Pros & Cons of Dating a Coworker: Aviation Edition
I must have love on the brain, because here we are, another Thursday and another post about dating. Last week I told you guys the DOs and DON’Ts of Dating a Flight Attendant. This week we are tackling a topic I get asked about a lot: Dating at work.
People often wonder if flight attendants and pilots date as much as popular culture would have us believe. The messy answer is yes…and no. Far from the mile-high-club fantasy you might think of, working at an airline is not one big orgy, and many pilots and flight attendants are happily coupled up in one way or another with people outside of the industry. That being said, there is a lot of love within commercial aviation. (And if you’re wondering, my company is no exception.) It is not at all uncommon to see flight attendants dating other flight attendants, pilots dating pilots, or FAs and pilots coming together in the name of love (or whatever).
Advice is doled out to newbies by senior flight attendants in ominous tones: Never EVER date the pilots. But many of us have and many of us dip into our own workgroup for flight-attendant coupled bliss (or whatever). There are differing opinions on workplace romance, but the bottom line is it happens. And when it does, there are some definitive pros and cons. This is what we’re talking today. The good, the bad, and the ugly of dating at work.
I have no advice to give and I don’t care who dates whom. But what I do have is a bit of experience flying the VERY friendly skies, and I’m here to share my take. So here they are:
The Pros and Cons of Dating at Work: Aviation Edition
1. They understand your lifestyle.
This Pro of dating at work is number one for a reason. I cannot understate how big of a Pro this really is. To have someone never ask you to explain your job is like a freaking VACATION. To not answer what route you work, who pays for the hotels, how your schedule works, how many days off you have, about your flight benefits, your favorite part of the job, your best flight story. (OMG I’m crying just knowing that I’ll someday have to answer all of these again.)
Getting all this stuff we DON’T want to talk about out of the way and off the table means we can spend more time canoodling and talking about stuff we do care about—like how cute your butt looks in those jeans, and “can we get fro-yo tonight?”
A fellow pilot or flight attendant won’t be upset if you get home late. Won’t judge you for napping mid-day. Won’t call you before 10am. Won’t expect you to make plans far in advance. Won’t be annoyed when plans change, as they inevitably will. Won’t expect you to be home every night. Won’t expect you to turn down travel with friends. Won’t stress when you have to travel for weddings, funerals, or vacations. They won’t assume you cannot possibly become a mother and still keep the job that you love, because “How would that work?”.
So many questions will never need to be asked when dating a coworker in aviation. So many little worries disappear. This is a gold-star PRO of dating a flight attendant or pilot at work.
2. They speak your language.
Not having to stop a story mid-sentence to define an aviation term or explain how in the hell your easy 2 day resulted in a monstrous 4-day and zombie-making minimum rest is like, really great. In last week’s DOs and DON’Ts of dating a flight attendant, I advised you to learn our language. And this can totally be accomplished by willing Normals who want to learn. But skipping the whole conversation is a reallllllllly appealing part of dating a coworker. Many flight attendants don’t want to talk about work at all on first or second dates because it is so annoying to describe the whole shebang. Dating within the industry cuts the fat and makes things smoother in this regard. Your coworker-turned-lover knows what IROP, RON, bid, commute mean. And neither of you gets jealous when Flica feels like the other woman in your relationship.
3. They’re not jealous.
Speaking of the other woman…
Okay, so some flight attendants and pilots can be jealous. I cannot speak on behalf of millions of people. But this one goes hand in hand with understanding your lifestyle and is a definite Pro of dating a coworker. Because of how commercial aviation has been portrayed in popular culture—the mile high club, the gross “Don’t forget the coffee!” joke, HBO’s The Flight Attendant, and so on—Normals can have a bit of a skewed vision of what it’s like to be in this biz. Studly pilots and sexy flight attendants mingling on layovers, getting too comfortable in the flight deck, the “Hoes in different area codes” thing, flirting with customers in the cabin, as-seen-on-Tv style. These assumptions are way over-hyped, but if there is not a solid foundation of trust in a relationship, having your partner gone all the time can be tough. Jealousy can creep in easily. A missed phone call to check in (due to a weather delay), non-responsiveness in the morning (because we sleep until 12), a layover photo with a bunch people out together, having a good time. Could one of them be a threat?
