FY06 ACP Bonus

Sandlapper

Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Posts
6
Total Time
2800+
Any fellow AF pilots taking the bonus this year? $25K/year...but no 50% up front.

I'd like to hear from those of you that did/didn't take previous bonuses & what you think of your decision after the fact....thanks -
 

AlbieF15

F15 Ret/FDX/InterviewPrep
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
1,764
Total Time
6000
Sandlapper,

I took one bonus in 1996 (12k/year) as I had a dream job waiting (F15 IP/Europe) and no airline leads. My wife and I wanted to continue exploring the world, our girls were very young, and I was having a great time in my career. In 2002 I passed on the 25k/year to 20/25 years as I wanted to settle down, become part of a community, and puruse an airline career. So...I've been on both sides of the issue.

Best way to solve this ask yourself what you want to do next 10 years. If life outside military is the goal (airlines, law school, business, contracting etc) then no amount of money will make you feel good when you get shacked for a 120/180/365 day contingency TDY or remote somewhere. You will also hate not flying and being on a staff tour if you didn't want to be there. There are no guarantees in the airline gig, but IF you can get a job the Q of life (for some people--myself included) is very enjoyable. On the other hand, if raging around the world in a C-17 is a dream gig, or you love teaching in the T-6, getting another 25k a year for something you love to do is awesome.

Whatever you do, don't get overly enamored with an extra 2k a month. After taxes, what you have left will pay a mortgage or keep you in a nice car the rest of your career. However, talk to a year 2 or 3 guy at FDX or SWA and ask what they have to do to make an extra couple grand. If you are willing to work a bit, you can GET the money. A year 2 guy at FDX can pick up an extra trip or two some months and easily make that much. Also--you can make 25k with ONE GOOD DEAL if you become a realtor, or by selling a few mortgages a month on the side. You may have other skills or abilities you can market on the side. Again--I'm not saying making 25k year is peanuts, but if you are willing to work to get yourself into something besides just flying for the AF you will likely find a way to make a few extra bucks. So...follow your heart, don't chase dollars.

If security (pension, 2 checks a month, etc) is paramount it is hard to beat the military. If you are more adventurish, perhaps you can find something good on the outside. I know there are a BUNCH of smiling faces on former military guys at FDX who bailed out early, and even though we passed on a pension and the security I don't see a lot of moping and sulking. Guys at Delta or AA might tell you a story 180 out, however, so its a very personal decision.

In any case, with C17 or T6 stink on you finding a part-time ANG/Reserve job should not be too hard. That would allow you to straddle the middle ground--chase dreams outside the service but still have a job that will feed the family in hard times. It also allows you to look in the mirror and still see someone who serves the nation. That angle worked for me--not for everyone but I have enjoyed every minute.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

L'il J.Seinfeld

Luckiest man alive
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Posts
420
Total Time
>1500
I opted out of the USAF a few months ago. I finshed an MBA and started to pursue leads in the business world. I worked the airline angle very aggresively but assumed with all of the furloughees that I would not stand a chance. To my surprise I got hired at UPS and SWA and chose UPS. I also got interview calls from all but a few places where I had applied. Your experience in OIF/OEF and flying a heavy jet/glass cockpit around the world makes you very marketable.

I joined the USAFR and am struggling through first year pay at UPS. My take home pay is $800 every 2 weeks. I can make double just doing a few days in the Reserves so I highly recommend the ANG/USAFR when/if you make a transition. Rumors abound regarding our new contract but most folks think second year pay could be in the 120-130k range. You work a whole lot less at the airlines compared to the military and that will add to your QOL immensely.

I loved the USAF but grew cynical and could not deal with the self-serving careerists at the O-5/O-6 level who only care about getting promoted. They seemed to become the rule rather than the exception, especially in AMC. I would do it over again even if the airline thing did not work out. Don't be intimadated by the large number of furloughess out there. If you work your contacts and market yourself well you'll get hired by an airline. I categorized the airline into four groups. UPS, Fed EX and SWA are the top tier because they have great pay, great QOL, growth and are the best bet for a secure future. Air Tran, Jet Blue, Continental, Frontier, Alaska are second tier because their futures look good, but their is still substantial risk involved. Group three IMO are Atlas, Gemini, and World. Good pay and better than USAF QOL but uncertain futures. Group four are the bottom feeders CAT, Airnet, all the fracs and regionals. I respect the folks who work there but I could not support my family working for anyone in Group 4. I would have probably taken any job in the top three groups.

