Back from a visit to Disney. The park was packed...as expected during the summer. We went with 9 others from our family. Good time.
Getting out was interesting. We got out on the very last flight out of town. Thankfully we got a whole row to ourselves. Got in late. Tired. Straight to the hotel.
Next day we went out and explored a bit. I used my airline discount to score a 2013 Ford Escape (brand new model!) for $75 for 4 days...all in....sweet.
We had two loooong days at Disney. Then we had to worry about getting home.
The direct flights were all full. I could ride in the jump seat, but if I want to stay married I should get my wife and daughter home as well. I had to look at connecting flights. I avoided connecting in another hub as all those flights were either full, were the wrong direction or had the potential to fill up. Instead I looked at outstations with mainline service that are not hubs.
Places like Des Moines, IA, Huntsville, AL, New Orleans, LA....all have a mainline service, but are not hubs.
Found a new way the night before we were too leave. The flight left at 6:35AM, sit for 90 minutes then connect to another flight home. Done. We all went to bed.
The next morning we were out the door of the hotel at 3:35AM. On the way to the airport my wife looked and saw my plan A go down the tubes. Flights out were suddenly full. Time to find a plan B.
I began thinking of places we could connect...while driving down the highway...at 3:35AM.....and without coffee. I would spout out airport codes and my wife would check the flight loads.
Finally found a new way home. We had an hour to connect at the outstation. The flight out of the hub we were driving to...call it flight 299 and the flight from the outstation....call it 400...both had 60 open seats.
I normally travel in uniform. Not today...too tired. Checked all bags but a back pack for each of us. Ipads and our stuff in one...diapers and an Ipad for my daughter in the other.
Without asking we were directed to the frequent flier line (very short compared to the normal folks) by TSA as I was wearing my airline ID.
My wife and I are very good at getting through security. We have it down to an exact science.
We got to the gate and on board our Plan B flight at 6:30AM. There we sat...mechanical delay. My daughter and wife were in a row three rows behind me.
There were 40 other non-revs (mix of employees and buddy passes) on board doing the exact same thing we were doing....connecting through an out station. An hour and four minutes LATE we pushed back. There went our chances of connecting to flight 400. Not good as the remaining flights were fairly full.
Once in the air I used the onboard wifi to look at a plan C.
The next flight after 400 was fairly full. It was doable...but full.
As soon as we landed 40 non-revs went from one gate to the other. Just 35 minutes between flights.
The ground staff was not equipped to handle 40+ non-revs. It was a fairly small station.
Boarding started. There's a priority in non-revving. For the most part it's employees then buddy passes.
Just a handful of seats left. We were called up. No window seats left...which meant no car seat for my daughter. I volunteered to take the cockpit jump seat so another non-rev could get a real seat.
My daughter (remember she's not 2 years old yet) completed her 50th flight today. For 47 of those flights she had her own seat and sat in her car seat. For two flights we held her. Today she had a seat.....no car seat.
My wife said my daughter was thrown off a bit and a little worried. This was not the norm. I asked for a ride home (even though not in uniform I do travel in proper jump seat attire!) from the Captain and took my seat in the jump.
Thankfully a short flight. Happy to be home.
Once home I looked at my line award for July. Crap. I bid while on vacation...which means not very well. I preferenced weekends off above maximum days off. That's how it turned out. I have a crappy 4 day trip covering the first weekend. Then I have all weekends off and 3 day trips. Not happy..."just" 15 days off. Yeah I know real jobs have less than 15 days off. Bleh.
Time to relax and wash clothes. I start a 3 day trip tomorrow morning.
My family truly enjoys non-rev travel. Well my wife and I enjoy it.....we assume my daughter enjoys it. It's a lifestyle. To fly non-rev means to be flexible and quick on your feet. You might want to Fly from A to B to C....but you might have to fly from A to M to C....in the last row of the plane....at midnight.
What fun is it to buy real tickets and be forced to come and go at specific times???