Fast Captain Upgrades Accelerate Pilot Careers

Captain Sunekaer is one of many pilots to upgrade from First Officer to Captain at Trans States.

With the highest regional First Officer signing bonus at up to $60,000, the fastest path to a Denver base, and instant Captain upgrades — our airline family is a great place to work for pilots at any stage of their career. Captain Tony Sunekaer is one of many pilots who has successfully moved from the right seat to left seat. Read more to learn about Captain Sunekaer’s upgrade experience and what First Officers can look forward to when they become a Captain.

  1. How was your transition from First Officer to Captain?

The transition was seamless for me, although very busy. The study materials were like my initial training, but it was more detailed, covering the administrative and legalities that a Captain needs to know. As I became more comfortable with flying in the left seat and placing my bid, I knew I was prepared to perform the duties of a Captain.

  1. What do you enjoy most about being a Captain?

I enjoy making sure that my crew is well taken care of and ensuring that passengers have a great flying experience with us. Its also rewarding to teach and pass on new tips that I learned along the way to First Officers. I also enjoy having a personal sense of accomplishment because I met my goal. Lastly, being in charge and receiving a pay increase are great benefits that come along with becoming a Captain.

  1. What are some skills that you developed while in the left seat, that help you in your role as Captain?

I learned to be confident and make decisions in a timely matter and to include my crew members in my decision making, because I value their opinions and knowledge in working together as a team.

  1. What tips would you give upgrading pilots on how to best prepare for the oral exam?

I’d say study hard by knowing everything you knew for your initial, and a little more. Become knowledge in the AOM criteria, so that you understand how the systems work and not just route memory.

  1. What was the most challenging part about upgrading? How did you face the difficulty?

Simulator training was fast paced and the most challenging part about my upgrading process.  I was expected to perform what was asked with new events being added. I prepared myself mentally, stayed focused and managed to get through the training and succeed to the best of my abilities.

  1. In what ways has upgrading to Captain shaped and strengthened your pilot career?

I feel I’m at a place I’ve always wanted to be.  With Trans States’ additional training, I’ve become a better pilot! I’ve learned how to work through issues that may come up. The skills and experience I’m gaining as a Captain open door of opportunities to advance my career even further.

  1. What advice would you give First Officers who are interested in upgrading?

When you feel you are ready to do the Captain’s job, put in your bid.  Study as if it was your initial. Be prepared to go in with the knowledge you need to successfully become a Captain. Lastly, I’d also recommend that Captain seeking pilots perform well and demonstrate their capabilities.

Are you interested in learning more about Trans States’ pilot careers? Visit our website for more information.



Flying the Line: A Q&A with Our Regional Chief Pilot

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Captain Wadach on a non-revenue Part 91 flight.

Which regional airline is best for you? Pilots who join our airline family know that they’re in good hands, and that their careers are on the rise.

Trans States offers one of the fastest Captain upgrades as fast as eight months and the highest signing bonus in the industry, up to $60,000.

Curious about what life on the line is like at Trans States? Read our Q&A with Regional Chief Pilot, Luke Wadach!

What sets Trans States apart from other regional air carriers?

Trans States Airlines is unique because it is a smaller regional airline with unique opportunities to share with our pilot group that aren’t available elsewhere. For example, we are always encouraging our own pilots to become Ground and Simulator Instructors, Line Check Airman and to consider joining the management team in our training and Flight Ops departments. Those opportunities are assets to enhancing careers towards the majors.

What can Trans States pilots expect when they start flying the line?

Trans States pilots can expect to fly with great crew members and travel to some pretty neat destinations. Some of our destinations include Cody, WY, where they can visit Yellowstone National Park; Flagstaff, AZ to see the Grand Canyon and Monterey, CA, which is a nice coastal city.

Line pilots can also expect to face some everyday challenges such as weather and traffic congestion on and around major airports. Our pilots do a phenomenal job managing these situations while maintaining a high level of customer service. We have a great pilot group and they really enjoy working with one another.

Do applicants normally receive their top base choice? Tell us more about base assignments.

Currently, we are assigning all domiciles in training. DEN is our most junior base, followed by ORD, and then STL. Applicants who want Denver and Chicago are being awarded their top choice immediately in training. Applicants who want STL will receive their choice towards the end of training or within 1 or 2 months after being released to the line.

What are the benefits of having Denver as a base?

Many of our new-hire pilots desire and are being awarded a Denver base. The benefit of this is that time on reserve is very minimal, along with providing an easy commuting option for pilots who live in the western half of the US. With Denver being our largest base, it has opened up our route structure so we now have destinations like Monterey, CA and Medford, OR on the West Coast.  With the Preferential Bidding System (PBS), there are several parameters used to allow crews to build customized schedules and take advantage of the diverse flying Denver has to offer.

How does the Captain upgrade process work at Trans States Airlines?

