If you ever have flown on standby ticket you probably know that all-time accompanying feeling…do I get on board this time? Are there enough available seats for my friends? Do we come back home on time? Staff travel can cost you a lot of stress and present you with often uncertain situations. However! thanks to some people it can give you as well a lot of fun and positive adventures. About the way to enjoy Staff Travels and much more, I’ve spoken with the co-founder of StaffTraveler – Laurens Maarschalkerweerd.
Staff travel Basics
Let me start from the beginning! What exactly means staff travel? Who can travel this way? Based on the staff traveler definition, that benefit gives an opportunity to airline employees, travel industry employees and their families and friends to travel with highly discounted tickets but only then, when there are unsold seats available. After booking these tickets we become NON-REV passengers. In other words, passengers who not generate revenue for the airline.
My experiences with staff travel
As I have also a possibility to travel as a non-rev passenger, many times I was struggling with the situation that I basically was not sure if I will get on board. Till the very last moment of the boarding process, it was not clear if it’s worth to stand in this queue or not really. After looking for help on the internet, I found this great website stafftraveler.com which was giving me an opportunity to check out seat availability on many different airlines. I thought to myself – That’s ingenious in simplicity!
How does the StaffTraveler work?
Plan your journey in advance, decide where you want to fly. Post request for the flight you want to attend and people from the “applicable” airlines are answering you with actual seat status. Isn’t that GREAT?! In return, you can pay back for this lovely favor by sharing the seat availability from your airline. That’s how you get credit for the next requests (but not only because you can as well buy them very cheap in the app). Is this not a beautiful idea for mutual benefits?!
Meeting the co-founder
After using this website for a while (meantime it became to be an App) and starting www.aeroobservator.com where I want to meet people who make aviation such a great industry. I knew that one of the firsts which I want to meet is the founder of this website which helped me in so many situations that I can’t even count. Without waiting a moment, I wrote to StaffTraveler and within 3 weeks I was on the way to one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands – Utrecht.
Rise of StaffTraveler
Here’s how the seed from which this great project grew was planted: „It was back in 2015. A friend who I knew from Flight School traveled to Japan on standby ticket and on the way back he got stuck at Tokyo Narita airport. He called me saying that he can’t catch any flight back home because they are all overbooked and that this whole situation sucks because there is no information around about which flight he could possibly choose. After this conversation, we had just one conclusion in our heads: we must do something with it!“ Laurens co-founder of StaffTraveler.
Fate or coincidence wanted that few months earlier, Laurens was working on new technologies, trying to play around with programming and databases. That was the thing which was interesting for him and acquiring knowledge in this area was very enjoyable. Taking into consideration all those factors we had here a clear situation where you just must go with the flow. Push that button! And try to do something new. He and his friend did not miss this chance and start working on the project. Intensive brainstorm meetings. Trying to figure out how all that stuff should look like took months, but it was worth to do it. The effect of that work made hundreds of thousands of people travel around the world in a comfortable way.
Laurens continued: “When we launched StaffTraveler, we thought that it would be amazing if 1.000 people would join. A few weeks later, reality exceeded our expectations. 2.000, 3.000, 4.000 the number of users was growing very fast. Within two months, we welcomed over 10.000 members. Without any marketing!”
It showed how much that kind of solution was needed. Good things defend themselves without any help. As interest was increasing the guys from StaffTraveler set up an application that increased the range and made them quickly accessible. Today they have over 200.000 active members from airlines from all over the world and around 10.000 requests each day. A cool feature is to see how many people from particular airlines are registered on the website. That gives you an overview from which airline you possibly get the quickest answer.
How to become a member explained by the co-founder: ”It’s quite easy, you download the StaffTraveler app, submit your basic data like your name, email and information about where you work together with a proof that you are able to travel as a NON-REV (it can be for example a picture of your standby ticket) and after verification process you become a member!”
How does StaffTraveler protect their data?
The very important thing is that StaffTraveler does not keep any load data. Once a flight departs, the loads are deleted from the servers. In the age of digitalization, we all know how valuable data can be. Especially if we are talking about such a piece of crucial information like airline load rates. Many airlines would do a lot to have such a piece of knowledge about their competitors. I was very curious about how StaffTraveler is managing this treasure of data.
“We don’t want to have any trouble with any airlines. Our aim is to work with them not against them. We are aware that this is valuable data and all the airlines would like to keep this secret. That is why we do not keep seat the loads. Just after your flight departs the data is automatically deleted. We have as well a system that blocks people who are constantly asking for the same flight to avoid collecting date by external sources. We always want to convince the airlines that we care about them.”
In this paragraph, I would like to concentrate on legal aspects but from the employee point of view – as long as sharing that kind of data does not conflict with the provisions in your employment contract that long that it is permitted. Therefore to avoid misunderstandings remember to check your contract before start sharing seat availability.
How to staff travel in the most efficient way?
Laurens’ experiences in this matter are pretty clear “I am traveling a lot as a non-rev. I was on different continents and what I can say for sure is that you always should be kind to all the staff you meet (and bring them cookies!)”. Dependable on airlines Non-rev passengers are treated in different ways. Some of them like them, some of them not really. But what you should know and take for granted is that if you are nice and kind to others – people will give you back the same. The other advice for StaffTravelers is to dress properly. Yeah, that’s right, while you travel you should wear your best shirt. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it opens the door to Business class if there are free seats. For more insights and tips you should visit nicely maintained blog.stafftraveler.com, where you will find everything that you have to know about staff travel.
In conclusion, meeting Laurens and seeing his passion was a great experience for me. The fact that he is doing this in addition to his normal work as a commercial pilot made me even more amazed. That kind of person gives you an extra injection of positive energy. Besides my personal feelings, a project which he made with his friend make staff travel undoubtedly much easier. For all people looking for adventures staff traveling is an absolute must-do! Of course, you have to be a bit more flexible and be ready for changing scenarios. However, in return, you get an unforgettable experience and a cheap method to explore different parts of the world.
I hope you liked this post and found it very interesting. Your feedback is for me very important. What are your experiences with staff travel? Did you ever try it?