The Rules For Flying On An Airline Employee's Privileges

The Rules For Flying On An Airline Employee's Privileges

So over the weekend there was controversy on United Airlines (my former employer), about girls with “leggings” being DB’d (denied boarding), due to the attire rules for airline employees and those using their tickets.

I worked for United for almost seven years (revenue accounting, WHQAK), and I rarely let anyone use my “buddy passes” or airline certificates because the rules are different than for regular flying.

Yes you should look better than usual passengers. Back in the day you were supposed to be “dressed up” for flight on yours or someone else’s flight privileges.

Key word, privileges.

Those airline employee tickets are like gold and an awesome benefit but you need to behave yourself and also need to be flexible.

Flying on a buddy pass means that’s persons seniority determines your boarding, if they are new, good luck, if they have tenure then you have my leverage in boarding priority.

See on airline privileges you fly standby, the airline considers your seat “non-revenue”, so your priority is lower.

Employees working or “deadheading” (returning or going to a different work airport i.e. station), are ahead of you.

Everyone who bought a ticket is ahead of you, retirees are ahead of you (just barely), so whatever seats are left are then up for game for the non-revenue (and standby), seats.

Seniority goes first and then you see what’s left.

Places like Hawaii, Las Vegas (LAS), and Orlando (MCO), are not good non-revenue runs.

You are better off buying a ticket (so you have a guaranteed seat), unless you have a lot of time to spare and not on a strict time schedule.

Even on some hourly flights like Los Angeles (LAX), can get hairy on popular dates and sometimes you may not get a direct flight. So you need to make sure other stops along the way might have some “open seats”.

I helped several co-workers during my ticketing days, get home by taking some creative flights home by going out of their way but there were open seats.

I even had a co-worker drive a rental car from Las Vegas to Los Angeles because nothing was available out of Vegas but LA was wide open, it worked and he got home (in time I may add), and that’s all that mattered.

See airline privileges first were a book of paper tickets (prior to e-tickets), you got the first of the year and they were “per segment or leg” so if you went O’Hare (ORD), to Denver (DEN), that’s a ticket, then another from Denver to Los Angeles.

So round trip if all goes well (and it should both were hubs for UA), that’s four tickets, and you always needed to have extras on you, incase bad weather hit Denver and you had to go to Dallas (DFW), and then Washington DC Dulles (IAD) and then back to O’Hare.

Don’t laugh, I routed someone that way once.

My point is if you ever fly on someone’s airline privileges it’s not that same as a regular airline flight where you just show up (with your ticket), look like you going to beach and hop on the first thing out smoking.

It’s not guaranteed, you need to look the part and be willing to wait and go the extra mile, sometimes literally.

Filed under: Chicago

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