Best Airline to be a Pilot For

What’s the best airline to be a pilot for? Beyond the thrill of flying, a career as a pilot encompasses competitive pay, perks, and diverse opportunities. This article explores pilot compensation, including top-earning countries, wage variations with aircraft type, and standout airline choices and their associated benefits for aspiring pilots.

Being a pilot is a childhood dream for many, and most pilots start because of their passion for the skies. However, many pilots stick with their careers for the fantastic array of benefits and lucrative salaries available within the airline pilot profession. Have you ever wondered, though, just how high the earning potential of an airline pilot is?

 Well, wonder no more. In this article, we break down the countries where pilots are getting paid the most, discuss how pilot salaries change depending on aircraft type and pilot experience, and reveal the best airline to be a pilot for, accounting for both monetary and non-monetary benefits. Some of the answers may surprise you, so read on!

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What country pays pilots the most?

How much money a pilot earns can vary substantially depending on the airline the pilot flies for and where that airline is located. The Middle East, particularly countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, is known for offering some of the highest pilot salaries globally due to the booming aviation industry and the presence of major airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Take this example from GulfNews, which claims that pilots based in the UAE earn an average of dh58,000 per month or an average annual salary of nearly US$190,000. Additionally, these airlines often provide generous tax-free salaries and accommodations, leading their pilots to pocket more of their money than the average US pilot and therefore making them attractive choices for pilots seeking higher earnings.

uae, burj khalifa, dubai, city, plane
The Middle East, particularly countries like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, is known for offering some of the highest pilot salaries globally

 What are the award wage rates for different types of aircraft?

Aircraft type and airline location are two crucial factors influencing pilot salaries. Captains and first officers operating large wide-body jets generally earn higher wages compared to those flying regional aircraft. The complexities and responsibilities associated with larger planes contribute to the wage disparity. For example, the award wage for a pilot flying an Airbus A380 is typically higher than that of a pilot flying a Boeing 737.

 To quantify this, a Dash 8 (up to 74-seat turboprop regional airliner) first officer in Australia receives a little over US$40,00 per year, while the median airline pilot salary in the US in July was $184,801, according to While not common, some very senior pilots at major airlines in the US have been known to earn over $700,000 per year.

 What other benefits and perks can pilots get from airlines?

In addition to substantial salaries, many airlines offer pilots and flight crew members an array of other benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, travel privileges, and often discounted or free airline tickets for themselves and their families. These health and retirement-related benefits are particularly important for pilots based in the US, where healthcare costs for the uninsured are some of the highest in the world and where your level of private health insurance is largely dependent on your employer and the package they offer you.

Some of the world’s biggest airlines even provide housing allowances or accommodations, especially for expatriate pilots, further enhancing the overall compensation package. This is where the Middle Eastern airlines shine, as well as offering tax-free or low-tax salaries in most cases.

qatar airlines
Many of the middle eastern airlines offer tax-free or low-tax salaries in a lot of cases, making them much more attractive employers.

What is the highest pilot income?

The highest pilot income will be awarded to the most senior pilots, flying the biggest and most complex airplanes, at the world’s largest and richest airlines. Currently, the pilot shortage in the US means most US airlines are being forced to ink new deals with their pilots that often include pay increases of 30-40%, potentially affording them the edge over their Middle Eastern counterparts.

 For example, American Airlines recently increased their pilot contract offer by more than $1 billion to match the agreement that another legacy carrier United Airlines just came to with their pilots. This could see senior wide-body captains of these two airlines earning close to $600,000 annually in base salaries alone, which is certainly up there with the highest in the world.

“American Airlines agreed to raise its pilot contract offer by more than a billion dollars to bring it on par with the tentative agreement competitor United Airlines reached with its pilots last week. The total offer reaches about $9 billion dollars in incremental compensation and benefits, CEO Robert Isom said in a call.. It will include a pay raise for pilots and a ratification bonus.” Isom said the United agreement “changed the landscape” and had wages that were higher than Delta’s original negotiations.
american airlines
American Airlines recently increased their pilot contract offer by more than $1 billion to match the agreement with United

Which airline brings in the most money?

When thinking about the largest airlines in the world, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines might come to mind. These major carriers consistently rank among the highest-grossing airlines globally, which should translate to more competitive compensation and better job security for pilots.

However, when it comes to the airline that makes the most money, there can only be one; Delta Airlines took the cake for highest sales, asset value, and market cap in Forbes’ most recent Global 2000. United and American Airlines fared as close runners-up. Perhaps US airlines trump Middle Eastern airlines after all!

united airlines
United airlines, as one of the biggest in the world, is often reported as one of the best employers too

What is the best airline to be a pilot for?

Having discussed both the highest paying and highest earning airlines, and the airlines with the best non-monetary incentives, we are now well-equipped to make an informed decision on which airline is the best to be a pilot for based on these crucial factors. Additionally, considering that for many people, the USA is a more attractive place to live thanks to a more tolerable climate and less strict, religion-based laws (in most states), there is one airline that is a clear winner.

Delta Airlines is not only the largest airline in the world but also one of the highest-paying for pilots thanks to a pilot contract similar to the recent agreements made by United and American with their pilots. According to the DeltaNewsHub, GlassDoor named Delta the best place to work for the 7th year. For those willing to tough out the Middle East, Emirates may be the best airline for non-monetary incentives and low tax rates.

“For the seventh year, Delta has been ranked the top airline on Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list. Each year, Glassdoor reviews the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback on their daily jobs, benefits, interview experience and work environment to determine the top 100 large companies.”
delta airlines, delta aircraft
The clear winner, at least in the USA, seems to be Delta

Southwest Airlines also deserves a mention here, as they have been reported to have great benefits and conditions.

Is it hard to get accepted as a pilot for these airlines?

Landing a job with any airline is highly competitive, as airlines typically receive thousands of applications for each advertised position. Further, most countries’ aviation authorities stipulate minimum experience requirements for air transport pilots and their pilot training (the FAA’s 1,500 flight hours minimum being a prime example), and the airlines themselves will often call for hundreds of hours of experience flying larger, more complex airplanes.

 Securing a position with any of the airlines discussed in this article becomes an even more arduous task, as most pilots will be familiar with the excellent pay and conditions on offer at these carriers. However, candidates for these positions shouldn’t be too pessimistic; supply and demand dictate that these favorable conditions are due to a shortage of experienced pilots willing and able to do the job, meaning these airlines can’t afford to be too fussy. Ultimately, if you’re a capable pilot willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears required to succeed in the industry, these airlines would probably be more than happy to have you on board.

Can you work part-time as a pilot?

It is possible, albeit uncommon, to work part-time as a pilot. Most pilots work full-time hours, however, some of these hours will likely be “on-call,” meaning if the pilot is not called into work, their actual hours worked may be closer to part-time than full-time. Some regional airlines offer part-time positions as a regional airline pilot, but these positions typically offer less pay and benefits than their full-time counterparts.

best airline to be a pilot for
It is possible to work part-time as a pilot, but often pilots will be ‘on call’, so the hours of a full-time pilot might be closer to part-time hours, depending on the airline and your actual position.


Being an airline pilot is an extremely challenging, yet rewarding career that offers attractive pay, excellent benefits, and the opportunity to be paid to travel the world. If any new pilots are interested in working for one of these airlines, be sure to research the different airlines and talk to pilots who work for each. This will help you to determine which airline is the best fit for you, and we hope this article helps too!

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