I wasn’t planning on going to Germany with my partner, Mike, this summer because I wasn’t sure if I was able to hold my days off for a week. Being a reserve FA in SEA, we don’t really have a choice of days off. It is one of the most senior bases for NW’s FAs. So Mike has already bought his tickets months ago with United, our 1st choice of airline when traveling as a revenue passenger. Of course, as the time got closer, I knew for sure that I would be able to go with him. View Large View Medium
Searching the internet, the most reasonable fares was well over $1500. So I decided to just non-rev on NW to Europe. I do not like flying non-rev as I usually feel like a 3rd class citizen. I haven’t done non-revving for a while. So I spent about 2 whole days searching for ways to get to Munich.
I also called the NW’s non-rev phone number to purchase the Zed Fare tickets. NW doesn’t have a direct service to MUC. My choices were either via AMS or FRA. So for that, I bought 2 r/t zed fare tickets that could be used with either LH or KL. Tickets arrived 3 days later and I paid them with my VISA.
After working the system to see the most logical way to non-rev to MUC. I came to a conclusion to take the flight to FRA via DTW that would give me the same departure time as Mike’s around 8am. I could have taken the SEA-AMS nonstop but that would require me to drop him off at the airport early in the morning, come back home and return back to the airport in the afternoon. Sounds complicated, not really, but I chose the FRA flight because I wanted to try the new WBC lay flat that most people have been bragging about.
Some pictures for this essay were taken from a.net pictures. It was just to give you an idea of what NW seats or a/c look like.
27 July, 2004
a/c: 757-300 Coach middle seat
Mike’s flight would take him directly to MUC via IAD from SEA. I’ve given him the flight numbers of the most possible that I would be able to get on. I told him if by 12.30pm local time in MUC, I still didn’t show up, just go ahead to the hotel and I’d meet him there. Also I told him not to get out of the gate area so that he could meet me at the gate. Our plan was for him to meet me in MUC airport and go to the hotel together.
After dropping him off at the United curbside and said goodbye also jokingly may be I’ll see you in MUC if I made the flight, I went to the airline employees’ parking lot. He wanted me to come see him after I returned back to the airport but I told him that I have yet to validate my tickets at the inflight office so I much rather not go all the way to UA terminal and still have to do some last minute details for non-revving.
The security line was really long as most commuters are trying to catch their flights to their business destination. I didn’t dare to go to the crew line (also known as the premium passengers line). Crew uses the same line as those with status. With my ID on me, the TSA waived me to the premium passengers line as soon as she saw me. I thanked her with a wink.. She knows me already as I go to that TSA line so often. (in case you were wondering why I winked at her). She thought that I was going to Dallas to see my family. I told her, not this morning, I’m going to Europe…her respond was.. Ooooohhhh… such a perk from the airlines.
Non-revving isn’t something fun to do. It’s more of a headache than fun. This morning I reserved myself a jump seat together with the regular seat. Usually the morning rush flight is very full. I got to the gate and the agent asked where I was heading too (they all know me already too). I said I was trying to go to Germany. So I asked him if the flight was full because if it was, I had a jump seat listed for myself. He clicked clicked clicked his computer key board and told me that I should be able to get on. But don’t expect a FC seat on this leg to DTW neither to expect a window or aisle. I nodded.
Boarding commenced immediately. Trying to be a good non-revver, I stay put nearby the podium. Until about the last 15 passengers, the agent called me and said sorry he could only gave me a middle seat. I said no worries, I was glad to be able to get on the flight.
Flight time was short, 3 ½ hours. The captain said that we should be getting in about 15-20 minutes earlier than scheduled.
Photo © Leanne Powers
Being stuck in the middle seat, I mind my own business and went to sleep. When the FAs came around offering cold breakfast, I said I would just want a glass of OJ. I tried to drink as little as possible because I didn’t want to bother the people around me should I need to go to the lav. We landed nicely in DTW. And 5 minutes later, we were informed that the gate was still occupied due to our early arrival. We had to wait for a while. Well, that 20 minutes early sure went pass by quickly. By the time we deplaned, it was already 5pm and I only had 35 minutes to run to my next flight to FRA.
