Aviation for Women

SEP-OCT 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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42 AviationforWomen S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8 Pilots and Pennies D E V A N A . N O R R I S E arly in my aviation career, and long be- fore I joined the airlines, I had a job working in a pilot shop in south Flori- da. I was constantly amazed by the un- believable number of customers who asked for a "pilot discount," and even more so the percent- age of those who looked really miffed when I told them "no." To me (at the time), this was mind- blowing stuff. It was a pilot shop. Did they not understand that discounts are for select groups, not the entire intended demographic? Well, no. Apparently they did not—and the few I told they would have gotten a discount if they weren't pi- lots did not think I was funny. With more than 10 years as an airline pilot, I am chagrined to find I now seem unable to stop myself from asking that same question— at least within the confines of any airport or layover hotel. "Do we get a discount here? " We use our company IDs like they are A A A cards, and are at least slightly put out when we have to pay the full price for something while we are "at work." Pilots of all stripes are notorious for this. The stereotype of the cheap pilot has been a subject of both humor and embarrassment for many years. There are some common jokes about the cheap pilot stereotype. How was copper wire invented? Two pilots fighting over a penny. What do a pilot and a canoe have in common? You never know when one of them is going to tip. How do you discover a counterfeit pilot? Ask to borrow their pen—if it doesn't have a ho- tel logo on it. Certainly my own co-workers are not as cheap as all that, are they? The men and women that I share the flight deck with are scrupulous about giving their van drivers a dollar or two at pick- up and drop-off, and crew members almost al- ways tip generously at dinner, and never seem to order solely by price. Although, I recently heard a story of a captain who treated his entire crew to dinner—but brought a bag of empty plastic containers to bring everyone's leftovers home with him. Good tipper or not, that kind of be- havior is beyond the pale. Perhaps there is a sort of limit to this cheap- ness, a predefined set of circumstances where extreme frugality is common, even expected. But if you step outside of those boundaries you are setting yourself up for derision. Most of us would not dream of taking an iron or a bath- robe from a hotel room, but I have rarely been in a pilot's home where there were not at least a few tiny toiletries in the guest bathroom or elsewhere. Taking a complimentary soap from your hotel bathroom is common. Bringing soap on the trip with you so you can take home two unused soaps is exceptional. Take a doggie bag back to your room, great. Take someone else's doggie bag—definitely not. In my early days at the regionals, I was watch- ing my wallet with a very close eye, but only be- cause I couldn't afford much. Now that I have the job that I will retire from, my spending concerns are more about the future than about what to buy for lunch—and I think I am even more wal- let conscious than before. Within the last 20 years we have seen national catastrophes, bankruptcies, furloughs, mergers, and more affect our industry and our financial futures, and we as pilots have de- veloped a weird sense of our own mortality. Not the mortality of our bodies, but of our careers. On our 65th birthday, we will reach the last possible day of actively earning a paycheck from our airline. We might have 20 or 30 years more to live on whatever we save or invest right now, which is a little bit daunting. I have to admit it is having an effect on my spending decisions right now. Perhaps not to the extent that I won't buy a sandwich if I am not getting a discount, but I am certainly making more considered purchas- ing choices. It doesn't hurt to be prudent with your spend- ing. As long as you know when you are making an active choice to save, rather than exhibiting a reflex not to spend, you are conscientious, not a cheapskate. No matter how much I do save and prepare for my eventual retirement, three things will be true. One: I will always feel like I could have done more to prepare. Two: I will always tip appropriately no matter what my personal situa- tion. Three: I will never ever bring home anyone else's leftovers, although I may invest in more tiny toiletries. ✈ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Devan A. Norris, WAI 13890, is a first officer for a major airline on the Boeing 757/767, and an ap- prentice air show air boss. On our 65th birthday, we will reach the last possible day of actively earning a paycheck from our airline. I N T H E P U S H

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