One of the great benefits of working in the travel industry is and always has been the availability of industry travel benefits for the employee and often times their immediate family and/or parents. Even though many different facets of the industry have experienced some tough financial times over the past decade with downsizing and cutting back where feasible and necessary, there are still numerous discounts and great deals if the non revenue traveler takes the time to follow a few easy steps.
Know what one’s current employer offers. Carry a hard copy of those benefits that show employee verification numbers and listing procedures for the standby travel or discounted accommodations the employee is traveling on. Most airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains and train/air freight companies have in depth sections on their company websites specifically for employee information on non revenue standby travel and industry discounts. Check with a supervisor or benefits expert for this information before even looking for what might be available. The travel industry is highly competitive in structure and there always must be “agreements” in place for all benefits between carriers or lines or chains.
Check for last minute deals and underselling offerings. A non revenue employee can find great tools in interline travel websites or agencies. ASU Travel Guide (See Resources) is a well established and extensive resource since 1968 and specializes in bringing airline employees numerous discounts from a wide variety of travel options.
Be flexible-this will get the non revenue employee the best standby deal. If the employee wants a specific resort or lodge property to spend a vacation at, then tailoring time to go to when the property is at lowest capacity and in slowest season or time of week/month will offer the best deal. If there is no preference where the employee stays but he or she rather is looking to stay within a certain spending range, then waiting until closer to the dates desired to travel on will bring the most fruitious return. More will open up and also there will be a clearer idea of how weather/local events might affect the non revenue traveler’s chances of getting passage on a flight or cruise. For example, if an employee wants to go skiing in Jackson Hole but all flights have been cancelled for the past 3 days-realize there will be a backlog of revenue standby passengers trying to get there as well as non revenue ones whose flights were cancelled and the employee might end up going to Colorado instead for the week since revenue standby customers will always be accommodated first. In reverse luck though, perhaps one is hoping to fly out of Kansas City to standby seeking passage on a fully booked 4 day cruise in the Bahamas (which seems out of reach) but then it is observed Denver International Airport has been shut for two days. Now 40 booked revenue passengers connecting through Denver to get to that cruise will not make it and that voyage the non revenue traveler was going down for, hoping to get on, suddenly has open space and steep last minute discounts become available. Take it in stride as best possible knowing that delays or substitute accommodations are common occurrences that one will work around and become familiar with for the great benefit of non revenue travel. *Tip* Always look up a discounted hotel near any airport traveled through so there will be an ideal option should a delay happen and no space be available on a connecting or return flight as hoped for.
Travel always with your employee ID on your person. It will not matter if the non revenue traveler has the passes/tickets for standby needed as well as current passport, gift for grandma and all three grandchildren-if there is no official company Employee ID to present at check in, one should not expect to be able to receive any negotiated discount nor clearance to even get through the gate to board a flight. The Employee ID must be current and damage free just like passport and drivers license requirements.
Conduct ones self appropriately. Remember the working employee checking you in on a non revenue ticket is the one and only authority at that moment with power to decide how/if the standby ticket is accommodated. The employee traveler should treat him/her with collegial respect and should remember, when utilizing benefits, to be a good representative of one’s company providing the benefit. Doing so will hopefully reward the non revenue traveler with conscientious and courteous service. *Tip* Never leave a standby flight until the door is closed in case actual seat count shows last minute misconnects and the agent working the flight has time to fill those last minute seats with standby travelers.