Hey, As excited I am to start investing in my career as an airline pilot i’m really anxious.
105k is a LOT of money to put in flight school especially with interest building up over 15 years.
I am very passionate about the career and is all in for it but cannot seem to remove the worries about the stability of the job.
Since the FAA is really strict on health regulations, criminal records, etc. What if life happens in the future and you get laid off because they found out you have a disease or got a felony for reckless driving.
Or if another pandemic occurred that’s more serious than COVID causing airlines to shut down. What would happen to our career? Would you get laid off, be 105k in debt, and now jobless and can’t afford your bills anymore?
Any contribution will be greatly appreciated because I fear the uncertain.
Thank you, Androu
I’d love to put your anxiety at rest but in all honesty I can’t. At least not all of it.
As for the criminal record concern that’s kind of nonsense. Want to know how not to get a conviction? EASY, don’t do anything stupid. Don’t speed, don’t drive recklessly and by all means NEVER drive under the influence. It’s really not hard and it’s really that simple. I was a union rep and I can tell you with completely certainty that every pilot I’ve ever represented that had issues brought them upon themselves. End of story
As for the rest, that’s not that simple. I have a friend who last year started getting some really bad headaches followed by numbness. He went to the Dr and was diagnosed with a neurological condition which requires some serious meds and treatment. Long short he’ll never fly again so yes that can and does happen. Solution? As we always say have a backup or Plan B and/or take out loss of license or long care disability insurance. Most airlines and the unions offer it and if you’re not too old it’s fairly reasonable.
What gets more dodgy is the unforeseen. There’s no question if the Omicron Optimus Prime Omega varient comes out and we’re back to 2020 you may very well get furloughed. Or another 9/11, or the economy goes in the toilet, or Russia and China get together and WW3 starts, or you’re building time and you have a really bad incident and lose your license, or you are a really lousy pilot and bust all your checkrides, or… (I could keep going but you get the point). The reality is there are no guarantees in this life and you (or I) could get hit by a bus tomorrow and none of this matters. I’ve been alive a while and have concluded we all have a choice. We can take advantage of the opportunities we have in front of us OR we can hide under a rock, play it safe and spend our lives wondering what if? Totally your call. Again if you’re looking for guarantees there aren’t any, other than if you never try you’re guaranteed to fail.
Do the airlines at least assist you in paying the crazy amount of student debt or are you on your own after your let go because of a medical leave?
I don’t know of any industry where they help you payoff your student debt if you can no longer do your job. That’s simply not how it works nor is it the airline’s responsibility.
Depending on how long you’ve been at the airline, most have disability insurance which can help but your debt is YOUR debt.
Let’s start with he criminal behavior. The simple answer to this is just of not do it. If you manage to get yourself a felony conviction for reckless driving, it means you were way in excess of the law. Follow the law, don’t drive like an idiot, and you will be fine.
As for health concerns, that is what we all carry Long Term Disability insurance for. It costs a couple hundred dollars per month, but the benefit is well worth it. At my airline, if we become disabled we receive $11k per month, tax free, until we either return to work or reach age 65. I have spent some time on the LTD list myself due to an eye issue. While the pay is certainly not what I make as a pilot, it is decent and you can live off of it. You would still be responsible for repaying your loan and other bills, this is what the LTD insurance is for.
As for the unforeseen, well that is unforeseen. What I can tell you is that we made it through the worst disaster the airlines have ever seen (covid) with very few layoffs. If we can make it through that, the airline will likely survive anything that is thrown its way.
Short and Long Term Disability coverage are both available to airline pilots. Employee Assistance Funds may also be available but are not as common. EAFs are non-profits that provide financial assistance to participating pilots in times of need.
As for the rest of your concerns, be a model citizen and you won’t have any problems. Everything else you mentioned is outside of your control.
I could tell you probably a dozen stories of it not working out and all the risks involved. Countless others if it having rough times but working out in the end.
Honestly, life’s all about risk vs reward. Best advice is to measure your situation as accurately as possible, be mature about your expenses vs savings vs insurance, and live life as best you can.
Best of luck,