Non-revenue passengers, also often called chance passengers, are travelers with flight privilege to fly either for free or at significantly discounted rates. These people are airline employees or some of their family members and friends. However, free or discounted fares may also lead to non-revenue passengers not being able to fly to their intended destinations.
If you’re one of those passengers who happen to be lucky enough to experience becoming a non-revenue passenger because of a family member or a friend, you will most likely save a lot of money and even experience getting an upgrade to the business or first class during your trip. You can make the most out of this privilege when traveling internationally. However, the downside of it is that you may be bumped from the flight if the plane is already full, which is usually due to overbooking or the peak season’s high demand for seats.
What are the things you should take note of before flying as a non-revenue passenger for an international flight?
Know Who’s the Priority
Remember that travelers who paid regular rates for their tickets are the priority of the airline, not you. You will be allocated a seat only after all passengers paying regular fares have been allocated their seats already. It is also possible that you’re already sitting comfy inside the aircraft, then you would be asked to vacate your seat in favor of a regular passenger.
For a non-revenue passenger, your relative status to the airline’s flight privilege program matters when prioritizing who gets a seat first. The specific details for this depends on the airline company, but as a general guide, the airline employee’s spouse, children and parents are the priority in the non-revenue passenger list, compared to siblings, other relatives and friends.
If you’re a parent of an airline employee and there are only a few seats left for non-revenue passengers, as a general rule, the category of the employee and the year this person started work in the company are crucial in determining who gets to the plane and who doesn’t. For instance, if you’re a parent of an employee who started work in the company in 1980, you will be the priority over another parent of an employee in the same category, if the said parent’s child started work in the company in 2013.
Be Patient of the Wait Time
Being a non-revenue passenger is not ideal for those with tight or strict schedules to follow. There is always no guarantee that you can fly your intended flight schedule. You can only get a seat if the airline still has open seats after all regular passengers are assigned their own. At this point, the only thing you can do is to wait patiently. Once the last regular passenger is already confirmed to board the plane, which most likely means a couple of minutes before the plane leaves, then the ground crew can already designate a confirmed seat for you, if there’s any available.
Have Enough Resources for Emergencies
Always have a backup plan, in case you are unable to board your supposed flight. Otherwise, instead of saving money, you may end up spending more for your food at the airport, transportation going out and going back to the airport for your next standby flight or even a hotel accommodation when the next possible flight you can try is scheduled for the next day, in the next two days or even longer. You may even end up paying for a regular fare if you desperately need to get to your destination already. Unfortunately, this last-minute ticket would cost you a lot more compared to buying the same ticket weeks in advance.
Be sure you have the right resources to get in touch with your loved ones, friends and colleagues, including the one/s who are supposed to pick you up at the airport. A number of airports have free WiFi spots. However, some require you to pay a relatively hefty amount just for Internet access. Research your airport of origin’s facilities and amenities so you know what to expect. Your other communication options would be a phone card or a mobile phone activated for international roaming. Try to avoid calling internationally when roaming so you don’t get charged expensive fees. Texting is a better option in such case.