It’s no secret that airline employees receive certain perks as part of their jobs. One such perk is discounted airline staff travel. Airline employees travelling for leisure can book tickets at a discount of up to 90%, and often they can also share this discount when travelling with friends and family. But are these benefits really all that they’re cracked up to be?

A number of pilots and other airline employees have offered their insights into a recent discussion on staff travel benefits. While their experiences vary, there is one thing that all can agree on: the risk of getting bumped from a flight is so high that the usefulness of this benefit is very limited.

Every airline has a different policy for staff travel, with different fare types and various rules attached. “ID90” tickets are one of the most common types of staff fares. “ID” stands for “industry” and “90” refers to the discount: 90%. However, this discount is only applied to the base price of full fare tickets. So that’s effectively 90% off the most expensive flexible fare, not the discounted sale fare most people would buy. This price also does not include taxes, which must be paid in full. In some cases, the discounted price may not actually be much cheaper than a commercial airfare.

There’s another catch: ID90 tickets are never confirmed. Instead, they are only available for standby travel. This may not a problem if the flight is empty, but airline employees will always be the first to be bumped off a flight to make room for paying customers if required. This can even occur after checking in at the airport.

You’re never 100% certain until the door is closed. Although it’s a pretty safe bet once you have a BP. You have to be entirely flexible with dates, times, and routings based on loads, and sometimes you’re stuck somewhere for a couple days. All part of the game.

Anyone that has tried to use their points to book a flight or request an upgrade will know all too well how difficult it can be. But passengers upgrading on points will still always have priority over airline staff. If all flights are full, it can even take days to actually get on a flight. For this reason, some pilots and other airline staff say they will always buy a confirmed ticket if they need to be on a certain flight.

+1 for another who rather buy a confirm commercial fare over a STBY ticket …. especially in places like the USA and Europe , the difference between STBY and a ID ticket can be very little ….. for $20-$50 difference it is not worth the stress …

Employees on staff travel are also unable to access airport lounges, and some airlines even impose a dress code. Naturally, no frequent flyer points or status credits are earned on industry fares either.

In spite of all its downsides, staff travel does offer some significant savings to employees that are able to get a seat. But at the end of the day, paying customers will always have absolute priority.

There are plenty of downsides, but the upside is the money saved on a J fare Sydney LAX is enough for the next two weeks road trip.

Follow the FULL DISCUSSION.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]