How Much Do Delta Pilots Make? - FLYING Magazine (2024)

Delta Air Lines is one of the largest airlines in the U.S., meaning it needs to employ thousands of pilots. Because Delta is competing with other large airlines, such as American Airlines and United to bring in top pilots, it must offer great pay and benefits. Below, FLYING examines the question: How much Delta pilots make?

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Commercial Pilot?

The costs related to flight training, specifically, to become an airline pilot, varies greatly depending on what flight school or college you attend. If you plan to attend a school specific to flight training, on a non-degree seeking track, schools like ATP Flight School will have all inclusive flight training costs of around $95,000.

If you are interested in becoming a professional pilot while also gaining a degree in the process, there are many colleges and universities that offer aviation degrees alongside flight training. Two-year college flight programs will cost roughly between $80,000 and 100,000, while four-year university programs will cost much more, between $100,000 and $400,000, depending on the school.

If you are looking to pursue a career in aviation, visit FLYING’s Flight School Guide, which provides information on many schools.

What are the Requirements to Be a Delta Pilot?

To become a Delta pilot, there is a list of requirements you must meet before applying.

  • Must be at least 23 years of age
  • Commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multi engine ratings
  • Current FAA first-class medical certificate
  • Meet all minimum FAA airplane category ATP requirements (FAR 61.159), including successful completion of the ATP written exam
  • Flight time requirements: a minimum of 1,500 hours of total documented flight time
  • Minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed-wing turboprop or turbofan time
  • For powered-lift pilots, 90 percent of the flight time logged in powered lift category aircraft (e.g. AV-8B, F-35B, and V-22) can be credited to the Delta Air Lines 1,000-hour fixed-wing turboprop/turbofan requirement.
  • Minimum of 250 hours PIC in an aircraft in the airplane category
  • The flight time logged in a powered lift category aircraft cannot be credited towards PIC aircraft time, in accordance with FAR 61.159.
  • Minimum of 50 hours of fixed-wing multi engine time
  • Most successful pilot applicants have far more than the minimum time requirements.

Other requirements:

  • Applicants invited to interview must provide appropriate documentation of all flight hours and college transcripts.
  • FCC Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit (RP)
  • DOT-required pre-employment drug test
  • TSA-required fingerprint-based Criminal History Records Check and a Delta background check

Delta Pilot Salary

Delta pilots are paid based on seniority with Delta and experience as an airline pilot. Pay also varies according to the types of routes flown, domestic or international, and the airframe. Pilot pay at Delta Air Lines ranges from $64,000 per year for a new first officer up to $257,000 per year for a senior captain.


Depending on the airframe, entry-level (first-year) pilots can expect to make around $66,000 a year as a first officer.

TypePay (yearly)
Airbus 319$64,000
Boeing 777$64,000
Embraer 190$64,000

After the first year, Delta pilots will see a steep increase in pay.

Five-Year Pilot

After five years, a Delta first officer has gained some seniority and has seen roughly four raises. Depending on the airframe, mid-level (five-year) pilots can expect to make between $80,000 and $160,000 a year.

TypePay (yearly)
Airbus 319$121,000
Boeing 777$160,000
Embraer 190$82,000


Once a Delta first officer upgrades to captain, their pay will increase substantially. Like first officers, Delta captain pay depends on the type flown.

TypePay (first-year captain pay)
Airbus 319$182,000
Boeing 777$236,000
Embraer 190$122,000

Delta Pilot Training

After a pilot has met the requirements to apply and be hired by Delta, they will move on to fly for one of Delta’s regional partners, such as Compass Airlines, GoJet Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, and Republic Airline.

After gaining seniority in smaller aircraft types, Delta pilots may upgrade to captain and stay with the regional carrier or move to the main Delta fleet as a first officer. In some cases, Delta pilots can upgrade from a regional first officer to a main fleet captain at the same time.

Delta Pilot Benefits

In addition to great pay, Delta offers its pilots great benefits.

  • Profit-sharing
  • Retirement savings plan
  • Training and professional development
  • Competitive life insurance
  • Comprehensive medical insurance, including dental and optometry
  • Paid leave benefits
  • Free and discounted flights

Delta Airlines Domiciles

An airline domicile is a city where an airline has a hub where pilots will be based out of and a trip will commence. Delta’s main hub is in Atlanta, Georgia, but some of their other large hubs are:

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • London-Heathrow (LHR)
  • Tokyo (HND)
  • New York (JFK)

Keep Climbing

Delta may be a good choice for a long-term career if you are looking to be an airline pilot with a large, long standing airline that offers great benefits. If you are looking to stay up to date on aviation news, subscribe to FLYING Magazine.


Where is Delta Headquarters?

Atlanta, Georgia

How much is flight school?

Between $80,000-$400,000, depending on what type of school you attend.

What is an ATP?

An airline transport pilot. This is the highest level of pilot certificate obtainable and is required to fly passengers for airlines operating under FAA Part 121 regulations, such as Delta.

How Much Do Delta Pilots Make? - FLYING Magazine (2024)
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