Beware Pan Am !!!


New Member
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. They do offer a 141 program and the maintenance of the aircraft was good. 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? Just for the record, I studied and studied hard. Some things were easier than others for me considering I had never been in an aircraft smaller than a 727 as a PAX. If it weren't for the management and their attitudes, I might still be there training. Pan Am stealing my money and then being arrogant about the whole thing was the direct reason for my disenrollment. I had no beef with the instructors, they did their jobs and did then rather well. Pan Am really needs to take a close look at their policies and take a look at the bigger picture. Why would a business turn down 40K in tuition in order to gain $1500.00 in cancelation fees due to policy? That just does not make sense to me. Not to mention the bad publicity that I do intend to spread to as many sources as I possibly can. I will not lie about Pan Am, I only tell my experience...for those who are considering Pan Am, do your research. Ask yourself if spending all that money worth flying in a relatively new plane with A/C. After all, your training and certificates will be the same as someone who graduated from an FBO, who spent far less money. Also, as long as Pan Am continues their unethical business practices, they may not be around much longer. Pan Am robbed me, I do plan on getting some satisfaction. Posting my experience with them is one way of doing this.
Lastly, Pan Am is getting such a bad reputation these days that they have damage control patrolling these message boards.

Wow, everything that happened to you in Ft. Pierce happened to me in Phoenix. In fact, I think you just summed up my experience better than I even did. They stole alot of money from me. I'm glad I just decided to cut my losses and got out when I did.
Mavmb1...sorry you had this type of experience. I wrote a detailed letter of complaint to the CEO of Pan Am in Miami and sent carbon copies to my State Rep, CEO of Key Bank, and the Training Facility Directors in Orlando and Ft. Pierce. I think that this type of unethical business practice goes on all the time at Pan Am and not enough people come forward to do anything about it. I received a letter today from the CEO of Pan Am giving me lip service that he would look into the situation and a Pan Am Rep would contact me directly...we shall see. If this is not resolved and I do not get my money returned to me, a lawsuit is the next action I will take.
I would love to get a group together to persue a lawsuit against Pan Am. They really would be a great school if it were not for their shady business practices and the sheer arrogance of the administrative staff. MORE PEOPLE COME FORWARD !!!!

Mr: Freeman:

Very interesting post! I feel that it is very unfortunate that you are disgruntled to the point of blatantly misleading other readers of these threads. Most of the "facts" that you have stated here are erroneous & false. In addition, you do a great deal of finger-pointing while assuming absolutely NO responsibility for your own negligent actions. Good luck with the airlines...

<font color="red"> For information purposes only, This user is accessing the message board from an IP address owned by Pan Am International Flight Academy, Inc. ~ eagle </font color>
Gee, another post by a new fellow calling out a member by name, and seeming to know plenty of personal details about his experience at Pan Am. " Divot" must be a close friend of "Mr. Wright," don't ya think? Why doesn't the school just come out and challenge posts with a rep from the place instead of setting up "new members" to do the job. I know they have a right to defend themselves, but this is getting pretty cheezy. Tells you something about how they do biz!
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! Holy crapola! I was considering Pan Am up until 15 minutes ago when I started reading this thread and the other from FLdiver that turned into a pissing contest. This Divot character is obviously a nerd that sits at his desk all day and scratches himself in funny places. He sounds like the type that takes out his anger of being incompetant and bald on students at Pan Am by screwing them out of their money. He has to be one of the idiots on the inside capitalizing on the leud practices. I hope he gets what's coming to him, and to me, it sounds like he will. No more Pan Am in 2 years. All because of these threads. Yeah right. Who cares. I know I won't go there though. This reminds me of an ex-girlfriend I had. WA wa wa wa wa! WA!
I don't usually spend much time here, I am a FSI student but sometimes like to read posts about schools that I considered but did not choose. I met two girls that lived below me at my apartment complex that attended Pan Am. When we discussed the differences between our academies I tried to keep an open mind and not allow my own personal biases affect my opinion of Pan Am. When it came down to it, the positves were greatly outweighed by the negatives. They complained about the same things as others in this thread have, that the administrative policies were changed or new policies were enacted weekly and that when lessons were missed or accounts were charged erroneously that they had an extremely difficult time resolving them. As a matter of fact, they both left with money owed to them. Word of mouth can greatly influence a students decision to attend an academy as there are very few resources that independently rate or evaluate the programs. I feel sorry for the students that invest so much money in their training and have a negative experience. It is a shame because the school has so much potential, with the new aircraft and facilities. I applaude the poster of this thread as he obviously took the time to articulate his opinons, and judging by the extent of his complaints I feel he probably is not only speaking for himself, but I am sure others have had similiar experiences. As for the comment made by divot, "Good luck with the airlines... " this looks like sarcasm to me, is this some type of threat? Like some desk jockey in the Pan Am marketing department is going to influence any airline in hiring this former student. Grow up!
Anyway, enough rambling, sorry to hear about your problems at Pan Am, I hope your expeince will at least allow potential students to make a better decision.
Well, thanks to eagle's detective work (well done), we now know what we had already guessed--that "divot" was used as a tool of PanAM in order to bash FLdiver on this thread and another. Eagle--did divot get rid of his original post in order to avoid detection? Great job tracking him down. What we'll never know is what divot's price was--what did it take for him to be turned into the teacher's pet? And he's got the -----to lecture us about personal responsibility! How would you like to be flying with divot during a pilot/management dispute at a major airline? What a great asset he'd be! For those of you undecided, I guess this says a lot about PanAm's operating methods when it comes to dealing with unhappy students. Since others vouch for the place, it has got to have some merit, but the school needs to learn some serious lessons about public relations--they've done themselves more harm than good with the stunts pulled by "divot" and "Mr. Wright." Case closed, thanks to eagle.
<font color="red"> My intention was not to *out* anyone, just to be sure people knew the source as it may or may not be biased.

