“ATP is a rip-off!”. That was a statement directed at me yesterday by not one, but two FOs at my airline. First a little context.
If you read my bio you know I credit ATP with much of my success. I’m a Capt at a Major airline and have been for approx 4yrs now. This was a second career for me and I didn’t start till I was almost 40. Had it not been for the Airline Career Pilot Program and ATPs assistance, I would not have gotten trained, qualified and hired at a Regional in such short order which is why I’ve been as successful as I have been. I’m a proud ATP grad and proudly display an ATP Alumni sticker on my flight case which is what prompted the exchange.
A little about the two FOs in question. Both are in their 20s and went to ATP after college. After building their time they were hired by Regionals where they worked for about 2yrs and are now flying for a Major airline. If none of that sounds too bad to you it’s not. Both advanced very quickly as a result of the shortage which is pretty great.
So what’s their beef with ATP? That’s what I wanted to know so after making the above proclamation (and adding that “ATP screwed them”) we had the following conversation (for simplicity I’ll be referring to them as PH1 and PH2 aka peckerhead 1 and 2):
PH2: yup ATP is a rip-off!
Me: ok I’ll bite, how did ATP rip you off?
PH1: man they charged me like $90k for my training!
Me: I’m sorry but isn’t that the price they quoted you?
PH1: yea but it’s ALOT of money!
Me: do you think you could have done the training cheaper?
PH1: probably not but I also had to pay for my checkrides out of pocket!
Me: weren’t you told that before you enrolled?
PH1: well yea but still, they screwed me as an instructor!
PH2: yea me too!
Me: how? Did they not pay you?
PH1: they paid me but they never took out any taxes and then I had to pay taxes the next year!
Me: did they not tell you when you were hired you’d be an independent contractor and had to pay your own taxes?
PH1: yea but I didn’t really understand what that meant.
PH2: well they really screwed me!
Me: ok what’s your story?
PH2: I received a conditional offer from Compass right when I started instructing. There was another flight school that paid more so I quit and when Compass found out they withdrew my offer!
Me: well wasn’t that one of the terms of the offer? ATP is a partner flight school and you’re required to instruct there till you reach your 1500hrs?
PH2: yea but this other place paid more and I sure didn’t tell Compass I quit so it must have been ATP! They didn’t have to do that!
Me: well I’m thinking if they’re a partner school and want to continue to be a partner school they probably did have to do that?
Both got frustrated and the conversation ended.
That’s the story and I’ll leave you all to your own conclusions. For my part it sounds like they both paid what they were quoted, got trained, got hired and are now successful airline pilots and the negative claims are completely unjustified. If you agree with the two PHs then yes ATP may in fact be a rip-off and you might want to go elsewhere. I also suspect you may be a PH yourself but that’s another conversation