Whether you’re a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife to an airline pilot, you already know the challenges (and perks) that come with this role. Pilots live a life on the go, and time apart from their partners is unavoidable. With long 3-4 day trips away each week, minimum time at home, and short notice scheduling, it takes a strong commitment to maintain a healthy relationship with a pilot.
Most people who have never dated or been married to a pilot, hold an assumption that all pilots have affairs or are untrustworthy. With good-looking crewmembers, long overnights in different cities, how could they not be unfaithful, right?! The fact is that yes pilots are constantly being placed in situations that could welcome cheating, but the reality is people are disloyal in their relationships regardless of their profession, and not all pilots fall under this general stereotype.
Dating or marrying a pilot does however take a certain type of person. If you are someone who hates to be alone, has trust issues, or doesn’t like to travel, you might want to find a spouse on the ground with a 9-5 kind of job! But for those of you who love your partners in the sky, here are some tips for helping to maintain that strong, lasting relationship!
This is by far the most important part of any relationship, but it is especially important when dating a pilot. Pilots spend days away from their families, creating constant communication challenges. During flight pilots are unable to be reached, and when on the ground they may be in a completely different time zone that is unfavorable to those at home. These challenges can easily create relationship problems if not dealt with properly.
There are many pilots who have fallen into the habit of not checking in as often as they should with their spouses. I.e. what hotel they are staying at, which flight they are working, what their plans are during their overnight, etc. This lack of communication can create insecurities or questions about what is really happening while away on their trips. It can also lead a pilot down a slippery slope, by creating a relationship that doesn’t require regular check-ins or one that doesn’t hold them accountable for their actions.
Creating a healthy relationship starts with communication, and will eliminate any room for mistrust or uncertainty. With today’s technology there is no excuse not to have regular interaction with your loved ones. Share flight numbers so that you can check in on your partner’s flight progress. This will add a sense of security, especially when pilots can’t always be reached by air. Have your partner text you when they land safely or arrive to hotel. Use Facetime or Skype to check-in and talk face-to-face, helping to ease the feelings of long distance. Share dinner plans, who they will be with and when they get back to hotel room.
Creating an environment that requires regular communication does not mean that you don’t trust your pilot, it means that you’ve built a healthy foundation to deal with the distance. It’s when your partner starts keeping the little details secret, like what hotel they are staying at, that you should start to question their intentions.
Dating an airline pilot means that you constantly have to adjust your life around their schedule. The majority of pilots flying today only receive their schedules for the following month a few weeks ahead of time. This means that unless they have scheduled vacation, you will likely be playing a guessing game on whether or not they will have a specific holiday or weekend off.
Pilots who fly reserve lines, meaning they are on-call, live day-to-day unsure of whether or not they will get used. Even though they may be at home, there is always a chance they will get called into work last minute. For those pilots who hold a regular line, it may take many years before they gain access to an improved or more flexible schedule.
So in order to adapt to a pilots unpredictable schedule, the best advice is not to get hung up on important dates. You will likely have to celebrate birthdays on a different day, spend holidays apart, or plan your weekends together month by month. Be flexible and willing to adjust, even if it means making small sacrifices along the way.
Create a support team at home:
When you’re dating or married to a pilot, you can’t always live near your family and friends. Pilots are usually based out of a specific hub, and sometimes this hub is not within easy commuting distance from your hometown. In certain situations, you need to be willing to move to a city that your partner’s airline flies out of, in turn taking you miles away from your nearest family member.
Unfortunately this can be a challenge when you have kids, especially when you need the extra support that your family can provide while your spouse is away. Fortunately though, one of the many perks of being with a pilot is that you have flight benefits. This means that you can fly home to see your loved ones as often as you’d like, or if available, you can use buddy passes to fly them in to see you.
The best advice for creating a strong support team is to get to know the partners and spouses of other pilots. Not surprisingly, some of your greatest support will come from the people who understand this lifestyle best, and who know all about the day-to-day challenges that you face. The best part about these friends is that you can hold fun get-togethers like “Pilot Wives Thanksgiving”, so when your spouses are away during the holidays, you can get together with those who are experiencing the same thing.
Find a hobby:
Another important tip in our survival guide is discovering your own passions and hobbies. The biggest mistake you can make when dating an airline pilot is depending on them to fill up your social life. The reality is, pilots are away a lot working and when they are home, you might find them needing to sleep off their jet lag. It’s up to you to find ways to occupy your free time. Don’t sit at home on evenings and weekends feeling sorry for yourself, get out there and get involved. Join a yoga class, learn photography, take cooking lessons, or do as I did and start a blog!!
Take an interest in their job:
Flying is truly fascinating and there is so much to learn about it beyond just traveling from point A to point B. When you take an interest in your partner’s profession and really try to understand what their job actually entails, you will more likely be invested in conversations. Pilots love what they do, so make an effort to understand what it is that excites them.
If you’re lucky enough to be with an airline pilot, then take advantage of the travel perks that come with it. Pilots love to travel; otherwise they wouldn’t be in this profession. So be willing to get on a plane and go see the world together. With access to unlimited flight options and cheap hotel deals, why wouldn’t you.
During the periods when your pilot is away working on long trips, there is no need to sit at home. Use your travel benefits to go somewhere. Jump on a flight by yourself or better yet, go meet him/her on their overnight. If available, you could also give a friend a buddy pass and share in the experience of travel with someone who might not get the opportunity otherwise!
Have a tip for our survival guide? Share below, we’d love to hear from you!!