Consumerist: "Should a First Officer Make More Than 23k?" Ill informed Commenters

Voice Of Reason

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Consumerist: "Should a First Officer Make More Than 23k?" Ill informed Commenters

http://consumerist.com/5259765/should-a-first-officer-make-more-than-23900-a-year

More of the usual idiocy from the commenters (public): (ie: F/O not "the PILOT," inability to separate regionals from majors, the Colgan F/O was a woman, therefore "glass ceiling," pilots only "work" 80 hrs a month since that is all they are paid for)...argh....Need some informed people over there...they often have idiotic posts about the airlines but this one takes the cake. Amazing how the "news" is created today in blogs, thus muddling the actual problem once the public actually does get some info...
 
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michael707767

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"Why don't these low-paid pilots just work in retail if it pays just as much? It appears that there is a surplus of pilots willing to work for low pay."

I read all the comments, but this one hits the nail on the head. As long as pilots are willing to take these jobs at the salaries they offer, then the pay is fine.
 

blzr

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Good point. Most pilots out there that went the Regional rout started @ $19-$25k and worked there way up. There is an expectation that ONE day we will either upgrade or move on to a major and make more money. The bad part is that if you are a 10 year captain at a regional and making $80k and you get hired at FedEx or UPS, Delta or United, you have to take a SUBSTANTIAL pay cut the first year or two and then the pay gets up there again.
 

hindsight2020

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I don't know, I read the thread and I found the "public" rather well-grounded and common-sensical...something our aspiring regional pilots lack sorely. Yeah there were hyperbolic posts and false analogies, but by and large most of these 'laymen' and paying public on there correctly pointed out the unwillingness of aspiring pilots to walk away from the proposition of making 25K-45K for the better part of a decade for the responsibility of undertaking the care of other people's lives for a couple hours at a time.

And I think the 'uninformed public' is right. My favorite one was when somebody offered the opinion that when the only way to gain the experience necessary was taking a 20K job you don't have a choice but to take it, the original poster roughly replied: 'I love to ride rollercoasters, but if they told me they would pay me $7/hr to do it professionally, I'd have to turn them down'. This is what regional pilots don't get. That they cover the sun with one hand and continue to profess that the undercompensation only lasts a couple of years and then it's money-time is just further dispossession talking.

For all the bootstrap bravado 20K-a-pop-pilots argue they possess as a function of their undercompensation, there sure is an awful lot of entitlement complex behind it. Nobody's entitled to anything in this market, and pilots are thick to the concept of being priced out of your dreams. Furthermore, by financing them all you do is shift the time curve to the right, but you don't positively effect anything. Pilots are not the only ones in this world who face the starving artist's dilema, I submit the rest of these 'uninformed public' posters are quite familiar with the idea of doing something you may come to detest to provide the money and time to do what you actually love to do that wouldn't pay the bills if pursued full-time. The difference is of course, we are talking about the lives of people in a high subsonic aluminum bus; it can't stop on the side of the road, pink flesh doesn't take well to 300IAS-0 in zero seconds, and there's no reverse gear on the thing. Flying should be a utility, it's already a commodity and you can't blame the "flying public" either for viewing this method of transportation as such.

The gig is up, scope relaxation, capacity constriction and cabotage will overtake whatever retirement upflow that the ocean of pilots on the street today are white-knuckle crosssing their fingers for starting 2013. There will be no pilot shortage and consequent pay raise. The best we can hope for, post-boomer generation, is to make the industry not gravitate to its present logical conclusion (cabotage) and make it an outright utility at the expense of these zero to hero dreamers and career changers, otherwise we'll just continue to allow hungry marginally qualified button pushers to kill people 50 at a time for an economically insolvent dream of theirs, until the opportunity cost for the average consumer of facing likely death is higher than the 'indignity' of driving everywhere. This madness has to stop and cutting off the student loan racket is a huge remarkable step towards achieving said goal.
 
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thepotato232

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By and large, I'd say The Consumerist has a more informed readership on average than, say, Flightinfo. For those who don't feel like wading through the muck:

What's happened is that as an industry they've under-cut themselves to death.
No matter how hard an airline tries to differentiate itself the consumer still makes all decisions driven by price.
I am a web software developer making considerably more than that (by several times)... and I would hope a pilot would make significantly more than me.
The exchange between ekthesy (not a pilot, arguing in our favor) vs. Esquire99 (commercial pilot, laissez-faire type) really drove home the whole "we're our own worst enemy" idea.
 
