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Is this an airport or a casino?

I have talked to many employed with the airlines. Many retire from other jobs and decide to work for the airlines for the travel benefits. It is an incredible perk of employment. Although many jobs at the airline are not top paying, people will say that to fly themselves and their families around the world for free is a huge perk.

I think non-revenue travel is nothing short of paying craps in Vegas. Here is some down and dirty on craps.

  • You can win a lot of money in a very short period of time and lose big too.

  • The odds are very complicated so there is a sense of accomplishment in understanding the wagers as well as payoffs

  • Lots os secret things you would never know unless you are “in” the game long enough

  • All your new best friends are standing with you at the table

  • Adrenaline junkie heaven

In the same way Non revenue travel can land you standing at the gate waving goodbye to your flight or sipping champagne in First Class. You just never know how it is going to go. It takes a while to know what flights are worth waiting for and which ones always fill up. Which airplanes have 3 classes?…regular folks can only upgrade 1 class on miles……so maybe first class will be open….it is complicated but it pays to understand the rules, just like craps.

The people in my life that hate non revenue travel the most are my children. When we are traveling anywhere, their first question is, “Mom did you buy a ticket?”. Usually the answer is no and cue “collective sigh”.

It is really difficult to pay for something that I could have gotten for free. Something in our brains won’t let us do that.

There is no rhyme or reason to some travel situations much like a 6 or 8 should come up 6.2 to 1 in craps and it does not. When we were leaving Orlando from a birthday party trip to Universal Orlando (can only afford travel parties if you fly for free), an hour before the flight, there were 50 open seats. When we get to the gate, there are 2 seats and there are 4 of us…..RATS. This new trend of people purchasing a ticket without getting assigned a seat is throwing every non-revenue airline employee off their game. you never actually know who is showing up and when they will get assigned their seat.

This is where it gets fun. This is a complicated part. The girls are panicking….”we are not getting on!!” Little do they know that Orlando is one of the most complicated airports for travel. if you get on the wrong train, you are miles away from your gate and don’t get me started on the two hour security line. That “happiest place” business ended when you left mouse land and came to McCoy Field (thats the name of Orlando International). As a non-revenue traveller, I know that at least a dozen people will miss this flight, simply because they did not allow enough time to leap all these hurdles. Mom.....calm and relaxed.

When we board the plane the gate agents worry that we are not all together. My eight year old is the first to say……It fine…..we do it all the time. And they do.

I have seen connection times in charlotte that are 35 minutes and the passengers must traverse miles of moving walkways to get to their gate……another great airport of misconnects. Many times I have let planes go (in general a huge no-no) just to jumpseat (the tiny little seat reserved for the FAA on every plane in the cockpit) on a 787……did you know there is a little apartment above first class for crew rest? While you are all sitting upright, I am catching some zzzz’s right above you. In a bed!!! Those are the non - rev secrets like the “Yo” bet in Craps.

I am actually non-revving right now. On my airline (American), i can reserve the jumpseat a week in advance, but today I am on a regional jet (technically not my airline although he paint job is the same). There were 10 seats open 2 days ago…this morning - 2. all is normal in non-rev land. So I get to the gate early so that I be first in line for the 1 jumpseat, When the FAA is not using it, commercial pilots are allowed to sit there……it is the equivalent size of sitting in the aircraft lavatory for the duration of the flight but hey……its a seat!

So the gate agent comes up to hand me a boarding pass…….wow…..I got a seat. WIN!! I read the seat…..2F……first class!! WIN AGAIN!! Not expected but I will take it. No sevens today my friend, no sevens today. Cheers!


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