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Cheap Pilots


Well-known member
Nov 13, 2004
Total Time
Thought this was funny even if not completly true. I appologize in advance if this was already posted.

Pilots are cheap bastards!!

When my company hired me two decades ago, one of the first things I noticed about many of my fellow pilots
was that they were cheap bastards. I consider this to be a compliment to my fellow aviators.

Hotels offer a plethora of freebies that end up in the homes of pilots. There are soaps, shampoos, lotions,
sewing kits, amenity kits, and other things of strategic value. On the nightstands in hotel rooms, there
usually is a pad of stationary and a cheap pen. The stationary pads are commonly found in the cockpits, on
the built in clipboards, but the pens are too valuable to leave behind. If there are free newspapers at the
front desk, we are certain to take one. At some of the better hotels you can find a newspaper and a Wall
Street Journal at the same time, major score.

There is the story of the pilot who finally sends his first child off to college. The young adult returns
for the holidays and proceeds to tell the parents everything they have learned. The parents are told many
things, but their child was most impressed by learning that most bars of soap are actually very big and
shampoo comes in bottles that are bigger than their thumb. Being raised on hotel toiletries brought home by
the student's father, the young person was ignorant to this important part of life, only because the father,
a pilot, was a cheap bastard.

Discounts and deals abound in the pilot world. Almost every airport eatery and hotel restaurant offers a
percentage off of whatever we purchase to eat. There are coupons for free drinks or buffets. I have seen
50% off in some places, which none of us can pass up. I was at a coffee shop in a layover hotel recently,
getting ready to head to the airport. The young woman working the counter got me my coffee and handed me two
big chocolate chip cookies for free. Of course I shyly refused, but she insisted that I take the cookies.
'You never know when you might get hungry', She said. I was trying to smile and not drool at the same time.
This treatment is not unusual. I was walking through the Cincinnati airport once, when a worker at the Mrs.
Fields Cookies counter waved me over. 'You can have all the left over cookies for five dollars', the counter
person said. I walked away with three bags of cookies and boasted about my good deal for weeks after. I
had realized that the cookies kiosk was closing and instead of throwing the cookies away, they would offer
them all at a price no pilot could refuse. I scored those bags of cookies several times but got so sick of
them, that I eventually refused the good deal. The same thing happened in Buffalo New York one night. We
were doing a turn around, so we were there for about an hour. I ran down to the cafeteria and ordered some
wings. The man working the counter asked if I wanted extra wings. I said, 'Sure, sounds good'. He brought
out three large to go boxes of wings, mild, medium, and hot. We stuffed ourselves. When ordering a meal
where the food is scooped up in a predetermined amount, the generous workers dishing out the food usually
add a partial scoop more, smiling at us while they do it. I have never seen a pilot tell them to take it

There is a good chain of communication amongst pilots, allowing us to share the free things or good deals in
our layover cities. A fellow pilot told me about free coffee at the hotel coffee shop in Boston. He said,
'You have to be in uniform to get the free coffee'. I mentioned this to my copilot the evening we arrived
at that hotel. The next morning I was in the lobby of the hotel studying the subway map. We had the entire
day off and I was interested in visiting a museum. I was surprised to see the copilot walk by in his
uniform, seven hours before we were to be picked up. He marched over to the coffee shop and picked up a
free cup of coffee, saving himself about $2.50.'You make me proud', I said. He smiled, held up the free cup
of Joe in a salute, and then proceeded to pick up a newspaper someone left on a chair. He went back to his
room, drank free coffee and read a free paper. It doesn't get much better than that.

I worked the Hawaiian operation for several years. Our layover hotel was at a gargantuan hotel complex with
three, forty story towers. Through the grapevine, I had found out that the rooftop of every tower had a hot
tub on it with an ice chest of soda next to it. Access to the rooftop was limited to the expensive business
rooms on the upper floors. This was by no means a deterrent to us pilots. I discovered that if I took the
elevator as high as I could go without using a room key, I could then take the stairwell up the remaining
floors, to the rooftop. I was not interested in the hot tub, but drinking a free soda and taking in the
incredible view from forty stories up, was great. I spent many hours up there over those years and never
saw another person on that roof. On my way down one day I decided to take the elevator from the highest
floor. As I walked towards the elevator I saw a door open to what looked like a lounge. I walked into the
room and realized this was a suite converted into the business club lounge.

