Remember that jumpseating is a privilege and not a right. The following etiquette guidelines and restrictions should always be observed while exercising jumpseat privileges:
• Dress code is uniform, business, or business casual.
• Jumpseat availability is usually first come, first served (however, most airlines give their own pilots and in some cases subsidiaries a higher priority). Most, but not all, airlines allow multiple jumpseat riders when unoccupied cabin seats are available. The captain makes the final decisions, not the gate agent or “computer.” Due consideration to union affiliation is also a consideration when conflicts arise.
• Check-in procedures vary by airport and airline. Allow sufficient time to check in at either the ticket counter, gate, or in some cases both.
• Remember, jumpseating is a privilege requiring professional conduct at all times. Be courteous to agents when requesting the jumpseat. Always ask the captain’s permission and offer thanks for the ride, even if occupying a cabin seat. Never let an agent rush you past the cockpit without asking the captain’s permission. FARs require the captain to know you are on board. Identify yourself as a jumpseater to the flight attendants when boarding. Some airlines require non-revenue passengers and jumpseaters to board last and conversely deplane last.
• Leave your bags on the jet bridge (or otherwise ‘out of the way’) while you are introducing yourself. Limit your carry-on bags to a minimum when jumpseating. This behooves you because you are most likely one of the last to board—when overhead space is quite limited.
• Even employees and other non-revs will have priority over jumpseaters, who generally have the lowest priority of anyone. You may be asked to deplane at the last minute. Airlines will not delay flights for jumpseaters. If we cause delays on other airlines, we could jeopardize reciprocal agreements with that airline.
• Remember that you are an additional crew member. That means that if you are sitting in the flight deck, keep your eyes and ears open. Wear a headset. Follow sterile cockpit rules, but speak up when necessary. Remember to turn off your cell phone as soon as you get in the cockpit, and cease text messaging. Even during cruise, it is best practice while in the cockpit to ask the captain if he/she minds if you read or do a crossword puzzle, etc. Remember, 10,000 feet and below is a sterile cockpit environment (in some cases, above 10,000 feet also) and, as an additional crewmember, reading, talking, etc. are not allowed. Your best behavior ensures jumpseat agreements in the future.
• If offered a seat in first class by the captain, inform the lead flight attendant of this permission. A first-class seat doesn’t automatically entitle you to the same first class benefits as revenue passengers. You may or may not be served meals etc, and no matter what cabin class of service you are in, do NOT drink alcoholic beverages. While you are exercising the privileges afforded you by FAR 121.547 or 121.583 (i.e., jumpseating), you are considered an additional crewmember, and the alcohol limitations of FAR 91 apply. Just because you get a seat in the back does not relieve you from this responsibility. Even when in plainclothes, remember that you are still considered an additional crewmember by most airlines, and you may be required to perform duties in case of unusual or emergency circumstances.
• Always express your gratitude to the crew when deplaning. No matter how rushed, remember to say “Thank you.” Some airlines’ policies are for non-revs (including jumpseaters) to deplane last. Again, stay out of the way of revenue passengers, and provide any assistance, if necessary. Use your best judgment, especially if you stowed your bags farther aft than your seat.
• Be polite and courteous to gate agents. Remember that they do not get the same benefits of riding on other carriers for free, but never, ever let them talk you into taking the jumpseat or becoming a jumpseater on a flight for which you are ticketed—no matter how nicely they ask or what type of favor you may think you are doing them. They may even offer you vouchers, but this practice has resulted in lost reciprocal jumpseat agreements in the past. The jumpseat belongs to the captain, not the gate agent! It is not just another seat!
• If you have any questions, suggestions, comments, and/or complaints, please contact your Jumpseat coordinator. Be prepared with detailed information such as the date, time, gate (so it can be accurately tracked through CASS), and name of the gate agent.
Always be the consummate professional while jumpseating. It is one of the most valuable career benefits we have!