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saab2000
Topic Author
Posts: 1244
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2001 6:19 pm

Pilot Salary Question

Mon Sep 08, 2003 8:24 pm

I am having an on-going "discussion" with someone about pilot salaries at the US majors.

I have said that a Southwest pilot with a certain number of years of service will make very close to the same salary as a pilot with AA, DL, CO, etc with the same number of years of service and the same rank (same aircraft type of course).

Are there any pilots here from a US carrier who might be able to fill me in on this? I may well be wrong but I have always been of the opinion that pilot salaries are NOT what is wrong with the industry, and that SW is doing well by keeping cost elsewhere low, not by starving the pilots.

BTW, I myself am a pilot in Europe.

Thanks for the help.
smrtrthnu
 
Guest

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Mon Sep 08, 2003 10:11 pm

Dear Saab2000:
xxx
Rather difficult question to answer. Pilot salaries vary a lot in the US airline industry, I was a PanAm pilot until 1991 bankruptcy and have left the USA to work with foreign airlines, first Cargolux, and since 1993 in Argentina.
xxx
To illustrate the disparity of pilot salaries (I can only mention the approximate pay of 747 captains), it can go from a low $75,000/year for air carriers such as Evergreen, Kalitta Air, Polar Air or Atlas Air... yet (my numbers are some 5 years old) air carriers like UAL or NWA pay for 747 captains can be as high as some $240,000/year. My last year with PanAm, as 747 captain, I remember my salary to be about $120,000 gross income, while the pilots for UAL who flew the same equipment were getting about double, with same seniority.
xxx
As you know in the USA, pay is proportional to the size (weight) of the aircraft, and the seniority (years of service with that carrier). First officers are generally some 60% of captain's salaries.
xxx
Viewed by pilots, salaries account for only a small fraction of the operating costs (they only mention the "paycheck") while airlines, in turn, present pilot salaries and expenses (as employers) which include training, uniforms, hotels, transportation, other benefits as part of flight crew expenses... they are measuring with two different yardsticks...
xxx
I had a friend with Southwest, 737 captain, who told me (was 10 years ago) that his salary was one/half of his wife's salary, she was herself a first officer DC-10 with AA...
xxx
Fuel remains in proportion, by far, the largest operating cost, and pilot can, ruin an airline by operating his airplane properly or improperly with regards to fuel burn...
xxx
(s) Skipper  Smile
 
saab2000
Topic Author
Posts: 1244
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2001 6:19 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Mon Sep 08, 2003 10:35 pm

Skipper,

Thanks for the answer. I know that fuel is a HUGE cost of running an airline and we are encouraged to employ practices which will save fuel without compromising safety - limited use of the APU when not needed, accepting direct routings, etc. (Ironically, it is company policy to fly at full speed, despite the added burn, because the fuel costs less the maintainance and other expenses related to flying minutes). Additionally, we are informed about the cost of fuel at each airport we go to and given a recommendation regarding through-tankage. On the short flights I fly there is not much lost due to carrying extra. Once we filled up at the beginning of a rotation and did not fuel for the next 3 legs, because it was so cheap at our initial airport and the legs were short enough not to require anything more.

BTW, I want to clarify that my comments about "starving" pilots should not be taken out of context. I am well aware of the miserable salaries that most ground personel earn and the hard work that they do, having worked on the ground for 5 years in ZRH before landing my flying job. Most ground dogs would be happy to earn my "starvation" salary!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I am not complaining, just wondering how the salaries of Southwest and the other low-cost carriers compare with the other majors (seniority, rank and type [or weight] being equal).

Thanks!
smrtrthnu
 
sccutler
Posts: 5843
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 12:16 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Mon Sep 08, 2003 11:04 pm

Interesting topic... my friends who fly for WN tell me that they feel very well-compensated, and there is much to be said for the idea that part of their "package" is the knowledge that there will be a job there for them, in all likelihood, until they retire, something no other established carrier has been in a position to reliably predict.

In addition, the value of stock options has been very good.

In any event, I have not seen WN pilots giving up any lifestyle points, so either (1) they're doing alright, or (2) they are inherently better money managers. Maybe they learn by example from their employer?
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
Guest

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 12:40 am

A few things to mention as I am reading your comments...
xxx
Stock options... well, most of my PanAm retirement would have been based on PanAm stock... no need to tell you what it is worth today, I do not know the market value of worthless pieces of paper...
xxx
Other things that did surprise me in my aviation career. During a furlough from PanAm, in the 1970s, I became a DC8 captain with ONA - Overseas National Airlines, which was a charter company. We were told that our pilot salaries were lower than the majors, because "we had to compete" against such carriers to offer charter or leases at a lower price... hmmm, then to find out that our then CEO, was the third highest paid airline executive in the US...
xxx
Similar fact with the "cargo carriers" such as Kalitta, they are told that they must try to sell their airplanes at the lowest price to compete against other major cargo carriers, NWA 747s, Cargolux, NCA, etc... as an excuse for the lower salaries - to find out that Kalitta (or Atlas, or Polar) offer their airplanes at the SAME MARKET PRICE as the major cargo carriers... so again, where is that money going... Further, they operate older airplanes which certainly were a bargain to acquire, compared to the brand new 747-400Fs...
xxx
For your information, in the present days, a 747 (classic) captain is a pilot you can hire for some $8,000/month salary as average, on the market, in most areas in the world. First officers would be about $5,000, flight engineers about $6,000, these numbers would be slightly lower in the USA...
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper
 
MD88Captain
Posts: 1224
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2001 9:50 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 12:48 am

With the recent paycuts at AMR and UAL, a senior SWA Captain will make more than most/all UAL/AMR 767 Captains. Hard to believe? Well, 777 captains at AMR now have a book rate less than DAL 777 first officers.
 
