Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

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lostinjersey
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Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by lostinjersey » Fri May 31, 2019 1:25 pm

I'm interviewing with an airline and considering how to quantify the travel benefits. Sounds like my family (me + spouse + children) can travel for free as long as there is space, plus I'd get an allotment of 'buddy passes' for extended family use. It's a non-trivial benefit in my opinion since we travel a lot. Any ideas on how to put a dollar value on it? Experience from those who have worked for the airlines?

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri May 31, 2019 1:29 pm

Assume when you travel with your kids that you'll be in 19B, one kid will be in 22E, the other in 33A and your spouse in the jump seat.
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lostinjersey
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by lostinjersey » Fri May 31, 2019 1:34 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:29 pm
Assume when you travel with your kids that you'll be in 19B, one kid will be in 22E, the other in 33A and your spouse in the jump seat.
Yeah I get that. I was a travel agent in another life, so I understand how it works. But I'd still like to hear thoughts on quantifying the value, mostly because I anticipate the offer will be lower than I want (if I get one), so I'm trying to figure by how much this perk might offset the lower salary.

stan1
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by stan1 » Fri May 31, 2019 1:37 pm

What type of position is it? Of course executives get better flight benefits than an IT administrator. Easier to find one seat than four or five. The people I know who have worked for the airlines in management positions have had a few tickets per year they could set up in advance but otherwise they did a lot of last minute planning that required a high degree of flexibility. One friend was based in DFW so lots of flights. Some routes he could get on easily. Others routes he basically never could get a seat on and had to plan to drive to his final destination. He sometimes was not able to confirm his arrangements until a few days before the flight. He avoided stand by situations after several experiences where it took him a few days to get a flight. He enjoyed the benefits but using them was stressful.

jbmitt
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by jbmitt » Fri May 31, 2019 1:37 pm

It’s not worth it. It’s hard enough for crew to commute to and from work. You’re better off purchasing ZED fares.

runner3081
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by runner3081 » Fri May 31, 2019 1:53 pm

With overbooked flights continuing to be the trend these days, is that really a benefit? How often would you be able to fly as a family, where and when you want?

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by psteinx » Fri May 31, 2019 1:56 pm

I have no particular expertise in this. That said:

1) Airlines are crowded these days. I assume when you try to travel this day, you're basically lowest priority. So you won't necessarily know that there will be space on a given flight. In turn, this likely makes planned trips hard. Furthermore, finding multiple available seats, on the same flight, together, is likely even harder (i.e. family travel).

2) That said, probably easier if you live in your airline's hub city - Delta in Atlanta for instance. If you want to go from Atlanta to Chicago, the 8:30 am flight you target might be full, as is the 9:55, but whatta ya know, there's space on the 11:47.

3) If your job involves a lot of travel, either directly (you're working as a pilot, steward(ess), etc.), or indirectly (perhaps you travel to the airlines other locations a lot), the mystique of air travel will likely fade fast.

4) If the program supports international travel to multiple interesting destinations, that ups the value. You might soon exhaust the readily reachable domestic locations, and anyways, Houston is not THAT different from Kansas City, which is not THAT different from Philadelphia, etc. But the ability to get to London, Rome, Tokyo, Rio, etc., for free, would take a while to fully explore, and have a much higher value to me than a purely domestic set of destinations.

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FlyAF
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 1:59 pm

I have quite a few friends working for various airlines from mgmt, pilot, down to maintenance crew. Very few of them can even get on a flight anymore. A family of 4? Forget about it, unless you're trying to fly to Des Moines on the regular.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by gtg970g » Fri May 31, 2019 2:08 pm

The value of this for family travel seems pretty low. For a single traveler it could be quite valuable. I had a friend working at Delta who went to work every Friday two carry-on bags packed, one for cold weather and one for warm.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Novice2020 » Fri May 31, 2019 2:11 pm

Hello,

I work for a major U.S. airline. Simply put, flight benefits are absolutely amazing, IF you like to travel. I am single and travel regularly--I would estimate it is a $10,000 a year perk for me. However, one factor to consider is that if you travel more with the flight benefits, other costs will rise (hotel, food, etc, other things that add up when you are away from home). But from a strict financial perspective, the flight benefits are a joy.

Despite most of the reply posts so far, non-reving is still very much easy and doable, even with a family. This week I non-reved IAD-SFO and it had 50+ open seats; the return flight on another airline had 20+ open seats. This is in peak travel season (albeit still on the early side of it).

Depending on the exact job you are considering, I would say absolutely go for it if you love the industry as I do. For those of us in it, there is nothing like it...

