?” and their response was always “no, i didn’t think I could hold it”. Well shame on them, if you don’t ask you don’t get and that’s not luck on my part, it’s foolishness on theirs. Make sense?




You will generally have a pretty good idea when you are getting close to holding captain as you will see how much you missed it by on prior bid. Generally the bids where you can change aircraft and seat position are called “System bids” or “vacancy bids” and are offered a few times per year.


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Thank you so much, and thanks for the clarification that it’s purely based on seniority (as long as you have 1000 hours).

Anytime, let us know how else we can help you.