In airline industry parlance, a nonrev is a traveller who does not have a full-fare ticket. The person is flying on a pass or is an airline employee using one of many complimentary tickets they receive each year as a perk for working in such a crazy business.

Nonrev, as you may have guessed, is short for "non revenue".

"Oh boy!" I can hear you saying. "Flying for free! Wheeeeeee!"

Nothing, dear people, is for free.

The payment for flying nonrev requires a willingness to embrace chaos. Whereas ticketed passengers may have a teeny possibility that their flight will be delayed or cancelled, nonrev passengers arrive at the airport unsure that they will even get on the flight they want or whether they will even depart that day. Nonrev is a state of mind.

However, because someone either in or associated with the nonrev party has access to the flight loads, they normally, if wise, will try to get on a flight with heaps of available seats. This often requires getting to the airport at the butt-crack of dawn to catch the first flight or slamming Mountain Dew to stay awake for the red eye. If the nonrev party is a family, it is likely the children will be walking in their sleep or carried.

A note to parents (both rev and nonrev) travelling with small children: If you know you are going to have a potential nightmare shit-blizzard of a travel day, let your babies know this as gently as possible. Children are already amped out of their skulls because they're going on vacation and flying on an airplane which is so neato they want to bite their toes and they might get something to eat on cool little trays and they even might get to Watch A MOVIE!!!!!!

So explain that getting there is part of the vacation. "We'll get there when we get there and go with the flow," is a good motto. Gently, gently.

Some hints: Pack toys that don't break (this means no Legos) and are easy to find. Hot Wheels cars are perfect. Coloring books and a basic Crayola 8-pack. A deck of cards. Find the nearest yogurt shop in the airport. Indulge their munchies.

It is imperative that the nonrev party maintain a relaxed and fluid stance, prepared to take all day (and perhaps most of the next) to get to their destination, switch flights and change itineraries in an instant. Usually a smooth flight out foreshadows a kinghell cluster fuck on the return.

For example, Supervixen and I, our three boys (ages 9, 8, 2) a friend of our and her son (age 7) went on a pre-Christmas whirlwind weekend jaunt of New York City last year. Getting out was no problem. In fact, the two oldest (Vonda MaShone and SweetFaceBoy) sat in first class with me. However, on the way home, the flight that was wide open when we left the hotel suddenly filled up once we were at the airport.

Supervixen quickly grabbed a schedule and ever-so-nicely commandeered a workstation at an empty gate. An hour and a few Happy Meals later she came running back to our group. "C'mon, get up. We're going to West Palm."

We gathered children and belongings and dashed down and across the terminal. After sweating out the boarding calls, the agent announced our names. On we go. Scattered throughout the plane but secure nonetheless, we landed in West Palm a few hours later.

(As it turned out, Supervixen discovered the original flight we waited for was going to cancel for a mechanical problem. Had we not switched gears when we did, we would've been stuck at the airport for another day or two.)

Everything was closed when we arrived, but Travel Agent Supervixen worked the phones and got us a dirt cheap industry rate to overnight at a Crown Plaza Hilton. The grownups caught three hours sleep before the wake up call. We dressed the kiddies in their sleep. Zip to the airport, hop on a puddle-jumper and we're home before the sun clears the trees. Naps all around.

Nonrevving is adventure travel without the malaria. If the opportunity exists, jump at it. If nothing else, you'll have more stories to tell.

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