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FlyAF
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by FlyAF » Fri May 31, 2019 2:11 pm

^^^Yes. Single and flexible, it's a great perk.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by niceguy7376 » Fri May 31, 2019 2:15 pm

All employees get those benefits but they also are assigned a priority according to the org chart. So, if there are 4 seats available, then the executives get the first choice of taking the open seats and then the priority order goes through the next levels.

10 to 14 years back, a neighbor used to work for a local airline and his spouse used to go to Asia for 2 to 3 weeks at a stretch. She used to have her baggage ready to go because she wouldnt get confirmation like a day or two before the start date.

In this day and age, I dont think there are enough open seats anyway.

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lostinjersey
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by lostinjersey » Fri May 31, 2019 2:25 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone. I’d be working in the main hub, and there lots of flights to our main destination. We also just have one kiddo, and both DH and I travel solely with her from time to time. Like, the two of them will fly to main destination for the weekend, to visit his parents, at least once a month. And the parents come up here frequently, too.

This role would offer access to other airlines’ flights; we wouldn’t be restricted to just my employer’s flights.

Probably not worth millions, and there is definitely the hassle factor to be considered. But still worth factoring into the equation, based on our lifestyle.

researcher
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by researcher » Fri May 31, 2019 2:34 pm

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:25 pm
It's a non-trivial benefit in my opinion since we travel a lot. Any ideas on how to put a dollar value on it?
I would but ZERO value on this "benefit."

I've heard multiple horror stories from an acquaintance whose husband works for an airline.
They and their two children have experienced several disastrous and expensive trips using this "free" travel benefit.

- Sleeping on a airport floor all night with two young kids
- Spending hundreds/thousands of dollars on unplanned meals, hotel stays, rental cars
- Being days late getting back home and missing work
- Re-routed on long multi-leg flights, only to rent a car and drive 12 hours home

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by curmudgeon » Fri May 31, 2019 2:45 pm

It can be challenging to make much use of free standby travel while you are tied to a work schedule. Spending your weekend worrying about whether you will get seats on the flight home Sunday night takes some of the fun out of it. If you can monitor specific flight loads (on your own airline) it helps. There are differences in details of free travel depending on the specific airline (including when you become eligible, how/if there are "interline" options on other airlines, etc).

My wife and I are retired, and parents of an airline employee. We get a level of free flight and interline benefits as parents, and having more flexible schedules we can make easier use of standby travel, but it's still not anything life-changing. We make more trips (and more spontaneously) to visit the grandkids. Interline (flying standby on another airline) generally involves ZED (Zonal Employee Discount) fares plus possibly additional fees which may cost as much as a normal discount advance purchase fare. On a trip to Europe this year, we use miles for the flight over (because we could get business class that way), paid normally for two intra-europe flights (because it was just as cheap as ZED, but with guaranteed seats), and flew home from London using a ZED (standby) fare. The ZED tickets for nonstop from Heathrow cost about $275 each between the fare and the fees, almost as much as guaranteed seat would have been on Norwegian airlines from Gatwick (that would have been $400 with checked bag and meal).

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by MtnTraveler » Fri May 31, 2019 3:52 pm

I think it depends on how often you think you'd fly and how flexible you are. There is a pilot on our street and I'd say that it is easily a 10k+ yr perk for them. They have the grandparents/great-grandparents fly in all the time (one set is out of the country so huge savings there) for award ceremonies at the kids' schools, etc. The wife and 3 kids have needed to cut back travel due to the kids school schedules but they fly somewhere most long weekends and all throughout the summer. From what she has said it is really dependent on getting someone's access to the main database so you can see how many seats are available on a given flight before you even waste the time to drive to the airport. Also sometimes you choose to fly into a less desirable airport not far from your destination to have less issues getting seats. It sounds like if you learn the game of increasing your odds for seats the perk can pay. My neighbors all flew to Orlando on Dec 23rd last year with no issues. Yes they all get split up but when a 3 yr old logs 50 flights a year they know the drill and will behave (or so my neighbor says...)

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by LawProf » Fri May 31, 2019 4:24 pm

It used to be a great value. Now not so much. I still have flight benefits through my parents. I can get discounted tickets (cheaper than buddy passes) with a higher priority than pretty much everyone except current employees (I'm on the same tier as retirees). I would never rely on flying standby to a place I absolutely had to be. Airlines have become masters of filling up each flight. As a new employe, too, you would be bumped by other employees. In terms of compensation, I wouldn't put too much weight on this benefit at all.

The one pocket where flight benefits still have value is flying internationally business class. Since Delta doesn't upgrade to business on international, I've been able to use my privileges, including taking my wife and two kids to London, and get business class both ways for all of us. Of course, this required staying an extra day than planned in London because of full flights, having to fly back through New York instead of non-stop, having to split up on the way back with my family going on the flight from London right before me, and my family having to take a cab from JFK to LGA to make their last connection. Other than that ...

