BOUNCING AROUND the world has been part of my life for over ten years, and finding someone with whom I could share these experiences had seemed like a pipe dream. In 2014, I met a flight attendant during her San Francisco vacation. Over the next year, I started learning the realities of falling for someone who traveled more often than I did, and what I could gain from a relationship with a flight attendant.
1. Hotels are comped.
If you’re dating a flight attendant with an international carrier, he might have 1-3 days in a decent hotel in a major city like New York completely paid for. That perk is not to be dismissed easily. It’s not so difficult to pay a reasonable rate for privacy in Manila or Bangkok — but Tokyo or Los Angeles?
Dating a flight attendant means when it comes time to meet them for a weekend getaway you don’t have to scrounge Agoda or Booking.com for $20/night crowded hostels, in which there’s a strong possibility you’ll be awakened at 5 AM by an inconsiderate lout who forgot to turn off his alarm. You’ll have privacy and comfort in a 3- or 4-star hotel, which can make the time together far less stressful and far more romantic.
2. Buddy Passes
The policy varies from airline to airline, but some offer flight attendants’ friends and family discounted or free airfare – except for taxes – a certain number of times a year. These coveted passes are held close to the chest by many FAs, but they might make an exception for their significant other.
3. Flight Attendants are tried and true travelers.
The turnover among FAs is significant, no matter the airline: most either stay 1-3 years and decide the next passenger who grabs them will get punched in the face. Some FAs choose to make it a lifetime commitment. Because of this, if you happen to attract the attention of one of the latter, the stress of wondering if she’s a true traveler isn’t an issue. She’s working this job most likely not because she enjoys catering to entitled passengers, but because the benefits far outweigh any downside.
4. Stopovers are a good test of your relationship.
Non-travelers who meet in a local pub over drinks or match on Tinder may find they’re amazingly compatible and just jump into traveling and living together. However, many err on the side of caution and start dating slowly, maybe progressing to spending a few nights a week together or more before taking the next step in the relationship.
With flight attendants, you don’t have the luxury of being standoffish when it comes to meeting for drinks or spending a day together. They may only have 23 hours in a city before returning to home base, sleeping for 16 hours, and moving on to the next. You might do well to take advantage of that schedule.
Stopovers, though they can be a fun break for both parties, require planning. Flight attendants may be too exhausted or achy and not want to do anything but sleep when you first arrive. Making the effort to regularly travel to different cities just to see them, lets them know you’re dedicated to the relationship.
Many “normal” couples in a good place haven’t taken the time to travel together. Travelers know this is necessary to discover quirks about your partners and yourselves, and to see how well you can stand each other when you’re denied the comforts of home.
5. Develop your travel hacking skills.
Even if you’re a digital nomad with a flexible schedule and enough airline points for the rest of your life, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re prepared for the realities of dating a flight attendant. Meeting an FA in different cities across the world – in other words, on their schedule – once or twice a month is expensive, points or not.
I once booked a flight from Honolulu to London and back, from Munich for $170 and 30,000 US Airways points. My FA girlfriend at the time met me in Paris, and I traveled from Honolulu to Manila to see her a few weeks later. Toronto was her most common North American stopover and “our” city, so I cashed in the 25,000 points I had earned from applying for the Alaska Airlines Visa and made a quick escape from Texas.
If you ever need some motivation to find the best deal, build up your points total, and gain some experience traveling at the same time, there’s nothing better than knowing someone who cares about you is in the flight business.