Airlines retirement

Hello, I recently changed careers from a government job and am now pursuing a career in aviation. I worked my previous job for about 5 years and I have about $12k sitting in my old retirement account. Is it worthwhile to wait until I finish school to roll this over into the airlines retirement system? Or should I refund it and take the cash? I’m just not sure what $12k is equal to years wise for a pilot. Obviously for me it took 5 years to build this up, but how much does the average pilot accrue during a year?

Thank you so much to anyone who responds!


Airline retirements vary by company, some match 5%, others contribute 17%, and of course everything in-between. $12k is not much in an airline pilot sense, but it is still a significant amount of money and will grow over time.

Keep in mind that there are serious tax consequences to taking retirement money out early, it would be best if you spoke with a financial advisor on this one.


Thank you sir! Yeah I’m aware of the tax implications, I’m just trying to decide if putting it into a high yield savings account now and making money off interest is better than rolling it over. Hopefully allowing me to accrue some money overtime to throw back at the ATP loan. I’ll consult with an advisor, but thank you for the information about its relative weight in reference to a pilots retirement.


Unless you’re at retirement age, pulling it out now will cost you arounfmd 50%. I’ve yet to see any “high yield savings account” that comes near that.

Unless you absolutely need the money I wouldn’t touch it.


Right off the top, you lose $1200 (10%) as early an withdrawal penalty. Then you’re taxed on the full $12K as income at the fed and state level. So, depending on your personal tax rate, that could be significant. If you happen to live in a state without income tax (like FL, TX or NV), then you’re only subject to federal tax. Most financial advisors would strongly caution against this.