We sat down with Airbus 330 pilot Roxane de Sauvage to separate the myths from the truth. Roxane comes from an aviation family. Her grandfather was a military pilot and also flew for Sabina, her grandmother was a cabin crew member, her mother was a pilot for Sabina and Roxane’s husband is a pilot as well. She gained a love for flying at the age of 16 when she was given glider lessons as a birthday gift and is a graduate of CAE Academy.
Now, let’s debunk some myths.
True or False: Being an airline pilot is boring because there is very little change from day-to-day regarding destinations.
Roxane: False. The job changes all the time. I’m never bored even if I fly to the same destination because the flight and the crew I’m with can be interesting. Also, maybe the weather is tricky or I get to learn something new from a crewmember during the flight. That’s not boring.
True or False: On layovers, Airline pilots just party with the crew.
Roxane: That’s true and false depending on the airline and the people. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, with the airline, I fly for it isn’t like that. We don't always meet and have dinner or go out together. Most people just go their own way. Having said that, I’ve experienced layovers where the whole crew did get together, go out and had a great time.
True or False: Airline pilots have longer layovers than other types of pilots.
Roxane: That depends on the airline. In my airline most layovers are 24 hours, but sometimes we have one or two days off. Some airlines do have long layovers in fantastic places, but for me 24 hours is perfect because I have a baby daughter and I love getting back to her.
True or False: There’s a lot of flirting going on between airline pilots and cabin crew.
Roxane: I definitely agree with that. Just look at the number of marriages between pilots and cabin crew!
True or False: Airline pilots don’t do much because jets basically “fly themselves”.
Roxane: That’s kind of true because more and more airlines are encouraging pilots to use automation. Personally, I try to practice my flying skills as much as I can, and I’ll always ask the Captain if I can disconnect the autopilot earlier according to the standards in the manual.
True or False: Being an airline pilot is very glamorous.
Roxane: It’s not as glamorous as it appears on social media or in the movies where you only see the good side, like photos of us in spectacular locations. No one sees photos of you at 3 a.m. when your eyes are red or when you’re tired in your room and sleeping in your uniform!
True or False: Airline pilots enjoy eating first-class food and wine in flight.
Roxane: I wish that was true. When I first started there was caviar onboard and that was great. Then they removed the first-class food.
True or False: Airline pilots are constantly pestered by their friends for free flights.
Roxane: It’s true! The airline I fly for has a good system that allows me to get tickets for friends and family. But I’ve also received messages from people I haven’t seen for years asking me for tickets too, which can be annoying.
True or False: Airline pilots are all members of the Mile-High-Club.
Roxane: Actually, I don’t know many people who are. And I’m not either.
True or False: Being an airline pilot is very difficult as passengers complain about everything and always turn up late at the gate. (become more demanding)
Roxane: I’ve been a pilot for a passenger airline and a cargo pilot. Of the two, I like cargo better because no one bothers you. So, I have to agree with that statement.
True or False: Airline pilots barely fly at all – they’re always at home.
Roxane: Again, this depends on the airline. Some months I’ve flown a lot and others not as much. Generally, a pilot has more time off than someone in another line of work.
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