AA717driver
Posts: 1502
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2002 8:27 am

RE: As Time Goes By: Many 767s Bound For Scrapping

Tue Sep 09, 2003 1:52 am

MD88--Enjoy it and, most of all, hang on to it! In May, I got bumped from -80 CA to 757 FO AND took the concessions. That equals a 40% pay cut. ATA has a higher pay scale than AA. And much--and I do mean MUCH, better working conditions.

SWA, JB, ATA and AirTran seem to be the place to be now. Just like AA and UA were in the '80's. Take care.

Saab2000--It has been said repeatedly that pilots could work for no pay at airlines like AA and the company would still lose money. Airlines that have huge infrastructures like AA and UA, manage to pi** away money at an incredible rate. AA has cut payroll but they still lose money--their business plan is to be able to generate 30% more revenue than the LCC's by virtue of their huge network. Well, if JB or Virgin ever create a LCC network, AA is screwed. Or they will have to go back to the employees for more concessions.

SWA pilots make a lot of money but they are extremely productive. That's the advantage the LCC's have--their companies structure the contracts to allow for maximum productivity while the old network carriers do the opposite(yes, I know the unions have a hand in that. They have to want to operate like the LCC's, too.).TC
FL450, M.85
 
atlamt
Posts: 253
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2001 12:15 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:07 am

http://www.apapdp.org/pay.comparison.php

Nice chart laying out all the US majors.
Fwd to MEL and Placard
 
HOMER71
Posts: 2142
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2001 10:56 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:17 am

What are the hours, in general? I've heard a while back it's around 80 hours a month...is that pretty accurate?
"On spaceship earth there are no passengers...only crew."
 
FLIBOYZ
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2003 2:33 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:27 am

HMMMMmmm

1. They eat breakfast
2. Want a bottle of water
3. Want a cup of coffee
4. They eat lunch
5. Want another bottle of water
6. Want another cup of coffee
7. They eat dinner
8. Want yet another bottle of water (where do they store all this liquid? They hardly come out of the cockpit)
9. They want another cup of coffee
10. They get a sundae, nuts, pretzels, another cup of coffee.
11. Some make 10x more than I do, but can't afford to give up there meals as part of a cutback package, can't afford a bottle of water, can't afford a cup of coffee, and it doesn't have to be starbucks.


So when you ask about a pilots salary and comparing with other airlines here in the U.S. hmmmmm. They are all the same. Hi paid and always complaining about why they didn't get a meal on that one leg.

Don't get me wrong because not ALL are like that. I say 90-95% of them are though.

 
saab2000
Topic Author
Posts: 1244
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2001 6:19 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:41 am

FLIBOYZ,

I asked a legitimate question and have gotten some very good answers so far. Too bad that this thusfar civil discussion has turned negative by your childish comments.

I asked a question because I am a pilot for a major European airline. I will likely lose my job soon. We have an internal conflict in our company regarding pilots' pay and I asked a serious question.

BTW, I get paid about US$3,500 per month. This in one of the most expensive countries in the world. If I earned a proportional salary in the US I would probably be getting about $25,000 annually. How much do you earn as a F/A? If you work for a major I bet you earn more than I do. Yet I fly the ship and I have my butt on the line every single time we take it in the air. I do not consider myself overpaid. And I do not consider any of the other professionals who answered me here to be overpaid either.

Until you have walked in someone else's shoes, do not condemn them. You might just stumble in their footsteps.
smrtrthnu
 
emiratesa345
Posts: 2049
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 10:11 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:59 am

All I have to add is that if those figures in that chart are correct, I say screw Emirates, I'm going to Delta!!! LOL

EmiratesA345  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
You and I were meant to fly, Air Canada!
 
PVD757
Posts: 3290
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2003 8:23 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:59 am

I remember an article about 9 or 10 months ago talking about WN and their compensation regarding pilots. if you were to not take into consideration their stock options, they are considered underpaid. If, however, the pilots exercise their stock options, they are considered well-compensated.
The article was also talking about the exercise period was for ten years. I looked at that fact as a problem for the pilots if they ever did not want to continue the agreement after 10 years because I think the options were only convertible during that period unless the agreement was extended....... Crying
 
kaitakfan
Posts: 1547
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 1999 1:04 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 5:06 am

With the amount of time, effort and money all pilots have invested into becoming what they are today, I think they deserve to get those bottles of water, a good healty meal and coffee. Dont forget that those pilots are responsible for every single soul onboard that plane plus millions of dollars of aircraft, and cargo. What my point is, sometimes you get back what you put in. I still cant get over how a good deal of flight attendants view pilots as penny pinching low lifes. I guess jealousy does strange things to people!
 
m717
Posts: 540
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2002 1:01 pm

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 5:20 am

Saab2000,

FLIBOYZ' posts are all childish. I would simply ignore them.

