How do pilots decide if they like flying widebodies? If one goes to United/Delta/AA, they have the chance to try it out, but do those who end their career at SWA, Frontier, etc. kick themselves about it? If not, how do they know it isn’t for them?
Honestly I don’t think it’s that complicated. Flying a widebody really isn’t different from flying a narrowbody. What is different (in most cases) is the length of the flights and the destinations, and that’s something you’ll discover in yourself while you’re at the Regionals.
At the Regionals you’ll have the opportunity to fly longer legs (3-4hrs), short hops (1hr and under) and what’s in between. In a relatively short period you’ll come to realize what you like and what you don’t. Some sitting in a cockpit nonstop for 4hrs is torture, for others it’s flying multiple legs in one day. Some people love the adventure of travel and really enjoy the overnights. Others it really doesn’t matter where they go, they get to their rooms, slam the door, lock it and either go to the hotel restaurant or find the closet Subway. During that time you’ll discover which you are and which you like and hopefully target the carrier (and aircraft operation) that suits you best. Many pilots I know had the choice of a Legacy or SWA or JetBlue etc and all made their decision based on their priorities. That’s one of the reasons why when people come on this forum and say “I only want to be a Delta A350 pilot flying internationally” I always smile. While it’s human nature to aspire to the biggest or highest (perceived) level, the truth is until you’re actually doing the job and have some insight to what is what you really don’t know.
With that in mind, no, most pilots I know aren’t kicking themselves and those that do simply move on.
Most of us decide if they like flying wide bodies (meaning international flying) by actually doing it. I had a concept of what international flying was before I tried it, but I really had no idea until having done it for a few years.
Those that go to SWA, Frontier, etc will never really know what international is like. Sure, they will hear stories from their friends, etc, but they will not have that first hand knowledge.
I did not care for international flying, but I am glad I did it and glad to have the option to do so again if I so choose. It is one of the many reasons I like working for a legacy major that has many different types of fly8ing available to its pilots.