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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