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by ChowYunPhat » Fri May 31, 2019 4:31 pm

Former airline employee here. Flight benefits can be nerve racking. Unless you are fairly high up in some of these organizations, you will be flying sort of a "stand by+" class. In the early 2000s, load factors (% aircraft full) were in the low 70%s. Now average load factor can be in the high 80% meaning if you are flying as an employee, you may get bumped. When traveling with loved ones, this can be problematic and compounded with a child involved. Be prepared to extend vacations as these problems arise. Not all airlines are equal and again, it may depend on your status with the new company.

The international travel can be cool as shared by LawProf, but only if this was something you'd anyway.
LawProf wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 4:24 pm
The one pocket where flight benefits still have value is flying internationally business class. Since Delta doesn't upgrade to business on international, I've been able to use my privileges, including taking my wife and two kids to London, and get business class both ways for all of us. Of course, this required staying an extra day than planned in London because of full flights, having to fly back through New York instead of non-stop, having to split up on the way back with my family going on the flight from London right before me, and my family having to take a cab from JFK to LGA to make their last connection. Other than that ...
If you're considering switching companies, definitely do not make the move based on the flight benefit. I would assign a few thousand dollars of value to this but that's it. Good luck with the job evaluation...always nice to have choices.
A wise man and his money are friends forever...

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Traveler » Fri May 31, 2019 4:36 pm

I worked for a major airline 2001-2008 and back then it was relatively easy to get a seat and even business/first class which is nice on long haul or int'l flights. We used to fly to Europe for the weekend. It was fun, tiring and a little nerve wracking when flights we thought were open suddenly filled up. I rarely got stuck but have had to reroute myself through crazy roundabout ways and/or on other airlines to get home. I highly recommend taking your passport with you even on domestic trips because you might have to fly to Europe to get back to your home in the states (yes, people do that).

That said, all of the airlines have smartened up their revenue management and right sized their networks so load factors have risen meaning there are fewer empty seats for non-revs. The airlines typically don't pay as well as other companies for management/corporate positions, but in this tight labor market maybe they're paying more than when the airlines were going through bankruptcies. It's not a very stable industry, is heavily reliant on things outside its control (weather, fuel prices, etc) and is very capital intensive with high asset costs and labor costs.

To answer your question, when I was non-revving, it was probably worth at least $25-40K per year if I take into account the retail price of the flights I flew, but now that I pay for my own flights, I don't buy a business class ticket to go to Europe for the weekend so I'm not sure how valid my formula is.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Gnirk » Fri May 31, 2019 6:38 pm

I would say for those who are fairly young, have no kids, that the travel perks are probably worth it. Why? Because traveling as non-rev can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially when flights are so full. And flying non-rev with little ones, well.......

When I worked for an airline, in my other life and very young, I took advantage of every travel pass I got. And flights weren't as full then as they are now. But...didn't travel with my little one. She stayed with Grandparents, and sometimes I traveled with friends and left our little one with my husband (now -ex) and a family friend. Ex wasn't into travel like I was.

We also had the option of traveling on 1/4 fare tickets, with reserved seats.

So, is it worth it? Only you will be able to determine that.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Wings5 » Fri May 31, 2019 7:04 pm

If you're flexible it's awesome. If you absolutely positively think you can never take the next flight or try again tomorrow it's going to be painful.

Last year the benefit for my family was well into the five figures compared to buying. Yes, a few times we spent an extra day in a hotel and took the first flight out the next morning. So one night that we made an adventure turned into $6,000 in savings.

Yes your hotel and rental car costs may increase, but you get decent discounts on those, too.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 » Fri May 31, 2019 8:38 pm

I sure enjoyed the reduced fares on other airlines and free fares on Pan Am when I was a dependent.

I have been bumped in a number of cities and had a number of close calls where I made the flight. The value was pretty nice but you had to be flexible. I still remember getting on the plane, getting off the plane and finally getting back on the plane in Oslo, Norway and the people on the observation deck were following what was going on and cheered my sister and I getting to make the flight.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by snackdog » Fri May 31, 2019 9:10 pm

If they hiring you at a high level, like captain, you could negotiate for seniority I suppose.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by venkman » Fri May 31, 2019 9:11 pm

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:25 pm
Sounds like my family (me + spouse + children) can travel for free as long as there is space, plus I'd get an allotment of 'buddy passes' for extended family use. It's a non-trivial benefit in my opinion since we travel a lot. Any ideas on how to put a dollar value on it?
Economically, I would value it according to how much less you'd spend on air travel for the family than you're currently spending. (i.e. With no airline job, you would fly x times per year at a cost of y dollars. The value of free airline travel for you would be y dollars.) Even if the family ends up flying a lot more often than they otherwise would, I don't think you can put a dollar value on it, because they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't free. (Though the ability to travel more often could be considered a nice intangible benefit.)