The Captain upgrade process is roughly a 6-week process. The upgrade footprint consists of seven days of ground school, two sessions in our Graphical Flight Simulator (GFS), an oral exam, seven simulator sessions, a checkride and then one session of Line Oriented Flight Training (LOFT). Once that is complete, 25 hours of Initial Operating Experience (IOE) is completed with one of our Line Check Airman. We hold upgrade classes once per month and currently, there is no waiting time for upgrade. Candidates who are qualified (14 CFR 121.436) are awarded the next month’s upgrade class.

What do you love the most about working with Trans States?

The best part about working at Trans States is the people who I have the pleasure to work with. Whether working alongside co-workers at our headquarters in St. Louis or flying a trip out on the line, hands down we have the best group of aviation professionals. We have a very tight knit pilot group, unlike what you might find at some of the larger airlines.

Do you have more questions? Visit to ask a line pilot any questions you have about flying with Trans States! Click here, and scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your questions.

From Trans States Flight Attendant to Aviator: Jennifer Billock’s Story

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Jennifer Billock transitioned from her role as a Trans States Flight Attendant to Aviators Intern.

After working a few years as a family therapist, Jennifer Billock realized her true passion was in travel. This new aspiration inspired her to pursue a career as a flight attendant. As she started flying the line as a flight attendant and became more acquainted with aviation, she learned that becoming a pilot was her true calling. Jennifer is currently a Certified Flight Instructor and part of Trans States’ Aviators program, which provides participants with a clear and defined pathway to the Trans States flight deck upon completion of ATP minimums. Learn more about Jennifer’s journey below:

What sparked your desire to fly?

I’ve always loved to travel. My love for travel led me to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan after receiving my undergraduate degree. I ended up going back to school for a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. From there I began working as an in-home family therapist. My career in mental health didn’t allow me the time or means to travel as much as I wanted to, so I made the choice to apply for a flight attendant position.

Tell us about your Flight Attendant experience. Why’d you choose Trans States?

I chose Trans States because I could pick my base location before I started working. I knew I would not be a career flight attendant, but that I wanted to use the time to discover new cities and find my passion.  I found it very quickly.

How has the transition from Flight Attendant to Aviator been for you?

During flight attendant training I found myself wandering into the cabin trainer cockpit and asking the new-hire pilots questions.

Flying the line made me fall in love with the lifestyle and the fast pace of the avition industry. I quickly downloaded the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and asked my crews question after question. Captain Larkin taught me how to use dual VORs to find my location on an aeronautical chart. Another pilot taught me about roll, yaw, pitch and the list goes on and on. I quickly started flight training on my days off.

Eventually, pilots began showing me the release and by the end of my time at Trans States, I was doing the debrief. I learned so much from my fellow crew member family.

What are your career goals?

My goal is to eventually fly the Boeing 787 with United. For now, I will just work on building my flight hours and flying the Embraer-145 aircraft with that amazing Waterski call sign.

Why did you choose Trans States Airlines to jump start your pilot career?

I realized this passion was not going away and that I needed to pursue it full-time. I left Trans States as a flight attendant mid-April 2017 with literal tears in my eyes knowing that I was starting a full-time aviation training journey just to get back to Trans States as quickly as possible. I am still close to the family I created for myself at Trans States to this day. I am now a flight instructor, teaching others how to do what I could only watch my flight crews do only a short time ago. I was very happy to join the Aviator program.

What would you tell other flight attendants who are looking to transition into flight operations positions?

I would absolutely encourage other flight attendants to use their resources and use overnights with their crews to be curious. They are in the absolute best place to learn about the aviation industry. I’d also encourage them to study. Most pilots out there are still current CFIs and appreciate remembering the material they used to teach.

For more information about the Aviators Program, click here:


Chicago-based Flight Attendant Exceeds Customer Expectations throughout Five-Year Career


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Trans States’ Chicago-based Flight Attendant always provides stellar customer service to passengers.

Growing up near Chicago Midway International Airport came with a few perks for ORD-based Flight Attendant, Aryen Barr. As a kid, Aryen recalls plane watching as some of his most memorable family outings. Seeing the large jets take off and land on the runway sparked his desire to fly. Read more to find out why Aryen chose to launch his aviation career with Trans States, why he loves the flight attendant lifestyle, and why our Chicago base is the perfect fit for him.

After working in retail for several years, Aryen decided to step out on faith and chase after his childhood dream to fly. When he turned 20 years old, he chose to launch his career with Trans States after successfully navigating through the interview process.

“When I interviewed with the recruiting team, everyone I talked to made me feel as if I was already a part of the family,” Aryen said. “There aren’t many companies out there that make you feel like you’re already one of their own. With Trans States I could feel the difference and knew that I wanted to work for a company like that.”

Now, after five years with Trans States, Aryen still feels the same way he did when he first joined the airline family.