Just my luck, we parked near the end of the terminal while my FRA flight would leave at the other end. Rushing to get to the monorail to get me to the other gate. I sort of yelled to the people inside the monorail to hold the door. Sure enough, as soon as I got on the monorail, the door shut. *PHEW!*…
As soon as I got off the monorail, I picked up my roller bag and the tote bag, run down the escalator, headed out to my gate. When the agent saw me, she said they’d been waiting for me but no worries, they’re also waiting for some premium passengers that were still at the World Club. She apparently has printed out my boarding pass. I showed her my ID. She wished me a good flight as she handed me my business class boarding pass. My…. Yes, that was my first impression when boarded the plane. This plane is so clean and new!!! As soon as I sat, the FA offered me a pre-departure drink. I got myself a glass of champagne. About 10-15 minutes later, they closed the door and started the safety demo video. Afterwards, the purser came around and took everyone’s meal orders. When he came to me, I told him that I was non-rev and he thanked me for telling him that but since we’re not full, I’d be able to get my choice of meals which was either beef, fish or chicken. I said I’d try the fish.
Since this was a day time flight, I was not able to sleep at all.. Even though I tried, I was only able to take a quick 1-1½ hour cat-nap. The rest of the flight I watched movies which was on AVOD, played video games trivia against other passengers (lost once and won 3 times!!!). Our 7½ flying hours went so fast. As we deplaned I thanked the purser and he wished me a good stay in Germany.
28 July, 2004
The last time I was in FRA was in 1997. I’ve forgotten this airport. I followed the signed to LH terminal. I got to the gate and presented my zed fare ticket to the agent. She said I shouldn’t have any problem this morning.
After I waited for a while, suddenly the agent made an announcement saying that the flight would be 1-1 ½ hour delayed. After that she came to me and told me to go to the next flight as that would leave about the same time and the load was very open. She handed me back my ticket and I went ahead to the next gate.
Waiting… and waiting… and waiting… Binged, another announcement. This one was for a gate change. I heard some people ‘ssshhed’ because apparently the new gate was at the other end of the terminal. Yes, another 15 minutes walk.
When I got to the new gate, the a/c was just deplaning. I knew this was going to be another delay. Sure enough, we didn’t board the plane until about ½ an hour later pass the departure time. Before they started boarding, they were calling the non-rev’s names. I was one of the lucky ones. And the lucky one that got stuck again in the middle seat, in front of the exit row. So my seat doesn’t recline. Didn’t bother me a bit as our flight time was a mere ½ an hour.
When I deplaned, Mike was already waiting. We then went to the train station to go to our hotel.
Well, time went so fast when you’re having fun. Before I know it, it was time to cramp up my brain again to search for the possible flights to go home to SEA. I found out that most morning flight on the 2nd of August was full full full to the limit. Not only that, even if I made it the morning flight to AMS, NW AMS-US flights except the early morning ones were already booked to the capacity. The 2 early morning ones would require me to go to AMS a day earlier and that what I decided to do.
After listed myself with KL and LH, I booked myself a hotel room at Schipol. A prepaid of Euro 125 at the Sheraton Schipol.
August 1, 2004
LH or KL
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Photo © Oliver Brunke
I went ahead to go to the airport at 11am this morning. There would be 4-5 flights for me to choose. My first choice would be LH as their flight leaves only 1 ½ hour after I arrived at the airport. Mike came along with me to the airport because I made him so. I told him if I didn’t make any of the first few flights, at least you’d be there to accompany me.
When I tried to check-in, the counter agent told me that it was not possible for this flight as they were already oversold by 25 seats. She’d be happy to list me for the next flight but the next flight didn’t leave for the next 3 hrs and it didn’t look good too.
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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Sure thing, LH left without me , and then I rushed to KLM terminal. Oh boy, this airport is so huge. They also got a mall in between terminals.
When we got to the KLM check-in counter, they were still not open. We waited for ½ an hour.
Europe Select, middle seat.
When I checked in with KLM, I asked the agent what was my chance to get on. She said it was good. So I went ahead checked my heavy roller bag. I happened to buy a zwilling’s manicure set. So I had no choice but to check my roller bag.
Well, it’s time to say goodbye again to Mike. I told him I would call him once I got to my hotel room in Schipol. But told him not to go to the hotel right away because I still might not make this flight to AMS. He agreed to wait for ½ an hour and if by then I didn’t reappear, he’d assume I got on the flight.
The gate agent started calling the standby passenger’ names. Mine was the last one to get called. And she told me to enjoy the Europe Select. Apparently, this was their domestic FC. Well, when I boarded the plane, I didn’t see anything different than the Economy. Except that the seats were in leather. The size and pitch are the same as those in coach.
We departed 15 minutes late. Flight time was 1 ½ hour. Ok, now I saw the different. They served meals up here in the front section of the cabin. While the economy passengers only got a box of sandwich. It was a really nice meal. I asked for a Heineken to go with it. Yumm… nothing beats a Heineken when flying to the Netherlands.
