From Cabin Crew to Captain: One woman’s story


Although it’s less likely in the UK for female Pilots to be jetting you off to destinations, that’s not to say there aren’t any of them out there. We caught up with female Boeing 737-800 Captain, Jacqueline Traynor, who traded in her Cabin Crew duties for a role in the cockpit with UK low-cost airline Jet2.


Making the move


In 1996, at just 18, Jacqueline started her first aviation-based job as Cabin Crew. She recalls her first ever flight and how there weren’t any seats in the cabin, so she had to sit in the flight deck. She was mesmerised and asked, “What does this do? What does that do?”. From then on, and in spite of studying fashion, she had caught the “bug” to become a Pilot.


Traynor’s training

The next step for Jacqueline was to get trained up. She filled us in on how she obtained her Private Pilot’s Licence in Florida, then studied the theoretical Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence in Glasgow. She said she then went back to Florida to build on her flying hours – “I chose [there] because the weather is better and, therefore, it’s easier to get [my] flying hours up there than in the UK.”

“I was [in Florida] for about five to six months [and] had a really enjoyable time. I was at Delta Connection Pilot Academy, with around another 1,000 other Pilots. We would [typically] fly two-seater Cessnas.”

In order to prepare for a job in aviation, Jacqueline then had to achieve her Commercial Pilot’s Licence, before heading back to the UK for her Instrument Rating Licence and Multi-Rating Licence. It was in Dublin that she took her Multi-Crew Coordination course.

Jacqueline’s first commercial Pilot job was as a flying instructor. She also flew the Capital FM ‘Flying Eye’. “It was London’s traffic-spotting and reporting service”, which involved a member of crew on a twin-engine aircraft making broadcasts about the weather and any special-case situations about traffic flow. That information would then be shared with breakfast and drivetime radio show hosts!

From there, Jacqueline went on to land a job flying Cessna business jets, which she said was great. “The only downside was that I lived out of a suitcase quite a lot and I also wanted to fly something bigger.” That’s when Jacqueline applied to and Jet2holidays . “[The job] offered more stability because [of its] rosters, and I [could] come home after flying mostly every night.”


This is your Captain speaking…


In August 2018, the Financial Times lifted the lid on the ever-growing demand for flights^. Boeing have also released figures that stated 790,000 new Pilots will be needed by 2037†. Combine that with the industry attracting fewer female applicants and there are greater opportunities out there!

Requirements for being able to train can vary, but the general rule of thumb is that you’ll need a Class 1 Medical Certificate, five GCSEs and two A-Levels by the UK education system’s standards. No matter what you’ve studied in school or at university, like Jacqueline, you can still go on to train to be a Pilot – after all, “[Pilots] all must pass the same exams at the end of the day.”

What’s more, experienced Captains can earn around £120,000 per annum. Surely that’s a pretty motivating figure?

There’s nothing stopping women from applying for a Pilot’s position, it’s just typically been a job that men consider more. So, if, like Jacqueline, you fancy a slight change of pace, or even if you’re just keen to become a Pilot, why not join the other leading ladies out there and find out more with Jet2careers?




Matt Falcus is a private pilot and aviation writer. He has been flying since 2006, taking the opportunity whenever the British weather allows to explore the local area and other airfields. He is author of a number of aviation books.

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