How to Get a Job as an American Airlines Pilot

American Airlines Career

American Airlines dates their origins to 1926, when Charles Lindbergh flew the first official American Airlines flight carrying mail from St. Louis, MO to Chicago, IL. Over 90 years later American Airlines is one of the largest in the US, flying thousands of flights every day to over 350 destinations across over 50 countries.

Currently, American Airlines has a little over 15,100 pilots, and in 2019 nearly 900 new pilots launched their career with American Airlines.

Where are American Airlines Bases?

  • Chicago, IL – ORD
  • Boston, MA – BOS
  • Los Angeles, CA – LAX
  • Arlington, VA – DCA
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – DFW
  • Queens, NY – LGA
  • Miami, FL – MIA
  • Philadelphia, PA – PHL
  • Charlotte, NC – CLT
  • Phoenix, AZ – PHX

What airplanes are in the American Airlines Fleet?

  • Airbus 319
  • Airbus 320
  • Airbus 321
  • Boeing 738
  • Boeing 752
  • Boeing 763ER
  • Boeing 772ER
  • Boeing 773ER
  • Boeing 778
  • Boeing 789
American Airlines jet tails on the ground

What are the Hiring Requirements for American Airlines Pilots?

For American Airlines pilots there are two sets of requirements, or minimum qualifications to start your career. There’s the regulatory requirements set by the FAA, TSA, DOT, and even FCC. Then there are the individual airline requirements for the job.

Regulatory Requirements:

  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate
  • Current First Class Medical Certificate
  • Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit
  • Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) Badge eligibility
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug test
  • Successful completion of Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA) evaluation
  • 1500 hours fixed wing flight time

American Airlines Pilot Job Requirements:

  • Minimum age of 23
  • Ability to learn and work with PEDs
  • Fluently speak and understand English
  • Must have the right to work in the United States
  • Distance vision corrected to 20/20 and near vision corrected to 20/40 or better in each eye
  • Must be able to secure appropriate authority or Customs security badges
American Airlines airplane at the gate

American Airlines Pilots Pay

American’s pilot’s pay will vary based on the plane you fly and the number of hours you fly during each bid period. They have a 73 hour long call and 76 hour short call reserve guarantee. Given the factors above, the salary below should only be considered an estimate of hourly pay based on available sources.

American Airlines First Officer Pay:

  • Year 1: $90,000
  • Year 5: $169,000
  • Year 12: $190,000

American Airlines Captain Pay

  • Year 1: $255,000
  • Year 5: $263,000
  • Year 12: $278,000

Discover pilot pay for all the major and regional airlines in the USA on our commercial pilot salary guide.

How Do I Apply for an American Airlines Pilot Job?

If you meet all of the qualifications listed above you can visit the American Airlines job website to see if they are hiring. It’s important to note that American Airlines largely hires new pilots from their regional airline partners.

In order to start your American Airlines pilot career you’ll first need to work at a regional and then apply to an open position for American. If your career goal is to fly for American Airlines take a look at the pilot hiring requirements at Envoy or PSA Airlines.


Discover the Complete History of American Airlines

American Airlines was founded on April 15, 1926. It started as a mail carrier between Chicago and St. Louis by the name of Varney Air Service. In 1929, it changed its name to Aviation Corporation of America, then again in 1933 to American Airways. 

Not long after that, it began flying passengers, which was a risky move at the time because it was difficult to do so profitably. From the start, it had a good connection with air mail and this helped the small airline grow.

The company started to expand in 1934. It added routes between New York and Boston, followed by Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Detroit. Then again in 1935, routes between New York and Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo were added to the route network.

In 1935, American Airways went bankrupt due to the Great Depression. It was then bought out by E.L. Cord who changed its name to American Airlines Incorporated. The name change proved successful as it flew 1.3 million miles in the next year.

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American Airlines During WWII

During World War II, American Airlines was forced to fly war-related routes since all other transportation had come to a stop. The airline supplied cargo and transport services during the course of this time.

However, the airline was unable to purchase any new airplanes because of high costs. Instead, it purchased war surplus Douglas DC-3s that were converted into both passenger and cargo planes.

American Airlines in the 1950’s through 1990’s

During the post-war years, American Airlines realized that air travel was becoming more popular than airmail. It began purchasing larger aircraft like the Douglas DC-6, Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, and Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Soon enough, it was one of the largest airlines in the world, carrying over 1 million passengers yearly.

American Airlines became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast nonstop flights with its purchase of Boeing 707 jets.

In the 1960s, American Airlines continued buying bigger planes such as the Boeing 720B, DC-8, and Lockheed L-188 Electra. It was also during this time that American Airlines began using the first electronic booking system for passenger reservations. Then in 1964 American Airlines made history by hiring the first African-American commercial airline pilot, Dave Harris.

In 1979, it launched an all-new low-cost airline called Metro Airlines to compete with other low-cost companies such as Southwest Airlines and People Express. It was successful at first, but after just a couple of years, it came back to American Airlines.

The 1980s and 1990s were both decades that proved good for American Airlines as it purchased new Boeing 737s and Airbus A300-600R planes. In 1993, they purchased a new fleet of Boeing 777s that made them the first airline to have all-widebody, long haul aircraft.

In 1996, American Airlines purchased TWA and Frontier Airlines as well as start a low-cost airline called American Eagle which became Envoy in 2014.

American Airlines 2000 to today

In 2011, American Airlines decides to change its logo from the “AA in an oval” to a new logo in order to modernize it. The new logo was created by the New York City-based Isobar, marking the first time that American Airlines has worked with an advertising agency since 2000.

In 2013, American Airlines begins flying the Airbus A350 XWB, which is equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and aerodynamic improvements that result in a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency over the Boeing 777.

In the present day, American Airlines is ranked first on Trans-Atlantic routes and offers flights to 352 destinations worldwide.

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