Career at a Regional

TX_Pilot

Prowling for BBQ....
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I've got a student right now finishing up his Commercial with me who is wanting to make a career at a regional. He's looking at something like Mesa, Skywest, or Lakes as his first and last stop for a 121 career when he gets some hours under his belt. He likes the kind of flying that those regionals do and has told me that he would be more than happy spending the next few decades doing that. He has no aspirations to ever go to a large national or the majors; He just wants to live somewhere in the western 2/3's of the country. I know pay is an issue at some of the regionals, so heres a little background on the guy. He's 3rd generation of a family that owns several thousand acres of land out here in West Texas that has had oil all over it since the early '50's, so money is not really an issue with him. Not your typical wealthy guy either-very down to earth and unpretentious; you'd never know he was as well off as he is. So the questions are: 1.) Is the lifestyle O.K. at a regional once you get some seniority under you? 2.) Which regional would offer the best lifestyle for someone wanting to stay between Texas and the West Coast? 3.) How are "lifers" viewed by peers? 4.) How would stating in an interview that the regional is where you want to retire be viewed? Would they think that's a canned answer and blow you off or think you lack ambition since they know that in better times you'll only spend a few yrs. there before moving on? We went out for a beer last night to talk about his career path and I told him I would post the questions online and try to get some feedback by Monday. Hope this isn't flamebait, but any responses would be appreciated.
 

skydiverdriver

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All good questions, and there is no problem with staying at a good regional airline. Not all engineers go to work for NASA, some stay at Cessna or Boeing and have a fine life with good benefits.

1, Yes, the lifestyle is excellent. If you wait to upgrade, senority as an FO goes pretty quickly, and you can bid day trips or short trips if you like, or longer ones if you choose to commute.

2. Depends. Skywest is a very good one, but they may be moving some of their Delta operations. I work for Comair, and right now we are mostly East, but I dont' think that will continue. Best advise? Get any job you can, even if it's not in the right area. Then you will learn more about the other ones, and decide if you want to leave or not.

3. Nobody insults anyone by calling them a lifer, but many captains I know call themselves that! It's not a problem, as the guys who plan to leave LIKE the lifers, as they are not competing for the next job!

4. Many people I know said they would like to make a career here. I talked to a personel manager once, and he said many people are being less than truthful, but that's okay. Every airline knows that some people stay, and some go when they get the experience. If they can keep you as a captain for a year or two, they got their money out of you, in my opinion.

They won't think you lack ambition, because the personel guy actually likes the airline he works for. Also, there are some very valid reasons to stay smaller, as most of the people I met here who went to the big guys are now furloughed. Job security is sometimes more important to some than fame and fourtune.

Hope this helps, and please ask anytime.
 

skydiverdriver

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PS,
I too am from the West, and would rather be there, but I would prefer to have a good job in a place I dont' like, than a bad job in a good place. Of course, your good airline may expand out West, and even a good Western airline could move more East someday, you never know. Also, you can always commute. Good luck to your friend.
 

guitarflyer

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Regionals as a career is getting a lot more popular, it seems.
When I interviewed at Skywest, I told them that I indeed planned to stay for the duration of my career (only got 20 years left), and that they were the only ones I interviewed with--the only place I wanted to be. And it was all true! I believe they saw that as a positive thing. Most in my class were over 30, some over 40 and even a couple in their 50's. Don't think they're going on to a major!
For me it was a quality of life issue. I wanted to be back west where I'm from, working for a great employer, where the people I work with on a day to day basis are pleasant to be with.
I waited in the hiring pool for 10 months, and have been on reserve for 8...and it's all worth it.

I fly with captains all the time who have been here 10+ years, and they always speak positively about the company. They still love it here and don't plan to leave. Last guy I flew with was bidding 2 stand-ups a week. In other words, 2 nights a week he goes in, flies a 1 hour leg, goes to bed, comes back the next morning, and he's done. That's it. And it pays as much as a 3 or 4 day trip.
So yeah, once you're fairly senior you can have a great lifestyle.

The reason I treaded in the pool so long and am sitting reserve now is that attrition at Skywest is very low. And not just because 9/11. It was low even before that. Not many people leave here. That says a lot about a company.

"Lifers" contribute EXPERIENCE including, but not limited to, knowledge about a/c, routes, tricky airports and/or approaches, company policies, etc......

Finally (and I didn't mean to go off on a rant), I love the plane I fly and the places we go. I have no desire to be clicking on the autopilot at 400 ft. If I wanted to play video games, I'd go to the mall. I like to FLY and even use the rudder pedals, God forbid!

If you got to the bottom of this, thanks for reading. Good luck to the student from TX, the instructor, and everyone else.
 

rightrudder

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Tell your student to do some research and talk to pilots with those companies he is interested in. Lakes is a good place to start and gain experience, but I think all those who have worked there would agree with me that it is no place to have a career.

I am a second year fo at my current employer, and my friend who is a 4th year CA at lakes makes less money than me.
 

skydiverdriver

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Honestly, all good advise, but your student is getting WAYYY anhead of the game. He doesn't have to decide now that he want's to work for a regional, or anywhere else. I have done cargo and passengers, and I like both and have no preference. I have done a few charters at the pax airline, and that convinced me that I would not like to fly corporate. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea. But I had to fly something similar in order to understand what it was like.

Your student's decision about his career really doesn't change anything he is doing now. He will still do all he can to get a good job, and then when he has one he can decide on what to do next. If he likes the regional lifestyle, or decides to go to a better regional, that will be fine. He could change his mind and go to a major, or not be accepted and be happy at the regional. Anyway, it's way to soon to decide, and it doesn't matter anyway. I had two airlines that were my first choice when I was in flight school, and now that I know more, they are no longer my first choice airlines. Everything changes as you fly for a living and learn more, so my best advise is to not burn any bridges, or make any permanent decisions too early. Like everyone else, he will have to work up to what he really want's, and along the way he will have plenty of time to decide what that will be.

Good luck to both of you.
 

Cornelius

Where's Pancakes House
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Lakes is no place to be at more than 3-4 years. Its a great stepping stone to a national or even a major. Tell your friend to look at Frontier as a possibility since they are all denver based.
 
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