Sorta like If I was trying to tell you only Cessna makes a quality airplane then you find out I sold cessnas, it does not mean my opinion is not true, ... you get the idea.. </font color>

I know you're the moderator and you want to be fair so I understand your position. You didn't out anyone because you didn't use divot's real name. You couldn't because he hid his identity, and if you knew it you still probably wouldn't use it. But on the other thread's post that he deleted ( maybe it was on this one), I believe divot claimed to have no connection to PanAM. That was a lie. So it doesn't take a big leap of imagination to guess his real motive or who was behind his post. You didn't out divot, you outed the ethics of PanAm. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..... As I said, their weakness is in public relations. They might be a perfect fit for the right student and a terrible fit for others, but I think pulling these stunts is counter-productive. It's pretty nervy (ballsy is a better word) to attack someone by name when you're hiding (and denying) your own. Speaks volumes. Maybe they think they done the smart thing--they've attacked Mr. Freeman and Mr. Nelson (2+2always equals 4) and put any other grousers on notice. Aren't there enough people who want to become pilots that they could do just as well without employing Gestapo-like tactics? I know one thing--if you tell people they can get their money back if they leave the school and then you jerk them around for a few months before doing it, you are going to be bad-mouthed. Is the couple hundred dollars of interest worth the bad publicity they've bought themselves? They need to retake marketing 101.
<font color="red"> truth is I was directed to this thread by someone else, and my beef is not so much the content on eitherside. Because I know nothing about the flight school or the student. but when someone starts naming names and does not identify themself it is entering murky water. as for what was deleted, I can't undelete it to check. </font color>
Thanks for tracking down the IP address, now everyone can see for themselves and make an informed decision about Pan Am.

Thanks for the use of names on here "Divot". I would use yours but I will not allow myself to sink so low. Why don't you grow some "Huevos" literally!!! I don't see how you can even begin to state that I have given misleading facts. As you said in a previous post "READ THE CONTRACT" !! I'll admit that I made my first mistake by NOT reading it closely enough. But then again, I should have been given the opportunity to read it BEFORE I was on Pan Am's campus. Now you seem to be upset because I am disclosing information that IS written in Pan Am's contract.
I really would like to avoid bringing up your previous "deleted" post as I would have to disclose very personal information to dispute your attack on me. All I have to say is, I hope Pan Am is enjoying my money right now. They will eventually have to give it back and they will be done with me, however, I can go on and on and on and on. Word of mouth is powerful stuff, especially when the truth is spoken and Pan AM keeps shooting itself in the foot. Also, I live here in Florida, maybe Pan Am should have considered that too, I will be coming back to Pan Am, Personally, to collect my $500.00 deposit, as I do not trust Pan Am to mail it to me. So "Divot" we may be able to chat face to face about your lowlife tactics, there will be absolutely no violence involved as I am too much of a man to strike someone like you. I think I have given you enough hints in this post, that I DO know who you are. You will be dealt with accordingly.
I am sorry that I didn't reply to your original posts more promptly as I was not home. I grew tired of waiting on Pan Am, and decided NOT to let them dictate what I was going to do, I went on with my training and got my Multienginie rating at ATP. I did not have the time nor energy to deal with your petty posts at that time. I had a great experience at ATP and would recommend them. Definately a sharp contast to Pan Am. I will keep this thread updated with all the factual information that I can as the time goes on.

