>  Flight Attendant Life   >  So You Want to Fly for Free: A Comprehensive Guide to Non-Rev Travel
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People often ask me for “insider tips” of scoring the best fare for a flight.

I hate to disappoint, but I haven’t purchased airfare in more than seven years. It turns out, I’m the LAST person to ask about plane ticket deals.

What I CAN tell you about is how I, and the people I love, fly. It’s called “non-rev travel,” and we’re going to talk about it.

You all know we flight attendants fly for free. (Why else would we do this?) What you may not know is that some of the lucky people in our lives also get to bask in the free-flighted glory of our job—just for knowing us! This might make you think dating a flight attendant is a great idea—beats actually working on planes, right? Well, before you set your Tinder profile to “FAs Only,” be sure to read The Dos and Don’ts of Dating a Flight Attendant. And maybe check out the 7 Most Annoying Things about Flight Attendants while you’re at it. Thank me later.

All jokes aside, being a family member, spouse, or close friend of a flight attendant has some serious perks. I think the whole non-rev game (don’t worry, we’ll be defining terms in a moment) is confusing for a lot of people. So I’m going to break it all the way down. I’m giving the 411 on all things non-rev travel for NON-FLIGHT ATTENDANTS.

I may do a separate post one of these days detailing how this non-rev travel process works for us flight attendants using our flight benefits, as it’s a bit different. But for today, I want to tell all of you on the peripheral of #flightattendantlife just what it would mean to get a “buddy pass” or be “on a flight attendant’s benefits.” WHO can fly standby? HOW do I non-rev? Is it FREE? And WHAT the heck is a buddy pass?

I’ll answer all these questions, break down the process of using someone else’s airline employee benefits, and provide the rules for non-rev travel and tips for a stress-free standby experience. I want to warn you, there is a LOT of information here. If you’re going to be using someone else’s flight benefits, I recommend saving this post to reference later, before you fly. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Non-Rev Travel

From a Flight Attendant

I The Basics


A. Glossary of Terms

Let’s start from the beginning with a few basic terms.


Non-rev is a term to describe us (airline employees) using our flight benefits.

Non-rev is short for non-revenue. When we are using our flight benefits, we are not paying for a ticket. The company is not producing revenue from our flight. Simple, right?

The word can be both a noun and a verb.

Noun: “This non-rev on my flight was so sweet, he brought chocolates for the whole crew!”

Non-rev as a noun means a person using flight benefits to fly. This could be an airline employee—pilot, flight attendant, gate agent, ground operations personnel, reservations, etc. Or it might be their parent, spouse, child, travel companion, or a “Buddy”. We’ll get into the different types and levels of non-revs a bit later.

Verb: “I’m planning to non-rev to Salt Lake for the wedding. I hope the flight doesn’t fill up.”

Non-rev as a verb means the act of using flight benefits to fly.


Pass-ride/Pass-riding/Pass-rider can be used interchangeably with non-rev. It is airline benefit travel.


Standby– All non-rev travel is space-available, or standby. If there is an open seat on the flight, you just might get to take it. When you non-rev with a buddy pass or as a dependent, you will be flying standby. Standby is a word that can be a noun, adjective, or an adverb. I KNOW, I’m sorry, I like grammar.

“I have to board last when I’m traveling standby.” Adverb qualifies a verb.

“The gate agent cleared the standby before me. I should be up next.” Noun. Standby is a person here.

“Ugh, standby travel is the worst!” Adjective, it is describing the noun.

Benefits– We often refer to our non-rev travel privileges as benefits. It is, after all, one of the biggest benefits of our job. But it is funny because people generally do not refer to their health insurance, dental, vision, or 401k in such generic terms. It would be super confusing. If you ever hear a flight attendant, pilot, or other airline employee say something like “I’m using my benefits”, “She’s on my benefits.” “They went on my benefits.”

You know now that we are talking about flights, not doctors’ visits.


Buddy Pass– This is a virtual “pass” given to airline employees to give out to their friends and family. Airline employees get a certain number of buddy passes at set times, maybe annually or quarterly. This pass allows someone who is not an airline employee to pay a heavily discounted fare and fly standby on the employee’s airline. We will get into the nitty-gritty of buddy passes later in this guide.


