Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Tips for Nonreving

Remember that old Kenny Rogers song "The Gambler"  Know when to Hold 'Em, Know when to Fold 'Em, that could be a nonrev song. You have to know when to try and when its not worth it.  A recent news story today got me thinking about nonreving.  So I thought I'd share my tips from the past 12 years.

1) Take the First Flight of the Morning
I can't say this enough or often enough.  Sure you want to sleep in, but do you want to get to where you are trying to go?  Or is sleeping more important? If you answered sleeping, nonreving might not be for you.  You always take the first flight of the morning (see I said it again) even if it looks bad you have the potential of paying pax oversleeping, this means more seats for you!  Also guess what happens to those later flights you wanted to take so you could sleep?  The pax that overslept that first flight....are all on the later front of you.

2) Be Nice to the Gate Agents
This is really a tie with #1.  These are the gate keepers to your beloved flight.  Yes, yes, but they are mean and unreasonable (not everyone is nice) but ultimately it doesn't matter.  As my mom would say "Life isn't fair."  Weather they are nice or not they decide the fate of your flight.  98% of gate agents are nice (if not a little stressed) but there are some that are clearly having bad days.  This is really of no difference to you, you treat them all the same.  You treat them as nicely as possibly,  the words "I'm sorry" "Thank you so much" "I appreciate it" are all phrases you should use.  It doesn't matter if the gate agent is a fire eating dragon munching on a small child behind the desk, you are still nice.  Never lose your cool or start yelling, besides not getting anywhere, you're libel to get your nonrev privileges revoked.  Even if they are doing something clearly wrong and screwing you, there is not a lot you can do, remember you are riding for free...or close to it.
Example: I once had a gate agent (on a flight that had 25 empty seats left) not call any nonrev's.  There were about 15 of us standing there waiting.  Not one of us moved, even when she said final call for boarding.  One poor guy who clearly hadn't ever nonreved before finally approached her with his security document and must have said something like "Is this the right flight?"  She went ballistic.  Like nuclear ballistic.  "You are a nonrev, that is NOT a ticket, I will give you a ticket if there is room, you need to wait over there."  Should she have been awful? No.  Am I glad that guy took one for the team? You bet, she didn't seem as if she would let us on until he walked up.  Would that have been me? Heck no.  I didn't want her saying I was rude and having my privileges revoked.

3) Have a Plan A, B, C, D, E, and F for FUN
Have as many plans as you need to get there.  Dh and I were going from Chicago to San Francisco one time and we went from Chicago to Kansas City to San Diego to San Francisco.  Yes it took forever BUT we got there.  Also learn when its in your best interest to do this.  Sure we could have waited a few hours in Chicago to see if we got on the direct flight to Oakland BUT it would have been close and if we would not have made it we would have been screwed and not gotten there at all.  Sometimes it's worth it to 3 leg it to make sure you get there.  Also look for alternative routes, I once flew from Houston to Milwaukee instead of into Chicago....gotta do what you gotta do.

4) If You Have to be Somewhere Don't Nonrev
This is what money is for.  If you have to be somewhere (wedding, cruise, etc) please buy a ticket.  Heck go on a cruise and listen to people talk who did buy tickets, its not always guaranteed then.  I have heard stories of weather, and maintenance issues from people who almost didn't make their cruise.  My caveat is, if you want to go two days before then go ahead and try to have time.

5) Pack Lightly
I can't say this enough...for the love of god, DON'T check a bag if you are going somewhere.  As a nonrev if they lose your bag you may never see it again. Also, think about this, if you decide to fly into Milwaukee instead of Chicago your bag is still going to go to Chicago or vise versa.  If you need to check a bag you need to buy a ticket.  My one caveat(again) to this is when we went to Japan with just carry on's, we returned with two checked bags.  One of our carry on's broke and we bought a ton of souvenirs.  IF you are going to check a bag, check it on the way home.

6) Be Prepared to Sleep in Airports
Not much to explain here, every year we add a new one to the list.  We've slept in quite a few most notable are: Midway, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Kona (in Kona we bought a ticket!).  As I have gotten older I am more willing to pay for a hotel for 4 hours than sleep in an airport, esp if I want to be presentable the next day to nonrev.

7) Be Flexible
IMO this is a must.  You really can't expect to fly out to Las Vegas on Friday and fly back on Sunday.  There are wayyyy too many paying passengers, you won't make it.  Not to say you can't do it, I have done it twice, BUT I also understood and planned for not returning on Sunday.  One of my first nonreving experiences was doing this exact trip, but at the time I didn't know better and let dh (boyfriend) at the time plan it.  Big mistake esp since I had to be at work on Monday.  I ended up calling in sick and also learned a valuable lesson.

