In the old days of the early '90s, regional pilots flying under either 121 or 135 had a greater advantage that other civilian pilots. Now, quality of the flight time is the bigger factor. If you can offer good PIC turbine from someplace like Airnet or corporate, your chances should be as good as an experienced commuter captain.
For the past few years, I don't think it really mattered if you went 121 or 135 to get to the majors because they were hiring like crazy. Now, after the slow down, I think that the majors might prefer to hire pilots with previous 121 experience rather than those coming from 135 or even 91. Not that it can't be done, but I have a feeling you will have a better chance if you come from a 121 regional once the majors start hiring again.
Keep in mind that this is only my personal opinion, but I have heard other pilots at majors with similar thinking. Just my .02
The quality of your training is what the majors look at, if you come from someplace like Airnet that has a reputation for quality you have an advantage. The part 91 world is the entire range from very bad to the very best there is no way of telling. All of the 121 programs have two man cockpits and you are trained for that. The disicipline developed in your training prgram carries through to your next job. That is why the majors like military and previous 121 guys mostly.
Define "easier." Getting a regional airline job is no day at the beach. You might get to meet some reps at some the seminars you hear about. You still have to ship out tons and tons of resumes to just about each and every regional. And update, update, update, and, maybe if you're lucky, you might get a call or two. Then you have to navigate your way through the interview and hiring maze, get through class and initial training, your checkride, and sit reserve until you can move up the chain enough to be able to hold a line in which you can fly regularly.
I think that so many people look for regional jobs because the hiring and contact information is so much more available than for other places, and because so many of the Pied Pipers of pilot shortages steer people to airlines.
121/135 experience is certainly an asset because it so closely resembles the majors' route structure. But, there is other flying where you can get similar experience. You just might have to do some legwork to dig up the people to talk to.
This will probably get me flamed, bashed, slammed or whatever you call it, but here goes anyway.
1) All regional airlines are definetily NOT the same. Putting them in one basket is an oxymoron. Some are identical to a major airline in terms of how they train, standards they maintain, what they do and who they hire. Others are scheduled operations, but any resemblance to an airline is imaginary. Most are in between the extremes.
2) There are several so called regional airlines on which I don't allow my family to fly (and it's not because they are small either). Some of these are among what I call the "imaginary" category and they do fly "jets".
3) Except for the fact that both fly airplanes, there is little comparison if any between a "real" scheduled airline and a non-sched 135 operation. Different worlds.
4) Most freight operations (excepting FDX, UPS & DHL) are fly-by night (and I'm not refering to their hours of operation). YIP is full of them, operating heavy equipment. (Zantop used to be OK, don't know now.)
Most pilots can adapt to a real airline's routines regardless of where he/she got the flying experience. If you have the sheep skin required, the flight hours required, and are lucky enough to get an interview, you'll get hired sooner or later. Your "attitude" as perceived by the HR people, on that day, and a lot of luck does it.
There is no magic formula for getting hired and the so-called standard is not standard at all. Who you know is often more important than what you know. Some very big airlines never test your flying skills before they hire you, others think your performance in a sim you've never flown before is a big deal.
It is virtually impossible to determine who is a "good pilot" and who is not in an airline interview. If you can fill the squares that company wants on that day and the interviewers "like you", you get the job. Thousands of highly qualified and very competent pilots never even get an interview at a major airline let alone a job. You don't get hired because you "paid your dues". You get hired if you're lucky.
I fly for a regional today. I got the job becaue I was in the right place at the right time. I've flown for more than one "major" in more than one place in more than one "big jet" and I got those jobs for the very same reason. It's the luck of the draw.
The military background (as a pilot) helps (and yes, I'm an x-military pilot). IMO there are three reasons for that, 1) you meet a profile that HR people have decided they like; 2) military pilots network; 3) when pilots are involved in conducting the interview process (at a major) 70 - 80% are former military pilots and they favor their own. At one major airline, if you're a Naval Aviator, your chances are much higher than if you happen to be Air Force. In general, the majors don't like Army pilots. Why? Because most are Warrants not Officers. None of it has anything to do with flying, it's a club.