Clear– In the context of non-rev/standby/pass-riding travel, to ‘clear’ means to assign a seat. When you are a (lucky) standby, the gate agent will “clear” you—you will receive a boarding pass with a seat assignment, and you can be on your way to your destination.


Dependents-No, we are not talking taxes. Our dependents are the people who are listed on our benefits as recipients of our kick-ass flight privileges. This does NOT include buddy pass users. Separate and unequal.


List-(verb) The process of signing up for the flight you want to take as a non-rev. An airline employee lists themselves for a flight. They can also list someone else, like a travel companion or a buddy, for a flight.

Priority– There are many levels of non-revs, and we will learn about them in the next section. But they are not equal. Every different type of standby/nonrev/pass-rider is categorized with a set priority. The priority determines the order in which seats will be given. In other words, it is EVERYTHING.


Travel Companion– This is your person that you get to allocate benefits to. It is offered in lieu of spousal benefits if you are lucky enough to not be married. Just kiddinggg…haha…kind of. A travel companion can be a life-partner, sibling, or best friend. Whoever you want to reap the sweet sweet perks of this job. (NOTE: When we are choosing Travel companions, we are choosey. Because we have to keep them on our benefits for at least one year, brand new relationships are not up for promotion to Travel Companion. Nor is our best friend who we loooooove, but who never travels. We want the person to be awesome, respectful of the rules and our work environment, AND love travel enough to take advantage of this gift.)


Zed Fare– A zed fare is a heavily discounted standby airfare. Some other airlines require us as crewmembers to pay a zed fare when we travel abroad with them. Our dependents would also have to pay this. Our dependents also have to pay a zed fare to fly domestic on other airlines.

B. Priorities

Okay, now that we have got that out of the way, let’s talk about types and levels of non-revs.


There is a hierarchy in place here, of course, and not all non-revs are created equal. At least not when it comes to giving seats! As mentioned, “priority”, in non-rev travel, is a category that determines in what order seats are given to standby travelers.

Each airline has its own system for coding non-rev travel priorities—a different dialect, if you will. We all speak airline, but the language is slightly different depending on which carrier you call home. Like the Spanish word for jacket “chaqueta” meaning something a bit more scandalous in Mexico City, some airlines may use codes that look like S4, S5, S6, etc., and some may use D0, D1, D2 codes.

The codes may look a bit different, but generally across the board, the order goes something like this:

  1. Employees
  2. Employees’ Dependents: Parents, Children, Spouse or Travel Companion
  3. Buddy Passes
  4. Retired Employees/Their families/Dependents of other airline employees.
  5. Other Airline Employees

If it seems weird to have other airline employees below their own dependents in the non-rev priority list, I’m right there with ya. This is something I just found out recently and was shocked to know. Apparently, it is because those non-airline beneficiaries will pay a Zed fare to the airline, whereas the flight attendant, pilot, or other airline employee will pay nothing. And we all know what they say about money. It talks.

NOTE: There are higher priorities than the ones listed here, at my airline anyway, but it is a lot of detail to get into for something that does not matter at all for the topic at hand. 😊

Again, all airlines have different codes, but this is generally the way the priority list goes. This is the order in which empty seats on the plane will be given to non-revs. And allll of those different categories of people are considered non-revs.

As you can see from the list above, when I fly on another airline I am always crossing my fingers that there aren’t other employees, dependents, or buddy passes. On a busy flight, any one of them could be the obstacle standing between me and the last seat on the plane.

This is why standby, or non-rev travel is often affectionately referred to as “The Hunger Games.”

C. Who Gets to Non-rev?

As an airline employee, I am permitted to extend my travel benefits to two parents, one spouse or domestic partner, and children up to the age of 24. The rules can differ slightly from airline to airline. These “dependents” are able to fly on my airline for free and can fly many other airlines for a small fee—the zed fare we talked about.

