Salary Cap

I’ve looked around and have not found the answer to this question anywhere. (Even on the forum). What are the salary caps on the legacy carriers? Because some people tell me it’s impossible to make 500k and some say it is. (After 20 years +) hope you guys can help. :slight_smile:


There was a time when there were official salary caps, but to my knowledge all of those have gone away. Most narrow body captains at my airline seem to make around $240-300k while widebody captains can easily make $300-350k. I have heard stories of and known people to make quite a bit more by working extra. The highest earnings I have ever heard of was $600k from a 767 captain at my airline. Now bear in mind, he worked incredibly hard to accomplish that.


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Thank you for the quick and thoughtful answer. I have heard that pilots make 600k and thanks for confirming that. I hope I would be able to make that once I’m nearing retirement. Like 60s. I would imagine seniority will bring it up quite a bit.


To be clear, it is the few and the proud that make that kind of money. Most captains at the majors are in the income brackets that I described.


Even on a 73?


I’m aware. Thank you for extra clarification. But one last question for you. So I’m in the NYC Area and when I finish high school I plan to go to college (a cheaper one, so I can addord ATP). Then do ATP at 21. After that is intructing and regionals then airlines. With all this in mind. Approximately what age can I be looking at to be in a legacy.

More specifically my goal would be United out of EWR. Since it’s the closest to me.


It is almost impossible to answer your questions as there are countless variables at work here. Everything from how quickly you build flight time, to the state of the economy and the airline industry factors into it. That being said, a rough guess would be anywhere from 30-35 years of age, but again, so much can affect this that is out of your control.


Thank you once again for your answers. Very helpful to aid me in figuring out my path. :slight_smile:

There was a time when regional pilots didn’t get an opportunity to move onto a major airline for 10-15 years. It was also the time that regionals weren’t hiring fresh CFI’s with the ATP minimums. More like a few thousand hours of multi and turbine preferred. So a lot o CFIs slogged it out flying charters and night time bank check runs (anyone remember those!?)

As you’re going down this path, just keep your eyes wide open and pay attention the industry and hiring trends. It only takes a 9/11, market crash, pandemic, or general recession to slow everything to halt that can put pilots on furlough and effectively close all the doors for a long time.

If you have the time and means, start training while you’re in college to get a head start on your PPL and build some hours. You’ll also have a good idea if it’s definitely something you want to continue with.