The chart that Atlamt posted a link to is pretty good for comparing various airlines. However, it has a couple of flaws when you look at the FO pay. For instance, the chart is based on 5th year FO pay, but at AirTran and jetBlue for example, there are no 5th year FOs. Pilots have upgraded to Captain well before then. But all in all, it does a fairly good job of letting you see the different companies for comparison sake.
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
Posts: 3961
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2000 1:18 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 5:24 am

Keep in mind that these figures are for major carriers.... Typical starting pay for a regional in the US is in the low 20,000's.
Chicks dig winglets.
 
captaingomes
Posts: 6251
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2001 1:33 am

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 5:44 am

Taking into account that pilots work strange hours, don't exactly have access to restaurants up at 40,000' and that their health and well being is important to safety, it is important that they get fed and have access to water and coffee to stay alert and in good shape to fly the aircraft. This may sound extremely petty, but the $20 or so at the most that a company will spend on a flight to make sure the pilot actually has food and liquids is a great investment for everybody's sake. If you are called at 5am to do an 8 hour turnover for a flight departing at 6:30am, you don't exactly have time to make a proper meal to bring on board. You might not even have enough time to stop for a coffee and croissant or whatever you eat for breakfast.

Keep that in mind.

By the way FLYBOYZ, what do you eat as a flight attendant? Have you cut back on your meals inflight? I know I ate like a pig when I was a flight attendant!
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster
 
Guest

RE: Pilot Salary Question

Tue Sep 09, 2003 8:57 am

For the "general public" - more information -
xxx
Pilots work (average) some 70-80 hours - FLIGHT HOURS - per month... What a bunch of lazy bastards, would you say... Look at the truth, a typical 737 pilot in my airline, may FLY say, only 4 to 6 hours per day of work, yet in order to complete a series of flights, he may have reported at the airport at 11:00, to complete his last flights late at night, some 12 hours later, and sign off... I wish the public was informed of DUTY HOURS rather than flight hours as a form of comparison. Regular people work say, 40 hours a week, well, pilots in general put that amount of work on duty on a weekly base...
xxx
Jeez! - Pilots make $10,000 a month...! almost like physicians... Well, pilots pay a fortune to get trained, if they are not ex-military pilots. To become an airline pilot, some individuals I know invest in excess of $100,000 to acquire the licences, training and experience to qualify for an airline job, where many try to get a job, few ever achieve.
xxx
A pilot is subject to proficiency checks (i.e. simulator) and medical check every 6 months... Every 6 months, a pilot is in jeopardy to see his licence suspended... Physicians do not have proficiency checks...
xxx
Oh my gosh...! These pilots eat food like pigs, for free, and these are $25.oo meals... Correct, I often see catering bills which are signed by the senior F/A and I cannot believe my eyes, $5.oo worth of food for each Y class meal which is billed $25.oo to the airline. Would you believe, but $25.oo lasagna really do exist, the ones delivered to airlines... Small bottles of water: $2.oo each... But be insured that on my flights I insist on lobster and tournedos from F class, since I have F class on my flights. If I dont eat it, a flight attendant will end eating it anyway, if it does not end in the galley trash bags. After all, they save all $50.oo wine bottles that they corked to serve a glass of wine to a passenger, and take the rest of the bottle back home, or the hotel...
xxx
Talking about hotels... In Madrid, we stay at the Melia Castilla, a very nice hotel. Sure, it is enjoyable, yet I wish we were in a hotel where the price of a cup of coffee would be less than some $4.oo (no refills)... Besides, there is no food service after hours, flight crews need that, occasionally, due to their schedules (and delays, if applicable)...
xxx
That's it for pilot salaries, the way the airlines see it, and we see it - quite a different matter, obviously. And you mention stock options... ok, pieces of worthless paper. Let's get paid hard cash. Today - Southwest is doing fine, but will it be the same 20 years from now.
xxx
After all, I joined the most respected international airline, which PanAm was, in 1969. We had ordered 25 B-747s... SSTs were coming. What is left of it. And yes, I had an offer of a job from TWA as well, and from Eastern Airlines, EAL back then was the top US air carrier... What is left of them...?
xxx
Happy contrails, I am happy in Argentina  Big grin
(s) Skipper
 
AA717driver
Posts: 1502
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2002 8:27 am

RE: As Time Goes By: Many 767s Bound For Scrapping

Tue Sep 09, 2003 12:09 pm

Excellent post, skipper. Hope you are enjoying your post-PAA career. Too bad it didn't last. Sad

Take care.TC(ex-TWA L1011 & 767 Int'l)
FL450, M.85

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