If you are reading this and you’re not an airline employee yourself, that means there are only three ways that you could have the opportunity to non-rev:

  1. Get a job at an airline.
  2. Encourage your parent, child, spouse or bestie to become a flight attendant and put you on their benefits.
  3. Be close enough to an airline employee that they want to give you a buddy pass.

NOTE: The emphasis on a close relationship here. Buddy passes are free for us, but we do not disperse them freely. You’ll find out more about why we don’t give buddy passes to just anyone in the sections below.

II. Using a Buddy Pass

For a refresh: Buddy passes are non-rev travel passes that are given to airline employees to distribute to family and friends as they see fit.

Buddy passes are great because they give the opportunity for flight attendants, pilots, and other airline personnel the ability to help out family and friends with heavily discounted fares. At my airline, the cost of a flight with a buddy pass depends on the length of flight.

A $20 buddy pass would be something like a one-hour flight—say Boston to New York, for example. A $60 buddy pass fare would be all the way across the country, like Boston to LA. Those middle-haul flights, Boston to Orlando or Miami, for example, would be a $40 buddy pass. Multiply it by 2 and add taxes, and you’ve got roundtrip airfare for SIGNIFICANTLY lower cost than buying a full price ticket.  But there’s a catch.

Buddy passes, like everything in non-rev travel, are space-available tickets. Meaning, yes, if the seats are all full you don’t get to go. And because you’re a buddy pass, you are lower on the priority list than employees and all their dependents.

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Settle in, standby travel comes with a lot of waiting.

What If I don’t get on the flight?

What happens if you don’t get on a flight while non-revving?


1. You Get a Refund

First things first, and most importantly: You do NOT lose money when you don’t get on a flight as a standby.

In fact, you don’t lose money if you just decide not to show up for the flight. (I do not recommend doing this without cancelling a reservation, but things happen.) Because these are “non-revenue” tickets, meaning the company is not earning revenue, every penny of funds going into a non-rev travel itinerary will be refunded if the ticket is not used (Ie: if you don’t actually take the flight.)

2. You roll over

No, don’t physically stop, drop, and roll. If you don’t get onto the flight you have listed for (because there are no available seats), you can be rolled over and put in line to take the next available flight to your destination. The bad thing about rolling over is it means more time sitting waiting in the airport. The good thing about rolling over is it puts you to the top of your priority list on the next flight.

So, if you are on a buddy pass and the flight is so full that you don’t make it, on the next flight your position in the standby list will be at the top of all the buddy passers in line. You still won’t be able to cut an actual employee in line for obvious reasons (hello, WE work for these benefits), but still, every little advantage helps in the wild world of standby travel.

Hopefully this all works out for you, and you make it on the next flight. But if not…

3. You wait. Or you buy a ticket.

The golden rule of buddy passing (and non-rev travel in general) is: The first flight is the best flight. This is because you have more opportunities to “roll over” onto other flights throughout the day.

I once non-revved with my nephew and his family trying to get them to Orlando, and Disney World, on school vacation week. We hung out in Logan Airport for hours while we rolled over to FOUR different flights before finally getting seats on one. Non-rev travel is not for the faint of heart.

But what if there are no more flights?

Ahhh, good question! Traveling from Boston to anywhere in Florida on my airline is a pretty simple feat. There are tons of flights at different times throughout the day. But what about other destinations? Portland, Oregon, for example is a one-flight-per-day stop for us—seasonal even, so some months we have no service there. Sacramento? One flight. The whole rolling over thing becomes less feasible for less frequent routes.

At this point you’ve got to make the choice that is best for you. Wait—book a hotel, stay with family, or go home for the night and try again tomorrow. Or buy yourself a full-fare, positive space ticket. (Positive space is the opposite of standby. It means you have a reserved seat on the aircraft, even if you don’t have the numbered and lettered assignment for which seat you’ll occupy.)

Money savings or time savings, and for many of you, stress-savings is what this all boils down to. I can’t live your life for you. Just know, while you’re happily signing up to fly on a buddy pass, dazzled by the cheap airfare, that this could be you in the end. Choosing to buy a ticket or sit around waiting. It doesn’t always happen, often buddy-passing is a breeze. But it is always a possibility.

