When Pilots Offer Unpublicized Elite Benefits What They Really Mean Is…

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This unfortunate story starts last fall on a flight home Thanksgiving weekend. As I made my way to my exit row seat it appeared that one of the dead-heading crew that had boarded before me (the good looking first captain to be exact) was sitting near my row.

And as I sat down, it turned out he was sitting directly across from me. It’s rare, except when I travel with Jeanne, that I get an interesting and/or attractive seatmate, so I was pleased 🙂

He struck up a conversation while we were waiting for boarding to complete, and the rest of the flight was spent discussing aircraft, international destinations, and the best airlines to work for. A vast improvement from my outbound flight where the person in the exit row window seat turned to me before takeoff and asked “So are you going to pull the emergency handle if we need to?” with no sign she was kidding about having me jump over her to pull open the door.

But back to the pilot. Turned out he was overnighting in DC and asked if I wanted to grab dinner if our respective connecting flights landed in time. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the conversation so I did what I rarely do, gave him my number, with a promise to consider going out to Dulles since he’d made the flight so interesting. He twinkled back that it was “just one of the many services US Airways provides its elites.”

It didn’t work out to meet up but he called me throughout the weekend to flirt, share funny little flight anecdotes and offer more insight into the operations side of flying as “a service US Airways provides its elites”. So imagine my surprise when I pulled up his Facebook profile to add him as a friend, and saw he was engaged.

Funny that never came up in the several hours of conversation we’d had.

Now to be clear, our conversations to this point had been friendly and nothing more, but he should have mentioned his engagement and probably not been calling so often Sigh. Somehow I’d missed out on the stereotypes about pilots, even though all my non-travel friends were aware??

Since I wasn’t looking for drama or a hookup, I texted him a congrats on the engagement expecting to never hear back. But I did. Repeated calls until I picked up, with the excuse “he was going to tell me but didn’t have time.”

I made it clear I was only interested in friendship and great travel conversations and that if he was looking for more, he should leave me out of it. He claimed to be on the same page and weeks of random calls and fun facts ensued, all as “a service US Airways provides its elites”. Did you know the number of medical emergency landings go up significantly between Halloween and New Year’s? Or that at certain mid-west airports they have to take on more fuel when departing because people bring back so many potatoes? (Still not sure that one is true.)

A month or two later our paths crossed again. I refused to meet up in the evening (just in case he still had the wrong idea), but I was more than happy to meet up the next morning to work out. During the killer 2 hour session, we joked about personal training being another benefit for Platinum elites. 🙂

We fell out of regular contact, but whenever I had flights potentially affected by bad weather, I’d give him a call to see what the ground conditions were like and my likelihood of getting out. Yet another service for “special US Airways elites”. Occasionally some of the conversations started to cross a line at which point I’d shut it down or even hang up. Still, most of the time he seemed like a good guy and I (stupidly) liked having an inside scoop on the weather.
He wound up in DC again and the plan was to meet up for another gym session. But it was rather late in the evening before I’d be able to head out to Dulles. Upon hearing this, he assumed I would just crash at his hotel?


I was offended at the presumption and bailed with the excuse he sounded tired and should rest. The next time he was in town a last minute schedule change had him flying out before I’d get off work. Bummer but probably for the best.

After several weeks of silence I got a mid-afternoon phone call. Was my power out from the recent storm? ‘Cause he was picturing flying up and making love to me in the dark. Wha!?

None of the conversations I’d previously hung up on had even come close to crossing that line!

I was too stunned to have enough presence of mind to end the call immediately and an offer to join the mile high club if he piloted my upcoming US Airways flight, among other offers, was then made. He even suggested I might get thrown off the plane if I didn’t agree. I replied the police most certainly would escort me off, but only because I would have bloodied his face. Then I finally pulled my scattered wits together and hung up for good.

Being someone’s “DC girl” or joining the mile-high club are definitely not elite benefits I’m looking for. Lesson learned and I think I’ll just go back to ignoring my fellow passengers, particularly pilots, and avoid US Airways Express flights when possible.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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  1. Andy Hayes

    July 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Wow, those ‘elite services’ keep getting better and better. 🙂

  2. Brett

    July 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    It’s an all too familiar tale that give pilots a bad name. I was sitting in an FBO (corporate jet terminal) one night and overheard a pilot chatting up the cute, front-desk CSR. She eventually caved in and decided to meet this guy at his hotel’s bar. Swear to God on a trip back to this airport several months later, she was several months pregnant! Who knows the true story, but can’t help but feel a bit icky about the whole situation.

  3. TravelBloggerBuzz

    July 1, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Wow, what a persistent casanova this dude was! I think I will share this tomorrow with my readers…email me if you do NOT want for any reason.

    Offer for mile high club??…wow, guess these US Air pilots go the distance for the airline’s elites:-)

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      July 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Keri is probably asleep around now (she’s over in Asia) but I’ll try to catch her just to make sure she saw this comment. (I’d assume it’s fine if you don’t hear otherwise)

  4. Edward

    July 1, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    This is an incredible story. Thanks for sharing.

