Being an aircraft maintenance technician is the perfect career for a lot of people. It allows you to use your hands while working on some of the most advanced pieces of engineering in the world while earning a great living. If you’re around airplanes all day, at some point you’re also going to want to be a passenger so you can take a break from your hard work to get some rest and relaxation. A common question that many prospective aircraft mechanics have is if they get to enjoy the same flight benefits that many pilots and flight attendants get.
So, do aircraft mechanics get to fly for free?
Aircraft Maintenance Technicians that work for airlines often do get to enjoy flight benefits. These policies are specific to employers and the ability to use them can have some restrictions.
Let’s take a closer look at how these flight benefits work and if you might be eligible.
Employed by an Airlines
One thing to note is that if you want to have the benefit of free and discounted flights, you’ll more than likely have to work for an airline. Believe it or not, not all airplane mechanics work for an airline. There are businesses that specialize in repairing and maintaining airplanes for other companies. They might work on everything from airplanes for those airlines to smaller private jet services, cargo planes, etc.
Airlines have the benefit of having flights scheduled every day that are going to take place regardless of if they sell every ticket on the plane. Thus, they can allow employees to take those seats for free. A small shop that specializes in maintaining and repairing aircraft for others doesn’t have this luxury.
Airline Specific Flight Benefits
Each airlines has their own internal policy on how they handle free and discounted flights for employees.
These policies can differ quite a bit from airline to airline. They can even change over time depending on several factors like the season, the financial situation of the airline, and how busy they are.
Here are some of the things that each airline’s flight benefit policy can include:
- The number of tickets each employee can use in a given time period
- Discounted tickets instead of or in addition to free tickets
- The ability to let friends and family use these tickets (Yes, some airlines actually do this!)
Time Restrictions on Flight Benefits
Often times, the airlines that offer these benefits will still have rules and restrictions on when you can use them. They prefer that employees that are flying for free are using seats that are more likely to go un-filled by regular passengers. As mentioned above, most flights are not completely sold out so, this isn’t an issue. As an employee, your free tickets rely on you being on stand-by.
This means that you can use these benefits based on how likely it is for the flight to be sold-out. If the all the tickets for a flight are sold to paying customers, you won’t be able to take that flight and will instead have to choose a different day/time or destination.
If the flight you want to take is not sold out (or in some cases even oversold) then you should not have an issue using your flight benefit to fly for free.
You might be wondering how you can plan ahead so you don’t show up to the airport and find out that the flight you want to take for your vacation is no longer an option.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid trying to use your flight benefit at “peak” times like holidays and on the weekend when everyone is trying to travel.
- Plan instead of taking a flight that departs on a weekday early in the morning or late at night.
Although these seem like an inconvenience, it’s a good trade off since the flight itself will be free.
How to Learn More
If you are currently applying for jobs as an aircraft maintenance technician, you should make a point of asking questions about this and other benefits when you’re interviewed. You also might meet and interact with some of the AMT’s that work for airlines while networking with other aviation professionals. In those situations, you can learn by asking professionals who already know first hand.
Finding and recruiting mechanics can be very competitive for the airlines so they want to make sure they are offering and great benefits package and that you know all about it, so don’t hesitate to ask when the time is right.
Other Benefits for Gate Agents
In addition to these travel benefits, airlines often provide their gate agents with access to other valuable benefits as part of the job. These can include:
- Health Insurance
- 401(k) plan (sometimes with a match)
- Paid vacation time
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Plus more…
The benefits of working for an airline can be incredible. If you are an aircraft maintenance technician for one of the airlines, you might qualify to earn free and discounted flights. This is a career that already provides a great living, steady employment, and other benefits. Being able to travel the country (or even the world) is yet another one to add to the list.