III. The Rules of Non-Rev Travel


Now that we have gone over what a buddy pass is, how seats are given to standby travelers, and what happens when you don’t get on a flight as a non-rev, let’s talk about some essential stuff. The rules of non-revving. Save this list if you ever plant to fly on someone else’s airline benefits. I promise you will not be invited to do it again if you break these rules.


1. Plan buffer days.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT try to non-rev the day of a wedding, funeral, or cruise. Do not plan to non-rev home on the last flight Sunday night and be at the office Monday morning. No matter how open a flight looks, there is always the chance of something crazy happening last minute. Assume that something will go wrong and give yourself a buffer day on either end to compensate for it. Yes, paying an extra night in a hotel sucks, but missing your pre-paid 11-day Alaska cruise because of a flight delay sucks 247623786538762 times more. This is an essential rule of non-rev travel.


2. The First flight is the best flight.

This goes hand in hand with the buffer days. This one is about buffer hours, buffer flights. The earlier you try to fly, the more likely you will get out on a flight sometime that day. If not this flight, roll over to the next. If not that one, then onto the next. Planning to take the last flight of the day is a very common kiss of death to a non-rev travel experience.

3. Dress to impress

Sorry, folx. I know everyone likes to be comfortable, but there is a time and a place for ripped sweats and pajama pants, and the time is when you’re not non-revving and the place is in your home. This really applies to any time you travel—or leave your home, for that matter—but I can’ tell you what to do in those circumstances. Non-rev travel? That’s another story.

Airlines have non-rev or “pass-riding” guidelines, including, yes, you guessed it, dress. You may remember hearing about the infamous Leggings Scandal years ago. Two girls were denied boarding in Denver for wearing leggings deemed inappropriate. A public outcry of Sexism! erupted, with strangers around the country coming to the girls’ defense. The thing that many of the angry tweeters did not know was that the two girls in question were in fact “pass riders”, or non-revs. They were using a friend or family’s buddy passes to fly for super cheap. Whether or not banning leggings is sexist (I’m certainly open to that argument), it was a part of United’s pass-riding dress code that leggings were not permitted as travel attire. And when you sign up to use these non-rev travel benefits, you are also agreeing to the terms the company has set. It is just that simple.

As employees, when we are flying on the company dime, we are, in essence, representing the company. To avoid an embarrassing situation and make sure you’re on the up and up to get that open seat, follow these simple points how to dress for non-rev travel:


  • Ripped jeans. Ripped any piece of clothing, for that matter,
  • Profane language. (I had to ask a woman on the plane to wear a jacket recently because her long-sleeve shirt was emblazoned with hot pink “Fuck”s floating in every direction.)
  • Excessive skin. Crop tops are in, but not for pass-riders. Besides it being a bit “over the line”, having your bare skin directly on the used-by-millions-of-other-people seatback is just friggin’ gross. Ensure your bum is covered. And whatever gender you are, if you find yourself in danger of a nip slip when you move, it is time for a change of shirt.
  • Flip flops. Not only do you look like you’re phoning it in, but they’re dangerous in an emergency.
  • MAGA hats. Okay, fine, this isn’t banned that I know of. But it’s a fuck of a lot more offensive than the black and pink Fuck shirt.
  • Dirty clothing. I mean. Come on. Clean up your act before you get in a metal tube with other people.


  • Layers. Boarding is hot, cruise is cold, then cruise is freezing. And deplaning is hot again. Wear comfortable, presentable layers so that you can be cozy no matter the cabin temp.

Pro Tip: Unless you are in first class or flying internationally, US airlines do not give free, reusable blankets for you to use during the flight. Those days are over along with wearing our Sunday Best to fly and the origin of that terrible steak and lobster joke. Bring a sweater with you. Even if you don’t think you will be cold.

  • Shoes you can walk (and run) in. Please save the sky-high stilettos for your power meeting, wedding, or hot date. If you puncture a slide during an evacuation—if you sprain your ankle and I have to CARE for you in an evacuation—I will be upset and it will quite literally put others’ lives at risk. If you are a pro in heels go all the way for it, but if your ass is wobbling like Bambi down the terminal then please throw on some crocs and save it for later.


