Travel benefits are the best perk of working for an airline. But flying overseas for free requires airline employees to be extra clever when planning their vacations. What can you do to improve your standby experience? Here are some tips for a smoother trip…
Have a Plan C
You already know how unpredictable airport life can be. Heavy winds can ground a plane till the next morning. A mechanical issue can downgrade a flight to a smaller aircraft. The flight with 10 open seats can oversell in the middle of the night. Give yourself peace of mind by having a few backup routes. Look up other cities to connect through if your direct flight fails. It’s best to do this research before the day of travel to avoid wasting time if your plans change suddenly.
Set Buffer Days
Another way to prepare is to give yourself at least 1 free day between your flight back home and your return to work (2 for international travel). Even if the flight loads are wide open, add some buffer days just in case.
I learned this on my first trip to Ghana as a non-rev. About 90 minutes in to the flight back to New York, the captain announced that the plane had a mechanical issue so we would be returning back to Accra. We landed and found out the flight was delayed for 36 hours! Unluckily for me, I was supposed to work a flight the next day. The headache I went through could have been avoided if I had built an extra 2 days into the trip.
“Bag Lady, you GON’ miss your [air]bus.” Erykah Badu’s 2000 hit single carried an important message for standby passengers – pack light. Avoid checking bags. If your itinerary changes quickly, your bags might not make it to the plane on time. A lighter load also makes for less time in security.
Your Card is Flying Standby Too
A credit card with a high limit is helpful to have while traveling. If you’re stuck somewhere and your last resort is to buy a full-fare ticket, it won’t be cheap – especially if you’re abroad.
Remember the Golden Rule
Being kind and considerate to airline staff is crucial for non-revs. Check-in agents, gate agents and flight attendants already have to put up with passenger attitudes on a daily basis. The last thing they need is a shouting match with a couple traveling on buddy passes.
One underrated reason to use your benefits often is to stay humble. Dealing with passengers repetitively can thicken your skin to the point of apathy. Being in a passenger’s shoes every now and then helps you understand their frustrations first-hand. Which makes you better equipped to provide customer service when you return back to work.
Have you flown standby before? Comment below!