Non-rev. Standby. Oversold. Wide-open. 3 am wake up call. I heard all of these phrases frequently as a child. They were always paired with feelings of anxiety as I hurried my little legs along to keep up with my father’s quick, lengthy gait in the airport. My father has been a pilot for as long as I have been alive. He piloted the F-18 fighter jet in the Navy until he retired and began to fly commercially. My father’s nature exemplifies the stereotypical calm, confident pilot that does not waver under pressure. This is something I have always admired in my father and have tried to emulate from an early age. Hence, my awkward run-walk I adopted trying to keep up with my father in the airport. I always hoped no one else noticed, but in reality, I am sure I resembled a baby gazelle learning to run.

Growing up, I remember the pride I felt during conversations with other children discussing our parents’ careers. This pride did not fade as I grew older. Each time I wanted to regale some incredible story after making it on an oversold flight just hours before I was supposed to be taking an exam in a classroom across the country, I found that I couldn’t find the words (or attention spans in friends) to fully explain how crazy non-rev life is. This only made the experience of non-revving even more fun and mysterious to me. As I grew older, I became aware of the intricate nuances to flying standby. In every airport, there is an invisible community of airline family and etiquette that the typical passenger will never see. This airline “family” has had a significant impact on my life and how I aspire to serve others.

Two years ago, I was sleeping peacefully on my way to Brussels as my father sat in the right seat of the cockpit. I immediately realized something was wrong when he woke me and I noticed the plane was not moving. We had diverted to Manchester and would likely be stuck there overnight because the plane did not have an essential part for landing in icy conditions. A seasoned flight attendant and a ground service representative from Manchester were standing next to my father as I tried to shake the sleep from my brain. They started firing travel options at me. I must have looked wholeheartedly confused (picture my baby gazelle brain trying to make sense of all of this.) The flight attendant reached down, patted my arm and chuckled, “I’ll go get a pen and paper to write this down for you, honey.” I exited the plane and instead of going to the hotel the rest of the passengers were being ushered to, I left the airport and made my way to London. Alone, without an international cellular data plan, or any semblance of an itinerary, I embarked on my first solo trip abroad. I boarded a train to London and looked down at the bottom of the paper scribbled with shorthand directions from the flight attendant. Written next to a smiley face near the bottom she had written, “Take a deep breath and go!” Over the next week, I kept that phrase in the back of my mind as I explored London solo. Needless to say, I took many deep breaths that trip! That flight attendant’s kindness totally shaped my confidence during that week, and as a result, I have become a more confident traveler.

As I enter nursing school, I will try to emulate both my father and that flight attendant. By remaining calm in the face of stressful situations, I hope to be a steady, dependable figure in my patient’s most vulnerable moments. To do so, I will continuously remind myself to “Take a deep breath and go!” Even if it is with an awkward baby gazelle gait!

     💙💙💙

Lucy

Lucy is no shy traveler! Growing up the daughter of a United (and Navy – btw, thank you for your service) pilot, she’s been able to experience a lot – from exploring foreign cities on her own to telling friends about the confusing, but awesome, life that is the #NonRevLife.

You can find her studying Nursing at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusettes, or embarking on yet another impromptu adventure. What an awesome story you shared, Lucy! We can’t wait to see what new experiences your degree brings!

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.