Thursday, August 25, 2011

Traveling as a Non-Rev (non-revenue) passenger

One of the benefits of working for an airline is you receive certain amount of travel benefits. Majority of non-airline people think airline employee's travel for free, when in fact, majority do not.

At the airline that I work for, you, as an employee, are allowed unlimited travel. However it does come with certain restrictions. There are certain criteria you have to meet, as well as departure taxes you may have to pay to the airline...depending on how long you have flown with the company.

For us, employee's who have 25 years or more of actual company seniority, will fly service charge waived in the coach cabin system-wide. If the employee has five (5) years or more, but less than 25 years of actual company seniority, they will fly service charged waived in the coach cabin on domestic flights only. Otherwise, you will pay service charges for personal trave.

Now we have several designations as an employee when travel as a non-rev. Your travel privileges vary based on the Company you work for, your current company seniority, workgroup, and your employment status. You, your spouse or Company-recognized Domestic Partner (DP), and your dependent children are eligible for unlimited D2 classification service charge passes. Additionally, you have an annual travel pass bank of 24 one-way service charge passes to be used by your parents, other family members or friends (if eligible for D3 travel) in any combination you like. (this is when you get friends you never knew you had)

Most airlines have negotiated reciprocal reduced rate agreements with Other Airlines (OAL). These agreements are intended to extend travel opportunities to parts of the world not served by your specific airline and, like travel within your company, are provided to employees and retirees as a privilege, not a right.

Generally these agreements offer flat rate service charges based on the nonstop mileage of each ticketed segment. These are referred to as Zonal Employee Discount (ZED) fares and are available for unlimited travel by the employee/retiree, spouse/Company-recognized Domestic Partner(DP), and dependent children under 23. In some cases, travel is also extended to the employee's or retiree's parents, Registered Companion(RC), but on a limited basis.

Some of Airline agreements provide Industry Discount (ID) rates, usually 75% (ID75) or 90% (ID90) off of the transporting airlines unrestricted published fares. ID90s are generally limited to an annual allotment of tickets per year for the employee, spouse, and dependent children under 21. In some cases, parents, Company-recognized DPs, and retirees may also be eligible for ID90 travel. ID75s are usually unlimited for the employee, spouse, and children. The agreement with the airline will specify exact eligibility and allotments.

Travel conditions vary from carrier to carrier and are specified in each airlines' agreements. These conditions include eligibility, dress code, flight listing, minimum service requirements, embargo periods, applicable fares, and restrictions. Employees must check the conditions for travel on the intended airline before beginning a trip. Failure to do so may lead to being denied travel by the OAL. When traveling on a reduced rate ticket, employees and their eligible travelers must adhere to the same rules of conduct and dress code as specified for travel on their particular airline, unless otherwise noted in the reduced rate agreement for that carrier.

While ID tickets (such as, ID75 and ID90) are only valid on the airline listed in the carrier code box of the ticket, ZED tickets are interchangeable on any airline that operates in the same market, provided your own airline has a ZED agreement with the carrier at the same or higher fare level. Employees must not use space available tickets if space has been booked on another airline using frequent flyer miles or any revenue ticket on the same day between the same cities.

Employees on reduced rate travel are not entitled to denied boarding compensation or any of the amenities provided to revenue paying passengers (for example, accrual of frequent flyer points, access to club lounges, pre-reserved seating, special meals). Abuse of reduced rate interline travel privileges could result in the loss of your on-line travel privileges, a financial penalty and/or possible termination of employment.

Majority of airlines have a dress code while traveling on their airline. Here is an example of a Dress Code while traveling:

You must ensure that your pass travelers adhere to the dress code. Pass travelers who are improperly dressed will not be accommodated on the flight. If a traveler is properly attired for coach but not for first or business, and only first or business is available, the traveler will not be accommodated in first or business class.

Mainline First Class attire requirements also apply to non-revenue customers who are accommodated in the First Class cabin of an Regional aircraft.
Additionally, once you or your guests have been accommodated for a flight, it is a violation of travel privileges to change into clothing that does not meet the appropriate dress code. The dress code as listed below applies to travel on a major carrier.
  • Attire for all cabins must be well groomed, neat, clean, and in good taste. (If in doubt, wear something else.)
  • Traditional or casual business attire is required for first or business class accommodation.
  • Coats, jackets, and ties for men are not required.
  • Hosiery and socks or collars are not required for men or women.
  • Women's style of shoes or sandals such as open toe, sling-back, and clogs are acceptable.
  • Capri pants are acceptable in all cabins.

