How Pay is Recorded

Hey Pilots!

I was wondering how reserve/flying pay works. Since being a pilot there really isn’t a physical place to “clock in” how do you get paid for a flight or time you spend on reserve. For reserve, I understand if they just do that manually because it’s a set consistent time but what about flights?

For example if I was scheduled for a 2 hour flight from Chicago to Atlanta but I completed it in 1 hour and 15 minutes would you get paid for the 2 hour time it was estimated or the 1 hour and 15 min you flew?

Thanks, Androu


As you say, when you’re on Reserve, and if you’re not used you get a flat rate which equates to the minimum monthly guarantee (which is usually around 70hrs per month) divided by the number of reserve days. Btw nothing is done “manually”.

As for flying days, while we don’t punch clocks the airplanes record and send the information to the company (keep in mind we only get paid when the doors are closed so if you’re delayed waiting for a plane or there’s maintenance the clock doesn’t start till the doors are closed). All airlines also have what’s called a MDG (minimum daily guarantee) which is the minimum you’ll get paid for work days. So using your scenario if you have a scheduled 2hr flt (aka block time) and it only takes you 1:45 you’ll get paid the 2hrs for that flight. Now virtually all airline contracts pay “block or better” so if that 2hr block takes you 2:15 you’ll get the 2:15 because that’s “better” than block but it’ll never be less. Finally if that 2hr block flt is the only flt you have the whole day, and your airlines MDG is 5hrs. You’ll get paid 5hrs for the day. Make sense?


Yes Adam that was an amazing explanation and taught me a lot I never even knew about. Thank you!

Simply put by the amount of line items in my paycheck… its complicated :sweat_smile:

Chris F

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Mind if I ask if this 79k was for last year as a FO or Capt? I see the Pay rate of 56.xx and didn’t known Skywest paid FO that high but also didn’t think they paid Capt’s that low either.

Jan-Oct: FO pay $56.
Nov-Dec: Capt pay $81. I was a Bypassed for Upgrade (needed me to stay FO for Aspen so paid me as Capt), Flat Overide line bumped pay up to that $81/hr rate.

Thanks. I’ve always been told a regional FO can expect to make about 60k their first year, but I’ve also heard of some people making more.

Airline Pilot central has all the current pay scales for regionals airlines. I’d say $60k is a bit on the optimistic side but you can play around with the pay scale calculator for each regional and see what you can find. Don’t forget to take about 20% for taxes before seeing estimates take home pay.