Married to a Pilot

in , by Katie Margaret, January 18, 2014

Being married to a pilot is a different lifestyle than most marriages.  I didn't know anything at all about aviation or the pilot industry before I met my husband.  All I knew was that pilots had free airline travel, which I thought sounded pretty great.  What I have learned is that there is so much more to the career than anyone else would understand.

Whenever my husband and I are out together, meeting new people, they always ask us what we do for a living.  I'll say "I am a director at a preschool" and their response is "oh that's nice".  When my husband responds with, "I'm an airline pilot",  their face lights up, as if they have just met a celebrity or something.  They immediately respond with a line of questions like "oh wow, who do you fly for?  How long have you been flying?  Where did you learn how to do that?  Where do you fly to?  Do you fly internationally?  Are you the pilot or the co-pilot? Are you gone a lot?  Do you have one route you fly every time?  Have you ever flown one of the big planes?" People always seem to be so intrigued with his job, which they should be, it's a pretty awesome job that not everyone can do, but the truth is it's not as glamorous of a job as everyone thinks it is.  It comes with a lot of setbacks and low pay before you can finally land that dream job, which for most pilots would be a legacy airline, like American or Delta. 

I'm pretty lucky compared to most pilot wives because I see my husband every day.  He has enough seniority at his company, that he can work a schedule that allows him to be home every day.  He prefers to work at night.  He leaves in the evening, fly's somewhere, spends the night, fly's back and is home by 9am.  A lot of pilots commute to their bases and work long trips where they're on the road for 4 days at a time.  I do know that this schedule won't last forever.  When upgrades or new jobs come his way in the future, I might be one of those pilot wives missing their husbands all the time.

We are not a typical pilot couple.  Not only do I get to see my husband all the time, but we live in our home state.  Actually, we only live a few miles away from where we both grew up.  We didn't plan on that, but somehow we are still here.  That almost changed a year ago.  My husband has been with his current company for almost 6 years.  He has been applying for other jobs ever since he started.  It's been such a roller coaster ride at his current company.  He was always looking for a way to make more money and advance with his career.  For a regional first officer, you have 2 options. 1.) Accept the low pay and wait your turn or 2.) Get a job overseas.

Last year, we were exploring option # 2, and it almost happens.  My husband went to Dubai for a job interview last April, it came really close for us.  The job offered great pay and benefits, but it didn't end up happening.  He got cut in the final stages of the interview.  We were disappointed, but at the same time, I was relieved.  I wanted him to get the job, but I also wanted what was right for us.  At the time I thought that job was the answer.  Now, I feel that it didn't happen for a reason.

 A few months later, he interviewed for another job in Dubai.  This time it was a corporate pilot job, which is very different than airline flying.  He turned it down.  Even though it offered great pay, the schedule wasn't great and the job was too unstable for us to make that huge move.  After we made that decision, he had another corporate job interview.  This time it was in Macau, China.  Initially, he didn't get the job, but months later we woke up to an e-mail asking him when he could start.  It caught us off guard.  We had already accepted that we would be staying in the United States, but it was a great job opportunity, we didn't want to shoot it down too fast.  In the end, he turned down the job.  It came down to what we wanted for our future.  What would make us happy?  Would we be happy not having to worry about money and living in China or living frugally in America?  We did a lot of thinking, but in the end, we decided we are happy here and we can wait for the airline industry to get better.

I know that we never ended up moving, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't hard to make these decisions.  I learned a lot about Dubai and Macau.  It has definitely opened my mind to new things.  A couple years ago, I would of never said I would move to the Middle East.  But now, I can honestly say that I would with the right job.

Even though it's not always easy to be married to a pilot, I wouldn't change it!  I feel that we have a stronger marriage because of it.  Even though we have had to struggle with money in order for us to both pursue our careers, it has been worth it.  There is so much more to life than money.

I love my pilot and I'm so happy that I get to spend my life with him.

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  1. Things happen for a reason! We played around with so many of those same ideas... moving abroad just wasn't going to work for us though. My husband doesn't like telling people he's a pilot, because then all of those questions come next. He'll usually say something along the lines of "I work for an airline" and then he'll tell if they ask further questions. It's funny how people perceive being a pilot as such a glamorous thing when it's not quite that way in real life.


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