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by aerosurfer » Fri May 31, 2019 9:46 pm

Airline pilot here...

Forget all the noise and nay sayers, non rev travel is amazing, with a few caveats...

Been in the industry since 2002. I currently commute to my base by plane as well.

My now wife and I have travelled the world over for nearly free and with flexible agendas, if you are already in a major city and either have multiple legacy benefits (regional carrier) or at least ZED/ID90 understanding its great. You have to start speaking non rev and realize at the same time the rules don’t apply to you. Want to get from point A to B, know what airlines besides your own do that route. Know what small cities you can connect via in case that goes awry. Heading to LAX, great, if that’s your final destination what other options do you have and how much is a one way rental if you have to go to LGB, BUR, SNA, even PSP. You have options. Connecting international... where else can you get to (NRT) from, etc.

Flying a high frequency route, the likely hold of misconnects and over sells goes up, don’t let loads 3 days out sway you. Thunderstorms at departure or destination airport, not always a bad thing. First flight out at 6am... great for people that hope others miss their flights. Flight aware is your friend. Having benefits for multiple legacy airlines (through the wife), the nonev software varies quite a bit. Myself as a pilot for a brightly colored a Yellow Airbus carrier, nonrevving is great as we don’t have the extensive amount of standby travelers as, say Delta does.

With first child, he had flown 150 segments before he turned 3 years old. Family of 4.... not so much. But we did move near my wife’s family so it cut out a lot of regular travel. My wife says one kid will be in a stroller until they are 16, just so she can use the family line in TSA. :D

If you have flexibility like I do with a crewmember schedule random trips become second nature. Did a 3 day Cancun trip last week with wife and oldest kid, Perx, Dargal, ID90 travel all have great hotel deals. Planned that trip 4 days prior. I still I feel like I get on an airplane like it’s an Uber. Overnight to see a concert or friend, sure, loads look good go fly to se the parent for dinner, etc. Hell as an intern I flew turns just to get a free meal in first class in the evening. Actually, That summer I flew 64,000 miles and had I actually paid for tickets day of, a cost of over $46,000.... mostly in first class.

All that being said, I wouldn’t work for less in exchange for travel benefits, but they are a great perk to complement a job. Just understand if your priority is as a mainline (or regional) employee vs a sourced contractor with lower status.

Happy to follow up with stories and techniques I have developed over the years...

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by aerosurfer » Fri May 31, 2019 9:51 pm

snackdog wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 9:10 pm
If they hiring you at a high level, like captain, you could negotiate for seniority I suppose.
Ummm...... no. Lots of opinions on this site, not all of them remotely educated to fact

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Novice2020 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:32 am

niceguy7376 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:15 pm
All employees get those benefits but they also are assigned a priority according to the org chart. So, if there are 4 seats available, then the executives get the first choice of taking the open seats and then the priority order goes through the next levels.

10 to 14 years back, a neighbor used to work for a local airline and his spouse used to go to Asia for 2 to 3 weeks at a stretch. She used to have her baggage ready to go because she wouldnt get confirmation like a day or two before the start date.

In this day and age, I dont think there are enough open seats anyway.
Non-revs are generally assigned a priority, yes, but it varies by airline. Some rank by years of seniority, some by who checks-in first. Executives generally get positive space (a confirmed seat in advance), so those seats wouldn't be "open" to non-revs. As a general rule of thumb, my experience has been either that all non-revs make it on, or none do. Sure, there are lots of flights where only 2 or 3 non-revs grab the last seats and some miss out, but the vast majority of flights are either wide open or not.
lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:25 pm
I’d be working in the main hub, and there lots of flights to our main destination. We also just have one kiddo, and both DH and I travel solely with her from time to time. Like, the two of them will fly to main destination for the weekend, to visit his parents, at least once a month. And the parents come up here frequently, too.

This role would offer access to other airlines’ flights; we wouldn’t be restricted to just my employer’s flights.

Probably not worth millions, and there is definitely the hassle factor to be considered. But still worth factoring into the equation, based on our lifestyle.
Thanks for the additional detail. Working in the main hub typically helps. Another factor--is the city a multiple airline hub city? I.e. Chicago? If so, that flexibility helps a lot.
curmudgeon wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:45 pm
It can be challenging to make much use of free standby travel while you are tied to a work schedule.
This is very true. A lot depends on your individual circumstances. Will the job allow you flexibility or is it a strict schedule? Personally, I have a lot of flexibility and there is a lot of understanding if non-reving results in you being a few hours late or missing a day of work, but everyone's particular work circumstances are different.
researcher wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:34 pm
I would but ZERO value on this "benefit."

