Retirement Plans

Mr. Irrelevant

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Nov 26, 2001
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To anyone who would like to reply,


I currently fly part-time while working full-time for a Fortune 500 Corp. I may try flying full-time (CFI) as soon as I finish a Master's degree my current employer has been kind enough to fund(typical benefit). Since I've been flying and surfing this board for the last 3.5 years I've been surprised at information provided on the lack of good retirement plans at the commuter/regional level. Or sometimes any plan at all for that matter. I have not yet read Flying the Line I or II which may have insight into why not. Contract History I'm not very clear on.

It seems to me that a decent employer usually provides their professional employees some palatable package to plan on. The smaller airlines I have heard/read but don't know for sure seem to have combinations of weak plans. Such as a 401k with no company match; helps with tax savings but no match??? (The match being a company funded contribution to the 401k) Except that there have been limits on the amount a person could put into IRA's (going up this year by the way) that don't allow for as much savings as a 401k, a person could individually do the same thing with an IRA that a 401k does without the match.

I was hoping I could get information and opinions from pilots working at various regionals, fractionals, corporate operators, charters and major operators on their company benefits in the retirement areas. The info would certainly help me and hopefully others considering an avenue in which to pursue a flying career.

Just for example, at my current employer there is a 401k with a company match of 50% of the employee's contribution up to 6% of the employee's salary. Also, we have a pension plan that vests after five years that pays a portion of an employees yearly salary into the plan (starting at 4% the first year and working up to 11% in year 30) with an annual 5% return (guaranteed). I've also been fortunate to take part in a bonus plan that has given me some pretty generous checks. What just kills me about the plans at some of the 121 or 135 operators is that some of the people I work with who couldn't remember how to open an aircraft door if they were shown 20 times how to do so, take part in our plan while many extremely talented and skillful pilots(some who I know) probably don't get half of the above if they don't make the majors.

Anyway, I really am interested in a flying career and want as much info as possible to store away and make a decision on in the future. Since not everyone makes the majors this is a pretty important issue to me and again, may help others out as well. Clearly benefits will vary based on the industry but some of what I'veread thus far is pretty disturbing on this issue. Thanks for all the replies (if this post generates interest).


Mr. Irrelevant
 

sydeseet

Huge Member
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Nov 26, 2001
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The simple answer is "Because they @#$% you at the drive-through"

The more complex one deals with what they have to offer to recruit pilots. Believe it or not most regionals are happy being "drive-through" employers for pilots on their way to something else. Since the average tenure at a regional is not more than a few years, although that's about to change, retirement isn't really a consideration. Granted, it's nice to build a 401K with some matching while you're there and roll it over to an IRA when you leave, but a pension would be a waste of money and time.

The other reason is that unfortunately we have set ourselves up for low wages, second-class citizen treatment, and various other bs. Just a few years ago people were still paying for their jobs (PFT). Even today many places don't pay you during training, and the first year is practically poverty. I don't think this will change a significant amount any time soon, if ever, as there will always be more supply than demand. It always comes back to simple economics.
 

tarp

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Jan 24, 2002
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Mr. I,

I also worked for and with Fortune 500 clients. The money, the bene's were fabulous. Then I started listening to all those voices that say that money doesn't buy happiness. So I thought, "Hey, I've made a boatload of money, my retirement is pretty secure, I'm going to spend the rest of my life doing what I enjoy - flying"

And then reality set in. This isn't "real" flying, it's driving a bus.

To do this, I sold my soul. Starting pay was $22/hr based on a THOUSAND hour year. We ONLY get paid for flight hours so when you hear about a 747 captain making $300/hr, the max he can make is $300K because of the 1,000 hr rule. My W-2 for year one with the company was a dismal $23K after working 10 years in a six-figure salary with Fortune 500.

Retirement, bene's, forget about it. Life at the regionals and Fractionals is a bunch of young kids looking to make it to the majors. They've got time. They'll work for free just to get 1,000 turbine and 500 PIC turbine. Why should the company pay them?
My 401K is a joke! Company match on the first 3% invested. Woohoo! I used to get 60% match on whatever I invested up to the IRS maximum. I used to get a defined pension plan, profit sharing, ESOP, ESPP, education, insurance that actually let me sleep well at night.

My best analogy is baseball.

Think of all the high school kids dying to get to the major league. How many make it? Some get to play college ball (for free). Some get to play in the minor leagues of "A" and "AA" ball. How much money do they get? How many benefits? They are considered "professional" ball players. Does that look like fun? Well that what most of the Regionals look like when you get in.

Only a chosen few make it to the majors and enjoy sweet success. The rest of us pay dues.

I'm on a mission to tell people what a big mistake this job is. You will get beaten up badly before you get out of the regional life.

The funny thing is that the only way to make it better is to make the "profession" more exclusive. If suddenly there was a real pilot shortage, the regionals would have to change their methods and treat their pilot corp like the majors. But alas, there are plenty of wide-eyed innocents ready to work for nothing just to get that chance at the majors.

I made a big mistake - any one over 30 yrs old with an actual head on their shoulders should avoid this job like the plague. If you've got money, go do banner towing or instructing or something that is fun. Find a corporate sugar daddy and fly a lear to Martha's Vineyard for the weekend. But for heaven's sake, don't come to the minor leagues.
 

aero99

just a member, not senior
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
394
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10PM
So whats keeping you from going back to the desk?

Sounds like you hate your job.
Too bad, life is too short to do somehting you dislike. I think thats why most pilots CAME from a desk job and never go back.

Good luck
 
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