Every airline has slightly different dress code requirements, so if you are lucky enough to be a pass-rider, or non-rev, and use someone else’s travel benefits, be sure to check them out in advance!

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There is no better feeling, as a standby traveler, than getting that boarding pass in your hand.

4. Be on your best behavior

Like, duh, right? Obviously. You’re a good person, why wouldn’t you be on your best behavior?

I don’t know, maybe because you’re Type A and anxious AF thinking you might not get a seat. Maybe you don’t get a seat and you have a little crying baby with you and you will be stuck at the airport overnight. Non-rev travel can be stressful.  Maybe you don’t think the company dress policy matters until you get to the gate and then you learn it does and then you think the policy is sexist, classist, first-amendment-crushing garbage and you feel compelled to shout it from the rooftops. Maybe you took a pill to ease your fear of flying and then you had a cocktail and then you passed out like a fish in the middle of the aisle. Maybe the crew is treating you super nicely and going above and beyond. Maybe they even comped a free drink or two for you. Maybe you already had a few before boarding and, despite this, you keep chug-a-lugging. And maybe when you’re drunk you’re loud. Maybe you’re super obnoxious, as far as the people around you are concerned. Maybe you handle delays really badly. Maybe your TV is broken and you feel the urge to demand a refund or something “Extra” to compensate. Maybe you just don’t know how to not be a Karen.

There are a lot of ways you can fuck this up for all of us.


If a flight attendant, pilot, or other airline employee has allowed you to use their airline flight benefits, know that while traveling you are a direct reflection of that person. Before you act on any impulses, keep in mind you are at that person’s place of employment. Don’t get us fired. Don’t get our pass-riding privileges taken away. Don’t embarrass yourself and strain our relationship.

Above all, treat all of our coworkers with respect and decency.

5. Take a chill pill

Welcome to the world of non-revving, where the only certainty is that nothing goes according to plan.

If you want to be a pass-rider, flexibility is a requirement. Not a bonus, a requirement. Flights get delayed. Weather happens, medical emergencies happen, mechanicals happen. (This is when the airplane malfunctions in some capacity.) It can be a simple computer restart, or a flat tire, or a hydraulics system. But whatever level of severity, mechanicals can cause delays. Basically shit can hit the fan.

You also are not guaranteed a seat on the flight you’re listed for. And you show up to the airport knowing that. Pacing around the gate area, huffing and puffing, is not going to ensure an open seat for you. Yelling at a gate agent or snapping at your spouse over the phone will not make the delay any shorter. Do your best to prepare yourself—by having buffer days and taking early flights. And then once you get to the airport, try your best to just chill.

It is all going to unfold however it unfolds. You may get a seat and be on your way on time. You may have to have dinner in the airport, waiting for the next flight. Hell, you might sit around the airport all day if all the flights are full. But however it goes, a bad attitude won’t help. I know it is tough, but if you mentally prepare yourself in advance (Save and read this post before you non-rev!) you’ll be better off. You’ll be better able to roll with the punches knowing that sometimes you’re a non-rev winner and sometimes you’re a no-fly standby loser.

If you can master this relaxed attitude, you will find that non-revving can actually be really fun.

IV Pros of Using Airline Flight Benefits

Now that I have talked about all the things that can go wrong, you might be asking yourself why one would ever want to fly standby. Again, it is not for the faint of heart. But if you can follow the preparation and chill-pill regimen, you can reap some serious rewards. Here are the benefits to using the benefits:


1. Free Flights

Duh. Flying for free on airline benefits, or flying for very cheap on a buddy pass or zed fare is what this is all about. Flights are EXPENSIVE. This is one of the reasons that people only travel once or twice a year. (That and the way US society is set up to keep people working themselves to death thinking it will lead to a promotion, having a “wait-until-retirement” attitude about literally anything fun in life, and companies offering pitiful amounts of time off to their workers. But, I can’t fix all that.)

What I do know is that flying standby for cheap or free means you can travel far more often. This is the biggest benefit of non-rev travel for most people.

