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Frieght/passenger airlines

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Well-known member
Nov 25, 2001
I was just wondering if you guys could give me some of the various advantages and disadvantages of working for a freight airline, and just the regular passenger airlines. Please just compare and contrast anything you would like. Also, how is the earnings different?
Well, it all depends :)

Majority of the freight flies at night, such as Domestic Next-Day-Air stuff. So the Caravans, Fokkers, and Beech 99s don't see much daylight. Evening departures and Early morning arrivals. It's all driven by a central sort at the hubs. However, at FedEx mainline (i.e, the jets flown by FedEx pilots, not contractors) it is to be noted that the majority of the fleet is widebody and an abundance of lfying is done in daylight. (Somebody can help me out with the specifics). So freight is not necessarily flying clapped-out equipment in the dark of night. Also it is more likely that you'll be able to live and fly out of an out-station instead of the big-city hubs. That usually isn't possible on the passenger side without commuting.

But boxes don't complain. Extra layers of hassle have been added to the lives of pilots at the passenger carriers since 9/11.

Just a few factors to consider.
I would say that less than half of the FedEx flying is considered daytime, but it's kind of weird day flying. For example, there are alot of flights that leave MEM at approx. 4 pm, go to a destination and sit for a few hours, then return to MEM at about midnight. There are some flights that leave at 4 pm, then layover at a destination overnight and return first thing in the morning, and then you do that again at 4 pm. With those, you wind up having several hours in MEM at the hub. To long to stay there and to short to go home type of deal. However, they are still better than hub turning. For example, leave MEM at 3 am, fly 2 hours to ATL, layover and sleep all day until 10 pm, leave for MEM, arrive at midnight, then sit around and wait until 3 am to leave for ATL again. I'm in the 727 so these are what I see. The widebody guys do things a little different, I think they have less hub turning.

I would take the flying where I am in a second over the pax flying, especially now with the craziness at all the airports. As far as the pay goes, it's less than the Big 3, but, since I've been here less than a year, it beats what I would be making if I was at a Big 3 right now (i.e. on the street).

Good luck
I fly for a UPS feeder out of MKE and I love the flying. The company I fly for has 402's and Beech 99's. I have been here for a month now after getting furloughed from a regional. I like the flying here much better then I did at the regional. I have a set schedule every month work only a couple of hours a day, and make more money!! The only downside is I only fly 2 hours a day. My weeks start on Monday evening around 7:30pm when I show up at the airport for an 8:15 departure. I fly 1 hour drop off the freight at the UPS ramp and then go over to our crew house in MKE which 7 of us stay at for the night then show up at 5:15am the next day for a 6am departure. I am at home by 7:30 and have all day to do whatever I want to. I get done on Saturday mornings at 7:30 and have all weekend to do whatever I want until Monday evening. I think I may want to be a freight dog for the rest of my life.
FedEx international flying is mostly done when the sun is up. Now, with the time zones, how you want to define that (day/night) is up to you!

Can you guys give me specifics about the pay? How does working for freight companies compare with the regualr airlines?
Flying for a FedEx or UPS feeder is generally more pay then at a Regional for an FO or even more then a junior captin. Where I work pay starts around 25,000 a year and up to 46,000 a year.
Which way to go?

Cardinal said:
Well, it all depends :)

But boxes don't complain. Extra layers of hassle have been added to the lives of pilots at the passenger carriers since 9/11.

I see this a lot "Deadheading" to/from work on the majors. I prefer now to simply jumpseat on a FedEx jet to save me the hassle if I can swing it.

A good indicator of which way to go is to see what pax/cargo carries were left standing after 9/11 (without furloughing). I know the economy was in the sewer and timing is everything but if you want to take the most conservative approach to your decision making process this may be something to consider. You may not get rich flying for SWA, Jetblue or FDX compared to DAL or UAL but you're not on the street furloughed.....
Air Inc. Has the profile for UPS in the Nov Issue,
Pilot Pay is as follows:

Year --- FE ---- FO ---- Capt
1 $2.167 --- 2.167 --- 2.167
2 5.287 --- 6.814 --- 11.749
5 7.011 --- 8.834 --- 14.022
10 9.524 --- 11.195 --- 16.709
12 9.885 --- 11.584 --- 17.290

Monthly rates guaranteed 82hrs/month.
2% pay increase for 07/13/02.
Pay is not defferentated by aircraft type, 12 yrs represents max longevity pay in all positions.
International override: Capt=$6.50/hr, FO=$4.50/hr, FE=$4.50
* info taken from Air inc.

As you can see flying freight can be as profitable as flying for the top 3.
Good Luck!!!

I would put exactly ZERO faith in those pay Air Inc charts. They're just like FITREPs (Fitness Reports for you non military guys). They are remotely based in fact, but for the most part are inaccurate. They skew those numbers to make it look like guys make more than is really realistic. I don't want to start an Air Inc bashing thread because that horse has been beaten senseless, but those numbers are usually inflated.

The best way to post pay is just go with the hourly rate. Obviously there are other factors like BLG, etc., but you can get the best idea from that.

I don't have a FedEx contract in front of me, so I can't quote all the rates, but I do know that a 1st year 727 S/O gets about $48/hour, a 2nd year S/O gets $58/hour, and a 2nd year widebody F/O get about $107/hour. Again, I'm going from memory, so they aren't exact.

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