If you stay, please do it because you love being a leader. Don't do it because you want the perceived prestige associated with rank. It's a tough choice, but at least for me, you have to put your wife and kids first. Best of luck.

LJS
 

semperfido

Keep Humpin
Joined
Dec 5, 2004
Posts
1,873
Total Time
11K+
L'il J.Seinfeld said:
I categorized the airline into four groups. UPS, Fed EX and SWA are the top tier because they have great pay, great QOL, growth and are the best bet for a secure future. Air Tran, Jet Blue, Continental, Frontier, Alaska are second tier because their futures look good, but their is still substantial risk involved. Group three IMO are Atlas, Gemini, and World. Good pay and better than USAF QOL but uncertain futures. Group four are the bottom feeders CAT, Airnet, all the fracs and regionals.
The tiers tend to change over time. i can remember when UPS and Fedex were tier 4 and SWA wasn't even on a map. :)
 

L'il J.Seinfeld

Luckiest man alive
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Posts
420
Total Time
>1500
semperfido said:
The tiers tend to change over time. i can remember when UPS and Fedex were tier 4 and SWA wasn't even on a map. :)
Exactly, just my opinion and everyone has to make their own choice. I hate artificial paradigms that others try to impose and my intent was to only share my conclusions and not force my paradigm on our friend here.

I know the joy and elation folks must have felt 5-10 years ago after finally getting hired by a legacy carrier. It was not that long ago when United was making money hand over fist. I find it odd that some legacy pilots still try to apply the paradigm from 10 years ago to today. By that I mean NWA and United pilots denying the jumseat to Jetblue guys trying to get to work. I had a 777 United pilot snicker at me when I told him I felt very lucky to have gotten hired with UPS. Would anyone really prefer to be a 5 year Delta FO over being a 5 year CA at Air Tran? Who knows, in 2011 the legacies could all be making billions again.
 

Sandlapper

Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Posts
6
Total Time
2800+
yep...

Thanks for the insightful replies. I've looked at this decision from all the mentioned angles. The tough part is that with a wife, kids, & mortgage...what's really in their best interest? If I had a job lined up w/ UPS, FedEx, SWA, etc...it would be a no-brainer. In a way, I actually wish there wasn't a bonus - I'd hate think I'd committed myself to 10 more years of blue Kool-aid for a fat check. But that's exactly what the AF wants me to struggle with...and it's obviously working. I've loved my time in the Air Force - it's by far been the most rewarding job I could have asked for. Just don't know if I'll be singing the same tune 5 years downt the road. Thanks again for the insight -
 

RampFreeze

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
62
Total Time
20 yrs
It's not all bad on active duty...

The one thing that dictates QOL more than anything else at the airlines is seniority. So, the argument is easy that you need to get hired as soon as possible to maximize your returns. However, there is another side to the coin. The airlines are hiring military retirees in droves which is a big change from years ago when you were out of the game after age 35. It isn't a bad deal to be a new hire at an airline, making lousy pay, while also bringing in $35,000+/year for just waking up in the morning as a 20-yr military retiree. It is also nice furlough insurance so that you can pay the mortgage if things at your company turn bad down the road. (or something happens medically and you lose your airline job - especially in that first year before the big benefits kick in) You can also run the numbers and see that you can make a strong financial case now for staying in until 20 and then going to the airlines and ending up with roughly the same $$$ as if you had gotten out at the 11-12 year point and not received a bonus, retirement pay, etc. This is radically different from the airline salary figures you saw 5 years ago. Will it change back - maybe...

Another huge thing to consider is health insurance. Anyone with more than 5 minutes in the military will have a military healthcare/TRICARE nightmare story to tell you. However, after retirement, you don't need the military hospital, just the insurance plan. If you have more than one health insurance plan, (one from your new company and one from TRICARE) you'll find that they tend to overlap and what one plan doesn't cover, the other one does. If you don't think this is a big thing, ask anyone who is older (we are all living longer now) and stuck with one plan only - see what their out of pocket costs are. Some of the corporate stories of health insurance bureaucracy can surpass TRICAREs by far. Also, what you probably don't think about too much now is something that is huge later on. My parents spend hundreds of dollars each month on prescriptions that would be free if my dad/mom was a military retiree. That is a huge perk as we Americans look like we are going to start living to age 100 more routinely. (I'm not sure that is a good thing...:confused: )

Anyway, there is a good case to be made on either side of the equation and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Deployments, staff jobs and the AF bureaucracy can drive you nuts. But, life isn't always grand on the outside either. Just ask the hundreds of guys who came back onto active duty after 9-11. Full time reserve/guard isn't always a great deal either. Ask anyone who is a full timer about the "dirty dozen" (not getting a day off in 12 days so that you can do the UTA weekend plus your Mon-Fri job) and, oh by the way, they still get deployed. Or, the part timers who don't see their mil retirement checks until age 60 and then get less than active duty retirement checks pay. It is a really personal decision and there are a ton of variables.

