How long before you senior enough to get the trips you bid for


Well-Known Member
Im sure it varies with different airlines, but what would you guys say the average time is before your considered "senior". Like Doug for example, do you get every trip you bid on, most of them, or are you a long ways away from deciding where you fly. Just curious to know, thanks!


It depends on what you want - if you want 3 day trips accross the pond to see the world then it will take much longer then if you want nights stops at ORD as you fancy a girl there.


Well-Known Member
I think he means is, at what point in your career do have the freedom to choose any route.

I'd be interrested to hear some replies also. I do know that at many airlines you don't have to upgrade as soon as you are able to. For instance if you just got enough senority to bid on the next-most-popular aircraft, doing so would mean being at the bottom of the senority list for that seat of that aircraft. You'd get whatever routs are left over (reserve). If you hold off on upgrading, you can retain more senority in your current position and eventually you'd end up with the most senority in that position. The downside is you'd most likely spend a very long time on that aircraft and you'd get bored and want a pay raise.

Same is true for upgrading to captain. At some airlines though, you must upgrade to captain when able. This is still okay becasue if those ahead of you are upgrading also, you'll eventually end up the most senior FO, but you won't be able to hold that title for very long.


That's "Lord Garth" to you
Hiya Flyboy,

As other have pointed out, the best answer is "it depends".

At our shop (NWA), we don't have a "forced" upgrade policy, and so people who wish to maximize QOL (quality of life) tend to sit on one position when they are very senior despite the money. We had one guy who had his own money sit on the 727 FE seat for like 10 years. He could have easily held DC-9 or 320 captain. But he was #1, and with our computer bidding system, he basically named his trips and schedule every month.

That was obviously an example of the extreme, so let me give you my personal example. I sat FE on the 727 for about 2.5 years. I had flown for the regionals for 7 years, and so I decided to concentrate on QOL a bit. Right after the 1 year point (just after probation ends), tons of 727 FEs bailed to other equipment for higher pay (and/or a flying seat, although lots went to DC10 or 747 FE), so I went from bidding from 35 out of 75 to bidding 6 out of 75 fairly rapidly. By the 1.5 year point, I was naming my trips (day trips, nothing reporting before noon). I never moved up past the #5 spot because the remaining people were senior, but were doing the same thing I was.

Friends on the DC-9 reported that they were basically getting what they wanted by around the 1.5 year point. Of course, this was in a period of upward movement.

Once you change to a more senior piece of equipment, the cycle begins again. It also depends on the "character" of the base and what kind of trips you like. At NWA, in DTW just about everyone commutes (%85+) so multiday trips tend to go senior, whereas in MSP, day trips go senior (but only the morning reports, because people want to be home when their kids get home). Also, some bases go senior to others, so you might move upward faster in a less desirable base.

Hope this helps...


New Member

I was curious. What is the junior base/aircraft at NWA? I'm guessing KMSP/DC9? And when do you think NWA will begin to hire again? Lastly what are the average flight times of new-hires?



Well-Known Member
I am not quite sure, but I think Detroit (DC-9) is the most junior base with NWA. From what I understand, most pilots commute to Detroit if they are based there and the ones that are based in MSP, they want to live there. I am not sure how Memphis is in the whole scheme of things.


That's "Lord Garth" to you
Hi Cory,

The most junior position in the company is the DC-9, reserve in DTW. Seeing as how the last DC-9 pilot at NWA has yet to be born, it will probably remain the most junior position for some time

I don't know when the hiring will start. We have about 800 furloughees to call back first. Assuming that hiring takes off again, and we instantly rebound to our mid-1990s hiring rate of 400-450/yr, it would take at least 2 years to absorb those on furlough.

When I got hired, the average flight time was in the 6,000-8,000 range for all civilian guys, depending on the quality of that time. The time for pure military guys was lower, but still pretty high for them (I forget exactly what...I didn't have any all military guys in my class).

Hope this helps,


New Member
Hmm, that's cool. I want to fly out of my favorite city, airport, state, I don't see a problem, hehe.

Wierd, pilots want to live in MSP. Pretty rough climate, DTW isn't any different, but I grew up there.

I would say MEM is pretty senior considering the amount of flights, nicer climate and such.

NWA also has hubs in, PANC, PHNL, KSEA, which are extremely senior bases.


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I've heard NWA's bases described as "Snowtown, Motown and No-Town".


New Member

Thanks a ton thats exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

How long until your able to bid? Rather than sit reserve?