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working for an airline before flying


Well-known member
Jan 30, 2002
Total Time
I have heard that if one has worked at an airline or done and internship with them your chances are better of gettting hired.
Could anyone give me feeedback on this.

Also I have heard that at many airlines (I'm sure about NWA) they hire younger lesser time guys as Simulator Training Instructors and take a 5 year commitment after which you can get a position flying the line? However, theres not much info I have been able to pull up on this. Any comments would be appreciated.

Ty Webb

Hostage to Fortune
Dec 10, 2001
Total Time
I would think carefully about going into the training dept. or elsewhere in an attempt to get hired. Each company is different, and this type of hiring can change at the whim of the CP.

Years ago, I knew a guy who took a job as a ramp rat with Fedex. Fedex preaches about hiring from within, and promoting within, and circulates a booklet every month that shows openings in all departments, including Flight Ops.

The pilot in question had been a PIC at Lakes. He also had been a Learjet PIC. He exceeded all of their minimums by several thousand hours. He hired on and worked the ramp, with an agreement that he would not bid out of the ramp for 12 months. During that time, he kept current in the Lear when not working the ramp. He accumulated LOR's from Fedex pilots, and he worked his butt off on the ramp.

After 12 months, he applied to FLight Ops. They brought him in, and interviewed him. Net result? "Keep up the good work. Apply next year, and we'll see where you're at".

He put in his notice that day, and went to Midway, doing the same thing he should have been transferred to do at Fedex. Eventually, he ended up at Northwest.

I also know rampers at Piedmont that went to CC Air to fly- apparently, Piedmont wasn't willing to give them the break that CC Air was . . . .


El Capitan
Nov 25, 2001
Total Time
After graduating college I worked in the Flight Operations Dept. as a Dispatcher, for a very large regional air carrier. After working there for a year, I resigned and finished up the rest of my ratings. About a year later with over 1,000tt/100multi, I interviewed there and was offered a job, mainly because of the many contacts I made there who walked my resume in and wrote letters of rec, and the fact I used to work there.

So, yea, its never a bad idea to work at an airline as a ramp rat or any other position to get your foot in the door. I'd recommend doing it while in college if you have that option.

Good luck.


SWA Pool Dog Paddler
Mar 20, 2002
Total Time
Working for a smaller airline may get you some headway into the interview process, simply by getting to know the right folks.

Here's a case in point. Back in the mid 80's, there were lots of folks hired by the original Piedmont Airlines from within the company. Flight attendants, mechanics, engineers, the list goes on. In fact, they had an arrangement with their FBO division (now Piedmont-Hawthorne) to pay for flight time via payroll deduction to the tune of 25 bucks a month. People were getting their ratings while working there, costing them practically nothing, building hours, and getting to know key people in flight ops. I personally know of 3 guys who would go and fly the 727 sim after hours since they knew a couple of sim instructors. One guy in particular had over 25 hours of free 727 time for his interview evaluation ride. But those days are long gone now since USAir came along and destroyed that whole culture.

Anyway, my advice to you is to get to know as many key people that you can at the airline of your choice. By key I mean those involved in the hiring process. Just because a guy is a Chief Pilot for XYZ airline, he may not have any clout with the human resources dept. If he does, then he's definitely a good contact to know.

But most importantly, keep flying. Work your tail off. Realize that it may or may not work out for you either, but don't stop trying if that's what you really want to do for a career. Nobody is owed anything in this profession. It's hard work, a good attitude, and a little luck. And a lot of it makes no sense either. I've seen some of the best people get turned down for their dream job, and then I've seen some of the most unlikely people get the job of a lifetime. It's just a little slice of life....

Good luck with your future career.

banned username 1

Banned User
Nov 29, 2001
It's hard to say. While there certainly are success stories at virtually every carrier, there's no one solid answer. I'd say that for some odd reason, it works better if you are at a larger outfit, but then there are the opinions above of just the opposite. One thing seems to be universal in most all businesses: "You're never a prophet in your own land." Many times, you can get the aura of whatever lesser job you're doing on you and folks just couldn't imagine you being good for anything else but that.

The best advice I could give would be to try everything at least once and go with what seems to be working. It appears as though with your level of experience, you'll have ample opportunity to hone your job hunting skills as you progress "up the ranks".

Good luck!


Living the Dream
Dec 2, 2001
Total Time
28 yrs
I worked on the ramp at AWA for nearly 5 years during and after college. I left them in '94 for a flying job in AK.

As soon as I met their minimums (I forget what they were at the time) I put in my pilot application. I religiously updated it as I accumulated experience in turboprops and jets. I never got an interview with them and was subsequently hired at UAL.

Although I was dissappointed in AWA not even giving me the opportunity to interview, I couldn't be much happier about working for UAL.

A friend of mine who recommended me at UAL got hired in '95 with 2,000 hours of CFI time. He got the interview because he worked on the ramp.

When UAL was still interviewing, they seemed to shy away from hiring pilots directly from the ramp or internship programs as they had in the early and mid-'90's. They wanted those folks to go out in the real world and get some experience before they came in for an interview as a pilot.

As for my experience as a ramper....I do believe it helped me out in my interviews (Jan '00 was my last one) as I had continuous airline experience for 11 years. Also made for some good "safety related stories" involving airliners while working on the ramp. Working on the ramp (and baggage claim, gate, ticket counter, ops, A/C cleaner, lav dumper, brake rider, and tow tug driver) gave me an in-depth look at many aspects of an airline operation. It also made me appreciate what others do at the airline.



Purple is a fruit!