8) What (Not) to Wear?
So I'm not going to say much about this, at this point everyone has heard about United and their buddy pass dress code I'm sure.  I'm only going to say, if you look at the dress code and think something you're wearing *might* be questionable your best bet is to change so they actually let you on the plane.

9) Expect the Unexpected
Storms happen, mechanicals happen, aircraft swaps happen.  All of these and more may screw up your nonrev plans please refer to #7.

10) Be Grateful
Always be nice, pleasant, and grateful.  Always remember no matter how bad it is, you could always be the person on the outside looking in wishing you had nonrev benefits.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tag Team

So what's it really like when both you and your spouse are in the airline industry?  This is a great example of our tag team day(s).  We are extremely lucky that my mom watches our dogs/cats and even horses, but we don't want to burn her out, so when we can we do "tag teaming."

My day started at 0200 (2am).  Surprisingly I woke up feeling decent, super early shows are always hit or miss depending on how well I sleep the night before, we'd gone to bed at 9 and it seemed to have paid off.  I leave dh sleeping as he is on reserve and starts at 0800 (8am).  I go out to feed the horses (yes they hate me) sometimes breakfast is at 2 sometimes its at 9. Since I need to leave the house about 3ish I won't be turning the horses out before I leave, I'll let dh learn that fun chore is for him later.  So I go slogging (because all it has done is rain the last few days) through my mud soaked horse field throwing flakes of hay out for them to eat once dh turns them out.  I take about 6 steps carrying half a bale of hay when I realize my boot got stuck in the mud somewhere behind me and I'm bootless.  Perfect way to start the day as I stagger back to get it I fall over sideways because my one remaining boot has falling victim to what I am coining "quick mud."  At any rate I manage to get the hay out and get back to the house.  Getting ready to go,  let the dogs out, throw my stuff in the car, at this point dh is kind of awake so I tell him he has to let the horses out before he leaves, hope he has fun!

Driving to work I decide to skip DD (dunkin donuts) this is clearly the downward tuning point of my day.  Stupid me at 3:30 in the morning thinking, I can wait to get some coffee on the plane.  At any rate I still feel pretty awake by the time I check in.  As I sit there updating some app on my ipad I've never used but someone thinks I need, I begin to think skipping the coffee was a bad idea.  I feel like this update is taking forever, my email says it should take 10 min, last time it said that it took 30.  While I am desperately waiting for the update, I decide to stop at McDonalds to grab coffee because I'd clearly done something bad in my last life and my flight leaves out of the gate as far away as possible.  I try to turn this into a positive because now I have to walk by a McDonalds so I could still salvage this with coffee.  Stand in line for 10 min and still get to the gate early.  From here on things run ok, boarding, take off, etc.  I get to the back and go to grab my coffee, only to find that its fallen over in the cubby and the cup is floating in the coffee that it once contained. For the second time before dawn I regret my decision not to stop and DD.

My first flight of the morning reminded me of being in a washing machine, for 2+ hours, this did not bode well for the rest of the day, since the next two flights were basically along the same path we were on now. Perfect.  We land late, I check my texts see that dh is headed to the airport for an 1100 flight, which will work out great.  He texts me he let the dogs out about 0830 so they will be fine until I get home about 1430 (2:30pm).

On my next flight I realize that I didn't eat my yogurt that I threw in a ziplock with ice.  Which is great, I'm glad I have it! Until I open it, when realize its 8 hours after I put in the ziplock which now has warm water in it, blah!  Oh well I can stand to skip a meal, into the trash my breakfast goes apparently it wanted to join my coffee.  Other than that the flights are uneventful (besides being bumpy) and we land early!  I even manage to run and get catch the bus to my car right before it leaves.  Then I get to my car, and I can't find my keys, of course.  So I proceed to pull everything out of my huge tote to dig for the keys, which I finally find after I dump everything out...on the wet grass.  At least I found them right?

On the way home I stop and grab some food for lunch, since I've now been up for 12 hours and haven't had anything to eat. As I turn on the street my house is on I realize its Saturday, and I start swearing, a lot.  Saturday is dumpster day, and unless a miracle occurred I was betting dh hadn't realized  that either.  I pull in the garage and look out back to make sure dh actually did let the horses out, change, and inhale my lunch.  I check dh's schedule to see where he is and what he's doing.  Turns out he has a two day and gets back at midnight (actually  0100) the next day.  I immediately start digging through his contract because that trip then runs into his day off, I'm trying to see what the options are or if its legal (at my airline its not).  But apparently someone was smoking crack when they wrote the last contract because there's some weird caveat that actually 0200 is considered the next day not midnight, say what??

