Are you dating a Pilot or wondering what to expect when you date a Pilot? Of course there are many great things about dating a Pilot, but there are also several challenges you need to be aware of. If you can learn to overcome the challenges and commit to make it work however, it can make for a really wonderful, exciting and healthy partnership! Let’s look at the pros and cons, as well as what it really takes to date a Pilot!
PROS OF DATING A PILOT:
You’ll be able to travel a lot (and for cheap!)
If you love to travel then dating or marrying a Pilot means that you’ll be able to travel a lot! Plus of course working in aviation Pilots and their partners have access to heavily reduced price airline tickets. So take advantage of this and take spontaneous trips to far-away destinations at a fraction of the price you would normally pay for an air fare! Plus you’ll most likely always be travelling in Business Class when you fly so you can really travel in style!
Pilots get a good salary
Another bonus is that your partner will be on a good salary.
You can join them on their layovers
Many people who are married to or dating long-haul Pilots will sometimes join them on their overnight trips, especially if it is a long layover of two nights or more. If you have a flexible lifestyle (self-employed, get lots of time off work or are financially secure enough to not have to work), joining your Pilot partner on their work trips is a great way to understand their lifestyle more, as well as being able to spend more time together and travel together.
CONS OF DATING A PILOT:
You will spend a lot of time apart
Working as a Pilot is never a 9-5 job, not even for Pilots who operate solely short-haul or domestic flights. Being in a relationship with a short-haul Pilot (who operates mostly turnarounds, comes home most days and doesn’t have layovers in different destinations often) can be a little easier than being in a relationship with a long-haul Pilot as they will be home slightly more, but still you will spend a considerable amount of time apart. Particularly if you are thinking of having children with a Pilot, you will have to consider if this is something you will be okay with.
Pilots work long hours and are often away for several days at a time
Pilots who fly international and long-haul flights will regularly have overnight layovers in the cities they fly to, meaning they can often be away for 3 or 4 nights at a time. If your partner is an International Pilot, expect them to be away at least half the week.
Short-haul Pilots will still work long hours – often operating 3 or 4 flights per day which means they can easily work a 12 hour day before coming home and going straight to bed as they have a long duty again the next day.
Also Pilots will often operate night flights so they will have irregular sleeping schedules, often sleeping in the day to recover from a night flight or to prepare for a subsequent night duty.
Their roster (work schedule) can often change very last minute
As a partner to a Pilot you often have to fit your life around theirs and accept sometimes their schedule can change last minute and there is nothing they can do about it. Sometimes there is a problem with the aircraft when they land outstation, meaning they have to unexpectedly stay there overnight as opposed to coming back home as was initially planned. Or for example if they are rostered to standby, they may have very little notice to prepare for a flight and may be called away for several days. You need to accept this is part of the job and you can’t let it upset you if plans change.
Your partner isn’t contactable for hours at a time when they are working
Often you won’t be able to get hold of your Pilot partner when they are on duty and there could be many reasons why. The most obvious one being that during flight they won’t be able to call you.
Also delays can often happen before the plane takes off and so Pilots are busy trying to sort out problems and time slots. Remember Pilots have a very important and often stressful job so they may be preoccupied with their work tasks that they forget to check their phone or to message you and tell you they will be delayed.
After the flight they may be unable to message you right away when they get to a foreign country as they may not have an international SIM on their phone or by the time they get to the hotel room and connect to the hotel wifi they are either so tired they just need to sleep, or it is a completely different time zone to you and it may not be a favourable time to call you.
What it takes to date a Pilot
As the partner of a Pilot you need to be flexible to fit your life around their schedule. You need to be ok with not always having a routine. Understand this is absolutely not a regular job. Your partner won’t know their schedule from one month to the next, sometimes not even from one week to the next.
Pilots don’t automatically get weekends or public holidays off like normal people who work standard 9-5 jobs. Not only will they work on weekends and special holidays often, but regularly they will work night flights, meaning they will need to get rest in the day so you will need to be understanding of this.
Apart from their vacation time, Pilots will never 100% know until a few weeks beforehand what days they will have off in any given week, making it hard to plan for birthdays, weddings and special events. They can request a specific date off but there is no guarantee they will get it. You need to be flexible with this and understand that they may miss important celebrations. This is out of their control and there is very little they can do to change it as it may not be possible for them to change flights. If your partner is flying on a special day (Christmas, birthday etc), you will just have to celebrate it another day instead when you are both off work.
Also sometimes Pilots will be on reserve or standby, meaning they have to wait at home or in the airport to be called for a flight last minute. They may not get called at all, they may get called for a quick turnaround or they may have to suddenly go away for a few days – it is totally unpredictable. In which case you need to adapt and be prepared and flexible with any plans you may have made.
Good communication is vital if you are in a relationship with a Pilot as they will be away a lot. They will very rarely be contactable when they are in the sky (only some airlines have wifi onboard but usually the crew need to pay to access it) so you can go many hours without any form of communication, especially if there are delays or any problems onboard or with the aircraft.
