Monday, March 27, 2017
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 flights...in 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 nonrev...you 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
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!