Galley Gossip: 10 Signs You’re Commuting, Non-Reving, Or Traveling Standby

You know you’re a commuter when you pack 20 pairs of pantyhose inside your crew bag. This is what I was thinking as I packed my suitcase to go back to work last week. Of course two seconds later I had to stop what I was doing so I could update my Facebook page with that very thought. Priorities, people! It didn’t take long for the hilarious comments to come rolling in. That’s when I knew I had to create the list: 10 signs you’re commuting, non-reving, or traveling standby.

But first a little airline 101:

NON-REV, NON-REVING, NON-REVENUE PASSENGER: Airline employees and/or eligible family members and friends who are traveling on an employee pass. Travel passes are also known as buddy passes. Non-revs will standby for open seats.

COMMUTER, COMMUTING: is the process of getting to work, in other words, flying to one’s base city. Commuters are Non-Revs, but non-revs are not always commuters.

STANDBY PASSENGER– A passenger or airline employee who is waiting for an open or available seat on a flight they are not ticketed on. Full-fare passengers will often “standby” for earlier flights, while non-revs and commuters standby for every flight.

10 signs you’re commuting, non-reving, or traveling standby

1. You know 10 different ways to make your uniform look like you’re NOT in uniform – so you can have a cocktail. – Kelley Fulmer

2. Your workday starts 15 hours before you sign in or get paid. – Beth Henry

3. A three-hour delay doesn’t even faze you as long as you have boarding pass in hand! Or for that matter an hour sit on the taxiway doesn’t bother you simply because you’re on the aircraft – Sonja Hollen4. You have actually sat in the middle of a crowded gate area and sobbed after an agent just informed you (on your tenth attempt) the flight is full. – Cindy Lunsford

5. You’ve flown five segments all over the country through multiple hubs to get home and still end up 60 miles from home. – Brian Hewitt

6. You’ve pretty much memorized the entire flight schedule of every airline in the US. – Bob Nadelberg

7. You’re happy in a middle seat. – Jim McDonough

8. You have no idea what the flight number is or what time you’ll land. You just know you’re going in the right direction. – Heather Poole

9. The working crew makes smart comments about how many bags and/or their size. – Karol Harris

10. You’ve driven half way across the country because it’s faster than rolling your bags from flight to flight for multiple days. – Brian Hewitt

[Photo courtesy of Akbar Sim]

Galley Gossip: Nonreving – a new web site for airline employees (and retirees)

Dear Heather

came across your blog recently and I wanted to introduce you to our web site just in case you were not aware of it already. Our web site is really the first of its kind allowing Non Rev travelers to see flight schedules and more importantly, flight loads on over 130 airlines around the world. We obtain data from Sabre® global distribution system; interpret that date thru our complex formulas to put seat availability in to 1 of 5 easy to understand categories. Members who use our web site can search flights all over the world to plan their Non Rev travels or commutes. Once a member chooses the flight(s) they wish to Non Rev on, they can set up mobile and email alerts to keep them apprised of the latest loads. Since flight loads are quite dynamic and can change often before departure, it is important to keep informed of the latest loads. With our service, our members can easily choose to set up alerts from 24 hours up to 1 hour before departure thus keeping them updated while they go about their normal activities.



Dear Brad,

I haven’t had a chance to log in and check it out, but why use your site opposed to the one I normally use?


PS – Where were you last month? That’s actually me in the video (below) using my laptop to check passengers loads from Chicago to New York.

Dear Heather,

I am not sure what site you normally use, so I will have to give some general answers.

1. Most airline employee web sites only allow you to look up flight loads on your airline. For example, if you work for US Airways, you can look up your loads but you don’t have access to any other airline.

2. Following number one, who flies the same city pair you trying fly on? Our site allows you to see over 170 airlines around the world that fly that route. With that information at your finger tips you can choose the best option for you to non rev on. It might fit a better departure/arrival time for you or it might be a better load. Wouldn’t you rather fly on an empty airplane flown by another airline than be stuck in last row middle seat for a 5 or more hour flight? One of the most important rules to non reving is having back up plans.

3. Once again, I don’t know what source you use, but many airline employees and retirees do not have access to a “quality” web site for a source. Even their company’s web site may be antiquated and or very slow. Most airlines do not spend money, time or other resources on providing the top notch employee non rev web sites.

4. With our system you can sign up for alerts to your cell phone and email. Let me give an example of how this is beneficial. You and your family are going to be flying from LAX to HNL in two days. The loads look OK right now but we know that could change in the next 48 hours. Now you can check your company web site or call your company reservations every so often to learn the latest loads or sign up for alerts on our web site and you will automatically get sent a text message at times you want before departure. This allows you to now not to have to be in front of a computer or call a reservations line to get the latest loads. We do all the work for you. Go about your normal activities such as shopping, golfing or just hanging at the beach on your way back from HNL. Maybe an earlier flight now looks better or maybe the loads got really bad and there is no since in even trying to non rev until the next day so you might as well stay on the beach. Commuters love the web site. When they are doing their last leg inbound for work, they turn on their phone when they can, and the alerts pop saying which flight looks the best to get home. There might be two flights that leave about the same time on different airlines and they can make a quick informed decision before running to the right gate. Even if they are jump seating, most prefer or need a seat in the back of the plane.

5. Why other sites are inferior to ours:

  • Have not been redesigned in ages so what does that say for the quality?
  • Only 3 categories (smiley faces) while we have 5 easy to understand categories.
  • Can not sign up for alerts. The only way to get updated info is to get back on the web site.
  • No customer service.
  • No listing phone numbers. We list Non Rev phone numbers next to every flight so if you need to call to list, you have easy access.