2. Being part of an exclusive club

Airline employees are like one big, global, extended family. When I non-rev on my airline or on other airlines, I understand what the crew deals with day-to-day, even if our coding, rules, and uniforms are different. We share the common thread of being a part of this crazy little world, so different than what most people do for work, and it is a kind of automatic bond. We treat each other very well, for the most part.

Sometimes we get free upgrades to business class. Sometimes we are offered free cocktails or champagne. Sometimes the crew cannot upgrade us because the flight is full, but they make a small gesture like giving us a first-class amenity kit instead of the basic economy one. We try to be kind to one another. To acknowledge the other airline employee. When we non-rev, we often bring goodies for the working crew—chocolates or facemasks, one time I got makeup, weirdly. Hey, whatever it is, the gesture is nice.

When you fly on our airline benefits as a non-rev, you have a little bit of access to this exclusive club. You can kind of be “in the family” by association. The crew will know you’re standby and might treat you a little extra nicely. You’ll get to talk to the gate agent in our airline language before boarding. “Hi there, I’m listed for this flight. I know you won’t be clearing standbys for a while, I just wanted to let you know I’m here.” You get to experience the joys of lightly-planned, inexpensive travel and the sorrows of missing that last seat on the flight. You get to feel that adrenaline that comes from non-rev travel. To have a little glimpse into what our lives, as airline crew, are really like.

Tips for getting the Airline Family Treatment:

  • Be nice to EVERYONE. The gate agent. Other passengers who strike up a conversation. The baggage handlers. And of course, the crew onboard. You’re not in your world, you’re in ours. Go out of your way to be polite and friendly and it will go a long way.


  • Introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Toni, I’m crew for X Airline. Thanks so much for the ride. I’ll be sitting in 8A if you need anything.” I tell them I’m standby, who I work for and what I do for them, thank them, give my seat assignment, and offer assistance all in one 15-second exchange. When I tell them that I’m a flight attendant and where I’m sitting, they know in an emergency that I am a person who can assist. And they know exactly where to find me. Speaking up to say this instead of slinking off to my seat, unnoticed, is simply a courtesy. It’s nice. We like it. And saying thank you will get you further in any situation.

When non-revving on someone else’s benefits, you could say something like “Hi, I’m Jan, I’m flying standby today. My mom is a flight attendant for Delta and I’m on her benefits. I’m sitting in 10D, let me know if you need anything. Thanks for the ride.” Keep it short, simple and to the point and we will really appreciate this little effort.


  • Bring goodies. I’m not saying we can be bribed, but I am saying we appreciate the effort that a gift represents. Chocolates or some kind of candy is an easy-peasy way to win over your crew’s hearts. We have received Beignets from customers and non-revs, Stroopwaffles, Starbucks gift cards, even a turkey sandwich once. I don’t eat meat, but I was won over by how thoughtful it was. It doesn’t have to be a huge expense or something grand. This step can absolutely be skipped and you can just go on your way. But a little gesture like this goes a long way and really helps bring you into the fold of this extended family.

3. Adventure

Learning to navigate non-rev travel opens up a world of endless adventure. Once you learn the nitty gritty of picking flights, getting listed, talking to crew, and being patient, above all else, you can relax and enjoy the benefits. You can decide last minute to hop a flight to visit your bestie in Colorado for the weekend, because a free-flight doesn’t require much pre-planning. You can change your plans as you go, because no money is tied up in non-refundable airfare. While waiting in the airport, unsure if I’ll make it on the flight I’ve listed for, I look for backup options. Maybe I can fly to Tampa instead of Orlando and rent a car. Maybe I can take a Southwest flight instead of this one in an hour. Maybe I can go to Aruba instead of Cancun because I have swimsuits packed and I might miss my flight, but I’m not missing vacation. Maybe instead of making the long journey straight back to the US from Singapore, I’ll fly to Paris and hang out for a few days to break up the flying and eat macarons.

