Thursday, December 07, 2006

Funny but Sad...


Blogger LoadMasterC141 said...

It is sad, but overstated I think. They are only stating 1st year pay.

Yeah, pilots are underpaid for what they do, but supply is high, so there are always people willing to do it, like you and me. It’s one of this generations “Male Dream Jobs”………………. “I always wanted to be a pilot-fireman-policeman when I was a kid”. It actually does pay better than the wages of a fireman or policeman. Heck, in my hometown, the fireman Volunteer their services!

On the other end of the “Dream Jobs”, women always want to be teachers, like both our wives. My wife has a Masters degree and is well on her way to a doctorate. She has invested close to 6 figures in her education and has taught for 8 years. She makes $39K/yr. I have a Bachelors’ and have been in my job as a logistics analyst for almost 2 years. I make almost double what she makes. The difference? She is doing what she ALWAYS wanted to do; I am miserable in a Dilbert cubicle staring at data all day.

So yeah, I’ll take the huge pay cut and do what I always wanted to do. The overstated part is that it is first year pay. Second year at a lot of the regionals, save the few bottom feeders **Cough** Mesa **Cough**, go up more than $10k. A guy over at the JetCareers forums has been flying for XJT for 2 years and is eligible for Captain this month. His salary will go from $30k to $60k.

Now you went the safer route, with a more steady airline, will wait longer to upgrade, but will do so much more safely. You still make, what? $35-40K? To me that is a livable wage, even coming from a guy making 70+ right now. It is even more appetizing to KNOW you are doing what you love.

Congrats though, as the video stated. Horizon has been smart and played the game at the top of the compensation level to attract the best pilots and keep them longer.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Horizon? Who said I work for Horizon? :-)

You're right, they are stating first year pay, and it goes up 2nd yr - rather dramatically in a few cases, like Skywest. You still can't ignore the attrocious 1st yr pay. Mind you, the pay has always been crappy at the regionals, but it was more acceptible when it was to fly 19 seat turboprops. Now you find Mesa FOs flying CRJ-900s for $21/hr. That's a DC-9 with winglets, flying routes like Calgary-Phoenix. The last time FOs flying that sort of airplane made $21/hr, I was but a gleam in my daddy's eye.

The more pertinent part of the video is the uncertainty and turmoil at many of these carriers: ASA getting whipsawed against Skywest, Comair being starved into submission by DL, 59 surplus airplanes at XJT, the bottomless pit that is Mesaba, being the newest target of NW's labor (mis)management at Pinnacle, etc. And there's always J.O., ever ready to swoop in and underbid your contracts with his cheap minions of pilots.

7:52 AM  
Blogger LoadMasterC141 said...

No Doubt, first year pay is ridiculous. I made those amounts my first year in the Air Force, as a fresh-out-of-high-school enlisted guy. Unfortunately, what am I to do? I want to fly professionally and other routes pay even less. If the regionals paid those amounts for many years, with LONG upgrades, I could not sustain my standard of living, or see it worth reducing to fly. Right now, it is upsetting to see how little I will make my first year, and I will have to save quite a bit of money to live through it, but it will be ok IF the bar does not lower even more.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But pilots at the majors make a nice living. Sam, what are the odds of moving up from the regionals to the majors?

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious what is the ceiling for pilot's salary? How much does a captain of 747 transatlantic flights of a major airline make? (I heard something like 150-200 an hour)

6:08 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Both anonymouses--

The legacy airlines all have many thousands on furlough, and it may be YEARS before they hire. When they do, there will be a large pool of very qualified candidates to choose from. One simply cannot count on getting a job with the majors as soon as they hit 1000 hrs turbine PIC... a long stay at the regionals is in the works for many. Granted, the low cost carriers are hiring, but some of these may encounter trouble from the legacies as they reduce their costs to unprecedented levels and start poaching off the LCC's business.

