Having seconds thoughts about this career.....


Well-Known Member
Okay, I'm going to go on a little rant here, one in which I have done before but feel like I need to vent. When I first got into aviation, I was so excited and gung-ho about training for a job that most people can only dream of. Having worked in the airlines for almost 4 years, I have learned a lot. I may not be as experienced as most, but I see what I see and I hear what I hear. It takes forever to get a "bump" in pay, management ( or lack thereof) rarely sides with their employees, and everyday I come home feeling overly stressed from a "normal" day of work. Mind you this is just for a ramp job. I truly love flying, there's no doubt about that, however I feel because of my experience in the industry and the "career" insight of many pilots I meet on a daily basis, it has given me a good dose of reality about my chosen career path. The starting pay is too low, you work 16 hour days and only get paid for 5 of them, your away from home constantly and the cost to get the job puts you in severe debt. Remember, i'm from New York, rent aint cheap here! Not to mention my student loan payments. I feel like all of this is really turning me off about the industry, however, I kind of feel like it's too late to go back considering how much money me and my parents have laid out for my training and school. I just feel like i'm at a crossroad and not sure what to do at this point.


Well-Known Member
Attitude is a key factor in enjoying this career. There are flying jobs outside of the 121 airlines as well.

I fly in Alaska, some days are better than others. However, working 15 days in a row followed by 15 off while making over $50k/year to fly a piston Cessna is better than a lot of other jobs I can think off.

Some days I will have a flight where I can't believe I get paid to have so much fun.


Well-Known Member
You're too focused on the short game. The long game is the job at the major, life getting better as you ride the seniority list up.

Keep in mind, pilots are a skilled trade. It's a blue collar job where everybody refuses to acknowledge they aren't white collar. Realize that you will always be a part of someones money game as a pilot.
I've stayed out of the airlines because I didn't feel like dealing with it. I can tell you that the uncertainty is experienced in every job/career. I may not work as long as you do for as little as you do, but I also won't top out as high as you while flying 2 weeks a year in the end.

It's a matter of having a job you care about, not even one you necessarily like. Take a look at your buddies who don't care about their job, marching off to work everyday like zombies. You might be busting your hump while being severely underpaid and treated like crap from management now, but your zombie buddies are completely dead on the inside for at least 40 hours a week. You know that far away look they have in their eyes and how they don't get excited about anything anymore? That's what's doing that. They just exist. They don't satisfy any need to conquer or achieve.

So while the regionals might be doing their best to destroy how much you "like" flying, you will always "care" about flying. If in the end you decide that there are other career paths you could take in which you do something you care about, it might be worth taking a look at, but most likely, you've been down in the ditch so long you forget to look up at the sun every now and then.


Staff member
Screw 121 and go fly elsewhere. There are plenty of other flying opportunities out there. Your problem is SJS.
Attitude is a key factor in enjoying this career. There are flying jobs outside of the 121 airlines as well..
These two posts can't be stressed enough.

@captainphil What is keeping all your eggs in the 121 basket? Self imposed desire, or uncertainty of the unknown (other parts of aviation)?


Well-Known Member
Long term as everyone else has said. You have to go thru the suck to get to a major. You'll find all sorts of people in this industry. Like me, I don't want to go near an airport on my days off. @Autothrust Blue flies a single or twin piston on his days off though, for fun! The best part about this job, when the brake sets after go home leg, I'm done. Work doesn't come home with me. Things may suck when you're uber junior but you will move up the seniority list. Then things start to get better.

I used to HATE my job as a fueler. Loathed it. I was miserable. As @TWP said, I was a zombie. There was no motivation to work hard or care. There was no chance of career progression. That was my motivation to bust my ass and get my 3 CFI ratings. Got on at an airline. There were times I wanted to get out. But then I would meet with my buddy who is a car mechanic, and he absolutely hates his job. He's going to change career fields. Made me realize that pretty much no matter what you do there will be days you hate.

As for "being gone all the time," I only have 4 days off the rest of this month. BUT yesterday was my first day of work this month ;). Did that without calling in or getting vacation. And I've only been at the new gig a year.

The negative guys are usually (there are some exceptions) whose careers didn't pan out the way they thought they should. You ask them what they're doing to make that change, and you'll find that most often they are doing nothing. "Updated your logbook?" "Nope. Haven't touched my logbook in 4 years." Ah alright, good luck moving on. Hope you get called soon!