FLDiver: What exactly would the purpose of your proposed class action lawsuit against Pan Am be? That they faithfully executed the terms of the contract you signed? When your car broke why didn't you get a rental car, or crash with a student that lives closer to the school? Another option would have been to request an LOA. I've never seen an LOA be denied for any reason.

It’s unfair that you characterize Pan Am’s staff and a bunch of soulless robots that do not care about the students. I suspect during your absence you just called your instructor or the dispatchers to inform them of your absence. Unfortunately, your instructor or the dispatchers have no method or incentive to assist you. However, Pan Am issues a policy manual that clearly outlines when an LOA is necessary, and how one is to be obtained.

It’s important when attending a big school like Pan Am to be proactive. Just like anything in life if you want something done you have to initiate it, and then follow up to make sure it was completed.

ATPs is a great school. Good luck with the rest of your training.
I'm sure if eagle checks the IP address on this post, it will not show up as coming from PanAm's computers in Arizona. Let's all agree that we're not as gullible as PanAm would like us to be and they're not as inept as they appear to be! This is obviously from someone at PanAm who is "tired" of the criticism they've gotten over the handling of FLDiver's posts. Personally, while I'd like them to be honest about their identity, I have no problem with them posting a legitimate argument for their side when they believe a post misrepresents their policies--it's far better than attacking someone by name while using a proxy poster--Oh, wait, they've already done that! It will be hard to regain credibility with their critics on this message board, but good luck, anyway. They've tried "Mr. Wright," "Divot," and now "Tired." How about trying truthful and honest dealings with your students--both those that do well and those that don't do so well and wish to try another place? You can't be all things to all people, and when you get a student who is unhappy with you (even if it's their attitude that's at fault), it's better to be gracious and end the relationship as quickly and fairly as possible. You will never win over someone who has a grudge (fair or unfair) against you. You will, however, go a long way towards preventing the bad publicity you've gotten for yourselves by playing the game so below board.
newpilot01: Thank you for your reply. However, I fail to see how you've added anything to the argument. First off, I don't understand why it would matter if I am posting from a PanAm IP address. No matter what IP address I post from, my point is still valid. FLDriver is misrepresenting the school and got himself into trouble because he failed to follow the polices published by PanAm. If one can't understand the operations manual, how do you expect them understand the FARs or the AFM? Moreover, how serious was FLDriver about going to school? I'll bet if he'd gotten a job with an airline and his car broke down he would have found some way to show up. Why didn't he treat his training like a job? That's what one would expect out of a university student, classes don't pause just because you have a transportation problem. In summary, FLDriver's experience with PanAm is not typical.

My goal is not to win an argument with FLDriver. There is no way I am going to win him over or even convince him or her that my points are valid. However, I do hope to show others reading this thread that there is a definite negative bias towards PanAm found in these forums. I hope by posting some well-reasoned arguments I can show that there are two sides to every story.

