Hey there Interliners! We hope you’ve enjoyed your summer. It’s been a busy one over here at ID90 Travel! We’ve been traveling about and working hard for you – as have our Brand Ambassadors. Speaking of, it’s time we introduce you to yet another one!
Have you gone and stalked all of them on Instagram yet? If you haven’t, no worries, we’ll keep writing these fun blogs about them because we enjoy getting to hear about all of their travel and industry experience as much as you do! This week you’ll get to meet Kristen.
Kristen’s a Crew Scheduler for United Airlines who’s an avid traveler, planner, and Dispatcher hopeful. Read on to see what this cool chick had to say about world exploration, chasing her dreams, and not being the airline “bad guy.”
Who is Kristen?
Born and raised in Los Angeles Kristen’s love for travel started with family summer vacations. She traveled to places like Europe and the Grand Caymans with her parents then joined the airline industry when she was 18. “It was by chance I suppose, I was working in retail and the company I was working for went bankrupt.”
“I started with the LAX Wikipedia because I decided I wanted to work for an airline so that I could travel. Then I looked into any airline that flew into LAX to see if they had any job openings.” Virgin America was hiring, and since they wanted someone without airline experience (someone new and fresh), Kristen was the perfect candidate!
She started in Customer Service as a Gate Agent and eventually became an Operations Lead. Six and a half years later a friend encouraged her to apply to United to be a Crew Scheduler, and the rest is history. United moved her to Chicago and she’s been there ever since.
Working for an Airline
In the Present
What does Kristen have to say about being the “bad guy” in Crew Scheduling? “We set up a program within United to have Flight Attendants occasionally come and sit with us, so they can see what we do for the job. They really enjoy it, and often say that they had no idea the job was like this.”
“It really is a lot of automation and procedures that we have no control over. So when people don’t get what they request, it wasn’t a choice made by us.” Kristen works in a point position as a Crew Scheduler, and what she does on a day-to-day basis sounds pretty stressful, but it gives her good knowledge of the inner workings of an airline.
“I’m a planner. Unlike a flight attendant, I have to plan my vacations at least five months in advance. We get long vacation times (because we have the ability to compact all of our work into certain time periods), and that makes finding a trade a month in advance pretty impossible.”
In the Future
When asked if she had any #LongTermGoals in the industry Kristen wowed us with the story of her pursuit of a Dispatcher position. She completed Dispatch training recently (it’s a 5-week-long process) and says it’s one of the hardest things she’s ever done, but that she thinks it will be well worth it.
“My friend who’s just taken the bar says that Dispatch school was much harder. If I do get hired with United I’ll be in training again for 6 months but it’s worth it. The pay is great and so are the hours, time off, travel benefits, and flexibility. ”
“That would be my recommendation to other airline employees though. If you want to make more money and have more flexibility seek out positions outside of the airport and outside of HQ. There’s not a lot of room for movement in the airport, and in HQ you’ll have to adhere to a stricter 9-5 work day, making travel difficult.”
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Kristen Tells All – Rapid Fire Questions
After we picked our jaws up off the ground, impressed by Kristen’s hard-work and envy-inducing schedule, we threw a few rapid fire questions at her to pick her brain on traveling alone, budgeting, and everything in between.
Alright, you say you’re a Master Budgeter, teach us your ways.
“I recommend using ID90 Travel, especially in Vegas. You guys have awesome Vegas deals. But I also like hostels, they’re not as scary as you think and you can save a lot of money. You’ll get to meet all kinds of people from all over the world!
When it comes to flying, and when you’re trying to save money by flying standby, always look for good connecting points when your airline doesn’t fly. So get as close as you can then use smaller connecting flights, and enjoy the journey along the way. If I have to hang out in Kenya for a day then so be it!
Finally, book things last minute. It can save you some serious cash in the end.”
Those are some good suggestions! Ok, so you’ve traveled a lot (60 countries and counting!), what’s been your favorite trip?
“It’s a tie between Egypt and Madagascar. Egpyt is so full of history, and it’s SO CHEAP right now! If you go, you must do the Nile cruise. There’s so much to do on it, and it’s so beautiful. Egypt’s also just so ancient, so much life has happened in that country.
As for Madagascar – I’ve always wanted to go, you know, because of the movie! My friend from Virgin America and I have the same birthday so we went there to celebrate. I had no idea what to expect.
We didn’t plan much of anything (which is odd for me), but it still turned out so well! We just asked around as to what would be the best things to see and do and then we did them. The lemurs are, of course, amazing (hello Lemur Island!) and we got to canoe among them on these small rivers.”
Since you’ve traveled so much, is it possible there are still places you haven’t visited but still hope to?
“Of course! Antarctica is on my list actually, you know, so that I can have visited every continent. But that’s a bit of an expensive commitment. South Africa and the Galapagos are also on my list, I’ve planned to visit them previously but in some way or another the trip fell through.”
Those are good goals! Alright, gotta ask the staple traveling tips question, you’ve got to have some. What are they?
“I would say as a female to be smart. Don’t travel alone when you’re new to travel, then after that be smart about where you go and who you go with. For example, I didn’t go to Egypt alone. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t put yourself in bad situations (avoid certain countries), and make smart friends.
Look up in advance what certain neighborhoods might be like. Again, Wikipedia can be a great tool! Also don’t be afraid to speak up! If something feels wrong, say it. When I was in Bali out dancing with friends a guy grabbed me inappropriately, and I lost it on him. But rightly so I think, gotta stand up for yourself.”
What do you like most about working where you do?
“Well, of course, I like the flexibility of my job, but I also really love the people I work with. They just have this unique mindset, it’s a travelers mindset where jetting off to Paris doesn’t seem odd to them, and I love it!”
Ok, last chance. Anything else you want to say before we close?
“Be prepared for the unexpected. As a non-rev you might have to make adjustments (whether that’s sleeping in an airport or jumping on a different flight), so just be prepared for anything!”
Thank you so much for speaking with us Kristen! We had such an awesome time chatting with you and getting to hear your stories. If you want to see more of Kristen’s non-rev life make sure you check her out on Instagram. Until next time Interliners, safe travels and keep your eyes on the skies!
Author: Emily (@ID90 Travel)
Emily is the Content Marketing Manager here at ID90 Travel. An avid non-rev flyer (she grew up in the industry), and passionate private pilot, Emily can’t get enough of all things aviation. When not writing awesome ID90 Travel content she can be found on a Texas patio, being one with nature, or annoying her ID90T co-workers with her many, many, crowdsourcing questions.