Travel has always been important to me. When I was nine years old, my family moved to Maynooth, Ireland, for my dad’s work as an engineering contractor. We lived there for six months before we bounced around the United States for a year, and then landed back home in Oregon City. When I was eleven, my mom was hired by Alaska Airlines. I remember feeling so incredibly proud of and excited for her, even though it meant her leaving us for a considerable amount of time, returning from training for only twenty-four hours each weekend and, once home for good, working for a large portion of the day. From the time she started training, I became the designated “parent”. I got my two younger siblings up, dressed, and fed. I made sure we finished our assignments, helping my younger siblings as needed. Since we homeschooled, I became “tutor” and, sometimes, even “teacher”. I kept the house tidy, cooked dinner, and checked in with Dad daily while he was at work. Airplane

Having Mom gone so much clearly put a strain on our family, necessary though it was. The fact that she worked for the airlines, however, made many opportunities available to us that would not otherwise have existed. For example, we were able to visit our California-based relatives on a regular basis, forming new connections with cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and friends. Our plane carry-ons were crammed with textbooks, snacks, and hopeful novels. Our English paper topics changed from Charlemagne to the La Brea tar pits. A science quiz was dropped in favor of a well-written reflection on our visit to the Neon Light Museum. The generic P.E. curriculum was thrown away in favor of hikes, making notes on different native flora. We rolled down hills in LA, trudged across snowy fields in Helena, ran laps around the guest house in Phoenix, chased jackrabbits on a dirtbike in Johnson Valley, and stalked moose in Anchorage.

Because of the ease and convenience of flying as a non-rev, my family and I have been able to explore, to play, to breathe the fresh air of the mountains and scuff our feet along wide city streets. Flying, a luxury to most, has become our normal mode of transportation. It has allowed me to know what it is like to watch the sun rise above a layer of thick cloud and make the upper heavens so brilliant it is blinding. It has allowed me to giggle with childish delight as our suspended hunk of metal hits a patch of turbulence and rattles the bones of the commuters within. It has allowed me to pass messages to my siblings via a system of college football players heading to a championship, like a massive game of telephone which always ended in our near-smothering by the raucous laughter of twenty to thirty enormous athletes. It has allowed me to feel like I am only a hop, skip, and a puddle-jumper away from my hometown while I attend university more than three hundred miles away. Airplane

Being the daughter of an Alaska Airlines employee has become a part of my identity. It has given me an unquenchable thirst for travel and adventure. It has brought a family of five closer and allowed us to create special memories together. It has given me exceptional packing abilities (I once threw a toothbrush and swimsuit in my backpack and was boarding a plane to Maui in three hours from phone call to plane boarding). I can’t imagine not living the non-rev life. I can’t imagine arriving at the airport knowing with absolute certainty that I will be boarding my intended flight; that very uncertainty is half the fun of the great adventure that has been airline travel. I am grateful every day for both the ease and the occasional impracticality of non-rev flight, and for the innumerable opportunities that have been given my family and me by Alaska Airlines.

     💙💙💙

Elayne Ingram is a winner of the $750 #NonRevSpiritAward for the 2018 spring semester.

Elayne is the daughter of an Alaska Airlines employee and is a Kinesiology and French major (Music minor) at Gonzaga University. A hard worker from the beginning, Elayne became a tutor, teacher and sometimes designated parent #3 to herself and two younger homeschooled siblings growing up.

Thanks to the #NonRevLife Elayne was able to visit family regularly (with textbooks filling her backpack), and utilize the world as her classroom and airplanes as her school bus. We’re so impressed by your determination, Elayne, and we’re adamant you’ll succeed in your career endeavors!

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.