Four Pieces of Advice You Should Never Take From Your Captain


Most pilots are self-proclaimed experts on EVERYTHING. I recently had a conversation with a captain about some renovations I did to my house – which included a complete remodel of a master bath and kitchen.

“Did you do the work yourself?” he inquired.

Uh, no I did not.

“Why didn’t you do it yourself?” 

Silently, I thought because I’ve spent the last 29 years flying airplanes and the guy that tiled my bathroom – using four different sizes of travertine in three different patterns – spent the same amount of time laying tile. So in other words, everything is straight, square, fits perfectly, and frankly, doesn’t look like it was done by a guy that does something else for a living and simply watched a couple of YouTube videos.

“Yeah, I did mine myself,” he retorted, “saved a bunch of money.”

I turned the screws a little, “so did you ever work construction or do you have any actual training in this?” 

He responded, “Nope. But it’s really easy. I watched a couple of YouTube videos.”

My mind jumped to one of those shows on HGTV where the shady flipper and his realtor wife with the fake tits are spray painting the dead lawn green and patching holes in sheetrock as potential buyers are rolling up.

Would YOU buy that shit house?  Me neither, since I like to know that an actual expert did the work. But alas, pilots are “experts” in everything. Just ask. They’ll tell you.

When it comes to such advice there are four areas you should avoid entirely: fitness, financial, culinary, and relationship.



How many pilots do you see that could make the cover of Men’s Health magazine? There’s the occasional buff 20 something slamming down protein shakes and measuring out portions of tuna and quinoa, but the majority have taken the train to Chubsville. Repeatedly combining booze, short overnights, and Tinder doesn’t exactly contribute to a healthy lifestyle (and why the hell doesn’t the hotel “convenience center” sell condoms along with the single sized portions of Nyquil, hand sanitizer, and contact lens solution? That would be more convenient at 3 am than the bag lining the ice bucket). 

So it’s odd that pilots always find it necessary to interject suggestions into any flight attendant conversation that involves fitness. Trying to lean out? Have you tried P90X? Have you, captain? Because it seems the only pull-up you do is pull up your chair to the buffet. Low carb, high protein is THE WAY TO GO (says the guy with the food baby emerging from his size too small uniform pants as he’s wolfing down a rice bowl from PF Chang’s). Really, you should take any fitness advice from captains with a grain of salt; because that salt is usually accompanied by a large order of fries.



One would think that someone that makes a great wage would be good at finance (disclaimer – entry-level pilots are paid poorly, but when one makes captain at a national, major, or legacy carrier it’s no secret that they pull in some cash).

Anytime a captain starts a cockpit conversation with, “Are you interested in making some money,” I cringe. Because that was strictly a college thing when the plasma bank was closed for the weekend and my tuition was due Monday. Oh, you mean investing in your startup that provides prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs with self-esteem issues from having their nuts lopped off? I guess it gives them something to lick but I’m good, thanks.

Other money laundering schemes I’ve been privy to during cockpit conversations include starting a church with two members (as a tax dodge), opening offshore accounts, and illegally using a backdoor Roth (okay, at first I thought that was something that happens in a gay nightclub before closing, but it’s actually a financial transaction). I’ve never met a group of people that make as much money as captains and still complain as much about needing more of it or not having enough. As a first-year pilot getting through the day on Ramen and ketchup packets I once had a captain complain to me about having to travel to Germany to pick out the custom leather for his Porsche.

Dude, I’m about to roll back to the crashpad and use the shower like a bidet because we can’t afford toilet paper and none of us reservists have had an overnight to steal it from the hotel. Unless you’re planning on shitting in a bathtub today, I’d rather not hear about your “problems”. 

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum: the guy that makes a quarter million dollars a year but is cheap as fuck. It goes like this, “Hey, why don’t you wait in line at Starbuck’s and get coffee for the crew and I’ll get everything done. Here’s five bucks.”

“Uh, there’s five of us do you think that will cover it?”

“Yeah, just get everyone a small; and don’t forget my change!”

The next time your captain suggests that you invest your raise in Bitcoin, run.



I’ve discovered a new measurement when it comes to distance; CAPTAIN BLOCKS. As in, “The bar is only six blocks away. We can walk it so no need for the van or your gloves” (in January, in Philadelphia, at 11 pm).  Eighteen blocks later, I couldn’t feel my toes. Take the stated distance and multiply by three. That’s the conversion rate for captain’s blocks. Always get the van.

Also, consider the location before agreeing to the captain’s food choice for the evening. Be skeptical when you’re in Des Moines, Iowa and, “We seriously should go to this Cuban place. I heard it’s the best Cuban place in the Midwest. I won’t take no for an answer. Let’s all go.”

If you and your crew are the only people in the restaurant at 7 pm — on a Friday night — that’s a bad sign. If only guys are working that’s a bad sign. Why? During my teens, I worked in the restaurant business and having a female around as a “fun governor” generally inhibits the boys from whacking off in the guacamole. Fearing food poisoning from, “the best Cuban place in Des Moines” I took a few bites and tossed the rest in the trash. The captain fished it back out, chastised me for tossing it, and ate the rest (see cheap as fuck above).



Relationship advice. Do we even need to cover this? Did you see the wedding ring on his finger? No? That’s because it’s in his wallet along with the court ordered alimony payment receipt from the previous two wives. So when you say, “I’m having relationship problems with my boyfriend,” that gets lost in translation and converted to, “Why don’t you come knocking on my door after midnight for hours of uninhibited, condomless sex (again, not in the hotel convenience center).





Jeff Dale is a pilot for a major US airline. This is his second guest post on the Flight Attendant Joe blog. His first being, Understanding Pilot Personalities from November 2017. Jeff enjoys writing comedy, flying airplanes, drinking beer in the shower, and — as seen by all the locks on the door in his profile picture here — fears that someone will break into his house and kidnap him.