The Average Salary of a Delta Airline Pilot

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Delta Airlines is a major passenger air carrier based in Atlanta, Georgia. The airline, which was among the largest in the nation according to a June 2010 Reuters report, flies to cities throughout North America as well as to various destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Delta's pilots earn salaries based on their "seniority," or how long they have flown for the company.

Beginning First Officer Average Salary

Pilots begin their Delta careers as first officers, sometimes called "copilots." Their job is to assist the pilot-in-command, or "captain," with flight-related duties, such as communicating with air traffic control, lowering the landing gear, performing navigation procedures and monitoring the instrumentation for signs of mechanical malfunction. These professionals typically start out on Delta's domestic routes, flying the airline's smallest aircraft. At the time of publication, first-year Delta first officers earned yearly salaries of $45,502, according to data from, a piloting industry salary and career advancement website

Experienced First Officer Average Salary

As Delta first officers gain flight experience and seniority within the company, they receive pay increases and move to larger aircraft and international routes. By a Delta first officer's fifth year with the company, she will receive a salary almost double what she made when she started with the airline. As of the date of publication, fifth-year Delta first officers flying medium-sized airplanes earned salaries of $82,087 per year, according to data from

Beginning Captain Average Salary

Airline captains act as pilot-in-command of their crew, serving as the final authority for the operation of their flights. In addition to performing most flying duties, Delta captains supervise their first officers, communicate with company dispatch, perform preflight inspections, review and sign flight planning data, and inform flight attendants of relevant situations. Delta captains began their careers with the airline as first officers, and advanced as they gain experience and seniority. Like new first officers, beginning captains start with domestic routes on Delta's smallest aircraft. New captains earned yearly salaries of $115,822, according to data from

Experienced Captain Average Salary

With each passing year, Delta Airlines captains receive seniority-based pay increases. Additionally, moving up the airline's seniority list allows them to bid to fly Delta's large aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 and 777. Eventually, after decades with the company, Delta captains reach the top of the airline's pay scale. The maximum salary for a Delta captain flying the company's largest aircraft was $162,794, according to data from

Relation to Industry Averages

Delta Airlines' pilot pay structure is among the lowest of all U.S. major airlines, according to information from While first-year first officers earned salaries significantly higher than the industry average, experienced first officers and captains earned yearly pay well below the industry averages for their positions.