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Atlas / Polar Pilots - Advice Requested

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Captain Monkey Suit

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2005
I am in the pool to come to Atlas / Polar and am very interested in the prospect. If you work for AAWH, it would be helpful getting some answers to the following questions so that I can make a more educated decision based on the pros and cons...

On the plus side, my current job is corporate / charters for a very stable company, flying a small, private jet as a Captain for high $80k's / year (I don't expect much more than a 2% raise / year), a "week on - week off" work schedule, 3 weeks of vacation / year, and a 401k with a 50% company match. On the other hand, this job is like a commuter…lots of takeoffs and landings with short legs, long work days, and short rest periods are the norm (14 /10), loading baggage (bad on the back), re-stocking the aircraft / passenger items, cleaning the aircraft / toilet, and Flight Attendant duties (in addition to your standard pilot duties). Not exactly glamorous, but it pays the bills and probably better than a lot of jobs out there.

Now…on to the MANY questions that I have for you Atlas / Polar pilots. Any answers would be a BIG help in my decision. Thanks in advance...

1) PAY: I have no debt, dependents, and love to travel but the training pay is a tough pill to swallow. Does the company pay for the hotel during training? Is the training about 4 months at $1200/month? Is training pay done at the start or end of IOE? My understanding is that your first year of flying online will provide a monthly guarantee of 50 hours. At Polar that works out to a monthly salary of $3100 and at Atlas that is a monthly salary of $3750. Can I count on overtime? When you upgrade to Captain, do you start at year 1, or do you get paid for the number of years at Atlas / Polar? For example, if you upgrade from F/O at year 5, do you get year 5 Captain's pay, or do you start at year 1 pay?

2) OUTLOOK: I understand that the Atlas contract expires in 2006, when are negotiations to begin? What are some of the issues or expectations that Atlas pilots are wanting to resolve? When do you expect the merging of the pilot groups, if at all? What can I expect for long-term job security? If furloughed, how easy is it to find another job with the wide-body & international experience? I have been told by other cargo pilots that cargo charters aren't very stable. Is this true?

3) QAULITY OF LIFE: I have heard that Polar provides a better quality of life with the schedules, than does Atlas with the ACMI's. Could someone please elaborate on the differences in the quality of life between Scheduled flying vs. ACMI's. I expect long duty days, but do you get minimum international rest frequently, or do you get more time to see a bit of the city and local sights? A lot of back-side-of-the-clock flying? Do you get plenty of rest on the road? What about relief crews on long flights? Are all the international customs documents / paperwork completed by the company or the pilots?

4) DOMICILES: At Atlas, I expect to commute to STN for about 6 months to a year, then I should be able to hold a US domicile. At Polar you start at JFK. At the interview, STN was explained well, but the US commute and domiciles is where I am a bit fuzzy. What can you explain about the quality of life for commuting to US domiciles?

5) SCHEDULE: I understand that the work schedule is 17 work days a month (extendable to 21 days). What should I expect at Polar or Atlas (US domicile based schedules) in terms of a schedule? You don't work 17 - 21 days straight, do you? Is there enough consecutive time off to have a reasonably normal personal life?

6) TAXES: Anyone familiar with living abroad vs. taxes? I understand that if you reside outside of the US for more than 320 days / year, you can avoid taxes in the US (Ex-Patriot Act?). What about living in Europe? Any suggestions on web sites or good locations in Europe? I hear that Isle of Man is tax free.

7) PILOT - COMPANY RELATIONS: Do you like your job? Are the relations with the company on a professional basis and team oriented (notwithstanding that Polar had to go on strike in relation to contract negotiations)? Does Polar have their new ratified contract posted online for us to review?
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Hey 744......

Could You Pm Me The Info As Well ..... I Too Am In The Pool At Atlas And Was Wondering The Exact Same Things As Capt Monket Suit. We Think Alike Apparently.

If Not Maybe Capt Monkey Suit Could Forward The Pm Onto Me. Thanks In Advance Guys For The Heads Up.
I was going to start posting answers to each of your questions, but some of the differences between Atlas and Polar are too time consuming to explain.

Some examples are $1200 vs $1400 during training, when you go on regular pay at each, work schedule is 17 days at Atlas extendable to 21, Polar is 16 days NOT extendable.

Anyway, I would start by reviewing each of their contracts. They are available on the web at:


The new Polar extended contract LOA is not on there yet, but it is 10.5% better pay and a 5% 401k contribution instead of 2%.

The payrates at http://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/ are up-to-date.
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