I've been flying for most of my life... more than twenty one years. I've watched the cycles from the sidelines for years before I decided to come to the airlines. I remember twenty years ago. Things are better now than then, but they're also much different now than then.
I'm a relatively senior FO on the 175 at my airline. Mostly I fly locals—SFO-MCI-SFO is a common one, as is SFO-AUS-SFO, or SFO-MSP-SFO. Occasionally I'll do two, three or, rarely, four day trips, with one, two, three or, rarely, four legs per day. I tend to get between 14 and 19 days off per month*.
I did my eight legs a day-six days a week-fourteen hours a day up in AK for a couple years, and I'd rather not do it again soon.
Aside from pay, the only real downsides for me is that I won't be able to upgrade for quite some time anywhere on the west coast.
If I have a chip on my shoulder it's about the concept that mainline pilots are qualitatively different from regional pilots. I've flown with all sorts of pilots, but most of the captains I fly with have been at SkyWest for between 10 and 30 years, and most are very, very good. I've also commuted for several years, and gotten to see plenty of mainline flying from the jumpseat. I've directly seen the quality of both, and in the end the biggest difference I've seen is the flight deck conversation—regional guys don't usually talk about vacation homes in Italy, or their 40,000 acre ranch in Texas.
I'm a student of aviation. I'm always trying to learn from others, to relay information I've gleaned and verified to others as well. I have compiled many people's stories from here on all subjects, and my ears are always open. I try to glean the best from everyone I fly with, everyone I interact with, every article I read, every source I study, every accident report I study, and every flight I take. I learn things from my interactions with people, and from the mistakes of others, and try to continuously edit myself into the best airman I can be, as I hope we all do.
I don't feel that I have a grudge, but I do have an expectation of mutual respect—that is, that our conversations are peer-to-peer.
Without that, there can be no meaningful common ground, and we'll forever be divided.
Take this for what it's worth from some guy on the Internet, but it's all just a game. You learn the rules and play as you see fit. We all know we fly the same customers on jets painted in the same scheme to largely the same places. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from Platoon when SSG Barnes says, "there's the way it outta be, and there's the way it is." We've all seen d-bag mainline pilots and d-bag RJ pilots. If there's a difference overall, it's really hard to see. Sister, I try to not worry about the airline game and am just concentrating on winning it. I know you don't want to play the college degree game and to me, that's a shame. From the book you wrote that I greatly enjoyed to the things I've seen you post here, I wish you would play the game and I'd love to end up on the same legacy property as you some day.
I know they still operate a few of the Lear 35's hauling people around. Not sure how many they still use now. One of the co-owners nephew flew with me a few times when I was at PSA. Knew a lot of guys from there and Airnet when I worked at the FBO in CLT.