Anyway I figure since dh is gone it's time to finish putting the Christmas decorations away, if I wait for him to do it, it will never get done, and if we do it together I might kill him. I happily put decorations away (not really I hate it) but since I'm trying to decide if I want to pick up a turn in the morning no booze for me.  This fact is making me more sad as I drag Christmas boxes to the basement, you see we have baby gates that I can't get the stupid big boxes through so I have to drag them out the front door, through the garage, back into the house and down to the basement, starting to think a glass of bubbly would be great right now!  After this fun I go let the horses in and face my fate of a full dumpster.  Then a miracle occurred, I opened the dumpster and it was empty!  My awesome garbageman had rolled my dumpster out, emptied it and rolled it back, I was so happy I could cry.

By the time I get back inside dh has called me, and he's now 2-3? hrs late and stuck in an airport I'm very familiar with.  So I excitedly tell him where to eat because a new restaurant had opened that day which was the highlight of everyone I know that is based there.  And this, this is our excitement. He finally leaves on his last leg while I clean the house.  Its a lot of give and take and planning sometimes to make our schedules work but totally worth it!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Why I won't fly Allegiant

I normally love to watch "Air Disaster" and any show like that.  However as I turned it on this morning to watch while I ate breakfast I was greeted with the Alaska Airlines Flight 261episode.  I lost my appetite.  You see the reason I did is because dh used to work for an airline, that had more than 4 issues with jack screws on elevators (which was the cause of the Alaska Crash).  Many of these shows I find interesting, this one I found scary because of the similarities of his previous employer.  Unlike Alaska who I am pretty sure given their safety record since then seems to have learned their lesson, pretty sure dhs previous employer has not as evidenced by this article .

Sure I have heard people say its fine and that the press over blows everything .  I'm sorry, dh worked there for three years and was in the safety department for some of that time, I would never set foot on one of their planes, not at least until their CEO is fired or leaves.  You see company safety culture comes from the top down.  Everyone wants to believe that the airlines would never put you in danger but that's not quite the truth.  There is a matrix of risk vs profit.  Most airlines are smart and make this a small percentage.  However some airlines want to make a larger percent on the profit side, which means cutting corners and sweeping things under the rugs.  This is the reason dh is no longer at his previous employer, because no matter how loudly he and others he worked with demanded change in maintenance and safety no one higher up would allow changes to be made.

You may wonder if things are so bad why hasn't the FAA done anything about it.  Well to be honest the FAA is more reactionary than anything else.  Take for instance Value Jet  this airline (scary enough the CEO at Allegiant was at Value Jet) had many big problems before its final crash. Only after the crash did the FAA pull their ticket.

I'm not saying don't fly them, I can't tell you what to do, or what not to do, god knows as long as people save $10 they will fly on a winged elephant.  I'm simply telling you as a pilots wife, why I will not fly them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trading Places

So as the wife of a pilot I often hear (and even have said) some of the things I have learned in my last few months of what I call trading places.  While dh had been out with a knee replacement I started traveling a lot.  Let me say it’s a totally different perspective when you’re the one doing the traveling. 

I never understood why dh didn’t always want to hop in a plane and go somewhere on his days off.  Of all the things this is the one that flabbergasted me the most.  I mean free flights, why not go?  I however totally get it now (as does dh from my perspective).  We wanted to go somewhere when I had a few weeks off and he kept asking me where.  As he had been stuck at home for two months doing not a lot (other than pt) but I was so tired I just didn’t care, I didn’t want to be near and airport or a plane or any of that hassle. I finally told him if we were going somewhere he better plan it because I was incapable.  That was a total eye opener; I would still rather drive to Michigan than fly to Denver. I’m trying hard to put my finger on why I don’t like it, I think it’s because I only have a few days off and I don’t want to spend them hanging around an airport trying to get somewhere. So the next time your dh drags his feet about going somewhere I promise it’s a real thing and has nothing to do with you!

Going out with the crew.  This tends to be a big issue for a lot of couples.  Dh and I have never had a problem with this, but I see a lot of pilots wives post about it.  In all honesty (unless you have a party animal for a husband) it’s pretty low key, either dinner in the hotel restaurant or somewhere close by.  It’s also the same conversations a lot of the time, where do you live? Where are you based? Do you have kids? All the normal type questions.  Then it usually turns to union and work.  Also in no way shape or form should this “free time” be construed as replacing time with family, kids, etc.  Sure occasionally you do get a crew that goes and does something fun, but you have to remember their still at work, it’s never as fun as if their family would be there instead of the crew.  Honestly I’m grateful for anyone who goes out, it helps the time pass and does form a comradery with the crew.

