Sunday, January 10, 2010


Good Afternoon Everyone,

Many of you who have visited my website, and read my bio know that I worked and retired from Trans World Airlines after 36 years. A while back, I had a friend ask me to blog about non-revenue travel. So that’s what I’m going to do today. Turp said everyone thinks airline employees have it so good because they get to travel free, but someone needs to tell them that there are a lot of problems for non-revs when they fly.

Turp is right there are difficulties to flying stand-by even for those who have paid full fare but missed their flight, and then are placed on a waiting list for the next flight. If that flight is full they could end up waiting for the next one or the next one.

Standby is not the same as non-revenue travel so don’t get confused here. Standby is usually a paying passenger who didn’t show up on time for his flight, and he’s not allowed to bump other paying passengers off their flight so he can get a seat. All non-revs are subject to being bumped by anyone even by other non-revenue travelers.

When I worked for TWA, we were allowed to board a flight by seniority. Some airlines use the first come first serve method for allowing non-revs on a flight. No matter what method is used, we are the last to board, and if the plane is full we are left sitting at the airport for the next flight.

Some airlines have agreements between one another where they honor tickets from other carriers. These tickets are discounted by 50%, 75%, or 90%, and all of those people would get on the flight before a TWA non-rev. Also, military always go before non-rev flyers and sometimes even before paying passengers depending on the situation.

Another thing, I must remind you of is that airline personnel have the same expenses at the other end of the flight as any paying passenger. Like everyone else, we have to save for our trips.

The longest I’ve ever had to wait for a flight is three days, but that’s another story, and I’ll tell you about it next week when I talk about my travel experiences while working at TWA.

One other thing I want to add is that I haven't heard from my contest winner, RobynL, and I need her address to send her prize.

Next Sunday, I’ll return with my adventures as a non-rev. Have a great week.



Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I hear you Sandy! I've had many people who think because I'm a travel agent I've gone everywhere for free. Besides the fact that our hourly wages aren't great, we have to save, too, and we seldom get free or discounted tickets, hotels or car rentals. If we do, there's tons of restrictions, fees to pay, black-out dates and barely any space available. The last set of free tickets I 'earned' through American would've maybe saved me $50 off a regular non-refundable fare and I couldn't afford the hotel or car when I got to where I wanted to go, so I didn't even use them.

K.T. Bishop said...

It will be a long time before I fly with the terrorists and long delays waiting around...

Heather Snow said...

Interesting stuff, Sandy. I'll be interested to hear some of your travel stories. :)

Author GE Stills said...

I’ve heard that airlines and other carriers routinely sell more seats than they actually have to make up for no shows. Is that true? No wonder standby and non-revenue travel is so chancy. I realize that it all comes down to money like most other things. I guess there was something to be said for it when airlines were government subsidized. I’m dating myself but back in the day I never had a problem flying military standby. Never once did I get bumped. As for terrorists, well if it helps I could give a rats … if they look at my naked bod. It might scare the person looking at it half to death though. Lol

Carol Ericson said...

Sandy, we live right next door to LAX and there are a lot of airline employees in town. One couple I know will hop on a plane to Hawaii just for the weekend! After reading your story, that's probably the times they don't get bumped. Even trying to use my frequent flyer miles for my round-trip ticket to Nashville is tricky (can't get the exact time I want or they want me to stop in Chicago or Dallas first - might be worth paying the $350 with Southwest just to get the times/non-stop flights I want!)

Sandy said...


We're proof that nothing is really free. lol Yes, I'd heard that travel agents got perks. lol I guess I was wrong. lol

Thanks for your comment.

Sandy said...

K.T., I would never let those terrorists stop me from doing anything. When it's my time to go it's my time. That's all there is to it.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Heather.

Sandy said...

Gary, they don't oversell that much. There are a certain percentage of people guaranteed to be no shows for whatever reason. It's a tricky balance for the airlines and of course, they have to make money.

Sandy said...

Carol, I recommend going to Travelocity and checking for cheap tickets roundtrip that can be used for that date.

