What to Expect Post School & CFI

Hello all!

I have a few questions before taking the dive and signing the dotted line. All of my financing is in order, my support system in place, I will be taking my discovery flight this weekend, and I have my 1st class med cert. I have spent many hours and months researching this site and the various forums, very insightful, and much appreciated, but there are few questions I couldn’t find direct answers to and only loose answers on Google.

What will life as a regional pilot entail in the beginning? I’ve no qualms about earning my way and having low to no seniority, as well as having very little control over my schedule; I would just like a better idea of what to expect for scheduling and training. Will I be doing weekly four-day trips? Does such a thing exist that I may be home every or most nights? Will I be working nights only at times? Will this vary depending on the regional I am picked up by (very interested in Envoy’s current incentives and live close by base)? How much time should I expect to have off? I’m fully prepared for and accepting of all scenarios. I have reviewed Chris, Tory and Adam’s schedules, but as Tory mentioned, he is working a bit of a different schedule, and I won’t be at a Major any time soon so I can’t quite apply Adam and Chris’ schedules.

Also, is there an average time someone spends at regional’s before moving to majors given they meet all requirements and carry a BA and want to move on? Obviously, there is always an exception to the rule depending on varying factors, but I’m more so curious about an average for someone starting from zero time to regional to majors?
Lastly, curious how far in advance does a pilot receive their schedule, does it vary for regional vs. majors?

I know these are far reaching questions, but I like to know what I potentially am getting into.

Thank you for your time!


You answered your question on your own to some degree. You are correct as a new Regional pilot you will have minimum control over your schedule and that means there will be no “usual”. Initially you’ll be on Reserve and you’ll fly when, where and as often as the airline needs. They’ll be day trips as well as 2, 3, and 4 day trips. They’ll be late nights and early mornings. You see the think I try to explain (but people don’t seem to understand) is that just because you’re junior it doesn’t mean what you get will be bad, you just won’t get what’s popular. I’m currently a junior Capt at my airline. Most of the pilots like afternoon and evening trips so I get stuck with the early mornings. Thing is I like the early mornings so I get exactly what I want. What that means is depending on the airline you fly for and the preferences of the pilot group you may or may not get long or short trips, evenings etc. That said day trips are generally desirable so I wouldn’t count on being home every night or seeing weekends and holidays. As for how much time of every airline has a minimum number of days off (typically 12), so that’s what you can expect.

Now when we start talking time lines to a Major things get much more nebulae. The Regionals are desperate for pilots and hiring like mad, the Majors are not. I’ve seen pilots get hired by Majors in 2yrs, 5yrs, 10yrs, 15yrs and never. The Majors are the pinnacle of this industry and frankly not everyone makes it. If there is an average I’d have to say it’s approx. 5-7yrs but there are no guarantees.



Lots of questions, let’s get to them.

  1. Life as a beginning regional pilot is going to entail a lot of flying and multi day trips. You can expect to fly around 18 days per month and have the remaining days off. Most of your trips will likely be three or four day long trips, a trend that will continue throughout your career. My schedule is not really all that different than a regional schedule, I might fly less flights per day, but the structure of the trips is similar. There are very few pilots than are home every night, pilots by definition fly all over the world and that means nights in hotels.

  2. The average time spent at the regionals is probably between 5-10 years, but it could be more, could be less. So much of this depends on the economy and what you do to position yourself.

  3. I receive my schedule on the 17th of the month for the ensuing month. Each airline is slightly different, but this seems to largely hold true.


Thank you both for the responses, very helpful!