Just one of many data points.
 
Last edited:

Hdawg

Active member
Joined
Aug 4, 2002
Posts
41
Total Time
4500
I got out last July after 13 years, turned down the big bonus (I was defered so I was still on UPT commitment as a Major and could have signed up for 12 years at $25k) and 2 years below the zone DP to LTC. No guard or reserve, I have never been happier.
 

Tnkr Pilot

Active member
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Posts
25
Total Time
3,000
When to Apply?

How soon should you start applying to the carriers/cargo before getting out? Also, are there companies out there that can turn an AF Hours Summary into a usefull product for a resume? To stay or go...an internal struggle that is extremely personal and unique to every family/person that has that choice offered. If you have a family include them in the decision...you may be surprised at the advice/feelings they will give you. There is a lot to be said for a retirement check at 42-45 year old along w/the benifits already mentioned. I'm still on the fence as well, but have 30 or so months to decide (not that I'm counting...well, I guess I am;)) . I think you have to set yourself up for sucess and open all the doors you can, so you can have control come decision time. Best of luck and God Bless.
 

HoursHore

Medieval Warrior
Joined
Aug 3, 2002
Posts
558
Total Time
4000+
2yr out, Get ATP/FEwritten / Medical. Apply to all airlines when in hand. Be truthful about availabilty. Update Monthly. As far as AF Flight Hours, Once you make AC, start tracking YOur PIC. Know aht flight you had the A Code and count that as PIC. You'll need to know this stuff for your ATP app as well.
 

AlbieF15

F15 Ret/FDX/InterviewPrep
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
1,764
Total Time
6000
Well...if you ask a guy who stayed until 20 if he values his retirement check, he will say "hell yes...its the best deal going..." However, my UPT classmate who flies with me at FDX and has about 2 million in real estate is thrilled he got out. So is another FDX bro who owns a water/coffee distributorship. I'm pretty happy with my lot in life... It all comes down to poker playing and how successful/lucky you feel. For every dude who limped back to active duty, there are some success stories on the outside. The question is, can YOU pick a path and not look over your shoulder?
 

Sandlapper

Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Posts
6
Total Time
2800+
Palace Chase

Anyone ever heard of someone taking the bonus, then applying for Palace Chase after 2-3 years? Would the AF be likely to approve the paperwork & forfeit the remaining portion of the unearned bonus? The whole point of Palace Chase is forgiving ADSC's for a xfer to the guard/reserve.... so this might be fair game. I couldn't find any verbage on AFPC's website that would exclude this. Anyone with any experience on this subject?
 

Aviator 737

New member
Joined
Jan 5, 2005
Posts
2
Total Time
5000+
Bonus Blues turned Bonanza

Here's my take: In Jan 99 I put sep papers (for Nov 99) in and applied to the airlines. During the next several months a lot happened. The squadron CC floated possible assignments by me that would help me change my mind...NWA called for an interview (which I did not go to)...and then the AF offered that second tier bonus for the first time. With an assignment of choice (T-1/I had small kids and wanted to be home) and the 25K bonus to 20 years of Aviation Service, I pulled my separation papers (Aug '99) and stayed in. In CY2000 I was seriously bummed - I thought I made a HUGE mistake as everyone was getting hired and life for them was great. I could barely stand AETC (missed the trips, etc.). Then 9/11 and I re-adjusted my perspective. It was a huge score in that context. I stayed in for the flying jobs - I am at 20 years of Aviation Service in May '06 and have had a fly-only career. So, not too bad in hind-sight on my "gamble." Now, however, I'm at that same point - I need a job (kids are still in elementary school) to make ends meet and starting the app process again. That bridge is always there to cross sooner or later. Any FedEx pilots out there that can tell me how far out they interview? I applied in Sep for a Jan '07 availability...thanks for any help. 20 years goes by fast believe it or not.
 