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Voice Of Reason

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By and large, I'd say The Consumerist has a more informed readership on average than, say, Flightinfo. For those who don't feel like wading through the muck:



The exchange between ekthesy (not a pilot, arguing in our favor) vs. Esquire99 (commercial pilot, laissez-faire type) really drove home the whole "we're our own worst enemy" idea.
Don't believe for a second that Esquire99 is a pilot....he has the exact script as the likes of B*9Fly*r (Ford & Harrison lackey for those who don't know) who spends his entire workday posting the exact drivel all over the internet to manipulate public perception (and paid handsomely by the airlines to do so). That's why more real pilots are needed over there to dispel his Cr@p and the other fallacies that most certainly ARE on the comment section over there (subject matter as listed in my first post).
 
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WayBack

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The bad part is that if you are a 10 year captain at a regional and making $80k and you get hired at FedEx or UPS, Delta or United, you have to take a SUBSTANTIAL pay cut the first year or two and then the pay gets up there again.
And this is where ALPA has failed once again. They need to get this where if you transfer airlines, you start getting paid based on 121 experience.
Any other profesion, such as an engineer, when applying to a new company can negotiate pay. Why the hell are pilots any different?
 

AC560

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Any other profesion, such as an engineer, when applying to a new company can negotiate pay. Why the hell are pilots any different?
Because airline pilots belong to unions and in unions the only thing which impacts compensation is length of service?
 

machophil

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I notice the military guys are the ones blaming pilots for the crappy pay of regional life. Let me pose this question...

If your military benefits had been a fraction of what they were, would you still have served? Why?

You probably answered 'yes' because you love being in the armed forces, you love the duty-bound nature, and it prepares you for broader professional experiences. But aren't you glad the military isn't using your love of the profession against you?

Most regional guys LOVE the civil aviation profession for all the reasons you loved the armed forces. The difference is we're being subjugated simply because we're loyal professionals who love our jobs.

Prostitutes only work if the price is right. Professionals show up to work no matter the personal cost. But does that mean professionals shouldn't make a good wage?
 

Herkdrv

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I notice the military guys are the ones blaming pilots for the crappy pay of regional life. Let me pose this question...

If your military benefits had been a fraction of what they were, would you still have served? Why?

You probably answered 'yes' because you love being in the armed forces, you love the duty-bound nature, and it prepares you for broader professional experiences. But aren't you glad the military isn't using your love of the profession against you?

Most regional guys LOVE the civil aviation profession for all the reasons you loved the armed forces. The difference is we're being subjugated simply because we're loyal professionals who love our jobs.

Prostitutes only work if the price is right. Professionals show up to work no matter the personal cost. But does that mean professionals shouldn't make a good wage?
Really? Then why do pilots get offered substantial bonuses, health care bennies, retirement for life if you do 20, and countless other carrots? I'm not arguing the fact that most who serve have a deep sense of patriotism, and sacrifice a lot in their lives. But lets call a spade a spade. The military has realized they need to retain their investments and have attempted to just that. I seriously doubt that if the armed forces were to nickel and dime their pilots with slave wages you would see any of us stay in.
 

machophil

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So you're willing to risk your life in combat, kill other human beings (sometimes for dubious reasons), orphan your family for months at a time, and even risk permanent injury to yourself by serving, but if the price isn't right you wouldn't do it?

I don't think the boys and girls getting killed overseas are there because of the money.

The perks of the military aren't there because they're hard-up for pilots. The supply of qualified applicants is abundant. They're there because the military is managed by the same kind of honorable officers and soldiers who served before them. They're looking out for eachother.

Airline management does not grow from the pilot group, so we have a blatantly hostile relationship. With the fall of our unions after 9/11, we have become toothless in our own defense.
 

Herkdrv

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So you're willing to risk your life in combat, kill other human beings (sometimes for dubious reasons), orphan your family for months at a time, and even risk permanent injury to yourself by serving, but if the price isn't right you wouldn't do it?

I don't think the boys and girls getting killed overseas are there because of the money.

The perks of the military aren't there because they're hard-up for pilots. The supply of qualified applicants is abundant. They're there because the military is managed by the same kind of honorable officers and soldiers who served before them. They're looking out for eachother.

Airline management does not grow from the pilot group, so we have a blatantly hostile relationship. With the fall of our unions after 9/11, we have become toothless in our own defense.
You are not comprehending what I'm saying. The military initially has ZERO problems attracting young men and women to fly and fight for this country. The problem lies when these Officers reach their initial commitment. At this point the services start throwing bonuses to retain folks. With the promise of a pension, bonuses, pretty good salary, and other carrots many stay. I guarantee you if the services nickled and dimed you like the regionals NO ONE would stay after their initial commitment. That is the point I'm trying to make.
 

machophil

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The military initially has ZERO problems attracting young men and women to fly
So why is it that the military treats its junior grade officers well even though there are tons of qualified people who'd love that job?

