Since DeltaGuy asked about it, I can tell you that up to 19 nonrevs can be carried on these flights; at least with Delta. I have been on three of these flights with my dad. Last time was in Spring 2002 when he ferried a plane to Florida with just my dad, his co-pilot, and myself onboard. Even if it's one of these flights, DL
still prohibits jumpseat flights by unauthorized people, but who's going to tell?
I'm going to agree w/ NW747-400 on this thread; people really need to chill out. Why is everyone so emotional about this issue?
But just to answer the original question, the U.S. airlines will not
let just anyone ride the jumpseat. You have to meet established criteria (i.e. pilot for that airlines, FAA inspectors, NTSB investigators, Secret Service, etc.) In other words, they'll have a darn good idea of who you are and know you don't pose any kind of threat. Trust me, if anyone could ride jumpseat, I would have done it hundreds of times by now. At one time (before 9/11/01) I had hoped the FAA would allow CFIs to ride jumpseat, as this would be a great tool for flight instructors to improve their instruction.
However, as far as giving the jumpseat to FAA certificated pilots (who haven't had extensive background checks, fingerprints, etc.), the FAA/TSA
and the airlines are likely to consider giving the jumpseat to these individuals to be more of a security risk than giving the jumpseat to Joe Schmoe without any flight training.
So, unfortunately: No. You won't be allowed to ride jumpseat. And frankly, unless you know a crewmember, you may as well not even ask. It wouldn't suprise me if they considered you a threat merely for asking and have you removed from the flight, possibly subjecting yourself to hours of FBI interrogation probing exactly what your motivations are for wanting to ride the jumpseat. (Hey, I know it sounds rough, but that's happened to people who just sit in cars outside airport fences and try taking pictures of landing and departing aircraft).
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.