One last question for newpilot01. I read all your posts but I can’t determine if you’ve also had a bad experience at PanAm, or if you’re related to PanAm in any manner. I’m interested in knowing why you have such an interest in this section of the forum.
"Tired," you are such an amateur! How do you know FLDiver "misrepresented" the school unless you are from there? And then you go on with that "him or her" line--after you've already identified him as Mr. Freeman. And from your post we might assume that you did use a PanAm IP address! How dumb is that? Jeez! Let's all stop playing games, here, okay? There is no doubt that any school that's part of the jetcareers forum is open to some potshots from disgruntled students--you are at a disadvantage in that regard. Just like a potential student is at a disadvantage if all he reads are the puff pieces the pilot magazines run about schools in return for the ads the schools run. Life is not fair. If you've read my posts carefully, you'll see that I believe there should be a method on this board that a school can reply to criticism in a generalized way, rather than resort to the underhanded methods you have used, ie. Mr. Wright, Divot, and finally, Mr. Tired. This is as close as you've come to being upfront about who you are, and your arguments on behalf of the school have taken on a little more credibility--yet you still can't bring yourself to be completly honest. You should talk to Doug about arranging a way to deal with this issue, because it's obvious his moderators want to be totally neutral. Jetcareers is not going to get advertising from students, are they?
You will be disappointed to learn that I started reading the PanAm threads after the favorable review by Doug. My son is 16 and currently working on his PPL. He thinks he might want to be a pro pilot. I have posted on the colleges we've visited and asked questions about a few we are considering. Because he is also interested in architecture, we're looking at schools he could attend after completing college. That's my only connection to jetcareers. I don't know a soul that has gone to your school, so sorry, I have no ax to grind. But I do have 25 years of business marketing experience, and I know when a company is "stepping in it." And you are. That's what really bothers you about my posts--I am bringing something to the argument that is hard to refute. What really set me off was the way you had people use an alias as an "impartial reader" to slam the students
who were critical. That's low, and it's an unehtical business practice. There are two sides to every story, but there is only one truth once they're heard. As a customer of a service, perception is reality, and you can never change that opinion no matter how dirty you play. Far better to ignore it. If you've got a great product, it speaks for itself. I've noticed that the colleges on the forum really don't go out of their way to slam someone who doesn't like them--they let it go, and it does. You probably have a very good school. Stop the crap and let your product speak for itself. Why don't you just encourage students who have a good experience at your place to post that on the website? If there are enough of them, the tide will turn. And stop with these "phony" names and posts. People with an ounce of common sense can see right through them. One last thing--tell "divot" whoever he is, that talking to me about "personal responsibility," while hiding his identity and connection to your place was a real hoot.

There are posts on this board supporting PanAm, but you label them all as "insiders" and tell everyone to ignore them because they are only "unethical business practices." As I've said before, I can easily find you 10 students that are extremely satisfied with PanAm for each complainer on this board. This board has turned into a few complainers venting their complaints at each other.

Do you have proof that Tired is an insider? I've read all his posts and I don't see evidence that he has insider information. All I see from Tired is words supporting PanAm. I fail to see your logic when you call him an insider.

When Tired says that FLDiver misrepresented PanAm, he is using the information that was posted by Divot. Since you have labeled Divot as an insider with access to proprietary information, you are saying his facts are true. Assuming the facts are true, I agree that FLDiver misrepresented PanAm.

I do not know who Divot is. I agree that it was in very poor taste to out FLDiver. And, since he is using a PanAm computer, he obviously lied about having no PanAm connection. I am not satisfied that Divot is an insider, but I see no benefit in outing people, so I hope the practice has stopped.

PanAm stage checks are tougher than PTS. PTS is the minimum for a pilot to get a pilot certificate, PanAm doesn't train pilots for minimal knowledge. For the maeuvers, the stage check pilots use PTS. But, if you go 10' beyond PTS, then you'll bust. It's true on checkrides, too. And just like on checkrides (with kind DEs), you if go 10' beyond PTS on a steep turn and the rest of your ride is excellent, you'll get a second chance on that steep turn.

We are expected to have exemplary knowledge about weather, systems, aerodynamics, etc. When you fly into a squall line are you going to say "It's not my fault because PTS doens't say I have to know what situations may produce a squall line?" We are all planning to be professional pilots someday and PanAm wants to have a great reputation in the airline world. Therefore, they are teaching us that knowledge from day 1.

It's ridiculous to say that PanAm fails students to make more money, the PanAm bottom line is that last thing they are thinking about. The stage check pilots are looking for students who are up to PanAm standards. I've been through many, many stage checks and they've been fair. I've passed some and I've failed some. I've had some brainfarts that were overlooked because the rest of the stagecheck was excellent. The stage check pilot fills out the mission sheet after the stage check stating if each item was sat, unsat, or incomplete. The stage check pilot has the right to repeat the entire stage check, but most are happy to be able to do just a couple maneuvers and come in out of the heat.

I've had an excellent experience here. I started here in the IR class and I'm working on my CFI now. I've had excellent training and I am very happy that I decided to come to PanAm.
You guys are hopeless, really you are. Still playing word games. You should just quit while you're behind. Your arguments defending Tired by use of Divot's comments must have been dreamed up by Bill Clinton. I tried to throw you dopes a bone by admitting you might be getting a raw deal on some posts, and offering you a possible solution, but you're too stupid to take the high road. You are just "ethically challenged," as they say. At least you're truthful about one thing--you are a "panamguy." Goodnight, Alice!