Beware Pan Am!!


New Member
Turkey...AVOID Pan Am at ALL costs. I was a student there for 6 months. I am currently sitting on my butt waiting for Pan Am to release my money back to Key Bank. I am not out to bash a school but I will tell you the truth about this one. We will start with what I saw as the good things about Pan Am. Mind you, this is at the Ft. Pierce facility in Florida.
I was quite impressed with the tour, new facility, smiling faces, all my questions answered, new aircraft with A/C and the ACE program. There was a statement made that you could come back to Pan Am and have a job as a CFI after graduation. This sounded like the place to be.
I applied for the 80 K Key Bank loan and was approved, got my class date and showed up at the proper time and day for the class. Went through the formalities and then signed my death certificate called the contract.
The next day, I was on the ramp with my instructor getting a brief for my first flight. I thought this to be odd as I had not attended any ground school. The ground school would be that night at 6 p.m., thus began my ride at Pan Am.
You are in ground school at the same time you are flying, sometimes the classes correspond with the flights but most times they do not. Things go fast...extremely fast. That was fine with me. As far as the instructors go, they were really helpful and knowledgable and worked with me just fine. UNTIL !!
I was making a 75 mile commute to that school way, as I could not afford housing or rent in the Vero Beach/ Ft. Pierce area. One day as fate would have it, I had massive car troubles and could not make a flight.
My car was put in the shop for 3 weeks, I notified my instructor, dispatch and scheduling that I could not make it to my scheduled flights, to please take me off the schedule until I could secure a reliable ride or until I could get my car back. They kept scheduling me for flights they knew I could not make. Of course I had to cancel the flights, I had the courtesy to call and cancel instead of NO-SHOWING...they charged me for the flights as well as briefs.
When I spoke with administration about the situation, I ran into a brick wall. They were extremely rude, arrogant and down right unfriendly. My calls and emails were never returned and the management is NOT approachable even though they boast an "open door" policy.
Needless to say, I will not get my money back. Also, you are charged a "brief" of $40-60 for EVERY dual flight that you take. They make you sign a "waiver" before you start your classes, stating that you may not get all of your brief time for every flight but it would be made up some how. DO NOT SIGN THIS FORM !!! My preflight briefs were no more than going over the PTS for that days flights manuvers, it lasted a total of 5 minutes. The postflight briefs, if you get one, is usually done on the way into dispatch while you are still on the ramp. If you do go into the brief room, it will be another whopping 5 minutes. But the instructors are so loaded with students that they usually go from one A/C right to the other. IS paying $40-60 on top of your $86/hr Archer worth it? I didnt think it was. If my briefs would have been informative and my instructors not so bogged down, then I wouldnt have minded the charge. Ask any student at Pan Am and they will tell you about the bogus charge for the briefs.
As far as the contract goes, its a death certificate. You basically sign away most of your rights. READ IT !!!! If you can, request that they send it to you BEFORE you decide to go to their campus. They like to wait until they have you on the premisis and then spring the contract on you. You really feel pressured to sign it. Take your time, read through it and question ANYTHING that doesnt look right. There will be many questions that will come up, I assure of this.
The ACE program is hype and I havent seen or heard of anyone really benefiting from it. They tell you that you will get your money back IF you can not find a job within 6 months. HYPE!!! That 6 months refers to 6 months once you actually meet minimum qualifications for a regional airline. You will graduate with aprox. 350 hours total time, the Regionals usually wont hire unless you have aprox. 1000-1500 hrs. MINIMUM. This is a minimum and with todays market, I am sure the minimums will be higher. Also, if Pan Am is to reimburse you the ACE program, you have 18-24 months (I think, not too sure of the exact time) in order to build time and qualify for a Regional...this time STARTS the day you sign the your Pan Am training contract. So in reality, you spend 12-14 months training at Pan Am (provided you have no problems), that leaves 6-12 months to try to build time to qualify for a regional. You will have to be really lucky and work your A** off to build time. You also have to go through the CFI program FIRST, before starting the ACE program, this just adds to Pan Ams profits and kills more time in your training, thus insuring that you can not possibly build time quickly enough to qualify for a regional before your "ACE reimbursement" time is up.
As far as Pan Am hiring you back as a CFI, they will, IF you have shown that you are an OUTSTANDING student, they have positions available AND they like you. 90% of Pan Am graduates do not go back to work for Pan Am.
If you have a money situation with your Pan Am account, you might as well kiss that money goodbye. They do take the liberty of taking money from your account whenever they can. Cancellation fees, No-Show fees, you pay for ALL of your ground schools at once and you also pay for books out of your Pan Am account unless you request otherwise. Beware...Pan Am is famous for "mistakenly" charging your account for things that did not happen. They have a new policy, if you do not catch these "discrepancies" within two weeks, they become permanent charges. It is somewhat a pain to continue to pull your account every week and go over each and every charge...BUT DO IT..and call them on everything. Trust me, if you have a money situation, you will run into extreme resistance with administration...they are businessmen and do not give a hoot about you the student.
If you become frustrated and pissed at the school and decide to disenroll, be prepared to pay $2000.00 in administrative fees (WHY???). How do justify a 2 K charge to return money to a bank?? They also take their time in returning your money to the lender...60 days. I called about my account, they told me that " it was none of my business" what they did with MY money. Then I was told that I would absolutely not get my money back before the 60 day deadline and that they hadnt even looked at my account. In reality, it only takes about an hour to audit an account and return money to the bank. They sit on it and collect the interest for 60 days. This is interest that you have to pay back to the bank eventually. When they hold your money, forget about trying to transfer to another school UNTIL Pan Am releases it to the bank. Then you will have to apply for another loan, taking another two weeks. So you can sit out for a good 3 months if you can not afford to go to another school while you are waiting for Pan Am to get off their greedy a$$es.
The purpose of writing this letter is to inform as many people as I can about Pan Am. They could care less about you, its your money that they want. They have to pay for their new airplanes somehow dont they?