|Quoting FutureUALpilot (Reply 4):|
I believe with most US airlines, the pilots can opt to remain an FO and progress up the "chain" to bigger a/c, or, they can opt to become Capt. and then progress up the "chain" that way. I dont think they have to start over at the bottom once they become Capt
Bidding for aircraft and captain vacancies is predicated solely on company seniority (in the US anyway). That list is subdivided into a seniority list for captains and one for F/Os. Once you upgrade to captain, you go to the bottom of that seniority list and become the junior captain in that fleet type. So, in a sense they do 'start over at the bottom'. A senior F/O may fly the 777 or 747, but their seniority can only hold MD80 or 737 CA
once they upgrade. If a F/O waits a while after they can hold a captain vacancy before they actually bid it, then they will go in above the bottom of the list, not at the bottom, as others junior to them will have upgraded out of company seniority order when they took the first available upgrade. Some pilots chose put off upgrade so they don't have to sit reserve and will get a hard line as they will have others under them who upgraded when they passed it over. (Others put off upgrade as QOL is very good as a senior F/O compared to a junior CA
Also, if a widebody vacancy happens to be available at the time, a new hire F/O can go straight into that vacancy. All depends on what vacancies are available at any given time and how many pilots have a bid in for a given fleet type.