6. Non user friendly log in. You have to find/remember you companies log in. With our system you create your own profile.

  • One stop source for weather, hotels, rental cars, cruises, destination information and other information.
  • Zed calculator.

Hope this helps explain a little more of what we do.


Dear Brad,

Awesome web site! Nonrevs around the world are going to love it. Thanks for sharing. But…even though I am able to check loads on several different airlines, I’m unable to check on all airlines. What’s the deal?


Dear Heather,

There are a few airlines that do not participate with Sabre supplying enough data for us to determine loads. For those airlines we only show schedules. We do however provide passenger seat availability for over 130 airlines around the world. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask


Galley Gossip: Nonrevs, deadheads & commuters in (and out) of uniform

Wanna know the best way to change clothes on an airplane? I bet you do. I’ll get to that in a moment. (Or you can just scroll down to the bottom of this post.) Now that I’ve got your attention…

Have you ever seen a uniformed crew member sitting on the jumpseat and flipping through magazines? Or even worse, watching a movie? Don’t be too quick to judge. There’s a very good chance that lazy flight attendant is a nonrev passenger, not a working crew member. Looks can be deceiving.

Standby – waiting for an open seat on a flight that one is not ticketed on, whether it’s an airline employee or a passenger who is ticketed on a specific flight who has decided to depart at a different time.

Nonreving – (non-revenue passenger) flying standby on an airline employee’s travel passes. Nonrev’s are always at the the bottom of the standby list

Commuting – When an airline employee nonrevs from the city he/she lives to a city he/she is based. Because I commute to New York (where I’m based) from Los Angeles (where I live), I’m an LA commuter.

Deadheading – traveling on company time to cover a trip departing out of a city different from where one is based. This usually happens on a reserve month when a base is short flight attendants. Flight attendant gets paid to deadhead, but aren’t officially working the flight. Deadheaders go to the top of the standby list surpassing ticketed standbys.

Most nonrevs travel in uniform in order to bypass the line at security and bring liquids on board. Others wear their uniform because they’ve just finished a sequence and didn’t have time to change clothes because they had to sprint across the terminal to catch a commuter flight home. While some wear their uniforms because they’re actually going to work as soon as they step off the airplane.

Once while deadheading back to base in uniform, the agent issued me an aisle seat in the front row of coach. I happened to be the last passenger to board. As soon as I sat down a man two rows back started in with, “Why does she get to sit in that seat! I wanted that seat! She’s an airline employee – that’s not right!”

Seconds later the agent asked me to switch seats with the complainer. I sighed, grabbed my belongings, and switched seats. As soon as I settled into the second seat I heard it all over again. Another passenger wanted my seat, a seat they deserved, not me. A flight attendant working the flight leaned over and quietly asked me if I’d be willing to switch. I didn’t have much. I was in uniform. And so I played musical chairs again.

On a different flight a passenger turned around, glared at me, a lowly uniformed crew member sitting in a passenger seat, and yelled, “This airline sucks!” after the Captain made an announcement that the flight had been canceled.

It was hard not reacting to that.

The first thing nonreving airline employees do the morning of their trip is check the passenger load. This takes place seconds after rolling out of bed while the coffee is still brewing. Airline employees will continue to check the standby list constantly throughout the day right up until departure time. Of course passenger loads determine the outfit.

Here I am doing what I always do before a flight, while trying to nonrev from Chicago to New York last week – #88 on the standby list.


My nonreving outfit of choice consists of dark blue jeans and a blouse or dressy shirt when the flights are open and I know there won’t be a problem getting a seat in coach. Needless to say, it’s been awhile since I’ve worn jeans on the airplane. What I usually end up sporting is a nice pair of trouser pants with the same kind of shirt mentioned above – just in case the only seat available is located in first class – or a jumpseat.

At my airline jeans, shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops are not allowed to be worn by nonrevs occupying jumpseats or premium cabins. This explains why nonrevs are some of the best dressed passengers on board the airplane and why I can spot a nonrev a mile away.

Even my husband has an official nonrev outfit; khaki pants, a button down shirt, and brown boots. The funny thing about this is he actually refers to it as his “nonrev outfit” even when he’s not traveling on my passes.

Recently on a flight to Dallas, Murphy, a commuting flight attendant based in New York, boarded the airplane dressed in navy blue polyester. I couldn’t help but notice a bundle of clothes tucked under her arm and the sneakers peaking out from under her pants. Quickly she threw her crew bag into the overhead bin and made a beeline for the lav. A few minutes later she exited the bathroom wearing a smile and looking a whole lot more comfortable.

“What’s the secret to changing clothes in the lav?” I asked Murphy as I served her a beverage during the flight. “Like how do you do it so quickly in such a contaminated confined space?” Murphy shared the following tips…


  1. Have your clothes ready to go. That means get them out of your bag before you board the flight.
  2. Change into the shoes you want to wear before you get on the airplane. That way you’ll have less to carry and you won’t be tripping all over yourself in the lav.
  3. Wear (uniform) pants instead of a dress. They’re easier to change out of when you’re in a hurry.
  4. Take advantage of the baby changing table. Use it to hold your clothes. No changing table? Line the sink with paper towels.

Make sure to check out my next Galley Gossip post about a new website for airline employees (and retirees). Until then, here are a few other posts involving the joys of nonrev travel:

Photo courtesy of travelin librarian