Why Become a Pilot with Alaska Airlines?
As you may know, the U.S. is in the midst of a pilot shortage. With an aging workforce, an FAA-mandated retirement age of 65, and an ever-increasing demand for air travel, major airlines like Alaska are expected to be short as many as 8,000 pilots by 2023. The good news is that with so many open positions, pilot salaries and bonuses are rising and there has never been a better time to enter the aviation industry as a new pilot.
Alaska Airlines operates a large domestic route network primarily focused on travel from the Pacific Northwest, West Coast, and Alaska. Alaska is a member of the Oneworld alliance, the third largest airline alliance in the world. The airline operates out of five hubs, SEA (Seattle, WA) being the primary hub. Pilots are based at one of five domiciles: ANC (Anchorage, AK), LAX (Los Angeles, CA), PDX (Portland, Oregon), SEA, and SFO (San Francisco, CA).
Alaska does not have long-haul flights, so pilots may enjoy a degree of flexibility that other major airlines cannot provide. Pilots bid for their domiciles based on seniority, and the number of opportunities at each domicile is based on demand.
So how much do Alaska pilots make?
Airline pilot salaries depend on a number of factors including experience and number of hours flown per month. Airline captains and first officers do not earn a flat annual salary. Instead, they receive an hourly wage for each flight hour flown plus a per diem. As of February 2022, Alaska first officers make $93 per hour in their first year and can work their way up to $197 per hour in their twelfth year. Alaska captains start at $226 per hour and increase to $266 by year 12.
Career benefits for Alaska pilots include healthcare, family and medical leave, a 401(k) with company match, quarterly and annual bonus programs, an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, discounts at popular travel companies and retailers, charity donation matching, and free, unlimited travel for employees and eligible family members on Alaska and Horizon flights on a standby basis.
Alaska Airlines has publicly committed to fostering a more inclusive environment among their pilot pool. In 2019, Alaska signed a pledge with Sisters of the Skies, a nonprofit committed to pilot diversity, to increase their number of Black female pilots by 2025. If you are a Black female pilot or aspiring pilot, you may be interested in connecting with an Alaska representative to discuss how they can support you in achieving your career goals.