Partner of a Pilot
The Candid Diary of an Airline Pilot’s Girlfriend

Sometimes long-haul living sucks-I’m having a down day…

I knew what I was getting into before I ever settled down with Bf right? Right… Or wrong… I’m not sure any more.

I knew that Bf was a pilot, or at least that he was training to be one. However originally he had a sponsorship with THE budget short-haul airline in the UK… They do a set roster, 4 days on, 3 days off or something similar. Home pretty much every night unless something goes wrong. I had never known any pilots before, and honestly was so naive about the lifestyle that I would live.  I also didn’t really care; I was used to being in an awful relationship with an awful man, that I had home to me every night (and would have given my right arm to lose 4 nights a week), before I’d met him. So the notion that I could be with a man I loved for any percentage of my time was more appealing than anything.

I was completely blinded to any negative factors of Pilot ‘wifestyle’, by love. At first we only got to see each other online, and then a couple of months on it was at weekends because he was training in the UK (but still too far to meet more often). This went on for nearly a year. I waited and waited patiently, because I knew that some day, he would be mine to live with… My man would be coming home to me most nights.

Then something unexpected happened. The airline that were sponsoring him breached their contract; they did not have a space to offer him once he’d completed his training. He had several options: wait on a basic retainer (financially impractical) for an unspecified number of months, work as a steward for the airline until the place became available as a pilot (which he felt was beneath him) or consider counter offers from airlines that were ready to recruit him immediately.

One such offer was made by his now employer, and he was given a 48 hour dealine to make his decision.  So, after an agonising few days, he accepted the offer. The major difference was that he’d be flying larger planes which meant that there’d be the opportunity later on for long-haul.

At the time this terrified me. He reassured me, saying that it wouldn’t happen for at LEAST a few years, and that even then, he’d probably get 1 possibly 2 longhauls per month at worst.  Here we are, almost 3 years on, and this winter (his 1st winter of longhaul) he is pretty much solely a long-haul pilot with an average of 3 longhauls per month over the coming months. 

It’s just not something I had prepared myself for mentally or emotionally. I look at my life now, and I feel just a little bit cheated; not because I am not in love with him or that I resent him flying, because I love him dearly, and always knew he’d be a pilot. It’s because I’ve already done the single parent thing, and this just doesn’t feel dramatically different for 50% of the time.

He is home a lot, granted, more than your average 9-5 guy-if we’re looking at days off… But, when he’s at work-he’s AWAY. Not just away in the UK, where if I had an emergency, or our daughter ended up in hospital, he could come home within a few hours, but thousands and thousands of miles away, and in opposite time zones.

Is it worth the sacrifice??? Yes of course it is, most of the time, or I wouldn’t bother doing it. It just smarts a little, because I know that he could have been working for another airline where the lifestyle I imagined would have been mine. Of course he’d have been working much harder, with less travel perks, and flying a plane that he’d enjoy flying less. I have recently asked him to consider flying shorthaul; but he see’s it as a retrograde step in his career. He says that some day he will probably have to go on to the shorthaul fleet any way within a few years, and he just wants to make the most of his opportunities to see the world whilst he still has it.

Incidentally, he checked the passenger loads for the trip to Mexico that we booked me onto (standby) this Sunday… It’s fully booked. So unless somebody doesn’t show up, or is late. It looks like I’ll be waving him off from the ground. We only just found that out, so the one generic perk of living with a long-haul pilot, just doesn’t seem to be working for me right now 😦

I’ll be ok. Perky even, next week, after this trip is over. Please tell me that I’m not the only one who get’s fed up with it on the odd day?!


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