Among all the ways to criticize the airline industry, I never expected this: The co-pilot on the ill-fated Continental flight last month to Buffalo made a salary of just 16K per year. Turns out many pilots make salaries close to the poverty level. Captains, who I always thought were relatively wealthy considering their status, typically make 55K per year for Colgan Airlines, which operates many of the commuter flights for Continental, including the one to Buffalo that tragically crashed.
When I think about all the problems the airlines have in being viable, and all the corners they cut to make a profit, it comes as a shock to me that underpaying the pilots, who are responsible for our lives and well being, are also part of the problem.
If the folks behind the controls are so poorly compensated for being responsible for our safety, one only has to wonder just a bit to ask how underpaid the mechanic is who is responsible for maintenance.
So, my list of to-do’s for the airlines just got larger.
1) Treat passengers like human beings and not cattle.
2) Don’t nickel and dime me to death over simple hospitality.
3) Give me a reason to prefer your services besides simple price, then I might actually be willing to pay a few bucks more.
4) Help me figure out your pricing and why it costs me less to fly from North Carolina to Denver with a stop over in Cincinnati than it does for me to drive from North Carolina to Cincinnati and board the same flight to Denver.
5) Don’t compromise my safety by underpaying pilots, co-pilots and maintenance crews.
That’s not a lot to ask but it seems out of reach for many carriers. Maybe the solution is to open domestic routs to international carriers like Lufthansa, British Airways and Austrian Airlines. You know, airlines that act like they want my business.