Sunday, February 26, 2006

For Future Reference...

I mentioned in my last post that I jumpseated to Amsterdam - that is, in my desire to see how insanely cheap I could do a European trip, I didn't buy any non-rev passes. That was pretty risky given that I'm not horribly familiar with international jumpseating and I would've had no way to buy a non-rev pass once I was over there. I almost got bitten for it.

When I showed up at Schiphol Airport on Friday afternoon, I was planning on taking Northwest Airlines to Memphis, since I knew that Northwest offers international jumpseat and that flight had plenty of open seats. My first inkling of trouble was when I approached the KLM ticket counter to request the jumpseat and the agent said "Jumpseat? We don't do that in Europe. Do you have a nonrev pass?" I politely told her that although KLM doesn't do jumpseat, Northwest does. She found a supervisor who did know about jumpseating; she informed me if I wished to jumpseat, I'd need to have my own NWA jumpseat forms, because KLM does not stock them. Ouch. I'll know better next time.

There were only a few flights to the US left that day, at least on jumpseatable U.S. carriers. I tried United; their ticket agents mistakingly claimed that they don't offer international jumpseat. I tried Delta; they were full. At this point I had a very heavy, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'm going to get stuck here, miss work, and spend a ton of money. I'm an idiot for not buying a non-rev pass! Fortunately, the next carrier that I tried, USAirways, had jumpseat-savvy ticket agents and some seats available on their flight to Philadelphia. I had just enough time to pay the departure tax (€41! Ack!), go through customs and security, and get on the plane. The only reason it worked was that I took an earlier train to the airport than I originally planned. Otherwise I would've been stuck for the day, and possibly all weekend.

So have I learned my lesson? Will I never attempt to jumpseat internationally again? Eh, I'm a bit too much of a cheapskate to pass up a free ride. But I'll definately bring extra jumpseat passes with me next time, and do research on backup flights beforehand even if I'm trying for one that seems foolproof.

6 comments:

amulbunny said...

I never left home without my non rev surcharges when I traveled. We didn't have the option of jumpseat travel although my dad did. I could fly free in back and pay 5$ for domestic F and 10$ for intl F.

Glad you got back safe and sound. Looks like you had a great trip.

Dan Miller said...

I would like to jumpseat to Russia and only beginning to research this. Your article was helpful. Any suggestions on how to prepare? I believe KLM and Air France go there, probably more.

Sam said...

Hey Dan,

KLM and Air France, along with most European carriers, do not offer online jumpseats. To travel on these carriers, you'd need to buy ZED or ID90 passes to nonrev. To jumpseat, you'd have to Delta, they're the only US carrier that currently flies to Moscow. I'd have backup fares on other carriers handy since it's anyone's guess as to whether DL's Moscow agents are familiar with jumpseating procedures, or for that matter whether customs & security would let jumpseaters through. Make sure you review Russia's visa requirements thoroughly, also...this isn't like Western Europe where you get off the plane and waltz through customs as easily as if you landed in New York. Good luck!

PS - if you get in a pinch, keep in mind that Iberia is the one European carrier that'll take jumpseaters (it's captain's discretion). They have a Moscow-Madrid flight, I believe.

Sam said...

Erm, I meant offline jumpseats when referring to KLM and Air France.

Dan Miller said...

Hey Sam,

This information is really helpful, thanks! I am currently researching a trip to Nikolaev (Mykolaiv), Ukraine. It looks like a U.S. carrier can take me to Warsaw, Poland and from there it would be a 5 hr drive to Nikolaev. I see that Polish Airlines (LOT) also has many flights from the U.S. to Warsaw so if I can jump on them that would be helpful.

I just learned yesterday who our jumpseat coordinator is so I thought I would first see what agreements we have with other airlines. In addition to the flying I still need to look into hotel, car rental, visas, etc. Have you been to Ukraine? Also what is a ZED pass? I am familiar with ID90 but not the other. Thanks!

Dan Miller said...

It looks like it might be better to travel via:

EWR-WAW-LWO or ORD-WAW-LWO. This will bring me into Lviv, Ukraine and about 46 km from Nikolaev (Mykolaiv)which is my destination. Anyone know if LOT allows offline jumpseaters?