The suite was gorgeous, fronting the ocean, filled with food, drinks, newspapers, and a self-serve bar. The
best part of this situation was realizing that there were no hotel employees in the room. I was alone with
platters of food, free drinks, and 24 hours off. I settled in like I owned the joint. I left two hours later,
only when another hotel guest entered the room. I went back many times, but one day, when I walked in, I
saw a woman sitting behind a desk. 'Good afternoon sir, can I assist you?' she said. I wanted to say,
'Yeah, can you just go away from this good deal I have?' I remained calm and said, 'I am trying to find my
boss, and I was told to meet him here.'

'Oh, no problem, what is his name, I can look him up and contact him.' she said.

I was digging myself into a hole. I politely refused her help and left quickly. I could tell she was eying
me suspiciously. When I got to the elevators, I turned around to smile at her. Next to every elevator was
a big bowl of tropical fruit and a stack of newspapers. In an act of defiance, I picked up a papaya, a
mango, and a Wall Street Journal while smiling. The elevator arrived quickly and I left. I called the
front desk and asked when the business lounge was staffed. I was told that at 4:30 every afternoon, the
business lounge was staffed. I had my answer. From then on I made sure I never spent time in that room
after 3:00.

I spread the word about the rooftop and lounge to my fellow pilots. One of my fellow pilots brought his wife
with him on a trip to Honolulu. He convinced the wife to go to the rooftop with him and sit in the hot tub.
It was a beautiful night and they ended up having sex, then more sex, then running around the rooftop naked.
Just as they were getting back to putting their clothes on, a security team came out onto the roof. Both
parties were surprised as hell to see each other. The pilot apologized to the security team as he was
putting his clothes on, grabbed a couple of free sodas and left with his humiliated and unhappy wife.

There was a time when most airlines served good food, especially in first class. I am allowed to sit in
first class when I travel off duty. The pass system at my company allows me to travel unlimited times a
year. Some years ago a pilot told me that over the weekend he took his wife and children on a flight that
was a round trip flight to another city. He flew out on the first leg enjoying a nice lunch and free drinks
in first class. They were on the ground for an hour before the same aircraft with the pilot and his family
still on it, returned to its point of origin. He and his family enjoyed a first class dinner on the way
back, the children enjoying a few ice cream sundaes. That was how they spent their day and evening, enjoying
free food, drinks, desserts, and movies. The monthly food bills were less than normal because the pilot was
uncanny in his ability to be a cheap bastard.

Not that long ago I was riding to a hotel for a layover. Across the street from my hotel I saw a sign on the
marquis of another hotel advertising free wireless Internet. My monthly schedule requests were due the next
day and I needed Internet access to send my requests in. Instead of paying for the service in my hotel, I
walked across the street that next morning to use the free Internet at the other hotel. I walked past the
lobby and sat in a public area near a fireplace that had couches and coffee tables. As I was booting up my
computer I saw a large urn of coffee across the room. 'What the heck' I thought, it's just a cup of coffee.
I got up and fixed myself a large cup of coffee, just the way I like it. I was working on my computer with
a solid Internet connection, drinking my coffee, when a hotel employee approached me. 'Sir, the breakfast
buffet is now open, would you like me to show you what we have this morning?' she said. Without the
slightest hesitation, I said, 'Why that would be great, thank you.' I proceeded to make myself a waffle,
gather a plate of eggs and bacon, a glass of juice, and a container of strawberry banana yogurt. I was
still there three hours later when they closed down the breakfast area. I was asked if I would like
anything else, so I asked if I could take a snack to go. I have shared this nugget with many of the pilots
I fly with, and they too have enjoyed a scrumptious morning buffet, across the street.

This story could go on and on as there are endless examples of pilots being cheap bastards, but there is one
last example I would like to share with you.

About 16 years ago, I was an engineer on the Boeing 727. The captain brought a bag on board at the beginning
of our trip.



Well-known member
Nov 13, 2004
Total Time
He handed me the paper bag and told me to put it in a safe place. When we got to our
destination that night, he asked me for the bag. During our four-day trip, each day would start out the same,
he would hand me the bag, I would put it out of harms way, and he would ask for it at the end of the day.
On the last day he handed as he handed me the bag, I heard the clinking of glass. 'Be careful with that,'
he said. I asked him what was in the bag. He told me there were about ten light bulbs in the bag. I asked
him why he carried all of these light bulbs around. He said to me, 'I take the burned out light bulbs from
home and exchange them with the working light bulbs in our hotel rooms.' I was at a loss for words, but I
remember thinking that this guy is one cheap bastard.

