its three steps back when I had to work overtime @ HAA job to make what I made FIRST year as an FO averaging 16 days off a month and 80 flight hours pay month average, plus I get travel benefits that I used to go to Australia, Spain, Iceland and Ireland to name a few.
I had my 1000 hours 121 within 18 months and upgraded, so with 6 months of 2nd year FO pay with retention bonus and 6 months of Captain pay I made more than I made in HAA WITHOUT working overtime. If I had wanted to work with less than 16 days off a month I would have easily blown my HAA w/OT pay out of the water.
So probably more like, no steps back and 10 steps forward in reality. Its way better than I ever expected. Once you get over your Stockholm Syndrome and put aside the ego boost you need from saying "i'm a helicopter pilot" a blind man could look at the facts and figures and see that its better on pay and benefits.
the only advantage to HAA is "i sleep in my own bed" - i won't argue that's not important to some people but it sure as heck isn't to me.