The process is far from scientific. If you want the job, network, network, network as much as you can; have a 4-year degree (even if its under-water basket-weaving); get the numbers right in your logbook; dress nice and look polished, shine your shoes, cut your hair and pick the right necktie; speak correctly; know a little about flying in general; consider yourself lucky if you're a female or a minority; CARRY YOUR GOOD LUCK CHARM!
Good luck and best wishes in your effort.
PS. Some "regionals" will hire any warm body. Others are just as picky as a major, but require less hours in your log book. Still others will let you buy the job (I'd stay away from those), even if you have difficulty speaking in English and yes, I think there is a BIG difference between buying the job and completing some required training BEFORE you're hired.
I would have to say that you will have a much better chance of getting hired by a major airline with prior 121 time in your books. As for Airnet I believe SWA is one of the few "majors" that will hire those guys although I have heard JetBlue has also taken on a few Airnet guys. Don't get me wrong I have a few friends that fly for them and they appear to be a great company to fly for as well as highly respected BUT I sure don't think you will get to a major airline "quicker" by choosing to go the 135 route with "hopes" of jumping directly to the majors. The many people I know who have been flying 135 would agree that this is not the norm in the industry. I think it is a safe assumption to make that a major airline wants prior 121 time for a few reasons if not many-1) they are accustomed to 121 flying already, flows, crew standardization, regs, procedures, and more importantly they have proven themselves already in a 121 "enviroment" and would be a "smoother" transition. Not to say that one can't jump 135 directly to the majors but highly unlikely in todays market. I think in this day and age the normal progression to get to the "regionals" will be prior 135 experience with some turbine time in the books- If anything it will be much tougher to get to a major airline without any 121 experience under your belt-
This could change however in the future depending on the supply and demand and right now the "supply" well exceeds the demand and if you look at the majority of new hires I believe you will find that most will have had prior 121 experience-(look at the Air Tran classes and the backgrounds)
IF your main objective is to fly for a major airline one day down the road then I would probably try and avoid the 135 route instead spend a year or so instructing and "attempt" to go directly to the regionals and get the much wanted 121 time and go from there. (with todays hiring you may just be at a regional for quite some time)
Always good to shoot for the stars although someone once told me that its better to crawl before you walk.(never did like to crawl)lol
bored?- compare the % of pilots with prior 121 time versus those with just 135 time at the new hire classes(past and present)- (One thing Air Inc is good for)- I believe their was also a firm out of CO that posted the statistics for the past twelve months but can't remember the consulting firm's name for the life of me-
It matters not what background you come from. As long as a pilot meets the requirements it maters not whether he/she comes from 121, 135, or 91. What does matter is WHO YOU KNOW especially in this day and time. I have a buddy who was hired at a major right before the whole hiring boom started. All of his turbine time was single pilot part 91. He also had no college whatsoever, and was age 42. Part 135 and 121 all have good and bad pilots. No one operation has the best group of guys to choose from. Hell.........I flew in tonight on a 121 major and whoever was flying couldnt manage power on the approach to save his/her life.......it was like punch it and cut it every 10 seconds. Good luck with the job search.
Good post, Surplus. So many people forget that luck is a very important intangible in building a flying career. You indeed have to be in the right place at the right time.
I remember my last regional interview. It wasn't really an "interview," but a massive cattle call. I spent maybe five minutes with an H.R. type. Then, I spent maybe five minutes with a captain who duplicated the H.R. type's questions. He seemed antagonistic. I lost the draw that day. Complete waste of my time.
These things happen. You can finally get the phone call for the interview of your life, be as well prepared as anyone, and you suffer the misfortune of drawing morons and jerks as your interviewers. And, no matter how much you try, you cannot pull it out of the fire. Once again, you need luck in this business.
While all of the above suggestions are good and well (I agree with Bobbyamsand and Surplus1), don't be in too big a rush that you ignore the basics; blackmail, bribery, coersion, and treachery in general.
After all, success is nothing more than preparation and luck bolstered by the support of brute force. Don't forget to smile.