Chapter 11 – Dating pilots: why I want to say no when the answer is yes, yes, yes!

An excerpt of the first draft…..

Commercial pilots make good money.  At the majors they start out at around $25,000, but once off probation their salaries skyrocket with many topping out around $200,000.  I’ve even heard of some making closer to $300,000.  And yet they’re known for being cheap.   This might have something to do with the fact that so many will dig around inside seat pockets for discarded newspapers after a flight.  Or they’ll wait around to eat whatever is left after the flight attendants get first dibs on first and business classs passenger leftovers.  I can’t figure out why they refuse to purchase food and reading material in the terminal when Dockers and Florsheim shoes are usually on sale somewhere in the US.  Some flight attendants will joke that they have to support a girl in every port, while others will just assume they’re paying for alimony, child support and a boat.  Then again it does cost a lot to own your own expensive airplane. 

One of my flight attendant friends dated a pilot who took her to a McDonalds drive-thru so they could get to an event in time for free parking.  Then he threw a fit when they didn’t find it.  Another flight attendant dated a pilot for eight years and said he would  have rather walked barefoot uphill in a snowstorm before paying for the convenience of valet parking.  That same pilot looked for a coupon to take her out to dinner on her birthday.  A different pilot wouldn’t buy ice cream for the flight attendant he took out on a date because the store had a minimum amount for credit card purchases.  He went to search for an ATM machine but then refused to take any money out because it charged a fee. 

Even I have had quite a few experiences with cheap pilots.  One guy, I call him Captain CZ, couldn’t understand why a woman would prefer a diamond to cubic zirconia when it was impossible to tell the difference.  He even bragged about giving his mother a used CD and a cheap bottle of perfume from the grocery store for Christmas one year.  After dating him for three months, we broke up in Deauville, a picturesque seaside resort in the South of France, after he refused to give me a bite of his ham sandwich.  I actually took a photograph of that damn ham sandwich.  That way I wouldn’t forget and make the same mistake twice.  Okay okay so it may have been more than twice, so what!  I blame Captain Gary for that.  First impressions count and he really was a great guy.  The point I’m trying to make here is I learned my lesson and never dated pilot again! 

(Guess it might be important to point out I have yet to run into Gary again either.)     

Photo courtesy of Ti.Mo



  1. You’re pepetuating the myth that pilots are well-paid and have job security. Awesome. For a few anyway.

    Gosh, I wish my husband was making 6 figures as a pilot. However, he did pay six figures to get his flight training, only to get paid food-stamp level salary once he was done. It’s gotten slightly better senoirity. Still he loves his job, and is one of the most generous people I have ever met.

    • In the first paragraph – second sentence – I stated that I was refering to pilots who work for the MAJORS. I also stated that they make $25,000 the first year on probation. I am well aware that pilots who work for regional carriers make WAY less – as do flight attendants!

    • And I never said anything about job security. Trust me, I know all about it. I AM a flight attendant, remember?!

      • The part you’re missing is this book is set BEFORE 9/11. There’s no way you’d know that until you read the book – which isn’t going to be released until summer 2011. I’m going to end it at 9/11 – when flying TOTALLY changes. Hoping for book deal #2 – flying after 9/11 and juggling flying with family

    • I touched on that in a galley gossip post about FA pay. I mentioned I made more as a first year FA than most regional pilots do their first year. Shocking, I know

  2. Sorry to spoil it even more. He got you to believe that Deauville was in the South of France !!! Deauville is in Normandie, the cheap(est) version of South of France, it’s on the West, The only thing that does it is that it’s just about 2 hours from Paris 😉 he as really cheap 🙂 🙂 :-). Love your posts by the way. Cheers

    • Hahaha. My bad. Thanks for pointing this out. Now I’m going to have to add what you said to the book. 😉

  3. I can relate to runblondie26. My bf just left a regional airline for a better flying job. It’s a misconception to a lot of people that all pilots make top dollar.

    However, I love that you are giving us all little tid bits into your book. I am excited for it to be done so I can give the full thing a read! Sounds like it’s going to be pretty funny.

    Even though I don’t consider my bf to be cheap, the majority of pilots I fly with are and 9 times out of 10 it’s the guy making the most money that is the most cheap. (Probably all those kids to feed, right?!?!) 😉

  4. love this excerpt! My husband is with the majors, and will bring home magazines left behind, so I can relate in that regard. But, I do remember when we were dating he was never cheap about our dates – thanks goodness! And good for you to drop Mr. Ham Sandwich! That is just pathetic!

    • Thanks for commenting. It means a lot. I don’t want anyone to think I’m pilot bashing – although these three chapters do sound like it. Flight attendants are just as cheap. Worse probably. I always say we’re like glamorous homeless people. That said, I have 3 discarded passenger magazines in my bag right now. HA. Too bad I can’t pass them along to you.

      • I know you aren’t pilot bashing 🙂 Pilots make fun of their own too, and I think it is all in fun. I have to say though, the pilots, whom I don’t know personally, that DH has told me about that aren’t cheap are the CAs that have never been married. Now, those are the guys that have money to burn….and probably the ones to date 😉

  5. I wish I could dispel the general stereotype, but, in my experience, well, you’re right. Pilots are cheap.

    I used to fly with this 727 captain years ago who was notorious for his “frugality.” When we had a layover at Fort Wayne, he’d bring a garbage bag with him. He’d make a visit to the Archway Cookie factory, right next to the Fort Wayne airport, and buy broken cookie pieces at pennies per pound. The garbage bag was stuffed. When asked about what he would do with the cookie pieces, he said that he’d pour them in a bowl and serve them at parties at his house. “Everybody loves ’em!” Well, yeah. Alrighty then.