Landed in Schipol and walked quite far to go to the baggage claim. My bag for some reason came out first. Amazing! Yet, it has a “WL” tag on it (wait-list) that they put on every non-rev’s bags.
I went to the Sheraton Schipol right away taking the bridge that connect the parking garage, hotels, to the airport terminals. This was a good hotel. I really love the lobby décor. The room is excellent, too. They gave a bottle of water and a cookie in the room.
After I changed my clothes, I went back to the terminal trying to look for an internet café. None to be found. Instead, I found a good grocery store. Thinking that I didn’t have anything to eat for dinner, I got myself a couple of pastries and a huge can of Heineken.
I went back to the hotel and asked the front desk agent if they had a business center. She said if internet all I need to use, there is a free one to use downstairs where the meeting halls are. Since they didn’t have any meetings taken place that afternoon, she didn’t think I would have any problem using the free computer, there. It is usually only provided to those business men in the meeting.
I went to check the flight load for the next day. I was shocked to learn that the DTW flight that was wide open when I checked it the day before, it was now filled to the capacity. The non-stop to SEA still had some seats left. Also I already listed for a jump seat for the SEA flight. So I decided to just take the non-stop to SEA. Worse come worse, I’d be stuck in the jump seat for 10 hrs. Oh boy!!
The next morning I had a few hours to kill because I didn’t have to get up so early as planned before. Now I’m going to take the SEA flight that leaves around 11.30ish. I got up at 7.30am and took a leisurely shower, packed my bag and went down stairs to have a breakfast. Oh this would be a perfect world should I had a confirmed seat … *sighs*..
After breakfast, I gathered my belongings and checked out of the hotel. Time for a reality to hit again.
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Photo © TZ Aviation
I checked-in and was given a gate pass. I waited for a while at the passport control areas. Afterwards, I went to the duty free store. There’s no sense of going to the gate right away when they wouldn’t even issue me a boarding pass anyway until they started boarding. I purchased a bottle of port-wine and a bottle of kahlua. All now stuffed to my brand new Louis Vuitton bag that I purchased a week before this trip in Maui. Oh I hope it didn’t ruined the bag from the weight of these bottles.
Enough of shopping. I checked out the video monitors to see what gate my flight would leave out of. It is always out of the E terminal for NW flights here in Schipol. So I found out it was E5. Just a little hike from the main area, the line to this gate was rather long but it wouldn’t bother me a bit. I just waited patiently … passer-bys were taking glimpse at my LV bag as it has been getting more attention from people than me since I bought it.
Well the typical questions were asked. Where were you before AMS, etc..etc.. boring!! I got myself a seat by the podium again. You know, it seems like a good technique when non-revving to sit by the agent’s podium so that you know when your name is being called or you know if they cheated you by giving a priority to those that was supposed to be below you … hehehe…
This morning I noticed I was the only NW employee on the list while the rest of them were KLM’s and Alaska Airlines’.
The crew just got in… I said hi to some of them. Got a hug and kiss from a beautiful Norwegian girl friend of mine and was given evil looks from every men around me.
They commenced the SEA flight a few minutes after the crew settled in. Of course, WBC passengers got in first, then those with crying kids, and they started calling the row numbers for economy passengers.
Pretending I wasn’t nervous as I hadn’t gotten my boarding pass yet, I tried so hard to concentrate on my book. When I started to give up on the book, I felt like I was hit by a star…Oh it was my lucky day.. Mark, the inflight supervisor for NW’s Schipol station was just walked in. He recognized me and asked me what I was doing there…haha…. I told him trying to get on the flight. He then checked the load from the agent’s computer and issued me, YES, issued me a WBC boarding pass. He questioned the agent why haven’t they cleared me when for fact there were empty WBC seat… I didn’t want to get involved, and I just thanked him and boarded the a/c…
Soon I found out that I got the last WBC seat. The rest of the non-revs got to bear the 10 hrs flight in coach.
NW's DC10 in new paint scheme and the classic WBC seat
Since I had to fly the next day, I decided to take melatonin as soon as we took off. Usually it takes about 1 hour for me to start feeling sleepy. I skipped the dessert and went to sleep. The next thing I knew we were on final approach to SeaTac. I missed the breakfast, too.
Well, overall, my non-rev journey this time was not as bad.. I got lucky to score both business class seats on the trans-atlantic flights and also the Europe Select seat on KLM from MUC-AMS. But this was just pure luck. May be next time I wouldn't be so luck. Who knows, but for now, I'm rest in peace!
[Edited 2004-08-17 23:21:11]