This is the first of a series of interviews that @TakeMeThereToday has conducted to explore careers that allow you to travel the world. We introduce you to @tantan737 … you guess it, she’s a pilot! Let’s hear about her experiences…
@tantan737 is a senior Boeing 737 commander at Jet Airways (India). She has been working at Jet Airways for close to 11 years and travel is an integral part of her job. She gets to layover at destinations in the Far East and the Gulf. When she is off work, she is busy traveling through Europe, North America, and the Far East.
Making the decision to fly- what inspired you to become a commercial aviator?
A love for airplanes and flying was the initial attraction, but it was the lure of travel that sealed the deal for me.
How do you maintain relationships considering that you travel so frequently?
It is very difficult to maintain relationships with the kind of work life I currently have. Add to that my love for travel during my downtime and one could say it’s very hard to pin me down.
Is it hectic? Do you get enough time to explore the destinations you visit?
On layovers there isn’t much time to explore a city, so it usually takes a few layovers to really get a feel of the place. I prefer exploring on my vacations. I usually travel to one country at a time so that I can get a better feel of the country and the people.
As a frequent flyer, how do you overcome jetlag?
Sleep whenever I can, wherever I can, I guess.
A funny/embarrassing moment you witnessed on the job or experienced yourself?
Whenever I meet new people I tell them I fly for an airline and they invariably assume I’m a hostess. I usually prefer not to correct them as they are then very fascinated and have tons of questions and I hate the unnecessary attention.
What is the hardest part of your job?
It has to be the crazy timings and the long hours.
What do you love most about your job? / Perks that are included in the job?
It has to be the standby tickets we get to avail on different airlines. Although it’s a little stressful as you aren’t sure if you will get on, a little pre-planning like travelling during off season, etc., can save you tons of money and you can travel for less than half the cost. All the money saved translates to more moolah available to spend during the actual trip.
What is your favorite destination? Any place you still haven’t visited?
My last trip was a road trip through Slovenia. Its a small country and we managed to cover it all comfortably in 8 days. It was absolutely breathtaking. Europe is my go-to travel destination. Next, I plan on maybe doing Croatia or France, but I am dying to go to Austria the most; however, I plan on going there only with my significant other as it is such a romantic country. Next year I also plan on covering a lot of local destinations within my country. A few hill stations in south India and Pondicherry are on my list.
What’s next on the road ahead?
My next holiday is to the Amalfi Coast this October and maybe learn scuba-diving at Port Blair in January. Professionally, I hope to fly the Boeing 777 or other wide-bodies someday, although that looks highly in Jet so maybe a change of airlines is in the card. Personally, I hope to settle down and raise a family but that would entail finding a guy who can handle a wild child like me. Most guys are too intimidated by me.
Tips for someone who wants to be a commercial aviator – how to begin?
I can only really comment on the aviation industry in India. While there is expansion, there are already many unemployed pilots in the market as the supply exceeds demand. Also, the cost of training far outweighs the current benefits. So, personally, I would advise against it unless you are truly passionate about flying and have a lot of spare cash lying around.
Invest in good quality sunblock and shoes. Always read up on the culture of the place you are visiting so that you avoid inadvertently hurting the local sentiment. Also, always have a basic idea of the places you wish to visit and foods you would like to try so that you don’t miss out on anything. Travel blogs are a good place to learn about experiences that you may otherwise have not heard about. Finally, for those who can afford it, there is nothing like hiring a car and doing your own exploring. It offers a freedom like no other.
We thank @tantan737 for her collaboration and thoughtful interview. We hope that all those interested in aviation find this interview helpful and inspiring. Though female pilots are a small but growing group, we hope that no one feels it is unattainable. As @tantan737 has shown us, it is a fun and highly rewarding career. With all careers, it has it pros and cons, but with passion and sacrifice, you’ll find great satisfaction in this field.