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How Are Commercial Pilots Paid?  
User currently offlineAirforce1995 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 55 posts, RR: 0
Posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 5844 times:

Are commercial pilots paid by trip length, time in the air, or on salary? Also are they docked pay or anything bad happens if they do a go around?

23 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineShaun3000 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 445 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 5738 times:

It depends on the company. All three are common, though trip length and time in the air are more common than salary. Many times you are guaranteed a certain number of hours per month, which is basically a salary. Any hours (or trips) you go over will get you "overtime."

User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 50
Reply 2, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5643 times:

Here in the UK most airlines pay pilots a salary. The salary paid is based on rank and seniority.

At my airline I am paid a salary, whether I touch a plane all year or not. In addition I am paid a flight duty allowance, which is an hourly rate for every hour I spend on duty. It is a generic figure for First Officers, Captains get a little bit more. But it isn't all that much, nothing to get too excited about. The salary is the main factor.

I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5620 times:

Dear Airforce1995 -
If you care to know, with "salaries and flight pay" generally based on seniority with the company... the first officers and flight engineers are generally paid anywhere from 60 to 75% of the captain's pay...
Salaries vary a lot with the various companies... Since you are in the USA, be aware that they go from some $18,000 for new co-pilots with "commuter type airline" flying the small equipment, to close to $250,000 for senior captains of major airlines, flying 747-400s... they are paid "a basic salary" plus "flight pay" over a certain amount of hours flown monthly... Generally, in USA, the base monthly salary is equivalent to some 60 to 75 hours of flying... if they fly more hours, they get "overtime" extra pay...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineAirforce1995 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 55 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5554 times:

Thanks a lot for the post!!!  Big thumbs up

User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7459 posts, RR: 60
Reply 5, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 5554 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

It was asked and wasn't addressed above: You aren't docked pay or penalized for a go around are you?

I have seen the question asked before. I would find it hard to believe that you would be docked pay for that.

Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineJeff G From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 449 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

There is no financial retribution whatsoever for going around or diverting. Doing so would be almost criminally irresponsible. That said, there's often no financial incentive for going around either, since many pilots are paid by the trip or on a salary. On a block-or-better system, the pilot actually gets paid more the longer the flight, but that's seldom abused, and never abused to the detriment of flight safety, AFAIK. Pilots who would probably would be found out rather quickly.

Even if a go around would theoretically increase pay, few pilots willingly go around unless there's a good operational reason to do so. Pay doesn't enter into the decision making process on short final.

User currently offlineTAA_Airbus From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 726 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 5495 times:

Qantas short haul pilots get paid per sector.

So a pilot would get paid the same for doing a 4 hour East-West flight as he would doing a 1 hour Mel-Syd flight.

Long Haul however is different. Whether its per hour or salary, who knows.

User currently offlineFBU 4EVER! From Norway, joined Jan 2001, 998 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5499 times:

Valujet paid their pilots only if they completed the trip to the destination.If the flight diverted due to weather,there would be no pay!Definitely not conducive to flight safety!
Here in SAS we have a salary consisting of several elements that are negotiated for every time the Collective Agreement comes up for revision.One is basic pay depending on seniority.Same for F/O and Capt. Then there is an addition for PIC,weekend flying,a productivity incentive which is based on a formula of A/C type,flown RPK's etc. There is no difference in pay for 2 pilots with the same seniority whether they fly large or small jets,long-haul or short.

"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
User currently offlineTAA_Airbus From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 726 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5492 times:

Hmmmm, Valujet, If you crashed, you didnt get paid, fair enough policy. :P

User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5408 times:

......excessively..... Insane

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5394 times:

I dont think airline pilots have excessive salary, Apathoid...
Schooling or training for an airline pilot, is, by cost, same as MDs or lawyers, unless the pilots come from the military where they got outstanding and free training...
The other thing is, MDs, or lawyers do not have to get a "proficiency check" and strict "medical fitness test" each 6 month period, in addition to random test for use or influence of drugs and alcohol, in their professions... we do... Nor MDs, or lawyers are subject to such testing...
There are many unemployed pilots, who thought they would have the high income of airline pilots, they survive in aeroclubs as pilot instructors, same as there are many unemployed lawyers driving taxicabs, or "country MDs" who provide medical care with minimum salaries...
I live now in a nation with a destroyed economy, although a 747 captain, pilot instructor and management pilot... my salary, in USA dollars, is less than your local plumber's income... that plumber did not pay for 5 years of university master's degree... did he completed high school, I doubt... only maybe if he was the star player of their junior football team...
 Wink/being sarcastic
(s) Skipper

User currently offlinePPGMD From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2453 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5416 times:

How are Commerical pilots paid?

Not very well.

Yes you can make 6 figures if you have high seniority, but that is after several years of living in crash pads, and barely making ends meet. I have a few friends that are at that stage, I'm rethinking what I want to do(I have a MSCE and am going for a CS degree so I can either way).

At worst, you screw up and die.
User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5412 times:

Same old song and dance brother. I have an A&P with over 15 years experience behind it AND I am also a pilot. A pilot is no more skilled than most maintenance technicians. And, in my opinion, they carry far less liability. Chock to chock for you....life of the aircraft for me. It's all a hold over from the old school military where the pilots were officers and the mechanics were enlisted. The days of the grease monkey are long gone my friend. You and yours occassionally have the ability to determine that a system is not working correctly (although often this is attributed to a lack of system understanding and bad "switchology".) Me and mine must know how that system works, how it interacts with all of the other systems on the aircraft, and we have to be able to fix any of it in the 45 minutes we are allowed during the turn so we don't delay anyone. I am not saying pilots don't deserve a decent wage, but the ALPA boys who bankrupted US Air (Capt salary of $192,000 AFTER concessions) cannot ever justify that wage to me. EVER! Not when the maintenance people are averaging less than $60,000. You and I won't agree on this one..but I have had my two minutes on the soap box. Good luck to you.

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5388 times:

I agree with you - Apathoid...
Maintenance of airplane, fixing them as best as can, sometimes without appropriate supply of spares, within DMI limitations is your expertise... besides me as pilot saying "ok we are going", and "you releasing an airplane as legally airworthy" - you and I save our airline employer, from putting our 350 passengers in 200 hotel rooms (at $100 each) with 2 meals, a dinner and a brealfast, for $50... besides free booze during flight for them, when we finally go the next day... I am a management 747 captain and pilot instructor, and with the exchange rate of USA dollars, my salary is about $3,600 dollars a month... yours possibly around these figures, it it...?
On layovers, with the coffee (no refills) at US$5.oo a cup in the five star prestige hotels where they put us to sleep, we raid the galley after flights to brownbag leftover meals... and our perdiem allows us to buy McDonald burgers at the corner of the street in the USA...
You, maintenance technicians, deserve much higher pay...
I fully agree with you...
The UAL pilot buddy I know who earns $250,000 a year... is a senior 747 pilot, and "bids" reserve exclusively... he boasted having been "forced" by the nazi-schedulers to fly some 100 hours total, for the entire calendar year of 2000... If you put this in pay per hour, he was paid some... $2,500 per flight hour, that year... no wonder UAL is thinking of Chapter 11...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineWing From Turkey, joined Oct 2000, 1601 posts, RR: 23
Reply 15, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5342 times:

Apathoid,I also think that the technicians would earn more money as they deserve.I am an airline pilot.Yes I don't have the same skills you have on the systems because I dont have to!I know enough to use them,but I know very well to use them under an emergency situation.I think, the same as my technician buddies here,you too are fighting with the wrong direction.Do you think if they cut my salary will they give it you?Or do you think you are not paid the enough because pilots gets all the money company earns and not enough left for you?WRONG my friend.You will never be happy with your work if you keep focusing with others.You choose your way to be a mechanic nobody forced you.Just by being a private pilot you just cant understand the life of an airline pilot.And if you are a pilot you sure know that taking an airplane into the air and take it back down is a huge team business.From the moment you step to the airport hundreds of people is working for you why?Because the pilot will take an airplane to the air this is, the main reason for aviation business.In this team there are security people,check in people,the men who carries the baggages,fuelling guy,handling people,bus driver drives the passengers to the bus,bridge operator,Flight dispatcher,All ATC personnel and many others I just cant count.They are working because a pilot will take an airplane into the air.This is a big team and the pilot is the captain of the team.Its like soccer team.11 people work for the same goal.But the top goal scorer is always gets the highest wage.But this never makes the other players less important.I think I made my point.Be happy with your work and think that not everybody around the world is getting the same money as you do.Have a nice day.WING