“They say when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. I love having the ability to serve passengers. As the front-line employee I’m responsible for making or breaking a person’s travel experience, and I choose to make it better,” Aryen said. “Regardless of what kind of day myself or the passenger has had, I strive to give people an exceptional experience.”

Aryen’s commitment to providing excellent customer service has earned him numerous Above and Beyond nominations in previous quarters. He communicates impeccably with passengers with the aim to always place himself in their shoes.

“I was raised to treat others as you would like to be treated, so with every interaction I have, I like to do just that,” Aryen said. “The key is to smile often and provide a positive experience that will not only impact their flight, but the rest of their day. Some say that I go above and beyond, I’d just say that I’m being a decent person.

As Aryen progresses his career with Trans States, he hopes to continue making an impact on each passenger’s day and to grow in his role.

“Seeing the growth of this company excites me and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for us.” Aryen said.

Are you interested in becoming a Trans States Airlines Flight Attendant? Click here to apply today:


Aspiring Aircraft Mechanics Jump-Start Their Career Through Trans States’ Apprentice Program

Trans States operates on behalf of United Airlines.

Top-tier pay, growth, and advancement opportunities are only a few of the perks offered to participants in Trans States Airlines’ Apprentice Program. Aspiring Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) receive paid on-the-job training in this one-of-a-kind program, as they work towards receiving their A&P license. Apprentices will be awarded a $2.00/hr. raise when they progress to the field and an additional $1/hr. increase after one year with Trans States. Plus, AMTs receive up to $3,000 in annual retention bonuses after obtaining their licenses.

One of the biggest advantages that participants most enjoy is being assigned a mentor, who is a current Trans States mechanic, to guide them throughout the process of becoming licensed. During training, students are given a Sonic Tools set that is valued at around $4,500. Upon the completion of their training, graduates have the opportunity to purchase tools at a discounted rate.

Current Trans States Apprentice Roney Bunyan always had an affinity for transportation, but didn’t want to become an automobile mechanic. Instead, he chose to work on a mode of transportation much bigger than cars—airplanes.

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Roney Bunyan is currently in training to become a Trans States A&P Mechanic.

“When I found Trans States’ Apprentice Program, I discovered that this was the only regional airline with a program directly helping individuals to become airline mechanics,” Roney said. “I see the Apprentice Program as a golden ticket, because I’m receiving paid hands-on training while I pursue my passion for aviation.”

During the initial seven-weeks of classroom training, students will learn the fundamentals of physics, aerodynamics, and the theory of flight.  As the weeks progress, students will learn advanced aircraft systems, read engineering drawings and electrical schematics. Thereafter, students will enter the intensive on-the-job training program for 18-to-24 months. In the program, students are given tasks based on the knowledge they received in classroom training and increase their knowledge of maintaining the Embraer-145 aircraft.

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Apprentices work alongside A & P mechanics.

“The Trans States’ Apprentice Program helps students to gain a degree of mechanical aptitude and will help them to further develop skills to keep our aircraft safe and efficient,” Nicholas Bresnan, Trans States Maintenance Training Instructor said. “The license that they are working towards isn’t the end result of the program. The goal of the Apprentice Program is to help participants build a lasting career and become the greatest A&P mechanic that they can possibly be.”

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Colin Hickey is currently in Trans States’ Maintenance Apprentice Program.

After he left the United States Air Force, Colin Hickey decided to pursue a career as an airline mechanic because it was similar to some of the skills he acquired while in the service. He stumbled upon Trans States’ Apprentice Program while he was researching to find an airline that offered A&P training. When Colin saw that Trans States offered paid-on-the-job training through the Apprentice Program, he realized it was a match-made-in-heaven for his dream career.

“Trans States training is stellar because it’s interactive and hands-on rather than solely dependent upon books. It’s fun and extremely informative to learn how to look through a rivet, and how to properly operate a torque.” Colin said.

Obtaining an A&P license is the next step for Roney and Colin in their training. Both agreed that they’re ready to take the next step in their career.

“I’m elated to become licensed because I’m ready to launch my career and begin working on the Embraer-145,” Colin said. “There’s no limit to what else I can achieve once I receive my license.”

One of the most exciting factors about working as a Trans States A&P mechanic is that your work isn’t just limited to our passengers or our maintenance hangars. Your career with Trans States may allow you to meet incredible people and see places you’ve always wanted to travel to.

“My biggest suggestion for Maintenance Apprentices is to be open-minded to all of the opportunities that come your way, because you never know what can happen,” Director of Maintenance, Matthew Wright said. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the world to places like Switzerland, Japan, and Brazil because I didn’t limit myself. I took advantage of whatever came my way because doors will open if you’re always willing to lend a helping hand.”

Charles Brandt
Sometimes  A&P mechanics are presented with the opportunity to work on Trans States’ charter flights, traveling to overnight destinations ensuring a seamless operation.

To be considered for the upcoming Apprentice Session on Friday, March 1, apply online and submit a resume to Click here for more details about the event: Learn more about the Apprentice Program, here: