Before joining an airline I had a lot of questions....and few people to answer them. One purpose of this blog is to answer questions from those curious about the industry. I am by no means an expert, so if I don't know the answers I will tap my colleagues for information.
I received an email with the following questions concerning my commuting post:
1) Can a pilot (if in uniform) use any other airline (other than the one he is working for) to commute to his base for free?
Most airlines in United States have jump seat/commuting agreements with each other. This applies to pilots and for some flight attendants. A pilot for United can jump seat/commute on American and vice versa. Jump seating is a general term as some airlines have "unlimited" jump seats. If the flight isn't full of passengers, jump seating/commuting pilots are given seats in the cabin before issuing the cockpit jump seat. Flight attendants can also jump seat on other airlines as well. Many mainline aircraft have more flight attendant jump seats than flight attendants working the flight. A flight attendant from United might sit in a flight attendant jump seat on Southwest to get to work. One distinction between pilots and flight attendants on jump seating is that only pilots can occupy the cockpit jump seat.
2) Does it also mean that if a pilot is in uniform he can fly anywhere in the country for free so that he can extend this feature for his personal vacation?
Pilots don't have to be in uniform to jump seat. If a pilot is not in uniform it is generally required that they be in business casual clothing. So far every time I have jump seated I have not been in uniform. There are some odd looks from the passengers as I turn left into the cockpit as they turn right to go into the cabin. Each time I have jump seated so far has been due to an unexpectedly full flight. I have spoken with many pilots who have used the jump seat perk to fly around the world for vacation on airlines other than the one they work for.
3) Can you fly for free on an international route your airline services.. or if you worked in the international route, can you fly to other international routes?
Flying international typically isn't free regardless of which airline used to get there. Most countries impose hefty taxes on the return flight to the United States that can be quite substantial (although generally less than the cost of a "real" ticket.) As far as working an international flight and then flying elsewhere while on an overnight, most of the time you don't have time and it's likely against company policy.
4) What about family members, like wife, children and parents.. what types of discount do they usually get?
For most airlines the pilots spouse, parents and kids get unlimited space available travel. Many airlines have a "friends and extended family" plan which gives discounts/free space available flights for them as well. The important words are "space available". All of this type of travel is "non-revenue". Those traveling non-rev are the last to get on after all paying passengers. This means travelers have to be flexible and patient. If just one flight cancels, a non-rev passenger might get "stuck" in a city overnight or for hours or even days. Many non-rev passengers take the first flight out as it's the one most often missed by paying passengers.