What are ‘non-revenue’ passengers on an airplane?

There are two types of Non-revenue passengers:

  1. Positive Space. These are airline employees that have an actual seat on the plane traveling on business. There are also two types – “must ride” which are flight crew which are needed in another city or else a flight will cancel and mechanics being sent out to work on a plane at another airport to get it back in service or regular positive space, which are crew “deadheading” home to their base after working or non flightcrew employees traveling on business. “Must ride” Positive space cannot be denied boarding under any circumstances, however, non “must ride” positive space passengers are supposed to be bumped before any revenue passengers are involuntarily bumped. However, they WILL take volunteers in order to accommodate non-”must ride” positive space passengers.
  2. Space Available/Standby – these passengers are only given seats if there are empty seats available after all revenue passengers and positive space non-revenue passengers have been accommodated. These are usually employees, their family, and their friends traveling for leisure. It is very hard to get on popular flights flying Space Available.

Short and simple, passengers who didn’t pay for the ticket.

Usually that means airline employees flying in connection with their duties, but not active duty (so called deadheading), or airline employees, employees of other airlines, and other passengers who fly on discount tickets (sometimes called ID90 – for 90% discount – or ZED – for Zonal Employee Discount).

Sometimes passengers on award tickets are considered non-revenue, though technically they did pay, just not with currency, but miles.

They are just like the name says. They are passengers who’s place on the airplane isn’t generating any revenue for the airline. They could be any number of reasons that people are non revs. Most airlines include the ability to fly non rev as a benefit to their employees so in some cases it may be employees (or their friends/family) flying on leisure travel. Or they could be a crew member commuting from their home to or from their base for a trip. There is also such thing as positive space non rev which could be an employee or executive traveling for training or other business purposes where they have to be at their destination and can’t be left to the whims of stand by

Discount employee/relative tickets, employee relocations for work, etc.

Passengers flying “dead head” such as FAs and pilots that are flying but not working.