Friday, 17 February 2012

Frequently asked questions - some answers

Whenever I meet new people, conversation always gets round to what my husband does for a living. It's such a huge part of our daily lives, it's not surprising, really. The questions I get asked are pretty similar. People are very curious about what our lives are really like. So, I thought I'd answer a few of the questions here for people who come across this by googling "what's it like being married to a pilot" and who'd like some answers!

1) Do you get free flights?

Nope. We get ID90s, which means we pay 10% of the fare, plus tax. These tickets are always standby, which means we don't get on if the plane is full. It can be a pretty hairy experience trying to get anywhere.

2) But you always fly up the front, don't you?

Sadly, not any more.My husband's current airline doesn't allow staff kids into Business or First, so even the most senior Captains have to travel in economy with their young families! Gets my goat, this one. I flew Biz all the time before I had my son.

3) Your husband flies long haul - that must mean he's away a lot, but then home a lot, too?

Not really true at the moment, although it used to be. His current airline has a pilot shortage (huge expansion with not enough recruitment to keep up) so he and his fellow pilots are working far too hard. It surprises many of my friends that my husband often only has 24 hours off between long haul trips, often switching over from East to West or vice versa. He's knackered. How long his airline can carry on like this, I don't know. The pilots are so tired and hardly see their families. Some months recently he's just had the minimum days off at home that are legally required - 8.

4) Do all pilots cheat?

Nope. My husband is far too tired most of the time to even go out! And he's also more of a culture vulture than a party guy, and his cabin crew are rarely seen outside of their rooms downroute. Having said that, his first airline was more of a "party airline" and there was a great deal of socialising there. I never worried he'd cheat (we have complete trust, thankfully) but I did get annoyed about the girls flirting with him, as they often did. My husband used to come home and tell me all about it :) It has to be said, though, that I'm one of the lucky ones. I've lost count of the number of times my husband has told me that one of his colleagues is cheating on his wife. It's sad, but a fact of life. The aviation lifestyle can be toxic to family life. You have to work very hard at your marriage.

5) But you must be rich?

This is one thing the Middle East airlines do well. Their salaries are fantastic, we don't pay any tax (at all!) and our accommodation is paid for, too.

6) Aren't planes flown by computers nowadays anyway?

Nope. Well, in the cruise they are, but you only have to look at the number of accidents related to pilot error to see how much influence over the aircraft the pilots have.

7) So, your husband is a First Officer. When does he actually get to fly the plane?

Arrrrgggghhhhhh! There are TWO pilots on the plane. Both the First Officer and the Captain are fully trained pilots, who share the flying. But the Captain is in charge overall, and has more experience. (Generally - but there are some very experienced FOs out there.)

That's all for now. If you have any more questions, post them in a comment and I'll answer them!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wedding presents

We've just got back from a wonderful break in a very snowy uk. We were back for my father in law's 80th. We had some wonderful family time, but also some very precious time for just the three of us. It snowed whilst we were staying at my parents' house, which we had to ourselves as they were away on holiday for some of our stay. We loved it, sitting by the fire in a beautiful country house surrounded by snowy hills and lakes. Taking our little boy sledging for the first time was such a joyful experience. We will never forget it.

While we were home, I did something I've been meaning to do for a while. I went into one of mum and dad's sheds (where most of our belongings from our previous lives are stored) and retrieved the cutlery we were given as a wedding present. We were given so many beautiful things that we decided to leave behind because they were too heavy, too precious or too fragile to ship to the middle east. We also had no idea whether we'd be staying, and we knew we'd have to ship everything back that we decided to take with us. Consequently, we parted with a lot of our belongings, and it's got to the point where we've forgotten we owned most of it. I realised this was ridiculous, so this trip, I decided to bring something back. Crockery and saucepans are too large, but we managed to bring the whole cutlery set back with us in our suitcases.

It's a small thing, but I'm so happy to have it here. We've well and truly settled here, and it makes sense to have our lovely things here, rather than just 'managing' with cheap stuff we bought in a hurry 3 years ago. This is our home now, after all.



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