  5. DaninSTL

    July 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Even if he wasn’t engaged it seems a little weird. I always tell my kids you don’t meet the person you should marry in a bar after midnight. I guess I’ll have to add airplanes to that 🙂

  6. PH

    July 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm


  7. AweLit

    July 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Meh. He pretty clearly thought you were interested when you went the “You’re engaged… but let’s still do late night workouts” route. Yeah, he’s a sleazebag, but you did nothing to turn it down. All the calls (to check on the weather? really?) obviously led him to believe that you weren’t put off by the ‘engaged’ thing.

  8. Ron

    July 2, 2013 at 4:31 am

    You’re what we call a C@&% tease. What girl spends so much time talking to a guy who is engaged?

    And you considered him your personal weatherman? Pluheeze. Like an engaged pilot has nothing better to do than give you the weather report.

    Clueless twit.

  9. s

    July 2, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Entertaining story, but your level of naïveté is astonishing!

    • Keri Anderson

      July 2, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Yeah, definitely not naive any more 🙁 Never been in a situation where someone thought “not interested” meant “yes”

  10. DD

    July 2, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Sorry sister… everything after you realized he was engaged is on you. The whole “he led me down the garden path” is an insult to women. Own your mistakes – don’t blame them on others, learn from them and move on.

  11. Really Lady

    July 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

    You are such a stupid woman. First you do all of that, second you regret several parts of it and third you publish your stupidity and complain about your co-star in this maid for TV bore-feast.

  12. Mike

    July 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    So an older pilot is talking to a young lady at a cocktail party and mentions how hard it is for an old guy to meet women. Curious, the woman asks him when the last time he had sex was. He replied, “2002.”

    “My goodness,” says the woman. “That’s so long ago!”

    “I guess,” says the pilot, “but it’s only…” (glances at watch) “2008 now!”

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      July 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm


  13. Hannah

    July 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Let me get this straight…you flirt with a guy on a plane, find out he’s engaged, and instead of never talking to him again, you regularly speak with him on the phone (where he often comes close to crossing the line!), and even meet up with him for gym dates. And you are surprised when he makes continued advances? We all saw that ending coming. Actions speak louder than words. When you say you’re not interested, but continue pursuing a relationship (try if you want weather updates), it’s your fault, not his. I have to believe you enjoyed the attention and knew exactly what path you were going down, because you couldn’t possibly be that naive.

  14. RogerWilco

    July 3, 2013 at 6:06 am

    So – you meet a nice guy on the plane, chat each other up. So far so everyday. You are obviously attracted to him, as you give him your phone number.

    You then look him up on FB and find he’s engaged, but hey, who cares? What follows is that you lead him up on the garden path and take offence when he interprets your signals as any sane person would.

    Moral of the story – “avoid United”

  15. ed

    July 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Yeah, I’m not impressed by your story. Where he went wrong is that he cold-called you with a proposition. Obviously you wouldn’t go for that. I agree with Hannah here. If I had to guess though, he just said “what the hell, better go over this girl by sabotaging it.” Nothing here seems specific to him being a pilot.

  16. rich

    July 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    The guy was a creep but anyone who kept talking to him and didn’t immediately end some of those phone conversations obviously had at least part of her intrigue by the suggestions. Once someone suggested having sex in the dark and you continued to talk to him isn’t naivety but someone looking for attention.

  17. Jeffsetter

    July 5, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Good story. I think that this is a fairly common occurrence (watch the movie up in the air), but I’ve never really known this to happen to people IRL. Easy for others to comment on naivety in retrospect, but it all sounds harmless for the most part.

  18. Eric Auxier

    July 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    I’m sorry you had this ugly experience. The vast majority of pilots are normal people who love their spouse and family.
    I cringe any time someone shares an “icky” story like this. It’s just like someone saying to me, “Oh, you’re an airline pilot? My aunt’s mailman’s cousin was in a plane crash” or some such…giving the impression that planes crash all the time!

    Not all pilots are pigs…

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      July 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

      I agree with you–my father-in-law is a pilot!

  19. Cacinda Maloney

    July 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I agree with Jeffsetter. Dismiss all those lame A$$#$ that are calling you naive. It is easy for them to comment in retrospect. Commenters have nothing to lose, except to let the hate drool from their lips.
    PS sent this link on to my friend Captain Aux who works for US Airways and has an aviation blog, as I’m sure he will have something to say about this!

  20. Greg

    September 22, 2013 at 4:12 am

    I have to say, those of you coming down on the author are a little harsh and narrow minded. I am married, but worked in a female dominated profession. A GOOD number of my close friends are female, including one I dated 25 years ago, still friends today. Once the discussions became OBVIOUSLY sexual, she bailed, kudos to her. I feel you did nothing wrong and hope our paths cross so I can talk flying and show you pics of my wife and kids!

  21. Williej

    September 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Must be a “slowwwww news day” if your going to jeopardize that pilots career by “RATTING” on his and yours “personal conversations”!

    Stop pretending that you just ” fell off of the turnip truck”!

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