The possibilities only expand as you become more comfortable using flight benefits and being flexible. This one might be my favorite part of non-revving. Instead of unexpected issues ruining your day, you start to see them as opening up opportunity for something different. You become creative with your planning, with your backup planning, and then with your last-minute, in-the-moment planning when the backup doesn’t work either. You start to see far-away places as not so far. You stop waiting for the perfect time of year to visit a place, or for someone in your life to want to go there with you. And you just go. You start doing what you want, knowing that no matter how many delays or missed flights, you can make something work.

Maybe you start to incorporate this non-rev attitude into other aspects of your day-to-day life. Flat tire? Okay, let’s make a new plan. Financing on the house fell through? Time to come up with a creative plan B. We don’t stop to realize very often that the curveballs life will inevitably throw our way are not the biggest obstacles we face to being happy, enjoying ourselves, living a good life. It is our attitude. It is how we handle these things that has the biggest impact on how the thing turns out. Learning to be a good non-rev can have positive benefits totally unrelated to travel. It might just give you the nudge of a perspective shift you’ve been needing.

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Relax, breathe, and embrace the adventure of non-rev travel.

Alright people, I realize this comprehensive post was long and detailed. But there is a lot of ground to cover. (And I didn’t even get into the traveling as a flight attendant portion of the mess!) I wanted to put together a guide that hit all the bases for those of you who have been invited to fly on someone’s airline flight benefits or who are just curious about how the whole process works. I hope this piece was helpful, and I encourage you to save it and read it over for reference before you fly on that Buddy Pass.

If you have any questions about non-revving on airline flight benefits that I haven’t covered, please just reach out via the comments section, or DM me on Instagram. Flight Crews—is there anything I missed? What is YOUR favorite part of non-revving?


I hope you all have a safe, happy weekend, and have plenty of spur-of-the-moment, well-planned-but-also-flexible travel coming up!


Until next time. plane logo
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I hope you enjoyed this Comprehensive Guide to Non-Rev Travel. If this is your first time to A Wheel in the Sky, welcome! I’m Toni and I write about travel, flight attendant life, and personal things for which I should probably seek therapy. If you’re interested in reading more flight attendant content, check out some of these posts:

My Flight Attendant Origin Story
Flight Attendant Pet Peeves: 6 Ways to Be The Worst
How To Poop On A Plane: A Flight Attendant Shares
7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Flight Attendant
My Craziest Flight Attendant Story Ever

Thanks again for stopping by!


  • Meagaan

    June 18, 2021

    Very thorough! Going to pass this along to anyone who ask now

  • Rae

    June 19, 2021

    As always, so well said!

  • Tracie

    March 18, 2023

    Hi! I found your blog while searching for info on non-rev travel and love it! Getting ready for my first standby travel adventure in May to Rome, Italy! I’m planning to go to Newark and hopefully catch a flight from there since there are lots of options with different airlines. Should I buy a trip with each airline then see which one I get on and refund the others? Or can I actually buy other flights while I’m at the airport, if my first choice doesn’t work out? I didn’t know if they needed to be purchased a specific amount of time in advance. Thanks so much!! Tracie

  • Shane

    May 11, 2023

    Hi Toni!

    This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding non-rev. I especially liked the vocabulary portion, because as a newbie, the jargon had my head spinning. But I’m starting to grasp it now. I have a question I’ve been scouring the internet for. Can you help? In 2 days from now I have a 930am Southwest flight listed through myidtravel. This is my first non-rev trip and I’m equally nervous and excited. After reading your article, I’d like to get on the 6:45am flight instead. first=best

    Should I cancel/refund through myidtravel, and book the earlier flight? Or is it ok to just show up and ask if I the agent can move me up to the earlier flight.

    Vocab question: is “move up” the right term for showing up the airport early and getting an earlier flight?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Stacy

    August 22, 2023

    Hi Toni –
    This is a great article! I am about to have my first non-rev experience! My husband works for a cargo airline so it’s hard to find all the “rules.” Are we able to purchase food and drinks on the flight? Since this ticket is booked separately from any airline mileage program, I wasn’t sure if there was a way to ensure there is a credit card on file.

    I also wondered about the gifts you (and others) mention giving to staff. There are so many people you encounter getting on a flight! Who do you give them to?



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