    BTW, I’ve been with a large major “legacy” airline for almost 22 years, and I don’t make anywhere near the 200 grand figure. Although, before 9/11, as a L-1011 co-pilot, I was a lot closer to it! Mind you, I am NOT complaining. Just sayin’.

    Finally, I am at a loss as to why you say in the chapter title “why I want to say no, but yes, yes, yes!” After reading, I didn’t see any reason for “yes!” What did I miss? (Remember, I’m a man, and I am not very good at reading between the lines! 😉 )

    • That’s hilarious about the cookie guy. FYI: I only posted 3 paragraphs. The chapter is close to 20 pages, so there’s a lot you missed. I discuss a few pilots I dated as well as the cockpit Connie’s out there. AND the last chapter takes place/deals with 9/11.

  6. My favorite cheap pilot story: Dean always tried to borrow money from me after the date. It was kiss, goodnight and then, “oh, BTW, could I borrow a $20…I am running short.” He had a ski apt, a Mia apt, Jaguar, airplane, etc…you get the drift. But, when he walked, his shoes sounded like this, “cheap, cheap, cheap.”

    Interesting to me that you finally saw the light over a bite of a ham sandwich. Maybe he had been in prison and had to guard his food. LOL

  7. I dated a pilot for 2 years. 2 years was more than enough to be with one and to hang with all his pilot friends. I’ll never do it again! Also we flight attendants need a little pilot bashing sometimes. Sometimes they deserve it!

  8. lol i do observe this trait in most pilots i’ve met. though sometimes i wish my husband (who is a pilot) were a little closer to being ‘cheap’. he doesn’t mind paying extra/a lot of money for what he calls ‘quality’, ‘versatility’, ‘durability’, ‘class’ and ‘convenience’. this applies to gadgets, fashion items, furnitures, laundry service, meals, basically everything and we always had arguments over his cc bills!

  9. ‘Captain CZ, couldn’t understand why a woman would prefer a diamond to cubic zirconia when it was impossible to tell the difference.’ ok thats LMAO

  10. Oh, I love this article! When my husband and I were dating, he was infuriatingly cheap. When he asked me if I’d be okay with his ex-fiancee’s engagement ring, it was almost a dealbreaker. But then I found out the jeweler he purchased the ring from had a “trade-up” policy. I was able to choose what I wanted, and even fronted the difference in price. I wasn’t about to have a cheap wedding ring (and yes, he did bring up CZ).

    He loves to act like a martyr when he goes 12 hours without buying a meal…”I’m so weak, but I’m doing it for the family.” Geez man, just get a burger and quit complaining!

  11. Cheap,cheap,cheap! My man of ten years is super cheap. He started talking about buying a new car when our child was born seven years ago. We are still sharing the same 10 year old car and we are the third owners. He has holes in his under wear but won’t buy new ones until it is time. My parents bought him a new pair of shoes because the ones he normally wear where probably 15 years old or more. He bought me a toilet seat for Christmas. It was the soft kind. I have to wait for him to go to work to throw food away. We have a super size closet, but we don’t have enough clothes to fill a child’s closet. We grow our own cucumbers and pickle them for Christmas gifts. He bought our 7 year old a hand vac for his birthday. He only uses hotel shampoo and soap at home. He complains the fa’s ate all the left over meals or did’t offer him any out of lazyiness. I could go on. I love him very much and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but yes pilots are cheap.

  12. Regarding dating a pilot. Wait a minute. Why is it money & sexy has to get a woman’s attention! Yeah, maybe those cheapies have thrown all their money into investments (maybe), but cheap is cheap! 🙂 One thing you could consider, a man with morals who will wait for sex AFTER committing. After all, it’s not how good one might be in (oh lord) bed [patience my man, patience with the dear], but how much they love you in deeds, etc. 1Cor. chapter 13. <—-dif. of love 🙂

    If I were too FRANK [herein], please ignore me. But I am a man who cares about his country and wants to bring our country back to our forefathers, that God may bless us again!!

  13. Wow, I work at a hotel and we were just chatting about how cheap pilots are. They NEVER tip the bellmen or the concierge shuttle which picks them up AND drops them off. Occassionally, they will give $2 in an awkward manner, making it seem like a big deal. It’s well known that IF they do it, it’ll be $2, for everything…. airport pick-up, check-in, bag service, and town shuttle. Sooooo funny to find this. We googled “cheap pilots”.
    I still can’t believe he didn’t give you a bite of his sammie! That’s awful. I love sharing food … it’s part of dating.

  14. You’ve got a job. Buy you’re own ice cream! have you ever bought a cup of coffee for a pilot? I didn’t think so.

    • Actually I have. I’ve dated pilots, remember. I’ve also turned down a lot of pilots who have offered to buy me a cup, which was really sweet by the way.

  15. Yes pilots have a reputation for being cheap. And in a lot of cases that’s true. Having obtained a college degree in aviation (management not flight). In my opinion some (or a lot) of those cases are due to the lifestyle they had to lead while “paying their dues” prior to getting that coveted job with “the majors”. Flight school is incredibly expensive, and if you decide to go the college route and combine a higher education with the courses needed to get an ATP certificate, your education will end up costing tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe even 6 figures depending on your school. Most of the time this is paid through student loans.

    After that you have to spend a few years building your flight time by toiling for fly-by-night cargo operators and later (and now more widespread) regional airlines that will barely pay you above the poverty rate. In fact there are a lot of regional pilots out there that actually qualify for, and use, food stamps. So you spend a few years pinching pennies and struggling to get by chasing the dream of one day flying the big jets for a major airline. By the time a lot of these pilots get to that point, they’ve gotten so used to penny pinching that its ingrained in their psyche. So yeah they could be making that six figure salary (pre 9/11 anyway) but they have a hard time shaking that $15,000 a year income mindset.

    Or it could just be those boat payments.

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