The Non-Rev Airline Passenger

  • Oct 28, 2013 4:52pm GMT

Perks & Discounts

Whether it's 20% off to 70% off your company’s services, today you find more and more jobs offering exclusive perks to their employees; and those of you that are employed by an airline know that perks do not fall short on our end either.

For those of you that are not familiar, the captain is not the only one that has the opportunity to travel across the country. Airlines today offer travel benefits to nearly each of their employees - from the captain flying you to your business trip, to the very ramp agent loading your suitcase. What do I mean exactly when I say travel benefits? Well, most airlines offer travel on their airline for a discounted rate or even for free. The airline industry ploys this as a motivational and retention strategy. However, there is a catch. This travel is usually “standby,” meaning that you only get to travel if there is an open seat onboard the aircraft. A confirmed seat is not given to the airline employee for this travel, rather a listing (not a booking) occurs, which can make this kind of travel unpredictable. That being said, this benefit or perk has its pros and cons. Traveling standby can mean spending all day at an airport waiting for an open seat, or it can work in your favor with a seat that can place you in another country, quite literally, at a minimal expense (if planned accordingly).

By and large, employee travel does not bring much revenue to the airline and is hence referred to as non-revenue or “non-rev” travel. In most cases the benefit also extends to the employee’s immediate family, and also “buddy passes” to friends of the employee. This also opens the floor for commuting employees. I have seen many employees from all walks of life - not just pilots - choose to commute to work; and I’m not talking about commuting from downtown to the neighboring suburbs - but from across the country. Keep in mind that commuting is still “standby” travel, and if you are not careful you can run yourself into a predicament as the airline still expects you to show up for work as scheduled. Over all, it is usually not an issue if planned accordingly.

Anyone in the airline industry knows just how small of a community it is, and because of that, along with the commuting factor, airlines offer interline agreements, also called “ZED fares,” to airline employees to make it possible to travel standby on its competitors at a discounted rate - thus making standby travel available on any participating carrier. Granted you are at the bottom of the standby listing when doing so, it is still another option available when your company’s flight is full. My personal advice when it comes to Non-Reving is to plan for Plan A, expect Plan B, and to tell the person picking you up Plan C. When all said and done this is an outstanding perk an airline can offer to its employee. For those of you who love to travel and are flexible, but also are looking for ways to cut expenses, I urge you to look into the airline industry. From ramp agents to pilots and everything in between there is a career for you in an airline.