Do Pilots Get Cheap Flights?

Do pilots get cheap flights?

Yes, as a perk of the job, most pilots have access to overpriced or even free flights. This varies from airline to airline and country to country, but it is generally accepted that pilots and their friends or family have access to cheap airline tickets. This article provides a general guide but there will be subtle differences between airlines.

Discounted flights and ID90

Many airlines give their pilots access to unlimited travel on what is called a ‘ID90‘ basis. ID90 is where the airfare is reduced by 90% but in standby mode i.e. they will only take the flight if there is a spare seat available – if the flight is full, they will not go up. These tickets will see pilots seated anywhere from first class to economy class, depending on the location of the spare seats.

This can be a very useful perk of the job given that it gives you the chance to potentially travel halfway around the world for a fraction of the usual cost (sometimes just £150/$200), but it can be a bit nervous if you really need to get home, the flight is full and you’re waiting to see if someone doesn’t show up to get their seat!

Airlines generally have reciprocal staff travel agreements with other airlines. This can mean that pilots can access cheap tickets on a range of airlines around the world.

Free flights

In addition to ID90 trips, some airlines offer their pilots a certain number of “confirmed tickets” for free each year. This usually guarantees a seat on the plane and usually corresponds to a first class or business class seat. However, although there may not be a fare for the ticket, in some circumstances (such as in the UK) you will still have to pay the ticket tax.

Such agreements are generally not 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 interesting, check out our airline pilot salary page.