Deuce130

Durka Durka Jihad!
Joined
Jun 9, 2005
Posts
1,237
Total Time
3000
Aviator 737 said:
Here's my take: In Jan 99 I put sep papers (for Nov 99) in and applied to the airlines. During the next several months a lot happened. The squadron CC floated possible assignments by me that would help me change my mind...NWA called for an interview (which I did not go to)...and then the AF offered that second tier bonus for the first time. With an assignment of choice (T-1/I had small kids and wanted to be home) and the 25K bonus to 20 years of Aviation Service, I pulled my separation papers (Aug '99) and stayed in. In CY2000 I was seriously bummed - I thought I made a HUGE mistake as everyone was getting hired and life for them was great. I could barely stand AETC (missed the trips, etc.). Then 9/11 and I re-adjusted my perspective. It was a huge score in that context. I stayed in for the flying jobs - I am at 20 years of Aviation Service in May '06 and have had a fly-only career. So, not too bad in hind-sight on my "gamble." Now, however, I'm at that same point - I need a job (kids are still in elementary school) to make ends meet and starting the app process again. That bridge is always there to cross sooner or later. Any FedEx pilots out there that can tell me how far out they interview? I applied in Sep for a Jan '07 availability...thanks for any help. 20 years goes by fast believe it or not.
It's taking four to six months after the "meet and greet" with your sponsor and ACP to get the interview. After the interview, you could start within 2 weeks, though I just had a buddy get a class date 6 weeks after his interview. If you're date of availability is over a year out, you're in good shape.
 

fly4unclesam

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Posts
47
Total Time
6500+
I just took the FY 05 bonus. I am a Maj who just finished my pilot training ADSC (late rated). I had actually decided to separate from the AF but still had some time remaining on another ADSC (beyond my pilot training one). I taked to AFPC to see if they would waive it under Force Shaping and they indicated that they would. Withy that, I interviewed with a major and was hired. Of course, in typical fashon, once my paperwork flowed, they turned me down and sent me to a staff job (luckily, the airline was very understanding and understands how the personnel weenies like to play tricks). Once this happened, it was a no-brainer...since I would have 16 years in before I would eligible to get out again.

I must admit, the money is nice and more and more the thought of a government pension/health care for life is appealing. Unfortuantley, I have not had the fly-only career that Aviator 737 has had...4 years non-rated and now a 3 year staff tour. Luckily, I have not completed my 2nd gate so I am pretty much assured to return to the cockpit for my last tour.

Also like Aviator 737, I often sit back and wonder what life on the other side would be like...although deep inside I think it worked out for the best. So, I just have to suck it up for a few more years, get back into the cockpit, and retire at 42 years old.

All you can do is make the best decision you can with the information that you have at the time (which is always incomplete) while also considering the level of risk that you are willing to accept. With a wife who is a stay home mom of three young kids, I was very risk-adverse and only put in to get out once I had something else lined up.

Good luck!
 

K-Mart

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Posts
317
Total Time
...
fly4unclesam said:
I just took the FY 05 bonus. I am a Maj who just finished my pilot training ADSC (late rated). I had actually decided to separate from the AF but still had some time remaining on another ADSC (beyond my pilot training one). I taked to AFPC to see if they would waive it under Force Shaping and they indicated that they would. Withy that, I interviewed with a major and was hired. Of course, in typical fashon, once my paperwork flowed, they turned me down and sent me to a staff job (luckily, the airline was very understanding and understands how the personnel weenies like to play tricks). Once this happened, it was a no-brainer...since I would have 16 years in before I would eligible to get out again.

I must admit, the money is nice and more and more the thought of a government pension/health care for life is appealing. Unfortuantley, I have not had the fly-only career that Aviator 737 has had...4 years non-rated and now a 3 year staff tour. Luckily, I have not completed my 2nd gate so I am pretty much assured to return to the cockpit for my last tour.

Also like Aviator 737, I often sit back and wonder what life on the other side would be like...although deep inside I think it worked out for the best. So, I just have to suck it up for a few more years, get back into the cockpit, and retire at 42 years old.

All you can do is make the best decision you can with the information that you have at the time (which is always incomplete) while also considering the level of risk that you are willing to accept. With a wife who is a stay home mom of three young kids, I was very risk-adverse and only put in to get out once I had something else lined up.

Good luck!
Smart!!
 
Top