Airline staff travel

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One of the perquisites that the airline industry provides its employees is free or discounted travel. Since the traveler in this case is the staff of a particular airline, the benefit is widely known as staff travel and is either offered internally within a company or by independent companies. By and large, staff travel does not bring much revenue to the airline and is hence referred to as non-revenue or non-rev in some parts of the world.

Staff travel[edit]

The airline industry sees staff travel to be one of the most sought after motivational and retention strategies. On the other hand , most of the staff travel that happens in the industry is standby. This would mean that a confirmed seat is not given to the staff member for this travel. Rather, a listing and no booking happens for staff travel. This makes staff travel unpredictable and there are chances of the staff being "bumped off" from the flight, in case the flight is full and there are revenue passengers that receive priority. Although staff can receive heavily discounted tickets, it can sometimes become a costly journey if they are bumped off flights. This results in them having to purchase last minute full price tickets to get back to their home port. Many companies have strict rules that if staff travel privileges are utilized, the staff member MUST be back for their next shift, otherwise it could lead to suspension of privileges or termination of job.

Since the staff travel is a privilege given to the employee, most airlines also maintain a policy for administering staff travel. The staff travel function generally falls under human resources and in some cases under customer services or marketing. If the airline's employees are numerous enough, a separate department is also maintained to cater to this process.

Staff travel departments[edit]

In most airlines the staff travel department (also referred to as a Pass Bureau) handles all the activities related to staff travel. Leisure travel (standby and confirmed) for employees, spouse and dependents, companions and/or domestic partners, leisure travel for executives, furlough travel, retiree travel, travel for dependents of deceased employees all comprise the regular activities of the staff travel department.

Yet another major activity that comes under the purview of the staff travel department is duty travel (also referred to as business travel). This would involve the arrangement of flights, accommodations and occasionally car rentals for employees who travel for company business. This travel may be on the company's airline or another airline depending on the travel destination. Unlike leisure travel that the employee does at their own will, business travel is more critical because employees are traveling for business purposes, and ensuring a smooth service to them is important, but there is a cost involved and optimizing it is critical.

Apart from this, the staff travel department also becomes responsible for arrangements for visiting consultants to the airline, which may be grouped along with business travel and travel of temporary employees. Other activities that may be done by the staff travel department include jumpseat travel, vendor travel, travel agency travel, and deadhead travel. At times, the responsibilities related to staff travel for a partner airline may also be handled by the main airline's staff travel desk.

The touch points of the staff travel team within an airline organization include the human resources team, payroll, revenue accounting, finance and IT. The staff travel services get used by almost everyone in the organization, including retirees. Being an internal service department, the staff travel team is often evaluated based on the feedback from the staff. Maintaining positive public relations and keeping the employees happy remains one of the key goals of this team.

Some of the challenges that staff travel team faces include the high volume manual process, cost, resources (manpower and materials), having a proper form of payment, revenue analysis, employee relations and communication, and limited operating hours. Other difficulties include the cumbersome refund processes associated with staff travel, assessing eligibility (or lack thereof), assessing applicable taxes, taking credit cards and security issues surrounding forms of payment, record keeping, interline pricing and taxes, interline billing, accruing IT help to automate the process and the development cost in automating staff travel.

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