Friday, December 12, 2014

Being a Pilots Wife

There are a lot of things non-aviation folks just don't understand, after all how could they? Here is a list of my top "misunderstandings."

1) Holidays - At some point in their aviation career your pilot will not be home for the holidays.  This means any holiday Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas etc...And it won't be just one year they will miss these, it will be many years of missed holidays.  Last year when dh started his new job he worked every holiday, even the hallmark ones (Valentines day, St Pattys day, etc...) and this year he is working New Years Eve but that's ok we knew that would happen when he took the new job. The family though...lets just say over the last 10 years they have gotten used to it.

2) Free Flights! Those "free flights" you get when you marry a pilot will at some point allow you to sleep in a crappy airport.  I'm not talking a nice airport like DEN I'm talking crappy like CLE. Those free flights are great, if there are empty seats on the plane, but these days its harder and harder to find a plane that isn't stuffed to the gills. So while it's not impossible to fly standby these days, its a far cry from what ever your friends and family think you do.

3) Day Tripper - Along with #2 is that your relatives may not understand going to Disney World for the day.  To people who don't fly a lot it seems like a big effort to go for just one day, but for you the well seasoned nonrev it's just another adventure.  Hell I've driven to the airport just to meet dh for dinner if he had a few hours sit, fyi DEN is great for this as they have a lot of stuff outside security.

4)Scheduling - your relatives won't understand this, especially to start with.  For me after all these years in the in industry it's second nature and I forget that people have no idea that words I'm using sound foreign. For some reason I am having a difficult time describing reserve lines right now (you would think it would be self explanatory right?) I think it is confusing people that sometimes he flys and sometimes he doesn't on reserve.  I keep getting questions of when is his next trip? And do you really have to fly on reserve days or will you be around?

5) Loneliness - Here is one of the most undeniable truths about being a pilots wife, you WILL be lonely.  I'm not saying all the time, or every time he is on a trip, but there will be times when you're sick, or when you want to go out that you will be lonely.  This is not meant to be a "poor me" cop out, but it will happen, and probably more than once.

6) Being by yourself - This goes hand in hand with #5 you will get used to going places/doing thing by yourself.  This can mean anything from going out to dinner, going to the zoo, going to a wedding, or going to family Christmas by yourself.  You will get used to this, and hopefully after a few years your relatives will either understand your pilot is at work or at least stop asking about it.

7)  Pilot Wife the Great Fixer - In the spirit of #5 and #6 you will get very good at fixing things yourself.  It never fails the minute the pilot walks out the door something breaks.  Oh and it's almost always after normal "business hours" so you can forget having someone come fix it!

8)  Training - The world stops for training.  Training is critically important every year its "you bet your job" in the simulator. I can't count the number of things I haven't told dh while he has been in training; dogs sick, dog died, I'm sick, somethings broken, I say nothing when he is in training. Training is so stressful to start with I won't add to that unless absolutely necessary.

9) Unions -  Depending on your relatives they may or may not understand Unions.  Some people love them, some people hate them, but they are very present in the airline industry.  Usually if some starts bashing on them we stay quiet, its hard for folks outside the industry to understand how important they are in the industry.  Having been at both a union and a non-union airline, we (well dh) will NEVER fly at a non-union airline again if he has a choice.

10) Rich Pilot - The best for last, all your relatives who think that dh is a pilot and is rich. I know many a pilot families who qualify for state aid us included when dh was on first year pay. Yes, if your pilot is a mainline widebody captain he's making a decent living, other than that he's probably not rich, unless he made his money somewhere else.


  1. Sounds like a Cop's wife is a better Deal....

  2. Spot on! I have been a commercial pilots wife for almost 28 years, and add 10 years to that as a Navy carrier-based pilot wife (same man!!). It never gets easier, and you had better be independent and resourceful...but it has been quite a ride!

  3. Exactly right!! Thank you for summing to up so well!!
    -a pilots wife for 16 year.......

  4. Sums is all up. Been with my husband for nearly 20 years. He's been everything from line pilot to management. I have my own set of power tools!

  5. Except for # 7, which I do regardless of if the wife is home or not, this is spot on for us pilot husbands as well.

  6. I have to say this is spot on. And after 35 years, I say the good outweighs the bad and I'd do it all again! Every marriage/career has good/bad; negatives/positives. I've learned to deal with all of the above and love the perks. Love the life!