I've heard multiple horror stories from an acquaintance whose husband works for an airline.
With all due respect, you shouldn't base opinions on third-party stories. That is the equivalent of seeing articles in the news about shark attacks and urging people not to go to the beach. Yes, there are occasionally stories of individuals making poor choices and getting stranded, but if you are reasonably intelligent and plan well (if you are a reader of this website, you probably fall into that category) you should have no problem. I've never once had a "horror story" non-reving.
MtnTraveler wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 3:52 pm
I think it depends on how often you think you'd fly and how flexible you are. There is a pilot on our street and I'd say that it is easily a 10k+ yr perk for them.
Yup, 10k a year is what I would attribute to it.
aerosurfer wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 9:46 pm
Airline pilot here...

Forget all the noise and nay sayers, non rev travel is amazing, with a few caveats...

Been in the industry since 2002. I currently commute to my base by plane as well.

My now wife and I have travelled the world over for nearly free and with flexible agendas, if you are already in a major city and either have multiple legacy benefits (regional carrier) or at least ZED/ID90 understanding its great. You have to start speaking non rev and realize at the same time the rules don’t apply to you. Want to get from point A to B, know what airlines besides your own do that route. Know what small cities you can connect via in case that goes awry. Heading to LAX, great, if that’s your final destination what other options do you have and how much is a one way rental if you have to go to LGB, BUR, SNA, even PSP. You have options. Connecting international... where else can you get to (NRT) from, etc.

Flying a high frequency route, the likely hold of misconnects and over sells goes up, don’t let loads 3 days out sway you. Thunderstorms at departure or destination airport, not always a bad thing. First flight out at 6am... great for people that hope others miss their flights. Flight aware is your friend. Having benefits for multiple legacy airlines (through the wife), the nonev software varies quite a bit. Myself as a pilot for a brightly colored a Yellow Airbus carrier, nonrevving is great as we don’t have the extensive amount of standby travelers as, say Delta does.

With first child, he had flown 150 segments before he turned 3 years old. Family of 4.... not so much. But we did move near my wife’s family so it cut out a lot of regular travel. My wife says one kid will be in a stroller until they are 16, just so she can use the family line in TSA.

If you have flexibility like I do with a crewmember schedule random trips become second nature. Did a 3 day Cancun trip last week with wife and oldest kid, Perx, Dargal, ID90 travel all have great hotel deals. Planned that trip 4 days prior. I still I feel like I get on an airplane like it’s an Uber. Overnight to see a concert or friend, sure, loads look good go fly to se the parent for dinner, etc. Hell as an intern I flew turns just to get a free meal in first class in the evening. Actually, That summer I flew 64,000 miles and had I actually paid for tickets day of, a cost of over $46,000.... mostly in first class.

All that being said, I wouldn’t work for less in exchange for travel benefits, but they are a great perk to complement a job. Just understand if your priority is as a mainline (or regional) employee vs a sourced contractor with lower status.

Happy to follow up with stories and techniques I have developed over the years...
Great post! Thank you for more articulately explaining the perks than I did. Non-reving truly changes your life. You can hop to other cities for dinner and return that evening, go to concerts if you want to see a particular artist, you could really do whatever you want. It's like a personal Uber to anywhere in the world, as you said.

A few additional caveats from me:
1. You must always plan well. I always have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan.
2. You should avoid peak of the peak (Try to avoid Europe in July).
3. You should download the Staff Traveler iPhone app, which is a product of Lufthansa.
4. Before you do any exotic non-rev itineraries, talk to some colleagues to get any tips.

bberris
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by bberris » Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:38 pm

I'm wondering is it really completely free? Surely the company won't pay the taxes for you. How about fuel surcharge?

A little humble brag on my flight to Zurich from Minneapolis Aug 27 to Sept 4:

Traveler 1: Adult$463.74
Flight$1.00 Taxes & Fees$462.74

Trip total: $463.74
All prices are quoted in USD.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by aerosurfer » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:15 pm

Depends on the Airline and their benefits. domestically yes it’s usually free on your own airline. Some charge their employees for upgrades, others are free. Buying standby ZED on another carrier has some cost, but that’s based on distance as well as each airlines ZED agreements.

International, it varies by country, as taxes and fees are passed onto the employee usually. But not Fuel/TSA or other ticketing fees

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by ImUrHuckleberry » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:19 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:53 pm
With overbooked flights continuing to be the trend these days, is that really a benefit? How often would you be able to fly as a family, where and when you want?
Seems like every flight I've been on for the past several years is full or overbooked. After one attempt to take advantage of this "perk" OP would probably never try again.

aerosurfer
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by aerosurfer » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:32 pm

The difference here being, when you can see what’s going on behind the curtain you are able to make educated plans, and adjust accordingly ahead of time, not be blindsided by it.

