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UPS vs FedEx

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New member
Aug 7, 2002
Looking for some honest inputs from UPS/FedEx pilots about the best parts and worst parts of their job in comparison to their arch competitor.

I was fortunate enough to get placed in the hiring pool for UPS (#1 choice) almost a year ago, but recently started with FedEx (#2 choice). I am very impressed with Fed Ex and am wondering if I was wrong to have thought UPS the best place for my family and me. Although, if UPS called tomorrow, I'm not sure what I would do because I don't know what it's really like there. A few months of seniority might be worth giving up if it means a happier 20+ year career.

I am interested specific differences in work rules (ie. trip trading and other bidding advantages), vacation and sick policies, future pilot hiring plans (seniority advantages), commuting (amount of Dead Heads, Jump seating, etc.), perks (ie. Fed Ex's sleep rooms, etc.), how much better is Louisville than Memphis (thinking about moving to domicile), and anything else you think is applicable. More interested in life style stuff than money; I am sure I can live comfortably on either salary.

Of course if UPS doesn't hire this year or 2003, like some are saying, this post is moot for me; However, it may be helpful for the wanna bees who are now thinking a little night flying might not be so bad.
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OK, I'll bite...but where are Profile and BrownTail when you need them? With a whopping 8 months at FDX I'll throw in a few comments.

Comparing UPS and FDX is difficult, as I have ZERO data points at the Brown company. However, buddies there indicate a very similar work schedule (with some exceptions to follow) and similar rules on commuting. First year pay at UPS is brutal...at FDX its pretty good. I haven't really run the numbers on career earnings verses career earnings--but I think they are likely similar. You know at FDX we have both an A plan and a B plan, and a pretty good plan with CIGNA for health insurance. Our long term disability insurance is a great deal--you'll have to ask a Brown guy about their plans. One good question might be "what do you want FIXED in your next contract?" One UPS guy I met on a trip said their post retirement healthcare plan needed to be improved...comments from anyone who is there? When I ask FDX captains what we need to fix, most guys say they want more pay, but "don't mess with our work rules!". The longer I'm at FDX, the more I appreciate the flexibility of the work rules that the FPA was able to negotiate back in 1998. When your biggest gripe is "I just want more money..", then I think you have a pretty good contract.

I think one potential difference is our mail contract. If you just abhor night flying, you can still avoid it at FedEx. I don't know how much domestic day trips UPS does.

You mention domicile vs domicile as one concern. If you want to fly 3 day trips or do reserve, that might make sense. If you want to do week on/week off or international...c'mon...it ain't that big of a deal to commute. You can fly to either SDF or Mem twice a month without it killing you. I chose FDX over another offer largely due to the "ease" of commuting, since I had no plans to live in domicile (due to ANG committments and personal preference).

If you really want a reality check, read the "UAL" thread on this board. The angst of a cash strapped carrier, bickering flight attendants, mechanics, and pilots, and the continued erosion of market share to discount carriers should remind you that you got a great deal at FedEx right now. No company is immune to economic downturns, but so far our industry has suffered much less than the pax business. Another plus to UPS or FDX is the wide range of routes....international, domestic, short or long trips... I'm not bashing JetBlue, SWA, or Frontier when I say that your layovers won't be in Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, or Athens. If you are with DAL, AAL, or UAL, it likely wouldn't happen for you until you were VERY senior (if at all...), but in our line of work we've got guys flying international at the 18-24 month point.

I'm willing to be that if UPS calls you while you are on year one pay, sitting in a crashpad in Southhaven on reserve...you might be tempted. If you don't get called until year 2, however, and are holding a line on year 2 pay (even on the panel...) I seriously doubt you will want to leave. I honestly appreciate my FDX job more every month, and every month my line gets just a little better... The 10% rule is in effect everywhere, but I can honestly say over 90% of the guys I've gotten to fly with have been great, and I've had a lot of fun so far.

Oh...and our uniforms are a lot nicer looking...and that's important when you are jumpseating first class flirting with the flight attendents...

The last disclaimer...if you are a current FDX pilot hired before Jan 02, disregard all the above....you should like jump to UPS or SWA at the first chance you get ;) (so maybe I can get a window seat on the next bid!).

Fly safe...
Ok I will add a few comments to the thread. However take it with a grain of salt as I have been with big brown for only 15 months.

First off we have no post retirement medical plan. Something we want to address in the upcoming negotiations.

We too have an A and a B plan. The A plan is poor and includes a Social Security offset which is bogus. (both issues are to be heavily looked at as well.) I would say that for the older (or should I say more mature pilots the A plan and the medical plan are the two big issues for the new contract.)

