Though there appears to be a general omerta over the practice, it was already described in a French radio report last year. Young pilot aspirants, who need to rack up several hundred hours of flight time, will pay thousands of dollars to airlines for the privilege of flying their planes.
While you are thinking about that, consider what aviation expert Miles O'Brien said on US PBS News Hour:
[T]he system is facing tremendous demand and a lot of cost pressure. A lot of pilots are required to fill these seats and fly these aircraft. There’s a pilot shortage most everywhere you look in the world right now. Meanwhile, the pay for pilots is very low... there’s a lot of pressure to keep the salaries of pilots low. So you have to wonder, is the process not selecting the best people for the job? And are we, in fact, not training them quite up to standards we prefer because it’s, frankly, cheaper?
Okay, so "Pay2Fly" results in aspirant pilots paying thousands out to companies in the hope that they might get hired by other companies at "very low" pay? What the Wall Street Journal called "fast food pay." Reflect on that before you book your low-cost ticket.
So now let's consider another occupation where your life is in the hands of stressed-out and exhausted professionals: hospital interns or residents. Another French TV report profiled these young slaves to the system, where le burnout has now become commonplace and interns fear complaining about the inhuman hours.
A 2013 Washington Post report noted the progress in the US, where in 2011 medical interns were limited to "only" 80 hour work weeks or 16 hour shifts. Sixteen hours... "That’s the point at which studies have found performance begins to deteriorate, and roughly double the consecutive hours of flying time allowed pilots."
Medical interns in the US might at least get a living wage during their period of residency, but they, like other US students, must take on huge loans which they then must take years to repay. Read the "Student Debt Time Bomb" at Bill Moyers.
At least the doctors, if they survive those endless shifts without killing anyone, can aspire to earn a decent living. Not so of the thousands of migrants paying people traffickers thousands of dollars each for the chance to sneak into Europe or the United States. To join the bottom of the ladder - sometimes to become virtual slaves to those complicit in trafficking - in economies already hard-pressed to keep unemployment at bay for their own citizens.
So, we knew the world was in sorry shape, but things are completely lopsided when people feel the need to pay to get "fast food" wages. I don't want them piloting the plane I'm in, and to paraphrase a Jimmy Buffet song, I don't want any bleary-eyed intern "to cut on me."