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Old 03-04-2015, 04:18 PM   #1  
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Default Mil Retirement vs Airline Jump

All,

I've been told by several people that it's a break even scenario to make the jump to the majors at 11-12 years of service. That's pretty much true according to the spreadsheet I just worked. Would any of you QC my numbers? I can't figure out how to drop a file into the forum. I'm new to it all, but hope to make my decision by this Aug. The table snapshot below shows the options I've looked at in terms of total income from now until I'm 80...I can't find a better way to capture the 401K offered by Delta/FedEx. I only accounted for their "contributions." This assumes a 5-yr upgrage from FO-Capt. Any idea what the timelines are now for hi-time military pilots?


...............................................Del ta.................FedEx
20 Active + 22 Airlines...............5,987,103...........6,595,1 03
31 Airlines + TR........................6,112,604...........6,97 2,604
22 Airlines + AGR......................6,125,597...........6,769 ,597
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Old 03-04-2015, 05:06 PM   #2  
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Originally Posted by Tanker0906 View Post
All,

I've been told by several people that it's a break even scenario to make the jump to the majors at 11-12 years of service. That's pretty much true according to the spreadsheet I just worked. Would any of you QC my numbers? I can't figure out how to drop a file into the forum. I'm new to it all, but hope to make my decision by this Aug. The table snapshot below shows the options I've looked at in terms of total income from now until I'm 80...I can't find a better way to capture the 401K offered by Delta/FedEx. I only accounted for their "contributions." This assumes a 5-yr upgrage from FO-Capt. Any idea what the timelines are now for hi-time military pilots?


...............................................Del ta.................FedEx
20 Active + 22 Airlines...............5,987,103...........6,595,1 03
31 Airlines + TR........................6,112,604...........6,97 2,604
22 Airlines + AGR......................6,125,597...........6,769 ,597
The current time to upgrade at FedEx is probably 10 years (unless you want to go to an overseas domicile). Being a high time military pilot (whatever that is) has nothing to do with upgrade. It's all about the seniority!!! What will your income be over a 30 year airline career? How many years are you going to be furloughed? This whole business is one big crap shoot and until you cross the finish line it is just numbers on a spread sheet. It is nice to plan but there are no guarantees.
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Old 03-04-2015, 05:39 PM   #3  
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5 months to go and you haven't decided? I'd say you are past V1 and you're not sure what to do? I don't know where you are in the "planning" stage hence my ? mark.
I can't dig out the spread sheet that I came up with more than a decade ago but I'd say the 20 vs. airline $ difference is over $1 million but there are MANY variables to consider as you can imagine. Couple of basic things to think about: Can you guarantee that your last assignment will be a flying assignment approaching 20? How will the airline hiring be then? How about the future economy? Upgrade times 9 years from now (if you care)? These are unknowns that can bite you. Currently, the airline hiring is in full gear; knowns vs. unkowns...you see where I'm going with this?
As for current upgrade timeline, it's anywhere from 8 years to 18 years depending on which legacy/major airline. That's just my guess. There are a ton of "high time" civilian folks out there and military guys are not in that club, though ex-mil types get a special pass with less hours, especially the single seat/fighter types. I'm just sayin'.
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Old 03-04-2015, 05:45 PM   #4  
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I'm an engineer by training so I like spreadsheets. That said, you can plan that thing out to the tenth of a cent and in the end, it's probably useless. Way too many unknowns.

As a reference, in late 90s I saw spreadsheets that proved, PROVED, that it was financially better to punch at 19 years than stick it out till 20 and lose a year of seniority. Didn't work out so good. And all the numbers those folks put into their spreadsheets (salary, pensions, etc) all went out the window.

No one was trying to sell snake oil (maybe Kit Darby), but it all fell apart anyway.

We will all know when we retire if we made the right choice. Probably not until then.
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Old 03-04-2015, 06:42 PM   #5  
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Your numbers speak for themselves. Do what you really want to do and be happy with the decision since the difference isn't that substantial based on all the unknowns. Six months before 911 I decided to stay on active duty and never looked back. I moved a lot, didn't get to pick most of my assignments, and had to jump through the leadership hoops (go to school, do staff work, deploy, etc.). But we could afford for my wife to stay home with the kids and we toured the world on the govt dime. Lots of friends left during the same time period and had a variety of experiences.

I planned and saved like crazy while on active duty and am well positioned for retirement funds in addition to my monthly retirement check and Tricare benefits. Airline job is easy and enjoyable since I live in base and can spend time with my kids.