For all those saying all flights are overbooked, is just not true, you see such a small portion in that statement, there is no basis to make that claim. Being over booked and being checked in full are two ver y different things as well. But again, having the power to see those numbers in real time and search out an alternate plan while standing at the gate, or more often than not, seats opening up from misconnected passengers.

If you have the flexibility and the interest to learn the system, nonrevving always works out more than it doesn’t. Now if you just pick one flight and expect to make it or bust, then you are bound to have some frustrating times. I can count on 1 hand how many airline tickets I have bought as an adult. Honeymoon, job interview, vacations, births, funerals.... never thought to travel any other way.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by kaneohe » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:59 pm

ImUrHuckleberry wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:19 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:53 pm
With overbooked flights continuing to be the trend these days, is that really a benefit? How often would you be able to fly as a family, where and when you want?
Seems like every flight I've been on for the past several years is full or overbooked. After one attempt to take advantage of this "perk" OP would probably never try again.
Flying non-rev requires a different mindset. You don't just go. You look at the loads before you list and try to avoid the flights that are overbooked. No guarantees tho..........I've encountered flights that were overbooked and got on anyway. I've also avoided flights that were overbooked and they left w/ available seats. Also you can be booked on a flight that looks guaranteed but if previous flights get cancelled, then a whole plane wants to get on your flight. The reality is that you don't know what's going to happen and need to be mentally prepared
for anything.

If you fly out of a "smaller" airport, you can have backup plans w/ a different airline. If you are lucky, both fly out of the same terminal
and you don't have to go thru security again and perhaps the gates are close to each other. In a big airport like LAX, this is more difficult since you need to get to the other terminal and go thru security again.

YMMV but DW is airline retiree and we have been doing this 20 yrs w/ reasonable success. Initially my thought was that if DW stayed w/ original employer (non-airline) the higher pay would compensate for the lower airline pay and perks plus you would be "sure" to get on
w/ a confirmed ticket. However, I've probably seen enough that I would agree that DW's move was reasonable . We got to babysit
first grandchild every 4 wks for 2 wks for the first 2 yrs flying home every wkend while doing that......so perhaps 26K worth of flights.
Not sure if we would have done it if we had to pay for confirmed tickets so the experience was priceless.

We've "only" been stuck in airports overnight 3x........2x in LAX and once in JNU. You learn to appreciate chairs w/o armrests because
you can sleep on them.........conventional armrests prevent that. Also you learn that not all chairs in the airport are the same. Sometimes
tucked away in a dusty corner are the ones you can sleep on...like in JNU.

So not complete Paradise........but not complete Hell either. As others have said depends on your flexibility....schedule-wise and mental.
Perhaps best suited for retirees. And smaller groups.........on our first trip to visit the grandchild, the other grandparents flew w/ us and we got lucky and got on. On the way back, no such luck so we had to rent a car and drive back. We never attempted that again (flying w/4)......so they drove 400 mi. or so back/forth every 2 wks for 2 yrs for babysitting duty and we did the same by flying non-rev.
Last edited by kaneohe on Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by BolderBoy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 2:17 pm

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:25 pm
I'm interviewing with an airline and considering how to quantify the travel benefits. Sounds like my family (me + spouse + children) can travel for free as long as there is space, plus I'd get an allotment of 'buddy passes' for extended family use. It's a non-trivial benefit in my opinion since we travel a lot. Any ideas on how to put a dollar value on it? Experience from those who have worked for the airlines?
My neighbor worked for the airlines just long enough to qualify for this "benefit". He said it is only of value now if he travels alone (rare) and his travel plans are very flexible (being bumped multiple days / times in a row).

IMO, the benefit you are talking about has zero real value if you value your time at all.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Flyer24 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:25 pm

snackdog wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 9:10 pm
If they hiring you at a high level, like captain, you could negotiate for seniority I suppose.
Doesn’t happen that way.

It can be a good benefit when you have seniority. I have taken my family to Europe several times. I wouldn’t do the job for the travel benefits though.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Jim Baround » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:58 am

Current airline employee here. Putting a value on it requires a lot more inputs on your part - what sort of travel will you plan on doing, and how much would you be willing to pay to do that travel if you weren't getting free flights.

The best part of the benefits to me is the ability to make trips at the last minute. If I knew far in advance when I would be traveling, I could generally buy reasonably priced confirmed tickets. But for example, I'm planning on flying Chicago to NYC tomorrow. If i wanted to buy a ticket now, it would be $396. It will be free for me.

Second, flexibility is massively important. Working in a hub and trying to out on Friday and back on Sunday will be difficult. Like for my trip tomorrow, I can forsee sitting in the airport for 4 hours to get on a flight based on how full things are.