follow me on my facebook page" captain wing's journey log"
User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5286 times:

Skipper - I think you and I are on the same page. Certainly there are many under paid pilots. The ones I focused on for my retort are the ones like UAL and US Air where the Nazi tactics of ALPA have driven their companies to bankruptcy. I have worked as a flight mechanic and know very well the conditions you describe. I gave it up because I didn't like being away from my family, which is also the major reason I don't fly for a living. That is part of the job if you choose to fly for a living. I hardly think being gone 6 or 7 nights out of the month justifies $250,000...and I don't think you do either.

Wing - Your post didn't make much sense.. but I will try to respond. I am a multi-rated commercial pilot with more time than many of the FO's who work at my company. I DO know what I am talking about. I choose not to fly for a living for the reasons I listed above. That, and the fact that maintaining the aircraft is a much greated challenge than flying them....in my opinion. I enjoy what I do very much. What concerns me is pilot salaries that drive companies into bankruptcy. Whether pilot pay cuts end up in my pocket or not is of little concern to me. Having a job tomorrow is of great concern to me. The industry needs to come back to a realistic wage scale or many more carriers will die. Do you realize that 10 years ago the gap in pay between Maintenance and pilots was less than 7%? It is now well over 30%. Why? Because pilots think only of pilots. If they truly are the "captain" of the team (another statement I take exception to) then they need to do more to look out for the rest of the team. Striking your company into bankruptcy (ie Comair) is not being a good "captain" now is it?

User currently offlineRJ From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 198 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 5270 times:


I take exception to your last post. Specifically this quote:

Striking your company into bankruptcy (i.e. Comair) is not being a good "captain" now is it?

I am one of the pilots at Comair that struck. Are you educated on the facts of our strike, or are you just using the last strike that comes to mind as an example of your views of pilot greed? The fact of the matter is that junior pilots at Comair were eligible for Food Stamps and the top pay at the time was about the same as a senior Delta Flight Attendant. Should we have just gone on with that status quo because it allowed Comair to make the highest profit margins in the industry? Or was it justified in trying to bring professional people a living wage? I would guess that you have a pension fund at the carrier that you work for. Prior to our strike we had no such pension. Comair was looked upon as a "stepping stone" carrier with poor wages and retirement benefits despite the huge profits the company was making, not to mention the compensation packages our senior management were taking home.

I don't know where you heard that we were taking the company into bankruptcy. Since Comair is owned by Delta, there were deep pockets that allowed Comair to carry out the strike as long as they did. And it is interesting to note that the new contract that our Flight Attendants just signed looked like a carbon copy of our contract (work rules, days off, retirement package, benefits) Hmmmm, must have been pretty disastrous contract that we signed that allowed them to offer the same thing to the F/A's............

Oh and by the way, despite our new contract, Comair is MAKING MONEY right now. Unlike the rest of Delta.


