Working for an airline has benefits known as standby or pass travel. This means that employees and their families get to fly for free or very little, but only if there are open seats on the flight. Depending on the day of the week, the destination, and the time of year, flights can be full or empty. Flying standby is best for traveling to destinations during off-peak seasons (hello, Seoul in February with your 11 degree weather.)
Having backup plans is a must. If a flight gets cancelled due to maintenance or bad weather, paying passengers need moved to flights with open seats. Are there other flights you can take, or are you going to be stuck sleeping in an airport halfway across the world?
As a fairly avid nonrevver, here are a few tips I can offer:
- Know the flight loads for the day. If there aren’t many open seats and 7,000 standbys listed for the earlier flights in the day, chances are they’re going to roll over all day. Protip: List for the earliest flight of the day. Everybody hates waking up for a 5am flight, so those are the most open flights.
- Know your backup plans. This could be traveling on another carrier, traveling to another destination, or sucking it up and paying for a last minute ticket.
- Know where you’re going. Certain countries require visas ahead of time, not just a passport. There are countries that may also require a ticket out of the country before you can enter. Be sure to do thorough research prior to hopping on that plane.
- Know your seniority. Typically employees that have been working longer get first preference on flights. As someone who has only been working for 3 months, I can pretty much always bet I’m going to be at the bottom of the list.
Seeing the world isn’t easy when you’re flying standby, but it is always worth it. Whether you’re stuck in a foreign country or going somewhere you didn’t intend, it’s best to have lots of backup plans, a nice high-limit credit card, and an open mind.