OK.. Here's a true story I've told some of you but not all. I flew with a guy that turned in his dirty
uniform shirts, this was before 9/11, to a charity. He would come back a few days later when they were
hanging on a rack & buy them back for .50-.75 cents. He said it was cheaper than sending them to the laundry
& he'd get credit for a Tax deduction for his charitable donation- Now that that guy is cunningly cheap!


Oct 27, 2005
Total Time
That was awesome!

Went to the hotel bar last night in a pseudo third world country. The guy I was with offered to buy the first round - at happy hour. Total bill - $3.38 US. Tip? 38 cents after a loooong deliberation.

I'll bet they love to see us coming.



Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time
secret to success living below your means


Well-known member
Apr 11, 2005
Total Time
hahaha funny stuff!!


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2007
Total Time
Reminds me of the NWA pilot who insulated his garage in Lakeville with Sanitary Napkins.

retired guy

Free at Last!
Dec 19, 2005
Total Time
Long, long ago, I flew with a DC8 captain that went to great lengths to show me how to fold a dollar bill and make it appear to be three dollars. He did this when tipping limo or cab drivers. BTW, I can`t remember how to do it, so don`t ask!


Livin' the dream Baby!
Jun 7, 2008
Total Time
Many moons ago, I flew with a guy at UAX that used to go up to the just arriving UAL flights and ask the lead F/A if they had any of the First Class food left over. Man that was REAL embarrassing.


Well-known member
Apr 8, 2005
Total Time
That was some funny S$#%..and so true.

say again

I love her ARSE!!!!
Mar 14, 2005
Total Time
Great read. Remember, its not being cheap, its being financially smart!!! haha


Everybody to the limit!
Mar 29, 2004
Total Time
Glad I was never THAT guy. Never saved a dollar of per diem. Life is too short to be like that. I always said if you count on your per diem as part of your salary, you've got bigger problems than the low paying job you have. It really is no wonder the bar keeps getting lowered.


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time


Dec 1, 2002
Total Time
I bought a new Dodge Dakota Quad cab in 2000. The loan was for only 3 years, with a big monthly payment.

I did the math and figured out that by bringing soda off the airplane for meal breaks and 2 at night for the overnight where I would eat takeout food only when practical I would save $1000/yr. This was two months of my truck payments!

I paid it off in 2 years.

I used to think of the exchange in Caddyshack between Danny Noonan and that Wop.

"I ain't payin' 50 cents for no Coke!"

"Then you ain't gettn' no Coke!"\

$2 x 3 x 200 days of work = $1200 year

Amish RakeFight

Registered Loser
Dec 28, 2005
Total Time
I knew a guy who would have a bundle of fast food coupons always in his wallet. After handing it over to the cashier, when possible he would reach over and yank it back as the girl usually just left it on the ledge of the counter. If she said something (so petty they dont usually bother) he'd try and smile making a joke out of it.

Same guy also used to switch the tags on clothes. He would go to a discount clothing store like MArshalls, TJMax, Centruy21, etc. where they get a lot of the surplus from full-scale stores like Ralph Lauren.

He would purchase these leftovers (usually oversized, ugly and obviously didnt sell well) from the discount store and take them home. Afterwards, he'd go to Ralph Lauren and remove the tags from say a rugby with a very high price. This was done in the dressing room. He then went home after collecting a stack of tags and use his tagging gun and retag the cheaper rugby. He would then take the cheap rugby with the expensive tag and return it to Ralph Lauren and reeceive a store credit. He wouldthen take this store credit and purchase things from them.

After accumulating all of these new expensive items, he'd go and sell them on Ebay.

I know it sounds like a lot of trouble and it certainly is, but he seemed to be making a business out of it.

BTW, he is a little on the eccentric side, if you hadnt figured out that laready. funny thing is, he's kinda wealthjy and his folks are milllionaires.
Last edited:


Well-known member
Jan 24, 2003
Total Time
A few
Heard this one the other day. A Capt. @ XYZ had four bald tires on his car, so he goes to Budget rents his exact car for $49 bucks-goes and switches his tires for the rentals- Now he has a brand new set of stickers, thus saving a couple of hundred bucks. Could be urban legend, but cheap urban legend nonetheless.