Working for an airline is fun, the mobility attracts a certain type of person. I took a 30% paycut to come back to the industry after being gone for a few years.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by dm200 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:16 pm

We have longtime friends, where the wife worked for an airline for many decades, and is now retired. Her job was at a local airline ticket office/department. They (whole family) make great use of the free travel - and this free travel even continues into retirement (as best I understand). They seem to get a lot of "value" from the free travel, since they travel a lot - including regular trips to Las Vegas from the east coast. My guess is that they "spend" or "lose" more by gambling than the value of the free travel. :confused

For us, though, even if "free", we might travel a little more - but not a lot more.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by miamivice » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:18 pm

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 1:25 pm
I'm interviewing with an airline and considering how to quantify the travel benefits. Sounds like my family (me + spouse + children) can travel for free as long as there is space, plus I'd get an allotment of 'buddy passes' for extended family use. It's a non-trivial benefit in my opinion since we travel a lot. Any ideas on how to put a dollar value on it? Experience from those who have worked for the airlines?
I have looked into this. There is a big caveat - when you fly standby, you only get to fly if there is space available. However, your job wants to report for duty on time. Missing an extra day of work due to no seats available is not a a valid excuse.

So, many travelers will have a $1000 emergency fund they can use to buy a ticket on the way back so they can return to their job on time and not get in trouble.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by miamivice » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:21 pm

Wings5 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 7:04 pm
If you're flexible it's awesome. If you absolutely positively think you can never take the next flight or try again tomorrow it's going to be painful.
While you might be flexible, your employer (the airline) is not....

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Talisker » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:58 pm

The value is high, but it comes at a cost.

Best value comes from going to airport with days off being prepared and packed for one of 10 different destinations and climates. You start out thinking you and the family are going to Hawaii for 4 days as the flights are wide open.

An hour from departure the flight is oversold and you have no chance. After looking at 5 different options you see that a Munich trip is open and you will get 4 first class seats.

It happens, but early as you plan.

If you have the temperament, standby flying can be an adventure rather than the nightmare others see.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Jags4186 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:06 pm

The value of this perk is very low. Let’s be honest here, because of school you’ll realistically will be traveling as a family over the following time periods:

Winter break
Spring break
Summer vacation

Gee those happen to be the busiest times to travel.

I’d recommend looking only at real tangible benefits when considering the position—salary, PTO, bonus structure, healthcare contribution, tuition reimbursement, etc.. These types of soft benefits are “nice to haves” with little financial value with how you intend to use it.

I agree with those above who say a single person would benefit more, but you’re expenses of course will increase with all this leisure.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by jminv » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:31 pm

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:25 pm
Thanks for the replies everyone. I’d be working in the main hub, and there lots of flights to our main destination. We also just have one kiddo, and both DH and I travel solely with her from time to time. Like, the two of them will fly to main destination for the weekend, to visit his parents, at least once a month. And the parents come up here frequently, too.

This role would offer access to other airlines’ flights; we wouldn’t be restricted to just my employer’s flights.

Probably not worth millions, and there is definitely the hassle factor to be considered. But still worth factoring into the equation, based on our lifestyle.
There's only really value if you would have made the trip anyway. So probably the cost of a few flights per year that you would have taken to visit relatives, go once or twice on vacation, trip to a friend, etc. Or maybe you have a more flexible schedule or already travel very frequently. I would base the value on the travel I would do without the perk and discount it due to potential time loss. Otherwise, for travel you wouldn't otherwise take without it being 'free', it's just a perk that costs you money when you get to your destination. So for the travel you wouldn't take if you weren't an airline employee, you'll find yourself spending money you wouldn't have if you didn't work for the airline. Most people don't want to look at it that way, though.

Also, it sounds like you're not crew so you won't benefit nearly as much due to your schedule.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by ponyboy » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:37 pm

Low paying job at an airline so you can fly for free? Id rather have a high paying job elsewhere and pay for flights.

A lot of airline jobs are grunt work. You wont be able to take a vacation even if the flights are free.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by ohai » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:52 pm

Airlines are so cheap about everything nowadays that I doubt you'll get any reasonable mileage from this spare seat benefit. The exception might be if you live near a route that is rarely full.

I think you'd get overall more satisfaction working in an industry that isn't in a constant struggle to stay solvent and comes up with new method to nickle and dime customers and staff every year.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by neilpilot » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:01 pm

Talisker wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:58 pm
The value is high, but it comes at a cost.

Best value comes from going to airport with days off being prepared and packed for one of 10 different destinations and climates. You start out thinking you and the family are going to Hawaii for 4 days as the flights are wide open.

An hour from departure the flight is oversold and you have no chance. After looking at 5 different options you see that a Munich trip is open and you will get 4 first class seats.

