The only way to describe Non-Rev life is a crazy, uncertain journey that leads to unimaginable rewards. I began my journey as a non-rev traveler when I was just two months old. That means that I have now experienced the rewards for twenty years. Don’t get me wrong, the non-rev life can lead to stressful trip uncertainty and late arrivals. As my family says, “It’s the price you pay for the price you pay.” When it comes down to it, I remember the successful adventures way more than I remember the complications. Now, that’s not to say I don’t have some pretty great stories.

My most memorable non-rev adventure includes three days spent in LaGuardia Airport. My mom is originally from New York. The majority of her family still live in the New York area so we journey out east at least once a year to see my relatives. Usually non-rev travel works and we make it to New York and back with no issues and a great family vacation. Like I said, that is most of the time. When I was about four years old, we made the trip over to New York, had a blast on vacation, then proceeded to get stuck in New York’s LaGuardia Airport for three straight days. To this day, I cannot eat Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

When my family goes on vacation, we rarely get souvenirs because my parents believe the memories are the souvenir. During these three days spent at the airport, I befriended a stuffed animal in one of the airport gift shops. I named this stuffed animal Cuddles. On the second day of us being stuck in the airport, someone had bought Cuddles. Instead of having the classic child meltdown, I decided to be practical and picked another stuffed animal and named him Cuddles Jr. Cuddles Jr. and I visited after every flight from which we got bumped just to have something to do. At the end of the second day of attempted travel, I wanted to sleep in the airport because I did not want to leave Cuddles Jr. alone overnight. My parents did not allow it because they said that mice live in the LaGuardia Airport. As a matter of fact, the next morning (after staying with a relative the night before) we saw a mouse running thru the departure lounge. I guess parents are right sometimes.

CuddlesJr

After missing a few more flights the third day of attempted travel, when I went to visit Cuddles Jr. he was gone. This upset me because that stuffed animal had been my pal on this journey. To my surprise and excitement, when I got back to the gate with my dad to wait for the next flight, my mom had bought me Cuddles Jr! She felt bad for our situation and figured this would be a good way to cheer me up. We ended up making it out on the last flight to St. Louis that third day. To this day, Cuddles Jr (a bear with an NYC shirt on) stays next to my bed in my bedroom at home. Those three days are the longest I have ever had to wait to make it home after a trip.

I love this story because it shows the innocence of a child and the sometimes tiresome life of a non-rev traveler. The key to take away from this is that even when events like the three days in LaGuardia Airport happen, myself and many other non-rev travelers still come back for more. Having the ability to travel as a non-rev has allowed me to experience the world in a way that I would not be able to if I had to purchase a full fare ticket. I am able to stay close with family and friends as I grow older. Non-rev travel has taught me to appreciate the blessings of world travel that I have available to me. I take advantage of this opportunity when it comes knocking, and never say no to an adventure (with Cuddles Jr. in my carry-on).

     💙💙💙

Alexis

Say hello to Alexis! This sweet gal’s been non-revving since she was a mere two months old (thanks to momma being an FA over at American). You can currently find her studying at The College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She’s majoring in Nursing.

No stranger to the NYC airports (LaGuardia especially), Alexis has used her non-rev benefits to explore the world but also to keep her family close. Thank you for sharing your story about Cuddles Junior, Alexis, we loved reading it and wish you the best of luck with your degree!

Want to read the other winners’ essays? Check them out on our blog!

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.