Seniority Really is Everything

The airline industry still offers lucrative careers for those who are willing to pursue a flying career. There are entry level jobs that pay entry level wages of course, but anyone who is flying into their second year with an airline will enjoy an immediate increase in pay of four to five thousand dollars per year, and yearly increases after that. Once a pilot is ready to upgrade to Captain, a forty percent increase in pay will be the reward.


There are many variables that affect an airline pilot’s pay, and here are a few:

  • The Airline you work for (some Airlines pay better than others)
  • Your Rank (i.e., Captain or First Officer)
  • Your Seniority (the longer you’ve worked there the more you will get paid)
  • Your Seniority in Base (Some schedules pay more than others)
  • The Equipment that you fly (pilots get paid more to fly larger aircraft)
  • Your Pay Rate (result of all of the above)
  • Your familiarity with your contract (knowing how to make extra money)
  • Longevity (How long will you work before you retire)
  • Picking up extra flying (There are usually uncovered flying that you can fly if you wish)
  • International vs. domestic (Pilots flying internationally get more money for those trips)
  • Training/Check Pilot (Pilots make more when they are part of the training department)
  • The key factor here is Seniority. It is Seniority which will decide who gets the best schedules, the best days off, who upgrades to Captain soonest, who flies internationally, who gets paid the most and who flies the best aircraft. In other words, Seniority is everything in the airline world. Therefore it is imperative that once you decide to pursue a career in the cockpit of an airliner that you get that job as soon as possible so you can begin accruing seniority, and no flight training institution can get you there quicker then ATP.