User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5262 times:

Friends, remember the days of Lorenzo and Icahn...
The Eastern Airlines strike on the late 1980s was started by maintenance, and fully supported by pilots... I had many friends with EAL who had their life and family destroyed by that strike... Lorenzo destroyed EAL, like he did the old Continental Airlines... Icahn is probably part of the reason TWA no longer is today... absorbed by AA... shall we talk about my own PanAm, which is now history since DEC 1991... DL took all the remnants of PanAm, and I was given an interview for a position with the Atlanta boys... what a disgrace that was. So I elected to settle overseas and continue my career there...
Pilots often support the mechanics... and we also fully realize that a strike against the company may lead to the end of our livelyhood... Comair salaries for pilots are dirt... I fully agree...
Yes, mechanics (ground engineers) do not enjoy very high salaries, compared to flight crews... but what strikes me, is the salary level offered to "ramp rats" and other rather unqualified personel around airports, compared as an example, to qualified technicians... a "baggage smasher" enjoying $15 per hour and full benefits... whereas a maintenance technician gets $20...
I am now a pilot in operations and training management... I see the numbers and the cost of operating an airline... "operations costs" include much more than just pilot salaries... "maintenance cost" include spare parts, the salaries of technicians which are part of maintenance costs are just a small fraction. Same story for flight crews...
Shall we talk about fuel costs... I try to save pennies by promoting new procedures, carry less fuel... do you think I feel happy to cross an ocean with minimum reserves, aware of marginal weather at destination, and if I divert to the alternate, throwing all these savings through the window... further, last night, the flight engineer wrote-up a failed relay on generator number 2, this was signed off and "repaired"... to realize that now the problem is on generator number 3... my maintenance friends just transferred the part from one to the other, but it looks so good to say "repaired"... and I know these gentlemen had probably no other solution...
But the CEO has a Mercedes with a driver as company car, besides his fat salary, and his house in Miami... dont forget also the Learjet that is available to him, and he often asks me to fly for a fun weekend at upper class resorts... Me, I have a Peugeot 205 from 1993... oh, we call each other with our first names, and I my wife and I get invited at his home parties... Just wishing he raised the pay of the good people of the company, I would call him "Senor Presidente"...  Wink/being sarcastic
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineIsmangun From Indonesia, joined Jan 2001, 117 posts, RR: 9
Reply 19, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 5200 times:

Skipper: That's why God appointed you to turn things around...  Smile

During the severe economy crisis in Indonesia (which still going) airline industry players don't have much choice nor bargaining position. We used to have those nice US$1000-2000 permonth salary, which now shrunks to just around $300-$1000.

Any vacancies abroad, anyone?  Wink/being sarcastic


If it's an Airbus, I'll take the bus...
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 20, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5188 times:

I realize mechanics are underpaid, and I truely respect the work you do and the liability you carry. I would support a mechanic pay-raise just as readily as I would support a pilot pay-raise.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5100 times:

Salaries of maintenance technicians...
With my airline, all our flight engineers are ex maintenance technicians and ground engineers... they are worth their weight in gold in the flight deck of the old "classics", that is when we have to troubleshoot a malfunction, or to "sign off" an airplane away from our operations base...
I know my airplane systems very well (owe much of my knowledge to these flight engineers) - but these gentlemen are experts...
After a few years of line, ramp, or shop maintenance, in the old days, ground engineers (mechanics) had the option of becoming flight engineers or get to maintenance managament, this for increased wages as an example...
At the present time, looking at ageing airplanes of old design, flight engineers, in decreasing numbers, have some 10 years left to go, until most if not all airplanes requiring them are finally retired to the desert... those of you who still contemplate ending your career as flight engineer, might well consider to seek a flight engineer position... then thereafter, with that additional flight experience, finally move into maintenance management...
In many countries there is an age limit to be a flight crewmember (65 in many overseas countries, 60 in the USA...) but in the USA, the 60 age limit applies only to "pilots", not to "flight engineers"... I have known a 74 years old flight engineer who was active with a passenger airline in the USA... and happy...
Here our limit is 65 of age, for everyone in the cockpit...
Salaries of flight engineers, generally 66.6 to 75% of captain's rate of pay...
Happy landings to all  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineBoeing4ever From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5006 times:

In martinis...

America West CEO

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (13 years 9 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5010 times:

Dear Boeing4ever -
Maybe they should start a "designated flyer" program for airlines...
Could it be a misprint in the GOM... ?
No smoking 8 hours prior to flying...
No drinking within 50 feet of airplanes... ?
Sad things we come to joke about...

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