Do Pilots Get Cheap or Free Flights?
A look at if pilots get cheap or free flights as a perk of the job
Do Pilots Get Cheap Flights?
Yes, as a perk of the job most pilots have access too heavily discounted or even free flights. It varies between airlines and across countries but it is generally accepted that pilots and their friends or family get access to cheap flight tickets. This article provides a general guide but there will be subtle differences between airlines.
Discounted Flights & ID90
Many airlines give their pilots access to unlimited travel on what is called an ‘ID90’ basis. ID90 is where the flight ticket price is discounted by 90% but on a standby basis, i.e. they will only get on the flight if there is a spare seat available – if the flight is full they won’t get on. These tickets will see the pilots seated anywhere from First Class to Economy depending on where the spare seats are.
It can be a very useful perk of the job given that it gives you the opportunity to potentially travel to the other side of the world for a fraction of the usual cost (sometimes just £150/$200), but it can be a bit nerve racking if you really need to get home, the flight is full and you are waiting to see if someone doesn’t turn up so you can have their seat!
Airlines usually have reciprocal staff travel agreements with other airlines. This can mean pilots may have access to cheap tickets across a range of airlines around the world.
As well as ID90 travel, some airlines offer their pilots a number of ‘confirmed tickets’ for free every year. This will usually guarantee a seat on the aircraft and would usually be for a seat in First or Business Class. However, whilst there might not be a fare for the ticket, in some circumstances (such as the UK) you will still be required to pay tax on the ticket.
Such agreements aren’t usually exclusive to pilots. Cabin Crew and other airline workers often have access to similar opportunities but their agreements may be slightly different.
If you found this article of interest, check out our page on how much airline pilots get paid.