It happens, but early as you plan.

If you have the temperament, standby flying can be an adventure rather than the nightmare others see.
We took one of our last non-rev flight to Munich several years ago. We were able to get 3 business class seats to Munich. The problem was, there were no seats available the day we planned to return from Munich. So we stayed an extra night and tried again the next day. Still no seats, and on the 3rd day there were still no seats. We ended up taking a train from Munich airport to Amsterdam, spending that night in Schiphol, and just managed the last few seats back to the USA.

So our flight to Munich was fine, but we returned 4 days late and spent significant money on 3 last minute train tickets out of Munich. After that trip we just about gave up on non-rev travel.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:31 pm

I've never worked for the airlines, but have several friends that do. I've traveled many times, mostly internationally on their benefits. My experiences mirror a lot of what is above. Observations:

-Starting with 9/11 and continuing with bankruptcies and mergers of several airlines planes started flying with less empty seats.

-I have had to do crazy things to get on a "free" flight like go from Chicago to Philadelphia, stay in Philadelphia for 6 hours, to then fly to Puerto Rico. Of course, we could have tried to go a normal route, but you can view the empty seats online and have to make a best guess of what will work. It is a gamble.

-I have flown on flights that cost $12k for a few hundred bucks in taxes.

-I flew on flight benefits to Spain in coach (paying the taxes/fees) for the same as a ticket would have cost. The difference was I wasn't guaranteed a seat.....but if there was room, I would have been in business class for not much more.

-I've been stuck in a foreign country for days waiting to get back. A flight was cancelled creating a multi-day backup. I had to get a hotel every night and travel from the city to the airport each day. Not fun.

-It used to be first show first serve (in conjunction with priorities), so sometimes we had to get to the airport 8 hours in advance to be close to the front of the line. Now it is done online, so at least you avoid that.

-If you just want to go somewhere and are flexible, I think that might provide the best option.

-If you are a pilot, you have more options (jumpseat). If you are the employee, you have priority over buddy passes and such. This varies by airline. If you are on a pass or a family member, you are not 1st in line typically.

My experiences were on American and United.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by ccieemeritus » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:42 pm

As a teenager I flew "space available" with American Airlines in the late 1970's thanks to passes from my Grandmother. Had to dress nice and even got to fly first class once.

Flying "space available" isn't what it used to be. Planes routinely fly maxed out thanks to computer adjusted ticket pricing. Do you really want to take a family vacation where you never know if you'll be able to get back? Or if some of the family has to be left behind? Every time I go to the airport I see people flying space available that don't get onto the plane.

Certain routes fly below capacity on a regular basis. If you can identify those, you'll have a shot at a predictable outcome.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by Wings5 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:10 am

miamivice wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:21 pm
Wings5 wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 7:04 pm
If you're flexible it's awesome. If you absolutely positively think you can never take the next flight or try again tomorrow it's going to be painful.
While you might be flexible, your employer (the airline) is not....
It really depends on what your job is. People around me trade shifts all the time, often to extend a nonrev vacation.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by THY4373 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:17 am

I do a lot of credit card award arbitrage and generally fly 2-3 international trips a year in first or business class so I spend a lot of time thinking about the value of travel. To me unless there is some edge case where you truly to travel a lot say to see a sick a relative or something I would have a hard time valuing this more than $10-15k a year. Personally this would be pretty far down on my list on evaluating a job and I say this as somebody with a lot of leave, a lot of flexibility and a desire to travel.

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dm200
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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by dm200 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:21 am

While the airfare "cost" is a significant dollar amount, it is often much less than the other costs of travel (lodging, meals, car rental, gambling costs, etc.)

Some (like our friends cited earlier) get a lot of use/benefit, while others may not.

I suspect, as well, that the future of such benefits may be less - for one of many reasons. For example, airlines may get much better at filling the seats with paying customers.

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Re: Working for the Airlines - Value of Free Travel

Post by protagonist » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:54 am

lostinjersey wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:25 pm
Thanks for the replies everyone. I’d be working in the main hub, and there lots of flights to our main destination. We also just have one kiddo, and both DH and I travel solely with her from time to time. Like, the two of them will fly to main destination for the weekend, to visit his parents, at least once a month. And the parents come up here frequently, too.

This role would offer access to other airlines’ flights; we wouldn’t be restricted to just my employer’s flights.

Probably not worth millions, and there is definitely the hassle factor to be considered. But still worth factoring into the equation, based on our lifestyle.
I'm not in the business. But based on what others are saying above, I think credit card promotions are at least as valuable. and only require a modest initial spend rather than a choice of career. Anybody can do those and fly for free.

If you take a job working for an airline, do it because you like the job and it pays well. If you get to fly for free on top of that, just consider it a nice perk.

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