That being said the older/mature pilots here are now the minority. There are more FO's and SO's here with several years to go until retirement than there are captains. And a "B" scale exists in pay. the percentages are dreadfully low compared to those at UAL and DAL. To put it in perscpective a 3rd year 767 FO at UAL and DAL are at about (rough estimate) $132 - 145K a year with a 75 hour guarantee. At UPS a 3rd year FO on any aircraft is at $80K (also a 75 hour guarantee but spread over 13 pay periods so if you make it a 12 month year we are actually at a 91 hour guarantee per calendar year.) This drives most of us youngsters nuts cuz our company nets $3B in profit a year while the above mentioned carriers are reporting significant losses (at least in the short term.) I suspect that this may be one of the largest issues we face. As this disparity is absurd.

Work rules aren't bad, but need to be improved.

As for commuting. It is not too bad. I live in Louisville by choice and my quality of life is good, but since we are so short on crews reserve crewmembers are getting slammed as of late (SO's that is.) Ontario used to be a very senior domicile but is becomming a bit more junior. And Miami has a mix of junior and senior people.

We have several aircraft on order and we will start seeing increased reitirements in the next couple years of about 80-100 a year for 5-6 years. At 2500+ crewmembers now it looks good for the future. Plus we have nearly 100 ROF's (real old farts over 60 pilots) that will probably leave after the next contract is in place.

I hope this info helps.

If I were in your shoes and if you don't get called by UPS before your 1 year is up I would stay @ FedEx. I cannot speak for the growth there but it looks good here. Plus you guys get leahter jackets. But our brown uniforms are free.

Fly safe
Leave it to you guys to whine and weedle about wether you should have gone with offer one or offer two. Definitely a military point of view. Remeber on this board are many 100's of pilots who will never be offered one choice let alone two. don't be ignorant. You already have a job so keep it.
dogg said:
Remeber on this board are many 100's of pilots who will never be offered one choice let alone two. don't be ignorant. You already have a job so keep it.

There are also 100's on this board who may take interest in how another fellow pilot feels about their particular job/company.
Unless you have a strong desire to live in Mem, Sdf, Ont, or Mia, I think the pro's and con's nuetralize each other. The type of flying, pay, and stability are virtually the same in comparison to SWA, UAL, AA, etc. I could elaborate, but much of what I'd say was mentioned in the first two posts. I'm happy at UPS but if I were at FedEx, I'd never leave them for UPS!

I understand that your question my rub some the wrong way but respect your decision to thoroughly research all your options.

Congrats on the job!
bad dogg!

Don't knock a guy for gathering information to make an educated decision. I'm not sure if it was jealousy that inspired your post, but I think it was uncalled for. Why would you blindly go with one option when another option might be better for you.

A little research is a smart path for a long healthy career!

Had a friend go through this about 18 months ago. Offered a job at both FedEx and UPS. He chose FedEx. His reasons (and this was prior to the USPS contract being announced):

FedEx management seemed to be more relaxed and pilot friendly. No hats, more "creature comforts", casual dress for training and recurrent (even for new hires), buffeteria for food for crews, both during hub turns and training, many items like that.

No deadheading on company airplanes.

The last item is the pilot hiring/growth rates. The perception as always been that UPS had more "room to grow", but it never has panned out. I don't know why that is, it just hasn't. FedEx has more retirements and more expansion. Perhaps that will change someday, but most of us thought it would have changed several years ago.

UPS pay is slightly better right now, I think, but the work rules are better at FedEx, so that comes out a wash, and FedEx pilots appear finally unified and have ALPA backing for the next round, so it will be interesting to see the outcome there.

UPS has a lot of money and hence job security in that regard, and is certainly a good place to work, so I would be hesitant to tell somebody to leave there for any company, however. The UPS pilot group is strong and I am hoping that they'll do well on negotiations next time around, but I was a bit surprised that the IPA appeared to give away MD-11 IRO flying for nothing really in return, this after the pilots voted down the LOA on the topic.
The flying is probably about the same but your'e nuts to come here. Only the senior guys have a good thing at UPS. An example is first officer pay. UPS has one pay rate for all equipment. I hear its based on the 767. UPS and Fed Ex both operate A300s. FedEx 2nd year A300 FO pay is $112 vs 76 at UPS. That should be enough to convince anyone. Not to mention first year pay is $26.67. I'm sure this will get somewhat rectified in a couple of years but it will be hard to get the kind of pay raises that will just catch up with the rest of the industry.

Another thing to consider is UPS uses non-seniority list pilots for all Check Airman positions. These "Management Pilots" are often hired off the street. Most of these guys are ok but its a strange way to do business is this industry. I prefer my checking to be done by a peer. Its definitely an "us vs them" mentality. All these guys tell you around here is that the airline is just a tiny part of the bussiness and they can survive without it. So if you want to be a truck driver come on over.

One good point is they have deep pockets but this place ain't fun.

Well put. However we did not give up so easily on the MD-11 IRO issue. We voted down the Tentative Agreement. And the company went ahead and starting using Captains as IRO's on the aircraft which is well within their right to do. We have the option to take it to arbitration but I do not see it happening. We want the company to make money as well. Besides it provided for a few more Captain upgrades.

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