Year Two. Month Two. #Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
The lights are dim, and the rocking motion of the Boeing 757-200 could almost put me to sleep. Next to me in the window seat, my dear friend, co-worker and training class survivor Luke is asleep.
I take a sip of hot tea, which has somehow been prepared to the exact perfect temperature, with just the right amount of milk and sugar. My stomach is full from a procession of Mai Tais, mimosas and fresh fruit, compliments of Delta's Premium cabin.
We are on our way to Honolulu, Hawaii, and from there, onto Seoul, South Korea.
For pretty much free.
This truly is the flight attendant life.
Our journey began a few months ago, when Luke and I decided that we would need a big adventure once we hit our one year anniversary (and once our PTO kicked in). We decided upon South Korea, with my best friend Stephanie and Luke's brother Dan (both English teachers overseas) due for a visit.
It wasn't until a week ago that we really began planning our trip.
And that's when we decided that we might need more than one plan.
Non-revenue standby travel, or "non-revving" as we call it, is a tricky business. Depending on your airline, your priority level and type of jumpseating, non-revving or ZED fare travel will differ. For regional airlines, we often get full or partial benefits on every airline that we partner with. If there are airlines that aren't on your benefit list, most employees and their dependents have the option to purchase ZED or ID90 fares on a wide list of participating airlines, usually fore less than $100 each way. Lastly, flight attendants have varying agreements with a host of airlines which allows us to "jumpseat," or sit in an extra flight attendant seat (or cabin seat, if available) for almost next to nothing.
Obviously, it's a complex process.
The first step in any jumpseating adventure is to determine which airlines go where. For me, PassRider.com is my best friend. Type in the airport of origin and the place you want to get, how many stops you're willing to make and voila! You've got a full schedule of possible rides to your destination.
Next, list for flights. If you are lucky enough to have non-rev benefits, go with those airlines first. You'll probably have a higher priority. Next, figure out if you can list for a jumpseat. Often times, you'll have to call the airline day-of to list, and often you will not know how many seats are actually available. It's a risky move, but we flight attendants live for the suspense (not really).
ZED and ID90 fares may seem scary if you've never accessed them, but once you get into ZED-ing around the world, you'll never look back.
Okay, listed? Check. Checked in? Check. All listings/boarding passes/ZED fares printed out and ready to go? Check and check.
Now do it all over again. You're going to need a Plan B. And possible Plan C.
Things go wrong, flights get cancelled and families of sixteen appear out of nowhere and list right ahead of you. So get creative, think about connecting through Hong Kong (HKG), Tokyo-Haneda (HND) or Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL). Just don't get your airport codes too mixed up!
List for everything, plan to get on nothing. Pack a light blanket and bring your chargers; who knows what airport you'll be sleeping in.
And once you've done all the leg work, all that is left to do is show up to the airport and wait for your name to get called.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll just be over here in Business Class sipping a mimosa.