The problem lies when these Officers reach their initial commitment. At this point the services start throwing bonuses to retain folks. With the promise of a pension, bonuses, pretty good salary, and other carrots many stay. I guarantee you if the services nickled and dimed you like the regionals NO ONE would stay after their initial commitment.
Yes but we ARE talking about the initial commitment timeframe of life. Nobody starts at a regional AFTER they've gained the experience they need to go to a major. People go to regionals when they've got a wet license and bills to pay, usually early in adult life.

Supply and demand arguments don't stand up. It's about who's in charge of the process of cultivating the pilot core. In the case of the airlines, management (anti-labor) is in full control.

So the answer is no, pilots should not be making so little. Did you know there are doctors and lawyers and engineers working for very little, sometimes pro-bono, in this country? Is that justice? No, but they do it because they love their jobs and gain valuable personal and professional experience in the process.
 

Lear70

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Yes but we ARE talking about the initial commitment timeframe of life. Nobody starts at a regional AFTER they've gained the experience they need to go to a major. People go to regionals when they've got a wet license and bills to pay, usually early in adult life.
You're missing the point, but you're sort of dancing around it, without realizing that you really DO understand the point we're making...

You say "nobody starts at a regional AFTER they've gained the experience they need to go to a major." You're EXACTLY RIGHT. That's why military aviators DON'T LEAVE THE MILITARY FOR THE FRAKKING REGIONALS!! And that's a problem, because the majors aren't hiring, for the most part. They have THOUSANDS of pilots on furlough. So if the military pilots won't go to a regional and CAN'T go to a Major, what do they do?

Get it now? We have a problem because the pay is SO LOW at the regionals, they cannot attract QUALIFIED pilots. Only puppy mill kids. Do you remember when the airlines paid so well and had such a good quality of life, you couldn't even get hired AT A REGIONAL without 2,500+ Total Time and the Military guys were standing in line at FAPA conventions?

I do.

Supply and demand arguments don't stand up. It's about who's in charge of the process of cultivating the pilot core. In the case of the airlines, management (anti-labor) is in full control.
No they're not. Airline management doesn't "cultivate" the pilot core. They HIRE their pilots, but only from the pool of applicants. That's the problem, NO ONE is "cultivating" the pilot core, they're just coming up however they can, clawing, kicking, and gnashing of teeth to get flight hours wherever they can, OR have Mommy and Daddy buy them a GIA slot.

THAT'S where our "pilot core" comes from these days, and it's lead to and overall piss-poor quality of applicants. 9 out of 10 of them couldn't pass the JAA exams if they wanted to, much less fly the airplane after training in a full blown emergency with the PIC incapacitated.

So the answer is no, pilots should not be making so little. Did you know there are doctors and lawyers and engineers working for very little, sometimes pro-bono, in this country? Is that justice? No, but they do it because they love their jobs and gain valuable personal and professional experience in the process.
Doctors do not work Pro Bono to gain experience. They do it because they want to give back to their communities, as well as the communities of people in 3rd world countries who would otherwise NEVER see a Doctor. I know, we have 3 of them in our immediate family, along with several Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Aenesthetists, and one plain old RN. That argument doesn't hold, my friend.

Attornies are closer to us in job expectations INITIALLY. 95% of them graduate law school and get out earning $40-50k while ambulance chasing or doing crap filing work for a few years. Almost NONE of them start out at $18k a year after Law School, and most go on to earn what we do pretty quickly, after starting at double or triple what we do.

Engineers,,, I have no idea. But you're arguing semantics in an overall issue that most of us don't agree with. The bottom line that most of us understand is that, in this day and age, the majority of exceptional pilots will either go to the military and won't ever leave again, thus depriving the civilian world of their skills, or they will quickly find a way into the corporate world and stay there, or they just won't stay in professional aviation at all, knowing they are capable of much more in terms of earning a decent living for themselves and their famiilies. That is a DIRECT RESULT of the Quality of Life and Career Pay Expectations that this industry is now suffering under.

I've watched the slow deterioration of new-hire pilots as a whole for the last 17 years. There are some good young aviators out there, even a few really great ones, but for the most part, I'm not impressed. Thankfully technology is helping make up for it, so the Children of the Magenta are evidently here to stay.
 

hockeypilot44

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I agree with the above post. If you are not sure if you are one of the pilots bringing our industry down, I'll just let you know. If you have no college education or military experience, are in ridiculous debt due to your flight training (100k or more), and working for a regional, then you are part of the problem. Anyone with sound judgment would not put him/herself in that situation, and anyone without sound judgment should not be flying airplanes. If you are $100,000 in debt and a regional first officer, then you are basically working for free for five years just to pay off your debt. The problem is these pilots I just described think people respect them because they are airline pilots. The truth is the general public looks down on regional airline pilots. They have no respect for us because we don't even have respect for ourselves. I know too many pilots in their mid to late 20's that live off of their parents. Rant over.
 

machophil

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I think we all agree that no airline pilot should be making 20k/year.