That being said, with today’s technology it is easier than ever to stay in touch and so try to set the standard of getting your partner to message you once they have arrived to the hotel. If the time is convenient and you are awake, have a FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp call, preferably video call – even if it’s just for a few minutes. If the time is not convenient, organise when you will have a call so at least once during their layover you can still talk face-to-face to each other and ensure a level of closeness in the relationship despite the distance currently between you. So long as there is good communication in the relationship you shouldn’t have reason to doubt what your partner is doing on their layovers.
If the level of communication starts to decrease and your partner doesn’t contact you as much as you would like, it can cause feelings of uncertainty and insecurity. Make sure to address these issues properly as the problem will only get bigger if not discussed. Checking in on your partner doesn’t mean you don’t trust them, but rather is simply a healthy way to deal with being apart.
You need to be okay with spending time alone whilst your Pilot partner is away. If you are someone who doesn’t like to be away from your partner or you don’t like to be on your own a lot, perhaps having a partner who is a Pilot may be quite hard at first. Don’t just sit at home waiting for your partner to come home – learn to be independent and fill up your time doing things you enjoy!
Try to make friends with other partners of Pilots as they will understand the lifestyle and how you feel and so can often be very supportive. You can also have girly nights together or celebrate special occasions together if both your partners are away at the same time. Don’t rely on your Pilot partner for your social life: you need to create your own!
Make extra time for your hobbies and doing the things you love. Discover new passions. This will all help take your mind off being away from your partner a lot. Even when your partner does come home, remember that they may want some time alone or need to catch up on sleep, so if they are happy with it you can still do your regular hobbies/exercise classes etc – don’t feel like you need to drop everything the minute they come back through the door.
Sometimes you will have to relocate because of your partner’s job – your partner will be based out of a specific hub where their airline flies to and so will need to live fairly close to the airport which potentially for you means moving away from your home in order to be with them. Sometimes even your partner will be offered a flying job abroad and so you will both need to relocate and move far away from family and friends. Therefore it is very important to keep a close circle of family and friends that you can contact for support whenever you feel alone. At least you have the benefit of cheap air fare tickets so you can easily fly back to see your family and friends if you have a few days spare!
Being considerate and taking time to understand the Pilot lifestyle will really help strengthen your relationship and make them appreciate you more. Understand that they will be tired after flight, often suffering from jet-lag and trying to adapt to the time difference. Allow them their space and time to readapt.
When Pilots get to their destination they may just want to sleep for a few hours before they do anything. Before you jump to conclusions about your partner’s whereabouts, take it from me as an ex-flight attendant, there is usually only one of two things on our mind post-flight – sleep or food.
Trust is so important when you are dating/married to a Pilot, especially a long-haul Pilot who has lots of overnight stays in different destinations. You cannot constantly be on their back hassling them and quizzing them, fearing they are going to lie to you or cheat on you. YOU NEED TO TRUST THEM. Trust your intuition about situations.
Extra tips to help your relationship:
- Ask your Pilot partner to send you a copy of their monthly schedule (even though it is likely to change at some point). This way you can see when they will be working, where they will be flying to, when they will need rest, and when they have days off that you can spend together. You can always track their flight number on Flight Radar too to see their flight progress.
- Take an interest in your partner’s job. Pilots really love their job and love talking about it so if you take some time to understand it they will really appreciate it.
Misconceptions about dating a Pilot:
All Pilots cheat on their partners
Just like everything in life, you cannot generalise. There are plenty faithful Pilots and yes unfortunately there are plenty unfaithful Pilots in this world. Of course it doesn’t help that almost all flight attendants are young and very good looking and that the Pilots will often stay overnight in different cities each week, which could certainly worry some partners.
When I worked as a flight attendant I came across my fair share of sleazy married Pilots as well as many decent Pilots who loved and respected their partners and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise their relationship. Someone’s profession won’t determine whether they are going to cheat on their partner. Rather their morals, loyalty and respect they have for their partner will determine that. Of course Pilots are often in situations where it could be easy and tempting to cheat on their partner but it doesn’t mean they will and it doesn’t make it right to stereotype them all. You will find plenty men and women who cheat who aren’t Pilots.
You also need to be aware that some people will see your partner in their Pilot uniform and will often instantly be attracted to them. Many ‘gold-diggers’ will want to date a Pilot in the hopes to experience living a life full of luxury. Some people will even just try to get a Pilot into bed just for the hell of it. If you trust your partner, trust that they will not risk your relationship for something meaningless with someone else.
So as you can see, there are lots of perks as well as downfalls when you choose to date or marry a Pilot. However if you can learn to see the challenges as positives, then you can have a really strong and healthy relationship.
Are you a flight attendant or thinking about becoming one? Click here to read about the pros and cons of being a flight attendant!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!