You can take a look at various airlines' payscales by going to There, you can see that UA pilots top out at $182/hr for a B744/777 CA, with a min guarantee of 65 hrs/month. That works out to $142,000/yr, and is pretty typical of the Legacies. SWA 737 captains actually top out at more, for now. And both UPS and FedEx are doing quite well and paying their pilots commessurately. Competition for jobs at those carriers is accordingly fierce.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm generally a fervent supporter of free markets, even for labor, I must admit that I couldn't stop thinking that my life might be in the hands of someone making $20k/hr last night as I fley on a Freedom Airlines (Mesa subsidiary) Dash-8.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Your life could be in the hands of a cab (or limo) driver who makes a lot more than 20k (and often in cash) and you can be killed much more easily in a car than the airplane. Therefore the argument that you should entrust your life only to a highly paid individual is not entirely correct in my view. IOW, if somebody going to kill me the should not be getting a lot of money for that ;-)

9:57 AM  
Blogger LoadMasterC141 said...

From what I have read over at Jetcareers, and seen on the news, American Airlines is bringing all its’ flowbacks at American Eagle back and forecasts street hiring by mid-2007. Delta has said hiring will begin next year as well. With Continental and SWA already hiring, that only leaves NWA and USAirways that still have furloughs. Given the fact that the average USAir pilot is as old as my grandfather, it cannot be long for them either. I think the big thing is that a lot of Furloughed individuals are not coming back.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally commiserate with the poor pay at American regionals. I think Canadian regional pilots (almost all of them with Jazz) are in a much better situation. It is tough. I am in the academic business and I know that in many disciplines (like mine) people with Ph.D.s were unable to get any decent work. They end up teaching for 20k a year at a college with no year-to-year job guarantee and with no benefits. I am one of the lucky ones who got a permanent position, but it took the kind of scholarly record that used to be what only the best scholars ever achieved (ie several books published and a score of journal articles)to get hired. I think the airline industry is similar in that there are more qualified applicants than good jobs: wages go down, working conditions suffer, and lots of over-qualified people float around becoming embittered.

I enjoy the blog! Good luck with moving up in the airline world.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Aviatrix said...

"Canadian regional pilots (almost all of them with Jazz) are in a much better situation."

It's true, and the reason is that you don't get a job with Jazz after a few years flight instructing or freight-dogging. There is another layer of desperate wages and atrocious living conditions between entry level and regional carriers here. Quoting wages would make it sound decent, but the jobs are so far north that everything costs more.

You cross the poverty line after five to eight years in the industry. Perhaps that is true on either side of the border.

10:54 PM  
Blogger Big Country said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I believe 100% in big country's post above. As a professional pilot and a business owner, I truly believe that unions combat the power of a team and ultimately hinder relationships between labor and management. We're no longer in the industrial age here - we're in the information age where people become instant millionaires in a matter of months, and loyal employees who have dedicated 30-plus years to their careers end up with nothing and very little net worth. I have seen both sides of the coin and guess which side I prefer to be on now?, a company without any profits or any real estate, grows faster and becomes more valuable in the stock market than Sears and J.C. Penney. I am a true believer that businesses survive today because of great leadership and management. Unfortunately, look at the legacy carrier management who has taken so much from the valued employees and have left with millions of company dollars. I rank some of those CEO's up there with Jeff Skilling, now in prison (albeit a rather nice one) for his raping of Enron. Furthermore, look at the big names that have plagued the airline industry in the past, such as Lorenzo and Icahn. To the aspiring airline pilot, I suggest this: start young, obtain a degree in business and read Hard Landing by Thomas Petzinger; Flying High, the story of JetBlue by James Wynbrandt; Nuts! a Story about Southwest; Winning by Jack Welch; the World is Flat by Tom Friedman, and The Serveant, A Simple Story about Leadership by James C. Hunter.

My business is successful because I work together with my employees to create an effective team. I try to emulate “airline” structures such as Southwest, JetBlue, and Allegiant Air, just to name a few. No unions here - and they're profitable with happy employees. I can even name a handful of CEO's who have not even taken a salary since their company's inception.

Trust me, I know your frustration. Pilots take great pride in knowing they have ultimate responsibility of a multi-million dollar plane and hundreds of passenger’s lives in their hands. Pilots want ultimate control and are always looking for new challenges. However they are seemingly left powerless today at large unionized legacy carriers as they are forced to take large pay cuts and risk losing their pensions. I can understand how frustrating that can be. I was just hired back to the airlines after being away from them for 4 years. I have since found a great corporate job and am still deciding what to do. I can tell you though that this airline is non-union and I am grateful for that.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Sorry, my last comment here was directed to your post, "Make it Better", not this one.

9:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home