Ashley said...

Interesting post Sandy. Who knew LOL!!!

I flew Delta a couple of years ago and before that(I'm dating myself)PSA. We know how to fly and it shows LOL!!!!

I always knew a flight attendent had it hard because lets face it people can be jerks every so often, and yeah I was on a plane with two men of arab decent and they both screamed and yelled and carried on because they wanted to go to Las Vegas and we were going back to LAX.

Anyway awesome post. Can't wait for next week.

Christie Craig said...


As someone who used to do a lot of travel articles, meaning a person who did a heck of a lot of traveling, I can tell you that after a while the "getting away from home" isn't near as special as it once was. One year I was gone six months out of the year. I found myself longing to just stay at home. Don't get me wrong, having stopped doing the free travel for four years, now I find myself thinking how nice it would be to get on a plane and go somewhere to get away.

I think this kind of goes hand and hand with the old saying, "The grass is always greener..."

Great post.


Anonymous said...

....AND, if you never tried to travel non-rev with an 11 month old baby, spent all day in the terminal, ran out of diapers and baby bottles, forced to take the "red eye" flight home with a tired and crying baby, you will get some idea of what the bad side of non-rev travel can be !
Good blog Sandy.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Ashley. Yes, there's more non-revenue travel than meets the eye.

Sandy said...

Thank you, CC.

Yes, the grass always greener on the other side of the fence. Trips can wear you out, especially long ones.

Sandy said...

LOL Nope, I never traveled with an 11 month old baby, Turp. It sounds like a nightmare.

Thanks for the comment.

robynl said...

interesting post Sandy; waiting to hear some travel stories.

Sandy, I did send an e-mail on Jan. 3 which evidently you never received. I retrieved it out of my 'sent' folder and re-sent it. Let me know if it gets to you. Thanks.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Sandy

Hubby works for the local airline so we get access to non-rev tickets too. The only time we used them was for our honeymoon, and that too we coincided the date and time to the least peopled flight of the week. The wait was killing though, as we didn't know if we'd be able to get on or not. In the end we made it, but I wouldn't do it again, especially not with kids in tow! And lol, the other way round? I really cannot afford the exorbitant fares!



April Ash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Ash said...

Reposting because of spelling error!

Flying with any type of program is difficult unless you have plenty of time and are flexible. Even with airline mileage programs, flights are limited and sometimes you end up with long waits for connecting flights.
Perks aren't always as they seem, and your blog shows another side coming from an airline employee.
Thanks for the insight!

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Sandy,
My DH worked for US Air for 11 years and we LOVED the flight bennies. It enabled us to take so many trips we'd never have been able to afford. We took our kids to Disney multiple times, to major aquariums in Seattle, Baltimore, & Tampa, to the Smithsonian (for the day!) and our girls had passports from the time they were 9 & 7. They'd been to England twice by the time they hit middle school. Sure we got bumped once in a while, but we were having an adventure and just went with it.

Now we have to pay for our flights. I miss those "golden handcuffs!"

Sandy said...

So glad to hear from you. I'll look for your email today. I didn't get the first one, but I'm sure it's here now. I want to get that package in the mail today if I can.

Thanks for coming by.

Sandy said...

Z, thanks for your comment. I think it's sad not to take advantage of the chance to travel once in a great while.


Sandy said...

Thanks for your comment, Ash.

The perks aren't all bad either as you'll see from next week's post. Smile.

Sandy said...

Hi Emily,

I remember those times, too. I'm glad you had such great times. You'll hear about mine next week.

Thanks for your comment, Emily. They sound like wonderful memories.

Linda LaRoque said...

The airline had overbooked on the last flight we were on. They had to ask one of the non-revs to get off. My cousin's husband works for one of the airlines and they travel stand-by a lot and wait a lot too but they can fly so cheap, the wait is worth it.

Sandy said...

To me the wait is worth it, too, Linda. Even if it is three days. lol

Thanks for coming by.