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I'm married to an airline pilot. He's away from home for days at a time, but it works for our lifestyle.

Taylor Rains   

I'm married to an airline pilot. He's away from home for days at a time, but it works for our lifestyle.
  • I married an airline pilot in November, and his job grants us a very unique lifestyle.
  • My husband's irregular schedule makes planning hard, but the benefits offer a great trade-off.

My husband and I married in November 2023, but we've been together for over five years. I've seen his journey from flight instruction in rink-a-dink piston planes to flying passenger jetliners.

He landed his first job in October 2021 at a regional airline that flies on behalf of the major US carriers, starting out as a first officer — a common route for commercial pilots. He starts captain training this month.

His dream was always to fly for a passenger airline, so I knew what I was getting into when committing to this relationship. My pilot-spouse friends quickly warned me about the many nights alone and the unpredictable work schedules.

I worked in the airline industry for years before becoming an aviation reporter at Business Insider, including roles in flight operations, so I had a good understanding of what my life would look like if I married an airline pilot.

So far, I love our lifestyle. My husband is gone a lot, that's true, but the benefits easily outweigh those days apart — especially if you're someone like me who's extremely independent and comfortable being alone.

We do not have kids, however, so this is a dual-income household with the only responsibility being two adorable dogs.

Airline pilots don't work the usual 9-5

When my husband was first hired at his airline, he underwent more than four months of training some 1,000 miles from home.

Then, he sat on "reserve," meaning he only worked when called. If he was called to fly, he had to be at the airport within just a couple of hours.

That made our regular pre-airline job outings like Wednesday-night trivia or spontaneous camping nearly impossible to do since reserve flying is unpredictable. His commute often had to account for New York City-area traffic, too.

Fortunately, the reserve inconsistency lasted only about half a year before he finally secured a "line," meaning he gets a predetermined flying schedule each month.

Still, he's gone for around 15 nights a month, and his days home aren't always on weekends when I'm off work.

I also travel a lot for my job, which adds another layer of schedule coordination — especially since we don't know his schedule until about 12 days before that month of flying starts.

Fortunately, my husband has earned enough seniority to more easily bid for preferred days off, and we typically secure what we need.

For example, he got practically all of November off for our wedding and honeymoon last year, plus another 10 days for a ski trip in March and some long weekend getaways here and there.

Between days off, my husband will have long spans of days flying

My husband's monthly flying is scattered as trips anywhere from one to six days. That's not including any delays or flight cancellations that leave him unexpectedly overnighting in some random city.

His flight training separated us for weeks or months at a time, though. The time zones apart can occasionally create a quiet and lonely house, but I don't mind because it gives me space to focus on myself.

For example, he's upgrading to captain and will be gone all of April, so I'm taking the dogs on a road trip around the US National Parks for a few weeks in a DIY camper I built out this winter.

I love the opportunity to travel guilt-free since my husband actively encourages my solo adventures even when he can't tag along — it's a perfect set-up, and I can fulfill my own needs for independence.

His upgrade training does mean he will lose his high seniority as a first officer, so the pitfalls of reserve flying reset until he can secure a line again — but the promotion comes with a nice pay boost, at least.

Marrying an airline pilot comes with pretty nice benefits

It's no secret that people who work in the airline industry get nice travel benefits, and I'd be lying if I said they weren't a great trade-off for the irregular and unpredictable work schedule.

My husband's pay is one thing people ask me about the most, particularly given the recent post-pandemic salary hikes across the industry.

In short, yes, the pay is good, and he'll make six figures as a captain. It's a significantly nice boost from the crummy checks he got while training that barely covered rent.

Better than the pay, in my opinion, are the flight benefits that aid our love for travel.

Airline employees and their dependents — like spouses, parents, or kids — can fly for free or deeply discounted when seats are available, and it's getting easier to use now that my husband has more control over his flight schedule.

We've used this perk to visit friends and family in places like Denver, Las Vegas, and Florida. We've flown to a few international cities in Germany, France, and the UK, too.

I also sometimes fly as a passenger when he is piloting the aircraft, which is always a cool experience.

Kids will create unique complexities

While I absolutely love our double-income, no-kid, or DINK, lifestyle, we do plan to have children one day. I know that will add an entirely new complexity to our marriage and his job.

Our best friends who are married, one an airline pilot and the other a nurse, already have two kids — so I've already seen some of the ups and downs of growing a family with an airline pilot parent.

But they make it work because they have an incredible way of managing priorities when it comes to work and family, and I'm already taking notes.

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