Tory, would love to hear more about Horizon Air

I’m am very interested in working for Horizon Air. It is in my top 3. (Although I’ll work for whomever hires me.) I’m curious as to how you like the culture at Horizon and are you limited to where you fly in the ERJ vs the Q400? What factors played into you applying for Horizon? Any other notes of interest would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and stay safe.

Also, if anyone has answers to these and similar questions about Mesa Air, I’d appreciate it as well.

We already talked about Skywest, which rounds out my top 3.


Hello Daniel,

I love the culture at Horizon. It has a small airline vibe. Everyone knows
everyone by name. I’ve made great friendships here.

The routes for the ERJ are ever evolving since we are growing that side of
the line. There’s enough variety to make it fun.

I applied at Horizon because, at the time, they had a great reputation, and
I wanted to move to the PNW. We took a bad hit in October, 2017. Some poor
decisions were made to purchase too many ERJs before we were able to staff
them. Those that were responsible for the lull we are in now have been
replaced and we have been crushing our performance goals ever since.

Most of the pilots that I’ve talked to still remain skeptical. The Air
Group has a history of breaching our contract. Only time will tell if our
recovery plan will restore the trust that has been lost among the Horizon

All that said, I do not regret my decision. I love it here. I got in at the
perfect time. Pay has gone up. I’ve been getting tons of flight time and a
Captain upgrades have dropped to as low as 15 months.


Glad to hear the trust is being built back. Are they struggling to staff the Q’s as well? And are you planning on moving over to Alaska Airlines when possible? Last, are there any route restrictions for the Q400, or the ERJ, in other words do both aircraft fly all the same routes or do they leave the Qs for the extreme cold/north routes?

They are not having issues staffing the Q. They are still hiring pilots to
fly the Q to prepare for turnover. Plus, a lot of pilots actually don’t
want to transition planes because they don’t want to relocate or commute to
SEA. The ERJ’s only base right now is SEA.

Some of our destinations overlap, like PDX, GEG, BOI, SMF, but mostly each
plane has its own purpose.

I have applications in at Delta and Alaska. If I don’t get on with either
of them I will try the rest of the Legacy airlines.


Where are the “junior” bases located for Horizon? And what was the bidding process like for you when you first started, obviously with the understanding that the ERJ only has one base? What might it look like bidding for the Q, if you could guess, or based on your knowledge?

Much appreciated as always,


Hey Daniel,

The junior bases are Medford, Spokane, and Boise, except for the ERJ. The
only base for the ERJ is Seattle. Technically, Portland is now a
“satellite” base, but on paper the Portland based ERJ pilots are still
Seattle based on paper. Only about 20% of our current flying originates out
of Portland.

I got lucky. After I finished training, the company needed every pilot they
had to fly the ERJ routes. I was able to hold a line since the day I
finished training. That will change when I switch seats. So, bidding for me
was just a matter of picking which routes I preferred to fly and which
airports I wanted to avoid. We use a system called PBS or NavBlue. Don’t
ask why there are two different names for the same thing. I just know it
does. It allows you to list your preferences in order of importance. The
system runs the Captain bids first. Then the FOs. It uses an algorithm to
try to honor your preferences while also building you a legal line, which
for us is a minimum of 75 hours.

The newer ERJ FOs are on reserve. So, for them they bid just like everyone
else, but they also have to make sure they fill out their reserve
preference bid. That way, if they are assigned reserve, they at least give
themselves a chance to be “happy” with the type of reserve they are
awarded. I don’t have a sense of how long FOs have been on reserve until
they can hold a line, because we haven’t had the ERJs long enough. As we
start receiving more ERJs this year things will start to look better for
the FOs that have been stuck on reserve.


Thank you so much for the info. Does it look like they will be phasing out the Q400 in the next 10+ yrs?

Well, the plan is to retire 15 Qs this year. I haven’t heard of any plans
to retire more. I wish I could give you more information. I’m trying to get
more involved by participating in local forums and meetings.


I figured with the amount of ERJs they’ve ordered, that the eventual retirement of the Q might come. Unless they have some Qs ordered as well, but everything I’ve read doesn’t hit at that. Thank you for the updates Tory.

I have not heard of any intentions to order more Qs. They currently serve a
purpose with some of the destinations we fly in/out of. I don’t see them
being phased out any time soon.



Thanks for the great information on what’s going on over at Horizon. Any updates on E-Jets since this thread was started in January. I’ve read over on APC that QX has slowed the delivery of jets either because of slow demand from Alaska on longer routes (SkyWest?) or because of hiring shortfalls.

Are there still plans to open a new 175 base at PAE…or expanding to PDX possibly?

I’d actually love flying either the 175 or the Q400…there seems to be advantages to both and getting some prop time would be a ton of fun (flying into smaller airports). That being said, does Horizon assign equipment to new hires or are new hires allow to select their preference?

I know Horizon/Alaska have a pilot pathway program but is there a cadet type program for Horizon? I assume there must be because they are offering tuition reimbursement but there is limited information on Horizon’s website. It’s probably best if I contact a recruiter but I’m wondering at what stage is Horizon “contracting” with CFI’s…or possibly even students still working their way through their ratings similar to other regionals.


I’ll provide you with the information I am aware of, but to be honest, no one really knows what’s going to happen. All I know is we are hyper focused on recruiting, training and on time performance.

Six of our ERJs were given to SkyWest. There’s a case open against Air Group. Our union feels as though they breached the contract, but it will be a while until a judge makes any decisions. At this point, what happened, happened. I’m trying to not let it distract me from my job.

So, PAE will probably not become a base, but maybe a co-base. We’re just waiting for the terminal to open up. Apparently the original plan was not up to code. So, the opening has been delayed. PDX is currently a satellite base, and there’s been talk about making it a real base, but with the way things are going, I don’t see that happening this year.

When offered a position, Horizon is trying very hard to push the Q, but we need as many pilots as we can get. So, they can’t say no if a new hire wants the ERJ. We’ll see how much longer that will last…

Horizon currently does not have a cadet program, only tuition reimbursement. I did it when I went through. I’m not sure what the status is right now though. A friend of mine from ATP SAC said he was trying to start the reimbursement program, but was having a hard time getting any sort of response from Horizon. I’ll check with him and see what his status is. My guess is Horizon is focusing their attention more on qualified pilots right now. Maybe later when Horizon puts itself back into a good standing position with Air Group they will start recruiting from flight schools again.


Thanks Tory for the information. If you don’t mind, I will probably periodically ping you on this thread to ask some additional questions. I’m still 12 - 15 months out from getting serious about targeting a regional but I really like Horizon for several reasons.

Appreciate your detailed report,


No problem, Trey. So, what I’m hearing is that the reimbursement program at Horizon is currently “in transition,” which is a nice way of saying, not active.

My theory as to why this is is because Horizon is desperate for qualified pilots. So desperate that they are essentially hiring street captains. So, I suspect that the reimbursement program will continue to be inactive, until Horizon can fully recover from last year.