What we disagree on is how we ended up with this reality. I argue that this is because of the decline of the labor movement. I refute the claim that this reality is due to principles of supply and demand. Both the military and regionals are breeding grounds for major airline pilots. Both career routes are stepping stones to the majors. Both routes have an abundant supply of qualified candidates. So why is it that one route offers a way better benefits package? That's not supply and demand.

There are still some great career spanning pilot jobs to be had with fierce competition to get hired; but then why don't we see those employers undercutting their pilots? Supply and demand principles dictate that they should be!

And in regards to "qualified" applicants, there's absolutely no evidence that majors, regionals, or uncle sam's pilots are statistically more or less qualified than each other, college boys or not. For every accident or personal story you mention, there'll be another from the oppositely qualified pilot to oppose your thesis.

This squeezing of essential professions is happening elsewhere. I know of good pediatricians losing their practices because parents can't afford to insure their kids! This is happening because of destructive market manipulation and lack of advocacy, not supply and demand.
 

nwaf16dude

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Comparing the military to the regionals is really an apples to oranges comparison. I don't think there are really many guys that join the military just to qualify to be airline pilots. Sure, there are some, but most of us did it because we wanted to fly military aircraft. Becoming qualified to be an airline guy is a nice consequence or fall back plan. Also, I really don't think many join because of the benefits. The benefits make people stay in, not get in. Then there is the service commitment. How many guys
would sign up to be regional airline pilots if you had to promise 11 years of your life to that company?

For me (and I think I'm pretty typical) it was a case of "I just can't stand the bs anymore" and the airlines were hiring at the time so I decided to give it a shot. I got out, got a reserve job, got hired at NW and off I went. I ended up furloughed, and was very lucky to have the mil to fall back on.

Most of the guys I know in the military aren't very interested in airline jobs anymore. Unless the pay and benefits of major airline jobs get better, I don't think regional guys have to worry about much competition from mil guys.
 

Jon Rivoli

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How about, raise the requirement for an ATP to 7K-8K hours. That would slow the slide downhill dramatically. The regionals would run out of qualified captains real quick.
 

Lear70

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Comparing the military to the regionals is really an apples to oranges comparison. I don't think there are really many guys that join the military just to qualify to be airline pilots. Sure, there are some, but most of us did it because we wanted to fly military aircraft. Becoming qualified to be an airline guy is a nice consequence or fall back plan. Also, I really don't think many join because of the benefits. The benefits make people stay in, not get in. Then there is the service commitment. How many guys
would sign up to be regional airline pilots if you had to promise 11 years of your life to that company?

For me (and I think I'm pretty typical) it was a case of "I just can't stand the bs anymore" and the airlines were hiring at the time so I decided to give it a shot. I got out, got a reserve job, got hired at NW and off I went. I ended up furloughed, and was very lucky to have the mil to fall back on.

Most of the guys I know in the military aren't very interested in airline jobs anymore. Unless the pay and benefits of major airline jobs get better, I don't think regional guys have to worry about much competition from mil guys.
That's EXACTLY our point...

The experienced military aviators with 10+ years of flight experience and the equivalent of 5,000-7,000+ TT will not GO to the regionals because the pay, benefits, and QOL are so piss-poor. I don't blame them.

That also means that the only place regionals can get pilots when the majors are hiring and the regionals are sucking wind for pilots is to hire the lowest-time Joe Schmoe that will take the job.

It's no secret anymore than you have to sacrifice 10 years of your LIFE just to get to a decent point in wage potential, and will NEVER have a shot at 6+ figures at MOST regionals unless you become a check airman that gets paid time and a half or unless you get lucky and get on with a major.

Therefore, the only good pilots we are getting are those who get into it because they love it. The majority of intelligent people will stay away from the career field, go do something else for a living to make money, and fly a cub or Citabria on nice weekends.

It's not comparing military to regionals that we're talking about, it's the lack of highly-qualified, experienced AVIATORS and not just guys who do the bare minimum through their ratings, buy their way into a puppy mill, and end up in the right seat with 500 hours and a blank stare when told to brief the HLN circle to the VOR approach in mountainous terrain then wait for two GPWS warnings to execute the GPWS escape procedure when they botch the approach AND screw up the missed approach and end up within 500 feet of a mountain. Pinnacle incident 3 or so years ago.

You can't put a price on experience in a safety-sensitive position, but you CAN price experienced, capable employees out of the seat altogether, thus ensuring that at least on some flights, you don't have experienced, capable employees in the seat. All you can do is hope and pray that you don't combine two people, one of which is inexperienced, the other of which isn't really capable, on a flight TOGETHER and then something happens. Oh wait,,,
 

nwaf16dude

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I agree that something needs to be done about the minimums at the regionals. I think requiring ATP minimums would be a great start. I've written my congressmen, how about you?
 
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