Do not Wear
The following are examples of unacceptable attire.

Not Acceptable in Any Cabin

Shorts or T-Shirts
Sweatshirts or tank tops
Micro-mini skirts
Jogging suits, workout clothing or leggings
Bare-midriff or provocative/revealing/see-through clothing
Beach clothing or footwear, flip-flops
Clothing with offensive terminology or graphics
Clothing with holes/ragged or cutoff edges

Not Acceptable in First or Business

(acceptable for coach cabin only) 
Denim clothing of any kind or color 
Athletic footwear/casual sandals
Split skirts above the knee 
Note: Children age six (6) and under are permitted to wear shorts in coach.
Due to the diversity and constantly changing nature of fashion, we will never be able to cover all possible types of attire. We rely on you to carefully consider the intent of the dress code for the class of service you desire when selecting clothing to wear on a trip.

When traveling as a non-rev, you should really know when it's safe for you, and your family or whomever is traveling, will be ok to travel. Otherwise, they will end up in Stand-by hell...waiting for days to get where they want to go. I end up telling my friends that it's cheaper to buy a ticket than it is to fly stand-by because often times, they get stuck and have to pay on overly priced hotel room!  Either way, you don't want to run into weather delays (which are out of your control) and get to the airport and see the lobby like the pic to the right. 

Also, when you get to the airport, be sure that you are 'listed' for the flight. What this means, the employee who you are traveling on their passes, has 'meal listed' you for the flight, indicating your need to travel. This saves the agents a LOT of time. Instead of going to an agent at the departure lounge, plan on going to a KIOSK and printing out a "Priority Verification" card which indicates you are planning on traveling today, on a certain flight when you have to go through the Security Checkpoint. 

When you do make it to the gate, don't go to the agent to ask for a seat, they already know you're on the list. They will generally process the Stand-by fliers about 10 minutes prior to departure (if there are seats available). Don't hover over them either as they don't like this. Just take a seat, or stand away from the counter and keep an eye on the 'Stand-by' screens.

If you don't get called, don't threat, you will be transferred to the next available flight, however, if you are lucky and you do get called, and the agent tells you that you must check your bag, BE SURE TO INFORM THEM of your final destination.

Follow the rules of the crew, and everything should be fine. Don't be a pest, don't demand things, and most of all, remember to be polite. Always treat someone as how you would like to be treated!!! (gifts to the cabin crew are often rewarded ;-p)

The Minnesota Great Get-Together! MN State Fair

Gopher!Having grown up in Winchester, Virginia, we were approximately 2hrs away from Richmond, our State Capital. Even though I remember our county (and surrounding Counties) had their Fairs, I don't ever recall us actually making the trip to Richmond to the State Fair.

After I moved to Minnesota, all I kept hearing about in the month of August was "Are you going to the Fair?" Now, remembering back home how much of a joke our County Fairs were, I initially thought, "Of course not", but soon realized that the State Fair here in Minnesota, was not your typical Fair.

I soon realized that the Minnesota State Fair was, and still is, one of the largest Fairs across the Country. It truly is an awesome experience, I believe I was overwhelmed the first time that I went. There was so much to see and do, and even over the course of the last 14yrs, it's amazing to see how much it has changed.

I really enjoy going with my friends, but this year looks to be either just myself, or with one other friend. not the group of 4-6 of us that usually go. One of the first things we try to do when we enter the Fairgrounds is get a small bite to eat at this really awesome taco stand. From there, we just walk around and try to see as much as we can. Usually going into the Horse Barn, Sheep Barn, Cow Barn, Pig Barn, Poultry Barn to see all the different animals.

Once we're done checking them out, we try to find a place for a nice cold beverage and rest for a bit. A couple of years back, we stumbled upon this one food vendor with Pot Roast sandwiches where the meat is so tender and juicy. So, we try to make sure it's still there and get a sandwich.

One of the fun activities to do is visit the Minnesota Heritage area where you see how many of the settlers lived and survived back in the Prairie days. How they traveled, lived, cooked, and worked.

Another fun thing to try at the Fair is all the food. Many places try new things, like Fried candy-bars, or "something' on a stick. We do try to walk around the Midway where all the amusement rides are, but don't ride them.

This year there is so much road construction going on in the area, I think if we go, we'll do what we've done the past few years....ride one of the buses. For just $5, you get a round trip ride from many locations around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and surrounding suburbs to the Fair and back. It's well worth the price as you don't have to worry about finding parking and fighting the traffic.