Another big complaint I see is, they get to sleep in and in a hotel room, with no distractions (which I used to think was amazing!).   Now I , truly hate hotels (I’m betting most crews do).  See here’s what (most) hotels do, they have certain rooms that are “crew rooms” they use every night for crews.  This means they don’t really clean them, and I’m talking nice hotels too…Sheraton…Marriott…etc.  If the sheets are pretty maybe the change them maybe they don’t’.  Also that “quiet” you think your dh is getting, isn’t real.  As I sit here and type no less than 3 times has someone knocked on my door, even though the “do not disturb” sign is out.  Because if your dh checks out after normal check out hours, their screwed, and if you leave your room always take an id. If you leave after the normal check out time 9 times out of 10 the key won’t work.

So overall that “fun” you think your dh is having isn’t always fun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DOJ vs Airlines

                  Look its a price gouging airliner, quick get the pitch forks!

So this bugs me a lot.  That the DOJ is calling out the airliners This bugs me for a few reasons.

First of all they (DOJ)  deregulated the airlines in the 70's, which means they can't tell them what to do now, unless of course they want to re-regulate (is that a word?).

Second I don't think ticket prices are that high.  When I can buy a ticket on SWA for under $100 for a trip that would take me 16 hours to drive I'm pretty sure I am getting the better deal.

I will be interested to see how this plays out after all the DOJ is the one that approved the big 3 mergers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vacation and Meldowns

 We went to the Lawn Club on our cruise and we (my dad and I) got to cook with the chef's!  It was great fun!

So the intention today was to catch up with a post about our awesome vacation, which has been overshadowed by the need to touch on the giant meltdown at dh's airline.  So it seems dh's airlines crappy management has caught up with itself ie: chronic under staffing of everyone, FA's, dispatch, schedulers pilots (to some extent) and of course outsourcing the gate agents.  Turns out you can only beat people so much before they rebel or in this case quit (dispatch).

Their convoluted hiring of FA's has screwed them as well (also the fact that the FA's have gone 8 years without a contract).  Take for instance my good friend named "Pam."  Pam went to an open house to be a FA, she would have been great; she's a great person, who is upbeat and nurse!  So she sent her resume in and got a call!  She was planning on going to the job fair in Dallas (which they were hiring for that base) so imagine her surprise and displeasure when the email said that she needed to go to LAS job fair and interview!  This was approx a week before the LAS job fair and she couldn't get the time off, much less pay for a last minute r/t ticket there, not as if they would get her out there for the interview.  So they lost an excellent potential FA because of stupid paperwork snaffu's like this, take this an multiple it, now you have a problem.

The airline is trying to grow, I understand that, but you have to have support staff to do that, you can't grow pinching pennies it's not as if the airline couldn't afford it.  So now in the heart of the meltdown, our esteemed (sarcasm) MEC has told the company that in order to "get the airline back on track"  the pilots will happily ignore the contract, fly more that it allows, and for no extra pay.  You can imagine that hasn't gone over well, especially in this house!  I am completely astounded the MEC would decide this, management needs to be held accountable for their penny pinching, short sightedness.  Telling them we will happily break the contract for them is only enabling them.  The MEC also used the veiled threat of "if we don't help the airline it  will be in real trouble"  ie: you might need a new job.  Fine so be it, let the airline fold (I doubt it will) when issues like this happen and the MEC folds it just lowers the bar across the board for all airlines.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Allegiant Matters

So if you may think the Allegiant (potential) strike doesn't effect you, and you'd be wrong.  In this industry (as someone said) nothing happens in a vacuum.  Whatever happens to Allegiant will indirectly effect you at your company.  For instance dh's' airline is starting (soon) contract negations no doubt that since Allegiants pay and benefits are substandard they will use them as a comparison of a competitors airline's pay and benefits.  This is not helpful to dh's contract negotiations, or any other airline, as the lowest common denominator always drags down the average.  This is why everyone should be behind a pilot group when they strike.

What is Allegiant striking for?  Well the recent one that is going to court on Friday is what is called a "Status Quo" strike. Right now Allegiant pilots are just trying to get the company to honor the work rules they have, "to maintain status quo"   The judge ruled last year that the company had to maintain status quo and put things back they way they were (scheduling, and disability were the big issues) but so far the company hasn't, hence the strike for "Status Quo."   Yes Allegiant does have to follow the RLA (Railroad Labor Act) and no, no airline has ever struck for status quo, but railroad workers have, so it's not an illegal strike.  It would however be a first for the airline industry.  Why has no airline ever struck for status quo?  Because no airline management has every been greedy or ignorant enough to not follow the work rules they agreed to, to the extent that Allegiant has.  So if you see an Allegiant pilot give them your support!