moving from regional to mainline

Steve and I went to my company holiday dinner on Thursday night.  As we were driving up to the restaurant, we got on the topic of his career.  The regional airline he used to fly with just got their pass benefits rearranged with their mainline carrier, which is what sparked the conversation.  Sucks to be them.  I understand it all and why the move was made, but it still sucks.  Steve said, again, that he has no regret in making the move 4 years ago from regional flying to mainline flying.  He has pretty much said that from Day 1.

When Steve got the call for the interview we knew it was a GO if he was offered the job.  I was working a good job (same job still) and we didn't have kids yet.  The struggle would be between me and Steve...not me and Steve and kids.  We had prepared for it financially, and it was an exciting time for us.  Steve got some new shoes, got his suit tailored to fit him like a glove, can you believe he still wears the same suit he got in college, and got a haircut.  Oh, and he got a new tie too.  Red with little navy dots with a white center...very boring but necessary.  He hasn't worn that tie since the interview...yes, it really is that boring.

During our ride, we were talking about people who chose NOT to go from regional to mainline.  This one guy was all set to go mainline in terms of seniority, but his wife held him back.  I don't know why.  Pay cut? Worst schedule at first?  Fast forward a couple of years and she cheated on him.  They are now divorced and he is still with a regional.  I feel so badly for the guy.  Nicest guy in the world, and this all happens. Granted he may be very happy with the regional, but he had the chance and his cheating wife stopped him.

Another guy made the decision not to go since back in the day his dad, a pilot, never got his job back after a strike due to scabs, I believe.  This guy holds resentment towards these pilots and has chosen not to fly with them.

Another guy moved to mainline a couple years ago, and it wasn't until lately that we think he and his wife are happy with his decision. 

Making the move isn't easy.  Not only do you deal with a pay cut, you also have to deal with going through training, IOE, probation, and sitting reserve. Not to mention waiting to see what aircraft you get and what base you are out of. That alone makes a lot of "what if" conversations.

Training sucks for both pilots and the home front.  Learning a new plane is like drinking for a fire hose, they say.  So, he was studying all.the.time.  I forget how long training was, isn't it funny how you block out bad memories, but it wasn't easy.  We hardly ever talked.  He made it through, and all the hardship was just a memory.

As a reward for all of his hard work during training and IOE I got him a pilot watch.  I forget what brand it is, Citizens perhaps?, but I like it.  And he wears it on every trip.    Now that I think about it, he should have gotten me a present for all I did when he was training! This picture was taken when Ben was 8 weeks old.  Steve was on FMLA for 8 weeks, and both he and I returned to work at the same time...and Ben was off to daycare.

I was telling Steve that it would have to suck to not have the support from your spouse to make the move.  When Steve went mainline his salary was cut by 57%.  With that went our dinners out all.the.time (we were D.I.N.K.s making decent money and were really enjoying life...traveling, eating name it!) gym membership, cable, ect.  We really trimmed our budget, and we managed.  As a matter of fact, I remember making our first trip to ALDI (which I still shop at today and love) and I actually looked at Steve in the parking lot and said "this can be fun!"  No sense in dwelling in the hardships...make good of what you have.  We knew this would all be temporary, and it was. 

Steve is now back to a paycheck that was once familiar to us.  He has good schedules - no more flying five legs in one day.  Okay, he will have the occasional four legs, but that isn't too often.  He actually has a typical schedule that the kids and I can count on.  I should also add that Steve got hired before the bulk of hiring was done at the time, so he is sitting okay seniority wise.  Life is good.  We rolled with the punches and we are doing alright.  There are always twists and turns with this industry, but we are fortunate to be where we are right now.  Since they are in contract negotiations now, our life has the possibility of changing very quickly.  But, we will be okay.  We support each other and are in it together.   


  1. good post! Flying mainline has always been my dh's goal. I can't understand spouses that don't support each others goals or dreams in life. We are stuck in the regionals right now, just waiting for United to start hiring! But like you said, we just roll with the punches.

  2. Rachel, you are right! It isn't just about us supporting our pilots, it is about spouses supporting each other in life. Any news on when UAL will be hiring?

  3. No news, just rumors! lol! Dh has to junpseat a lot from ewr, and the last capt he was with told him to make sure DH has all his stuff ready. I pray it's next year, but we'll see! You and your DH would probably know more than us. :)

  4. I will have to ask him. I do know they have a ton of guys to recall from furlough, so that would probably take a bit to get through.

  5. What an interesting post! I was browsing some pilot wives blogs and stumbled across yours. My husband is a pilot too, and he really wants to go mainline... he's working at a regional now and makes good money in their training department. There are definitely a lot of concerns because of all the things you mentioned. The pay cut has got to be tough! Nice to hear that people do it... but I'm unemployed right now so that pay cut is going to be stressful. Things do change a lot with the profession and it takes getting used to. Things do end up fine in the end though! :)

  6. Hi Ashley - yes, the pay cut is tough, but manageable. We didn't have kids yet, so we didn't have a ton of expenses that we had to worry about. And you are right, things do end up fine :)


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