Top Ten Reasons to Work For A Regional Airline

Flying for a regional airline has been bastardized by pilots, the media and passengers alike. Sure, there are a lot of outstanding issues that need to be resolved, but working for a commuter isn’t all that bad compared to other entry-level flying jobs. These are my top ten reasons to work for a regional airline.

  1. Safety – Regional airlines are airlines and as such, they are watched very carefully by the FAA for compliance with established rules and regulations. They simply can’t get away with the sort of questionable procedures you might find at any number of night freight and charter companies. Pilots generally experience less pressure from the company to fly when it is unsafe and have plenty of resources to draw upon when that line is crossed.

    American Eagle ERJs Lined Up

    A portion of American Eagle's ERJ fleet.

  2. Support and Teamwork – Airline pilots have a large support network comprised of flight attendants, captains, first officers, check airmen, dispatchers, maintenance controllers and members of management that they can draw upon when things get difficult.
  3. Maintenance – All airplanes run into issues, and it’s good to know that a mechanic is only a radio call away. In many cases airline maintenance will be able to fix the problem on the spot. When it doesn’t work out, items can be deferred and operated under approved MEL procedures. Even when the list of deferrals grows long, it’s rare to find a more impeccably maintained commercial aircraft than an airliner.
  4. Solid Training – Airlines operate their own in-house training programs designed to keep all pilots on the same page. Pilots are trained and re-trained both in class and in the simulator to cope with any number of emergencies and to ensure a safe and standardized flight deck environment.
  5. Steady Pay – Flight instructors, charter, and corporate pilots often live from paycheck to paycheck. Though they may be compensated quite well per flight, there are periods of time where business is poor and budgets are tight. Although regional pay is far from what it should be, it is good to be able to count on a guaranteed paycheck from month to month.

    One of Pinnacle Airlines' CRJ-200s in flight.

    One of Pinnacle Airlines' CRJ-200s in flight.

  6. Benefits – Airline work offers affordable medical and dental insurance in addition to company matching 401(k) retirement plans. Benefits like this are hard to find at Ma’ and Pa’ charters and flight schools and can save a fortune on overpriced hospital bills.
  7. Free Travel – By flying for the airlines, you are privy to the greatest perk in any industry – free travel! Depending upon the airline, travel benefits could extend to your immediate family and even to your friends with discounted buddy-passes. Want to see Paris on your day off, just hop on the next flight, no problem!
  8. Having a Set Schedule – After flying for an airline for a while and accruing a bit of seniority, pilots are no longer on call and are awarded set schedules known as lines. After working your life around student and client demands, it is simply fantastic to know your days off a full month in advance.

    CRJ-1000, regional airliner of the future?

    The CRJ-1000, Bombardier's next generation regional airliner.

  9. Commutability – When most people take on a big job, they have to relocate to a new city. Airline pilots can live anywhere so long as they can commute into their base. So long as you live within driving distance of a large airport, and don’t mind losing time riding around in jets, there is simply no need to move into domicile.
  10. Protection – Flying the ‘line offers a level of personal protection for pilots. On the one hand, if the FAA comes after you while operating “by the book” under company guidance, the airline will absorb all or most of the blow. If, on the other hand, you mess up, you do have the benefit of a union representative who will fight to protect your interests. It’s rare that these issues come up, but it’s nice to know that somebody is watching your back.

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

2 Replies to Top Ten Reasons to Work For A Regional Airline

  1. Vincent says:

    Great list…

    I particularly agree with the number one. Uninformed friends often ask me how safe it is to fly regional airlines or low cost airlines here in Europe. My answer is always the same: airlines are airlines and the rules are the same for all, whatever the kind of business model they follow.

    Moreover, low cost airlines simply can’t avoid loosing an aircraft. The media are so suspicious towards them that any accident would probably be fatal for the company itself.

  2. JetAviator7 says:

    While these are great reasons to work for a regional air carrier, the downside is pay, long hours, little chance for advancement.

    Nonetheless I would encourage pilots to study their Jeppesen private pilot manual, continue to add ratings, and seek flying for the air carriers as a career.

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