Just keep your long term goal in mind (and it can change) and keep doing things, everyday (@Derg ;) ), to make that goal a reality.


Well-Known Member
I have to ask, but what expectations did you have before putting yourself in debt to learn how to fly? The pay has always been low at the regionals so that shouldn't have been a huge surprise. Sure there have been changes with the hiring minimums since you started, but still I cant believe with all the internet information how anyone could get a "dose of reality" so late in their career. This may come across as a little harsh, but potential pilots need to do their homework. (perhaps a side effect of SJS is temporary tunnel vision) The pay scales and lifestyle information is easily accessible, even to the reporters at USA Today, so none of what you mentioned should have been a surprise.


Well-Known Member
I've worked as an 8-5 salaried mechanical engineer, a charter pilot, a corporate pilot, and a regional pilot. My regional gig is better than all of them in terms of QOL. I did have more time off with my corporate pilot gig, but I was always worried about the plane being sold, dept politics, etc. As far as 16 hour duty days, I don't know that I've ever had more than a handful of those in over three years of regional flying, even under the old rules. I'm on a 16 hr credit 3 day right now, with each day averaging about 8 hrs duty.

I can't even fathom how amazing my work life will be if I'm ever lucky enough to get on at a Legacy.


Well-Known Member
Thanks everyone for the quick comments. I've heard too many pilots telling me to avoid the regionals, ontop of this the new ATP requirements are making this career more expensive to obtain. I'm still pursuing the field, I just may decide to take an aviation path away from the airlines. I am playing everything by ear and keeping all aviation oppurtunities open, something I'd never have thought i'd do in a million years, you know, SJS and all ;).


Well-Known Member
It's good to check out other opportunities. But just FYI, I wish I would have gone to the airlines ASAP. I would most likely be in a much better position now.


Well-Hung Member
I fly for a small 135 passenger operation. I enjoy the work tons, but not a fan of management, so I avoid them at all costs. I'm in and out of the office like a ninja. I've worked here nearly 3 months and most of the people here couldn't pick me out of a lineup. It's fun to go fly and go home. Very little stress, really.


Well-Known Member
I fly for a small 135 passenger operation. I enjoy the work tons, but not a fan of management, so I avoid them at all costs. I'm in and out of the office like a ninja. I've worked here nearly 3 months and most of the people here couldn't pick me out of a lineup. It's fun to go fly and go home. Very little stress, really.
That's how it should be.

I just finished a six week long interview process, with a total of seven interview stages. A very difficult interview to say the least. This was for a corporate pilot position (part 91 only), flying a large cabin jet.

During the final interview with the CEO, he drops the bombshell that BTW, you will also be responsible for coming into the office to work on projects when not performing aviation duties. Ugh. No thanks.


Super User
I just read a few post from about individuals saying those who work a forty hour a week job, are zombies. So wanted to over some perspective. I think that that can really happen to anyone, no matter the job. Even in aviation. Everyone here obviously has a passion of aviation, but even our head honcho has said that he's experienced career boredom, and the glazed over look and dreading going back to work at times. I mean how many times can you really fly into KSAN and it not being routine or monotonous? Eat the same airport food and sleep in the same hotels? I think reality is that eventually everything just becomes a job, even things that we absolutely love. It's part of human nature, we become easily bored with routine.

A friend of mine is a regional pilot for a big regional. Before University and his subsequent training, he was the BIGGEST stereotypical type of A.NET nerd. Now he's like meh. Aviation though still his passion has become... just a job.And most times he'd rather just say home and be with his boyfriend and their two dogs. Especially during holidays.

The charge nurse at my job is bored out of her mind every night making $100k. Another nurse on the unit was bored with psych, and just left to do aero med starting out at $95k. He was excited and pumped to be doing something new in his chosen field. After awhile the newness, shine might rub off and it might just become another mundane job again. Who knows. In my creative writing class I have a lawyer and a Pediatrician, that both want to give it all up to become a published writers in the chick lit genre. My professor a published professional writer and play write, can't imagine working in an office and working forty hours a week. He enjoys working/writing from home. He'd probably abhor a pilots schedule too. So yeah... perspective. Also variety really helps break individuals out of their slump, and the zombie march either off to a forty hour a week job, or off to the airport for another four day trip can and probably will happen to anyone and everyone, no matter the job.

Just sayin'!

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