Pilot Salaries in 2018: Which Airline Will Have the Highest Pay?

Published: 11-07-2017
In 2016 we took a look at the airline pay scales submitted to APC by our users. Now we’re back with an update.

What can captains anticipate earning in 2018?

The global airline industry continues to flourish this year, with net profits exceeding $31 billion. This substantial amount is impressive, but it does come in about 10% short of previous estimates generated for this year.

Nevertheless, the industry is thriving. Captains across the board witnessed a positive change in their paychecks this year, even if it was marginal. Reviewing the information submitted to APC from our community, we can accurately disclose the salaries captains can anticipate earning in 2018.


United Airlines’ two-year pay extension to the United Pilot Agreement continues to keep them at the top of our list. This extension, signed in 2016, is set to end in 2018. American Airlines is ranked second-highest once again this year, with salaries expected to increase once again by three percent on the first of next year. Delta Air Lines also experienced a positive change, with average pay increasing by about $10 thanks to the new labor contract that was ratified last year. Hawaiian Airlines finally ratified a new labor contract this year, with raises ranging between 36 and 86 percent. The 63-month contract included a raise on April and October first of this year. Follow-up raises are set to occur on the same dates until 2022. Despite this, Alaska Airlines average pay is now higher than Hawaiian Airlines. This is largely attributed to last year’s merger with Virgin Airlines.


Lowest Pay

Highest Pay

Average Pay

United Airlines




American Airlines




Delta Air Lines




Alaska Airlines




Hawaiian Airlines




All listed pay is hourly.


Southwest Airlines, considered one of the largest domestic airlines based on traffic, is at the top of our list. Southwest successfully integrated the Amadeus Central Reservation System this year, and that system improves the likelihood of forging partnerships with other airlines. Amadeus, a global distribution system, also has the potential to introduce codeshare agreements amongst airlines. These deals may benefit employees, however, official plans and rates have not been announced as of date. JetBlue Airways has once again secured the second position on our list. It appears that JetBlue’s plan to increase profits by adding more seats to A321’s has paid off. Unfortunately, this may not last due to unforeseen complications with the aircraft’s design. Holding the third position, Allegiant Air continues to be in the top portion of our list, due to the union contract that was ratified last year. Toward the bottom of the pay scale, Frontier Airlines experienced a $5 increase in pay on average. Frontier plans to increase domestic reach to 90% by April of next year.


Lowest Pay

Highest Pay

Average Pay

Southwest Airlines




JetBlue Airways




Allegiant Air




Virgin America




Spirit Airlines




Frontier Airlines




Sun Country Airlines




All listed pay is hourly.


Soaring to the top of the regional pay scale this year are Hageland Aviation and Grant Aviation. The substantial pay increase is largely attributed to an Alaskan airline shutting down last March. When the unexpected shutdown occurred, Hageland Aviation worked with the closing airline to redeem passenger’s Yute Air tickets. Hageland Aviation along with Frontier Flying Service and Corvus Airlines are in a partnership, dubbed Ravn Alaska, which collectively purchased Yute Air’s assets during the airline’s closure. As for Grant Aviation, they have a base in Bethel, Alaska where Yute Air was located. Falling to the third spot is Corvus Airlines. Although Corvus Airlines is a component of Ravn Alaska, they experienced little change after Yute Air shut down. For more information about regional airlines visit our regional airline profiles page.


Lowest Pay

Highest Pay

Average Pay

Hageland Aviation




Grant Aviation




Corvus Airlines




Republic Airline




Horizon Air












GoJet Airlines




Air Wisconsin




Island Air




Compass Airlines




Envoy Air




PSA Airlines




Mesa Airlines








Trans States Airlines




Seaborne Airlines




Silver Airways








Piedmont Airlines




Endeavor Air




Air Choice One




Great Lakes Airlines




Cape Air




All listed pay is hourly.

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