Airline Captain: It’s all about the prestige.

Yeah, it’s all about the four stripes. A lot of stuff changes the day you put them on and move into The Center of the Known Universe.

First, there’s the instant recognition from coworkers. They know the reality behind the symbols of authority and reflect that in their very manner. No one resents that you’ve moved to the top of the dog pile; in fact, they fairly burst with enthusiasm for your good fortune and want you to know that.

Oh, we kid, don’t we, on the flight deck? Of course, you have to “keep it light,” right? And the circumstances dictate a gracious demeaner no matter what. I mean, everyone’s looking to you for leadership, and so they grant respect. As a captain, you have all of the authority in the universe once you’re in the air: “you da MAN.”  Yes, we kid face to face, but behind the captain’s back we know there’s a silent respect we can’t see–but you sure can feel it. Eventually.

Yes, you get paid to lead and don’t worry, with the increased responsibility there are perks for you, the leader. First, the posh accommodations that say “welcome to your restful hotel.”

There’s your room! And the floor outside will be vacuumed for you without fail at about 6am. We’ve been waiting for you!

"Honey, I'm home!"

So, you’ll get a sanitary rest, at least to the naked eye, so you can be ready for the next day’s flying and of course, “leadership.”

Now THAT'S a cart I could be proud of.

Rest is crucial, everyone knows, so the  standard is a good eight hours–or at least until the vacuuming starts at dawn–and then a hearty breakfast.

So with those giant carts, why don't we ever see that "Sanitized For Your Protection" strip anymore?

Here you’re likely to see the captain out having a thoroughly nutritious meal, balanced and calorically sensible. The challenges of flight dictate that those at the controls are properly fed and watered.

Paycuts + divorce(s) = tight budget. Sorry.

Other crewmembers might have lower nutritional standards

and that’s fine. But you, “Mr. Captain,” must lead by example.

Perfect Breakfast: "Blow Your Head Off" spicy tofu at O'Hare. Note: block off the forward lav in about an hour.

Because you want to make a good impression on the traveling public, who also look up to you for reassurance.

"Yo, wingnut: where'd they hide the toilet in this airport?"

Further, you have to be confident to earn the respect of the Cabin crew,

plus that of your fellow pilots

who are secretly happy about the fact that you have the four stripes, not them, although they do love to joke around. Never mind that it could be–SHOULD BE–them in the left seat now occupied by your sorry lard ass, no one’s bitter.

"Get out of my seat, old man."

Well at least they seem happy, so why would you think anything different? In fact, the friendly banter is what affirms the captain in his spot atop the flight deck hierarchy.

So you lead on, ever at the helm, with the tacit backing of those who support you. It’s their job to trust the captain and support his leadership, come whatever challenges may descend upon their flight. So you just have to know that they’re “there for you.”

All the pilot banter aside, no matter what it’s the look of sheer admiration you get from the little kids, the one that says “wow, you’re the pilot!” that just keeps you going.

Well, after a day in the sky, on top of the world, it’s time for the captain to grab his luxury wheels

Employee lot, DFW, February 11, 2010.

and head home to the humble yet swingin’ abode his second ex-wife allows him to have without taking him back to court for more alimony.

Car in driveway = roommate made bail!

That’s pretty much “the big picture.” Yes, that fourth stripe makes all the difference in the world to those who wear it. Those who don’t, however, probably know “the big secret.”

Want Fridays off and a half day Wednesday? DENTAL SCHOOL.

But really, why tell that to anyone considering aviation as a career. Why not just let it be a surprise?


This little device ought to be good for a few fistfights in the cabin. Apparently, you as a passenger put these snap-on clamps on your tray table and magic: the seat in front of you can’t recline. Good for you, bad for whomever’s sitting in front of you, and bad for the cabin crew who must referee the ensuing argument: “What do you mean I can’t recline my seat?!!!” Let the games–and the lawsuits–begin.


20 Responses to “Airline Captain: It’s all about the prestige.”

  1. Just about the funniest damn thing Ive seen in a long time…..

    Excellent job,


  2. Nice way to wake up. Thank you 🙂

  3. […] “Airline Captain: It’s all about the prestige.”  JetHead, 18 February […]

  4. Dennis Bourgoin Says:

    I have to say as a FA for AA I really enjoy your posts. They crack me up. I do think we have flown together before. Keep up the great work. 😉

  5. Your a disgrace of a captain. You demean us all and the proffession. I wear my four stripes with pride and demand the respect that is due to a captain. People like you ruin it for everyone.

  6. Thanks for the mention and link to our website. While I assume you’ve long known that reclining seats are a major source of passenger-passenger altercations, the recent incident with Mitt Romney drives home that point. On the other hand, a Knee Defender simply protects a passenger from being bopped in the knees (or from having his/her lap-baby bopped or his/her computer screen cracked).

    Every Knee Defender ever sold has had printed on it the following messages: Do not hog space. Be polite. And, listen to the FA.

    The fact is, flight crews already have to referee issues between passengers. Seems better that that happen before rather than after someone has been hit by a reclining seat. That’s our undoubtedly biased point of view, and yet you might find it reasonable. Or not. Thanks.

    • Thanks for writing and at least trying to solve a problem that has plagued passengers. I agree that there’s just not too much room for knees in coach (I’m 6′ even). But, I don’t get the option of restricting the choices of the passenger in front of me as a passenger. The options are accept the seat pitch, pay for a first class seat, or find another mode of transportation. Co-opting the recline space allotted to someone else is not a viable option. The simple approach is to ask the person for a little cooperation and no, I don’t buy that there is a danger of kneecap injury otherwise. The problem is that the cabin crew will have to step in because of the boundaries trampled by the “Knee Defender” user unilaterally modifying the movement of the seat in front of him, not the guy operating his seat as it was designed. If I hear of such a dispute as captain, I’ll have your product brought up to the cockpit “for safekeeping.”End of story.

  7. Airline-pilot humor… gotta love it!

  8. Laughing over here.

  9. Dear Chris, as fellow aircrew I can attest that the vacuuming is one of the most annoying things to endure after a long day at work… I can never figure out why the heck they don’t put the aircrew on a seperate floor away from all the activity! I need my sleep! Fly safe bro

  10. I just found your blog and love it! One question for you: why aren’t some of the FOs wearing their tie in the pictures? Do they really take them off enroute? My husband is a pilot, but we have never discussed this. The only tie conversation we have is when he busts out his Santa Clause or reindeer tie at Christmas time.

    • Yes, a lot of F/Os wear the clip-on tie and take it off in the cockpit. I sort of moved on from clip-on ties when I was about twelve years old; I wear a regular tie and maybe loosen it in flight. Thanks for reading!

  11. AA Retired Says:

    In your digit count you missed two. One that comes from the corner office at the “academy”, and the other one from his boss across the street.

  12. […] Here is one man's blog about having achieved the pinnacle, the apex – those coveted 4 stripes. Airline Captain: It’s all about the prestige. JetHead's Blog __________________ Callsign: […]

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