It takes someone secure to date a flight attendant or pilot. And dating someone else in the industry can alleviate this tension a bit. We know that our pilot or FA boyfriend or girlfriend is probably sleeping through most of their layover and then hitting up a Trader Joe’s before the van. We know if the crew goes out together for drinks this is a normal form of socialization and not betrayal. We will accept customers hitting on our flighty significant others, proud that they’re attractive to Normals and that we snagged them.
No shade to Normals—I don’t assume you’re all jealous and unable to handle a little distance. This just happens to be one of the notable Pros of dating at work in aviation.
4. Having a built-in travel buddy.
Number four on our list of Pros of dating a coworker in aviation is all about the FUN!
They have flight benefits, and they’re not afraid to use them! When flight attendants date Normals, travel can be tricky. A normal partner might have a “normal” schedule—which in the U.S. is something like Monday-Friday and 2 weeks off per YEAR! (Hi, we get 2 weeks off per month.) There is an obvious disparity in the amount of time off. Meaning FAs who want to travel will often do so without their partner. Being a flight attendant coupled with a Normal can feel like a balancing act: Guilt over leaving your partner behind while you travel vs. FOMO over the trip you’ll missed out on.
Dating someone in the aviation industry gives you a built-in travel buddy. You can still go on solo trips or friend trips, but having someone who is able to attend an impromptu romantic getaway at the drop of a dime? That is seriously something. Further, the whole guilt about leaving them behind thing dissipates when they could easily travel as much as they want without you, too.
When you date at work, your flight attendant or pilot partner will also be an experienced non-rev. Anyone who has dated a bad non-rev understands that this is a HUGE turn on.
5. Coordinating schedules.
You can bid days off together—and they can be Tuesdays so all the stores aren’t packed when you run errands! You can bid to get the same trips and hang out on layovers. (This can get cringey if you do it a lot, so be mindful you weird-ass, loving-each-other work couples.) You can switch day and night shifts so someone is always home to watch the baby. You can schedule time together that works for both of you.
Of course this is do-able with an accommodating or flexible Normal, but generally it is pretty tough for us to sync up with a 9-5er. This coordinating of schedules can be much easier when you date a coworker in aviation.
6. Distance and time away.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and many a flight attendant and pilot can attest to this. This is a major benefit to dating a coworker in aviation. A good friend of mine (married to a Normal) swears that this job saved her marriage. Being away enough to miss one another is a good thing. Think of all the little bickering arguments that could be avoided if you just weren’t home. Spending a few nights without one another makes homecoming kind of exciting. Rather than lament your partner’s hogging of the blankets or sleep-talking, you’re just happy they’re there. For a few days, anyway.
Being in a constant state of leaving and returning gives pilot and flight attendant couples the opportunity to miss one another, to have time alone and personal space, and maybe, just maybe, to keep that flame a-burning for longer.
*Of course, we can’t just fly away from our problems (unfortunately) and couples of any job title can have issues at home and away. This Pro of dating at work is also a con, which we will discuss in just a little while.
We won't tell you what to do...but we've got the tea.
CONS of Dating at Work (in aviation)
1. Breakups can get messy.
If running into an ex is not your cup of tea, then maybe reconsider dating a coworker. This is the number one CON in every workplace romance scenario and airline romance is no exception. (Unless workplace relationships are against policy. Then #1 Con is the risk of getting fired.)
You may have broken up, but you are still coworkers. You might run into them in the airport. You might have to work a flight with them. You might have to work a whole damn TRIP with them! Yuck. And if the breakup was bad, you might feel a slight ickiness going into work even when you don’t see them. You might never want to work Minneapolis since the two of you met there, on a layover. You might reconsider the types of trips you work, in hopes of avoiding them. Hearing another coworker mention their name might send a little stab through your heart. Hearing through the grapevine that they’re dating someone new might make you sick—especially if it happens to be another coworker. A definite Con to dating at work.
The bottom line is making a clean break from a coworker is nearly impossible. They don’t tell you not to shit where you eat for no reason. And a coworker romance gone bad is the kind of shit that can make work unpalatable.
2. Sharing is NOT caring.
The next con of dating a flight attendant or pilot coworker is the very real chance that you are not the first coworker they’ve dated. Oof.
