I am married to an airline pilot. A lot is gone, but I love our life.

My husband and I got married in November 2023, but we have been together for over five years. I have seen his journey from flight training in piston airplanes to flying airliners.

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

His dream was always to fly for a passenger airline, so I knew what I was getting into by committing to this relationship. My friends and pilot spouses were quick to warn me about the many lonely nights and unpredictable work schedules.

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

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

However, we have no children, so this is a double income household with the sole responsibility of two adorable dogs.

Airline pilots don’t work the usual 9 to 5 schedule

When my husband was first hired at his airline, he spent more than four months training about 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 in just a couple of hours.

That made our usual pre-airline work outings, like Wednesday night trivia or spontaneous camping trips, almost impossible to do, since standby flights are unpredictable. His trip often had to take into account New York City area traffic as well.

Fortunately, the booking inconsistency lasted only half a year before he finally got a “line,” meaning he gets a predetermined flight schedule every month.

Pink skies over New York from a plane.

If there are seats available, I sometimes fly as a passenger when my husband is the pilot. This is the view from one of those flights.

Taylor Rains/Business Insider

Still, he goes out about 15 nights a month and his days at home aren’t always weekends when I’m not working.

I also travel a lot for my job, which adds another layer of schedule coordination, especially since we don’t know your schedule until about 12 days before that month of flights begins.

Fortunately, my husband has enough seniority to bid more easily on preferred days off and we usually get what we need.

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

Between days off, my husband will spend long days flying

My husband’s monthly flights are spread over trips of one to six days. That’s not including flight delays or cancellations that leave you unexpectedly spending the night in some random city.

However, his flight training separated us for weeks or months. Separate time zones can occasionally create a quiet and lonely house, but I don’t mind because it gives me space to focus on myself.

The author in a green jacket in front of a Finnair plane in winter.

Just like my recent trip to see the Northern Lights in Finland, I travel alone and without my husband regularly. I can usually take the dogs, but I have friends and family who can watch the kids when needed.

Taylor Rains/Business Insider

For example, he’s getting promoted to captain and will be gone all of April, so I’m taking the dogs on a road trip through the US national parks for a few weeks in a DIY camper I built this winter.

I love the opportunity to travel guilt-free, as my husband actively encourages my solo adventures even when he can’t accompany me; It’s a perfect setup and I can meet my own needs for independence.

His upgrade training means he’ll lose his high seniority as a first officer, so the dangers of reserve flying reset until he can secure a line again, but the promotion comes with a nice pay rise, at least.

Marrying an airline pilot has many benefits

It’s no secret that people who work in the airline industry get good travel benefits, and I’d be lying if I said they weren’t great compensation for irregular and unpredictable work schedules.

My husband’s salary is something people ask me about the most, especially given the recent post-pandemic pay increases across the industry.

In short, yes, the pay is good and he will make six figures as a captain. It’s a significantly nice boost from the shoddy checks he received during training that barely covered his rent.

In my opinion, better than the pay are the flight benefits that support our love of travel.

Airline employees and their dependents, such as spouses, parents, or children, can fly for free or at deep discounts when seats are available, and it’s becoming easier to use now that my husband has more control over his flight schedule.

We have used this benefit to visit friends and family in places like Denver, Las Vegas, and Florida. We have also flown to some international cities in Germany, France and the UK.

My husband and his grandmother.

My husband regularly travels to Colorado to visit his grandmother.

Taylor Rains/Business Insider

Sometimes I also fly as a passenger when he pilots the plane, which is always a cool experience.

Children will create unique complexities.

While I love our dual income, no kids or DINK lifestyle, we plan to have kids someday. I know that will add a whole new complexity to our marriage and your work.

Our best friends who are married, one an airline pilot and the other a nurse, already have two children, so I’ve already seen some of the ups and downs of starting a family with an airline pilot father.

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

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