Real Answers from Real Pilots

Where do I begin?

Im looking to go the route of a Major Airline pilot, im 33 years old, i understand mandatory retirement is at 65 for an airline, what are my first steps? I have no degrees but did attend college for a little less then a year but had to leave to take care of a family member. Im willing to go back to get a degree in something, i heard it doesnt really matter what the degree is in to becone a major airline pilot is that true? I unfortunately have a Non-Violent felony which was put on my record 6 years ago, i can get it expunged/sealed though, Iv also been vetted by the TSA for my Commercial Driver License for my Hazmat endorsement and was Cleared… So after i get it expunged off my record would I be okay? I was hanging with the wrong people at the time, one of them left drugs in my car and it was searched and because none of them admitted to it being theres I was arrested cause it was my vehicle… Anyways what other steps do I need to do? Id appreciate your help. Thank you!


Welcome to the forums.

Please check out the FAQ section and ATP’s main website here: as both have excellent resources on becoming a pilot.

Short answer is that the field of study does not really matter for the degree, the majors just want to see a four year degree.

The far larger issue is the felony. To begin with, you earned having that felony on your record, it was not “put on” there. Secondly, you can get it expunged, but that is on the state level. The conviction will still show in federal background checks. Furthermore, the airlines and the FAA ask: “Have you ever…” Getting it expunged does not make you immune from answering that question truthfully.

With that out of the way, the discussion turns to will the FAA grant you a medical, I have no idea. You will have to apply for one and see.

Now will the airlines hire you? No idea there either, but I suspect it will be an uphill battle. IF you got to an interview, your story of “it was my friend’s drugs” will not work. Even if it was your friend’s, any interviewer is going to assume that you were also using the drugs and now trying to avoid any blame, not a good look.

I would recommend contacting the recruiting departments of several regional airlines and ask them about this directly. It might be hard to get a hold of a major airline recruiting department.