Career as an Airline Pilot

AFSS5602

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Feb 19, 2009
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As a kid I had always dreamed of being a pilot. I dreamed of the thrill of getting paid to cruise the skies as super fast speeds and see new and exotic places. That dream led me to one of the best aviation universities where I began flight training to become an airline pilot. While there I earned all my pilot licenses and ratings and got a top notch education. However, I also leaned the real truth behind a career as a pilot.

The days of six figure income glamorous pilots was now mostly a thing of the past. The airline industry was but a shell of what it once was. Destructive competition was a unique phenomenon not understood when deregulation took place. The average starting pay for pilots at small commuters is now only 10k-15k a year. No where near enough to live off of let alone pay off student loan debt. Also, you probably wont keep your job that long before you are laid off. Everyone I know who took the pilot route has gone into other careers. Like me they were frustrated by slave wages, horrible working shifts/conditions, and constant lay offs.

I was lucky to find my way into air traffic where I have a much better lifestyle and much better pay. I work with many ex airline pilots who tell me tales of horrific things. Meager pay, shifting home bases, not enough rest between shifts, and being forced to fly very fatigued are common from talking to all of them.

I would like to hear from some of you on your thoughts on careers as an airline pilot.
 

captaingary

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Oct 4, 2008
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Re: Career as an airline pilot

There's a thread I started in the airline pilot forum which includes a discussion about this. I'm an E145 FO and can attest to how you feel. I do love the flying and the travel, and am hopeful for the future. Hopefully Colgan 3407 will serve as a wake up call to regulators about the deteriorating conditions of the profession. I can't put my life on hold any longer though, and I'm thrilled about this OTS hiring opportunity.
 

rdaher

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May 27, 2009
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It's great to hear you guys have had the same experience I did. I used to commute from SNA to STL then LAX to IAD for the latter half of my tenure. Sleeping on the crew room floor after the red-eye trans-con flight for an hour just before the start of a 16 hour work day was the normal routine. Flying a jet is a blast of course, but after the 100th time it's just another job with no money and no life not to mention all of the unhealthy aspects (i.e. lack of sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise and the toll it takens on any relationship.) I too am excited about ATC. Hopefully coming from 121 backgrounds we will have an advantage. I think most of us can relate about wanting to fly since we were kids...but the lucky ones have also realized that a great lifestyle etc. are things of the past and are moving on to bigger and better things with an experience most people will never have.
 

ATCtower

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Oct 26, 2008
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To be honest, it actually quite saddens me every time I read something like this. Like you both I am sure, I grew up with the marvelous dream of being an airline pilot. I started flying on my 14th birthday, and began climbing the ranks and certs. About 3.5 years into my BS degree, I realized there were more downfalls than perks.

At that point I decided missing out on family gatherings, kids soccer games, births, etc., compiled with the rash of layoffs and furloughs, was not worth the odd dream I was now questioning why I even had to begin with.

I for one will still fly, but only recreationally and have no intentions of going beyond the MEII. To me, flying in the context that a GA pilot will is still fun, exciting, and as awe inspiring as it has always been for me (even with the tripple in price for a Cessna in 3 years). The realization of a childhood dream being let go certainly is difficult, but I am so thankful for so many of you getting the opportunity to go ATC as IMHO, it is a field far superior to being "a big dumb bus driver of the sky" as it has so eloquently become.

My $.02
 

AFSS5602

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Feb 19, 2009
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I wonder sometimes where it all went wrong. How did one of the most well paid and prestigious jobs in the world end up becoming what it is today. I think part of the problem is that the industry was allowed to get away with considering "flight time" to be payment. The grocery store and the landlord don't care about your E145 time, they want some of the measly 15k that the airlines out there now pay. These pilots out there have worked incredibly hard to be what they are and unfortunately are no longer valued like they should be.
 

irishcarbomb

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Dec 3, 2008
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I wonder sometimes where it all went wrong. How did one of the most well paid and prestigious jobs in the world end up becoming what it is today.
SJS - Shiny Jet Syndrome - the driving force of so many young pilots to take crap wages just to be able to fly a jet...forever chasing that PIC turbine to eventually move on to a major.

an interesting read...
Shiny-Jet-Syndrome: The Career Killer | TheFlyingToga.com

and now, with regionals getting into 100+ seats and scope clauses being throne out the window...its just gonna get worse...


and the prestige is still there, just not in the US...
 

nevets

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Jul 9, 2009
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SJS - Shiny Jet Syndrome - the driving force of so many young pilots to take crap wages just to be able to fly a jet...forever chasing that PIC turbine to eventually move on to a major.

an interesting read...
Shiny-Jet-Syndrome: The Career Killer | TheFlyingToga.com

and now, with regionals getting into 100+ seats and scope clauses being throne out the window...its just gonna get worse...


and the prestige is still there, just not in the US...
I think that the root of the problem is in fact scope relief. I think that SJS is just a symptom of scope relief.
 

dustoff80

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Aug 14, 2009
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MA
What happens when a pilot screws up? Pilot buys the farm.

What happens when a controller screws up? Pilot buys the farm.

Enough said about the state of this industry.
 

Dream_Land

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Feb 23, 2010
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Las Vegas
My 2 cents

a field far superior to being "a big dumb bus driver of the sky" as it has so eloquently become.
Ah, love it when someone that has no clue about the job goes on to tell me how bad it is, keep flying your tower pal, morons like you don't belong on a real flight deck.
 

FALCON

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May 7, 2009
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Re: My 2 cents

Ah, love it when someone that has no clue about the job goes on to tell me how bad it is, keep flying your tower pal, morons like you don't belong on a real flight deck.
:p
Once while walking through the airport a pilot came up to me and said "Hey, hows it going?". So I grabbed his arm and twisted it up behind his head and said "Now whose asking the questions?"
:p
Instead of applying at NW Delta USairways continental and united, what about just going to the Bahamas and catching some rays? Maybe you'll find yourself broke and unemployed but you probably wouldn't have ever gotten a job anyway; that's my point. Pretty soon they will all be the same airline...and it will be bankrupt.:p
:p
You says the interesting thing about flying is that it's a viable career? Come on, buddy, Grow up. Stop squirting mustard up you nose and put your pants on.
 

BOBLOBLAW

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Jul 20, 2010
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Re: My 2 cents

Once while walking through the airport a pilot came up to me and said "Hey, hows it going?". So I grabbed his arm and twisted it up behind his head and said "Now whose asking the questions?"
Instead of applying at NW Delta USairways continental and united, what about just going to the Bahamas and catching some rays? Maybe you'll find yourself broke and unemployed but you probably wouldn't have ever gotten a job anyway; that's my point. Pretty soon they will all be the same airline...and it will be bankrupt.
You says the interesting thing about flying is that it's a viable career? Come on, buddy, Grow up. Stop squirting mustard up you nose and put your pants on.
Quite Interesting LMAO