No one likes being a notch in a bedpost, a number in a list, “another priceless work of art in his gallery” (Thanks Mario Vazquez.) Knowing that your current lover has lovered with one or more of your airline coworkers in the past is not always easy on the psyche. Try as you might to be cool because “that was the past and none of my business”, weird feelings of jealousy, curiosity, disgust, and self-doubt can creep in. I honestly don’t even like talking about these feelings, forget having them, so I’m gonna wrap this one up now. If you don’t think sharing is caring, if you won’t handle working with your lover’s ex-lover well, then maybe dating a coworker in aviation isn’t for you.
3. People talk.
Work drama is juicy, and we love it. But if you’re in a relationship with a co-worker, you may not look upon water cooler gossip so favorably. We have thousands of pilots and flight attendants in our work pool at my airline. But the world becomes really small when two of those thousands get together. People talk. Good and bad. And after a breakup, should one occur, sides will be taken. Stories will be told. If you don’t want people all up in your business, a workplace romance may not be for you.
4. Being a cliché.
Ahhh pilots and flight attendants…they go together like doctors and nurses. So deliciously 1960s cliché.
Listen, a lot of flight attendants and pilots date and marry. A lot of flight attendants date and marry other flight attendants. A lot of pilots date and marry other pilots.
It’s no secret that a lot of married couples sprung out of workplace romances in aviation. And generally, no one cares who dates whom. But, as a flight attendant, I will say there is a certain je ne sais quoi—a gaining of cliché and a losing of cool—once you make your piloty romance official. It’s just a thing. There are plenty of good pilots out there that will make suitable mates. But the shitty ones give the group a bad name. And the socially inept ones give the group a nerdy name. And a flight attendant dating a pilot can feel very black-and-white Pleasantville. I’m sure there are some stereotypes on the pilot end as well for dating flight attendants, but those are none of my business.
For flight attendants and pilots dating coworkers within their own work group, this Con is less of a thing. And by no means do I think becoming a cliché couple should stop you from doing your (love) thing. I’m a white girl who likes pumpkin spice lattes. I say cliché-away if it makes you happy.
5. Having all your (financial) eggs in one basket.
In the early days of 2020 and the Pandemic, I got my first glimpse into just how volatile this industry can be. (You can read more about that Mack-truck revelation here.) My coworkers and I are lucky to have skated by with no furloughs, but many, many other airlines laid off and furloughed frontline workers. And while my financial future flashed before my eyes mid-March, I cannot imagine how much worse it must have felt for married aviation couples, where both of their salaries were on the line. There is no income to fall back on, one partner cannot “carry” the couple while the other searches. Risk is inherent in this industry and coupling up with a coworker amplifies that risk.
6. Distance and time apart.
I told you this is one of the pros and cons of dating a coworker in aviation. The pro, as mentioned, is keeping the fire alive, not getting sick of one another, taking time off and enjoying the excitement of coming back together.
The negative aspect of spending so much time away from each other is that sometimes it is too much time. I have mentioned before in this blog that everything schedule-related in commercial aviation is based on seniority. If either you or your pilot/FA significant other is junior, you may not be able to hold the same days off. You may have to work four- or five-day trips instead of day turns (this is a one-day trip where you fly to a destination, then fly right back home.) Having less control of your schedule, you may not be able to see each other as much. And if you’re both junior, you may find it difficult to schedule time to see one another at all.
Womp, womp. A definite Con of dating a coworker in aviation.
It’s a bummer, but still worth trying!
And that’s it, folx: The Pros and Cons of dating a coworker in aviation. It can be a fun, easy, and exciting way to find love, or it can be a hot mess of drama. Heed these warnings and proceed with caution, but don’t be a scaredy cat when it comes to matters of the heart. You only live once, you know.
I hope someone finds this list helpful, or at least entertaining.
Aviation friends—can you relate? Is dating at work a DO or a DON’T for you? Normals—what do you think? Up for workplace romance or hard pass? Let us know in the comments! If there are any pros or cons I’ve left out, please share with the class. We need to know!
And that’s all the tea I have to spill…for now.
Here’s wishing you all a safe, happy, drama-free weekend of love.
It might be because this one REALLY hits home, but this is one of my favorite posts yet! I let out a belly laugh reading “be mindful you weird-ass, loving-each-other work couples.” It’s so true. As fun as my unexpected crossover layover in MIA with JT was, I would be mortified to bid all the same trips. Cringe-o-rama!!
hahaha OMG you are the audience for this so if it worked I am SO glad!! No cringe!!
PS That 190 FD photo sesh is one of the best things we’ve ever done 😉
Well worth the risk of getting in trouble for playing in the flight deck