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Jul 10th 2009 3:20PM Let me just say... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE flying non-revenue.
As an employee of the World's largest cargo airline (FedEx) we have
flight benefits with many airlines (we give them a discount, they
give us a discount). Its a wonderful arrangement and my favorite part
about working. But that said you do have to be smart. Heather's tips
are 100% dead on but I'd like to add one or two extra.
1st - Flying standby is a single persons game: It is EXTREMELY hard
to get 2 seats on a plane during peak season. One Seat is doable, but
two... good luck. If you've got somewhere to be, go it alone, or have
you friend by a rev ticket and meet you out there.
2nd - List early! Some Airlines let you list weeks in advance. List
ASAP so you get as far up the list as you can (more on that next).
3rd - KNOW THE PRIORITY RULES. Because FedEx employees (except pilots
and persons on business) are no longer allowed to fly on our own
aircraft (post 9/11 change) other airlines are doing us a favor,
which means... back of the line, the standby line that is. I'm not
sure of all airlines but usually this line goes: Revenue Passengers
(bumped for whatever reason); Paid Standby (some airlines still have
it - AirTran?); That Airline's Employees; then other non-revs. This
sometimes screws up the listing bad. If a flight gets dumped... you
won't make it no matter how many days out you listed.
4th - Flightstats.com is your friend. The "Flight Availability" tool
is excellent at giving you an idea of how your flight will work out.
Seriously, on more then one occasion on days I thought I wouldn't
make it, I logged on found a flight with 6 or more seats and listed
I can proudly say I've flown non-revenue probably 20 times this year
and only missed one flight (there was a seat, but a revenue passenger
no longer wanted to hold their child, so I got asked to get off - as
an airline employee I smiled, said 'no problem' and watched the plane
leave without me).
If you are smart and courteous you will make it. Best of luck