It's hard to pass up the hiring spree that is forecast over the next 10 years but in the end you will probably live longer if you do what makes you and your family happy.
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:01 PM   #6  
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Originally Posted by gr8vu View Post
Your numbers speak for themselves. Do what you really want to do and be happy with the decision since the difference isn't that substantial based on all the unknowns. Six months before 911 I decided to stay on active duty and never looked back. I moved a lot, didn't get to pick most of my assignments, and had to jump through the leadership hoops (go to school, do staff work, deploy, etc.). But we could afford for my wife to stay home with the kids and we toured the world on the govt dime. Lots of friends left during the same time period and had a variety of experiences.

I planned and saved like crazy while on active duty and am well positioned for retirement funds in addition to my monthly retirement check and Tricare benefits. Airline job is easy and enjoyable since I live in base and can spend time with my kids.

It's hard to pass up the hiring spree that is forecast over the next 10 years but in the end you will probably live longer if you do what makes you and your family happy.
I can't agree with this any stronger. . .I put in 20 and started my airline career at 42. . .knowing that I have that check coming in every month as well as Tricare benefits allows me to sleep a little better at night. But, yes, you will pass up a lot of seniority by waiting. If you have young kids, you will spend a lot more holidays, school vacations, etc. with them while on active duty than your first 10 years at an airline. Everything is a trade off.
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:10 PM   #7  
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I did my 20, retired and am now at a major airline. I wouldn't trade those 20 years in the military for ANY seniority within the airline business.

Civilian airline flying is NOT like military flying just without the green flight suit. The life experiences, camaraderie and friendships you make in active duty can not be replicated on the civilian side. Not saying civilian airline flying isn't worthwhile, not saying it's not profitable or fun, it's great. And, I'm not trying to start an old, tired argument about military vs. civilian pilots. But, there's more to life than an excel spreadsheet comparing lifetime earnings.

I couldn't put a price tag on my military career, but it was worth way more to me than just a million bucks.

'Course, the Air Force isn't the same as when I first enlisted, nor when I retired two years ago. If you're feelings are, "the Air Force isn't worth it", then by all means, punch out!
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:51 PM   #8  
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I just VSP'd at the 7.5 year point and I could not be happier. Pay aside, I love having the freedom to live where I want. The travel perks are nice and I can not tell you how refreshing it is to know your primary duty is to be a pilot and fly airplanes. No emails, no OPR's, no masters degrees, no knee pads for the Commander, no PME, and no Middle East! I don't know how anyone with the opportunity to separate right now wouldn't jump at it with the hiring that has already started and will continue.

If the airlines aren't your thing then that's one thing and good on ya for putting your 20 in, but if you have aspirations of going to the airlines there is no better time for that than now. I would hate to be hired at the end of this wave. Seniority isn't just pay and upgrade times. It's getting the lines you want and the time home with the family.

I've been out for 4 months and flying 121 for 2 months. Granted I'm sure I won't always love it this much, but my family already sees the happiness in me. They love it. They love seeing me happy to go to work and happy to come home to them in a good mood while leaving work at work. I don't think about work until it's time to pack my bag for my next trip. You just can't put a price on that if you ask me. I wouldn't trade my VSP for the world.
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:53 PM   #9  
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And I admire the guys that did their 20 and are now sitting at a Legacy. I bet it was a great ride! But the Air Force you grew up in is not the same Air Force today. I would have been happy to do 20 had it been like the old days for me, but the BS we put up with today is mind boggling!
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:28 PM   #10  
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Get out and join a Guard/Reserve unit.. you may still be able to pull off an Active Duty retirement based on what happens in the future and even if not, finish your 20 there and get your check at 60 (if not sooner) while knowing that IF something stupid happens in the industry, you probably would have the military to fall back on.

I know many guys from my old unit who are now part of the check of the month club and are at max pay for longevity due to the fact that they had their "number" while doing their time at the Guard. Next thing you know, a few activations, a few MPA tours and you're at your 20!
Me, I was able to pull off 27+yrs total (Active and Guard) and will be getting my check at 58~

You'll miss the guys, but that's about it! Like Fly6584 stated, it ain't the USAF of old.
(And even the Guard was/has turned AD.. but still, it's what you make of it and put into it..)

Only you know if waiting another 8 years on AD will be worth it.
By 2023 there should still be alot of retirements (even after they raise the retirement age!).. but then again, another major global conflict or economic meltdown let alone natural catastrophe or two..what will the hiring be like?!

Oh, and do your spreadsheet under the assumption that you will be on narrowbody FO pay up to year 5, mid pay for another 4 years, widebody pay for 3 before upgrading to Capt. And then run the numbers again as Captain for the years above! But.. don't forget the B Fund (15-16%) so add 40-50K a year into the equation with a modest 5% return~
Those numbers will be on the conservative side. What you can't put a price on is the QoL at the airlines vs. Military.

Good Luck.
Motch

PS> If we're all still around in 20-30 years, come back and post on what you did and how it worked out! LOL

PPS> Hired at 40, been here 8 years and still about 4 years till upgrade. But wouldn't trade it for the world.
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