Flight School Scam. Such a strong word, yet a word that still hides behind flight schools without you knowing. Some flight schools have a tendency to blindside you in the financial aspect of things if you’re not too careful.
I too being a victim of such fraud faced over a 15,000-dollar loss when gaining my commercial license.
So how exactly do you reach your goals and save financially?
It’s quite simple if you pay attention to the right details, but with most students that seems to be the problem. Not to worry! that’s why I’m going to give you the inside scoop to it all.
Here’s 5 ways flight schools’ pickpocket your money:
with all the experience I have in this industry, I have stories that might surprise you. I hope with few tips in this blog, no one will steal from you.
Read the entire blog to get a very clear picture of the flight school scam
01. A large sum for a deposit.
Generally, when you want to join a flight school, they will request you to pay an acceptance letter administration fee in addition to postal charges for all the documents needed for the visa process. Some schools add a few more hundreds as a deposit for flying school when you reach there.
You see that’s not the problem.
The problem is when some schools ask you to deposit over 7000 dollars as a deposit. To some of you that might seem okay because they will transfer that to the flying school account right? of course, they will, considering everything goes well with your embassy.
What happens if your visa gets denied?
The entire process of requesting a refund for your deposit will be chaos. This happened with a few of my students in the early days of my career, and it never goes well.
When you ask a flight school to return your money, be ready to receive a lot of excuses because who wants to give up the money they already got. They will even offer another acceptance letter to encourage you to apply for a visa again. The plain truth is the chances of them granting you the money back is close to none and even if they do, thousands of dollars will be deducted. If ever you come across a school like this please get in contact with me. I have many experienced lawyers who will help to ensure you get your money back without the excuses.
02. Requesting you to pay full upfront.
This kind of request doesn’t kill just the students’ dream, it destroys the family financially too. From my experience, I know that a majority of you come from a middle-class family, the same as me.
When I first went to ask my parents for financial support, they were struggling with bank loans. My mother pawned all her jewelry while my father buried himself in debt just so I can fulfill the dream of mine. I know many out there are just like me.
One of my student’s parents sold entire farmland to fund his training in hopes he will succeed.
So can you imagine the consequences you will have if you pay full upfront and the school ends up closing down?
“What are the chances”, you might think but it may surprise you how many schools did close down like this. I have met students personally who faced such horrific situations. When asked why they responded by saying that some schools didn’t give them a choice and some schools promised a 10% to 15% deduction from total course prices.
Your lack of knowledge in flight training and how these schools work will be their advantage.
Remember flight school is a business like any other, so as much as I want them to thrive and provide you with a good place to study and learn, I also want you to be careful. Just like any other business, there is no guarantee it won’t file for bankruptcy and close down.
One exception to this are the schools in New Zealand who asks students to pay full upfront, but it doesn’t transfer directly to the schools. Payment is made to a government authorized company that will return the full amount if you don’t reach the school within the admission date.
Like I tell all my students, try to avoid this risk regardless. Stealing from you is easy if you let them.
03. Extra this, extra that.
This is where some flight school scam every penny out without you even knowing. Getting you to bite the bait with things like book supplies, Uniform, headset, transportation…etc
‘just a couple hundred, how bad can it be?’
Trust me when I tell you, it can get very bad!
These things add up in a blink of an eye. Books are very important to your educational process but some schools will offer packages with so many books, that won’t even get utilized throughout the training. Never forget you can always purchase books online or second hand for a cheaper price.
The next target for schools is the housing of the students. Some schools offer accommodation of a single small room for $750, keep in mind this is shared with another colleague who pays the same amount.
Then they have a van for transportation which will surely add to more expenses.
Some schools include all this in a package and bait you to it.
When you come from a different country, It’s obvious you don’t want the hassle of finding everything on your own, so you simply agree to such packages and lose a ton of money to it and they know it.
so always contact the school beforehand and seek your options. Ask them if you have the availability to move out if necessary, purchase books online, finding alternate transportation..etc
Good schools will always provide you with this option instead of stealing your opportunities.
04. Fly more with the instructor.
One of my friends flew four hours across the country on his very first lesson, being a student pilot he is, he didn’t really think it was a big deal. Until later stage when he spoke about it with our other pilots and we were shocked. I knew that if I was in his chair, I wouldn’t have questioned it either. Flight school scam hours from a student is easy if you’re not aware.
All we want is to be a great pilot so we do everything the instructor tells us to.
It would truly amaze you how much money they make out of you just by being in the sky a little longer.
In most of the flight schools, students pay around 60$ to 80$ dollars per hour for the instructor, but the instructor will only receive 20$ from that amount. This is how almost all the flight schools run and that’s perfectly fine.
They are business and have to make money somehow.
The problem itself isn’t that. You see the schools make a huge profit when you fly with the instructor and the instructor gets paid only when he flies with you. So some schools tell the instructor to fly more with the student as training flights as possible to increase the number of flight hours.
It’s critical to also remember that for most of the instructors this is a transitioning period for them to build hours in order to get their airline job.
Flying more means they can build more hours quickly.
So always do the early preparation from your part. check out my previous blog for more details on this.
05. Quoting low prices for their advantage.
Quoting course prices is a difficult task, there is no fixed price for training. What most of you fail to understand is the flight training fee will change according to the flight hours you take to complete your PPL.
The nationals average to complete their PPL in the USA is around 65 to 70 hours and many good schools put the course price for around 60 hours with an explanation to the students.
The problem here is that some schools state the course price to the minimum required PPL hours of 30 to 40 hours knowing you will have fly more.
The low prices will attract you to such schools for a false reality.
Extra essential expenses such as accommodation, medical, insurance, supplies, and transportation will be left out. Students fall for this and get tangled in a world of messes.
They know that when you come from Asia and start the training and you realize the real expenses you will have to face, there is no going back. You will have to drag on regardless.
Give priority to choosing the best school that provided honest and correct information. Don’t ever look for cheap schools because at the end of the day this training is expensive. If the price looks too good to be true, maybe it is, so ask for a breakdown. If you’re still not sure, contact me, I will verify the validity.
I came into this industry to make a difference. To ensure that what I went through never happens to another student. That’s why after ten years of planning and dedication I created ‘Vebudo Aviation‘. To consult you and guide you from preparation to training all for free of charge.
If I had to redo my career again, I wouldn’t change a thing because helping all of you is the greatest gift I receive. Flight school scam is usually undetectable. When choosing your school make sure you are aware, this is the most important decision you will make in your flying career. Happy Flying!