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Jumpseating Etiquette

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Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
I will be jumpseating for the first time in a few days and was looking for some advice on jumpseating etiquette. I know some basics like attire, thankfully passing on meals/drinks offered, and introdcucing yourself to captain and crew. I have heard that it is common for j/s'ers to bring candy bars, or something of the sort, for the crew... is this true? What about baggage? I assume it should only be a small carry on. I'm a 135 freight pilot, so I don't really have a uniform, so I will just be wearing shirt & tie w/ khakis... this should be ok eh?

Thanks in advance for your input!
I once tried passing on a meal on a United flight from DEN to ORD. The captain, first officer, AND the other jumpseater all turned around at the same time and gave me the "look". The captain then says, "you work at Lakes, right?". I say "yes". He then says, "Well, then you going to eat the **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** meal and stuff as many extra meals into your flight case as you can fit, understand?!". I say "yes SIR". Apparently politeness can only go so far. I got 6 extra meals out of it. The flight attendant actually brought me a doggy bag. Never decline food or drink I say! Oh, and always thank the flight attendants. They're the ones doing the hardwork "behind" the scenes. You never know when you'll have the same FAs again. First Class is at their discretion...
As a ten - year commuter, I think the most important thing you can do is ASK the Lead F/A if you can have a seat in the back (no matter what the Captain says, the cabin is theirs). I have never been refused (I don't know what I would do if they did!), but this goes a long way in getting you fine treatment. Don't drink (I can't believe I have to advise that, but I do), and don't discuss your freebie status with civilians any more than necessary. Also, thank the crew for the ride on the way out if it won't cause you to get in the way.

Too bad you can't ride in the cockpit, I remember my first jump seat ride on the old Midway Airlines on one of their DC-9's and it was totally cool.
Not to rain on your parade Illini, but if you are with a 135 operator, you will need to do some thorough checking with the airline you are trying to jumpseat on and make sure that they are taking 135 jumpseaters. Most airlines, including the one I fly for only allow pilots from other 121 operators to jumpseat or limited 135 operators with whom they have a recpricol jumpseat agreement with.

PT 135 freight? I can't think of any 121 carriers BEFORE 9/11 that allowed them on. We can't even allow some 121 carriers anymore

I'd be very carefull with your planning and have a good back up.


The Captain does own the cabin. I've had this discussion several times with bitchy FA's and I can assure you they did not prevail.
Thank you all for your information. I'd just like to clarify that when I said to pass on meal/drink, I meant pop or juice - not alcohol. I just spoke with this particular airline's pass bureau and HR departments and confirmed that they DO allow 135 pilots to jumpseat, and will take as many jumpseaters as there are empty seats.
Just a little more advice to add. When you first get up to the airplane, leave your bags in the jetway. Then walk into the aircraft and ask the Flight Attendant to speak with the captain about the jumpseat, as opposed to just walking in the aircraft and on into the cockpit. It sounds like common sense, but I have seen people do it, during my jumpseat experiences.

Also, when you talk to the captain, be sure to ASK about the possibility of jumpseating. The very first time I jumpseated, I wasn't sure what to say, so I told the Captain, "HI, I'm your jumpseater on this flight." The captain replied with, "are you asking me, or telling me?" haha. We had a good laugh about it later.

For baggage, yea, the previous posts are correct. Bring one carry on, and that should be about it. Wearing a tie is a must, if you don't have a uniform to wear.

Hope this helps!
Be sure to use common courtesy at the gate and introduce yourself to both the Captain and his First Officer. They are a professional team and it is important that they both get to know a little bit about you. Have your license, medical and I.D. ready from them to view. The many times I had the privilage to jumpseat, I found it interesting and educational. It is great to see other teams work together. The crew will take the time in most instances to explain their cockpit proceedures if you get to ride up front. If you need to ride in the back act professional and like the other poster said say as little as possible to passengers as to your flying status. I rode one trip and a passenger looked around the first class cabin which was about full and asked me if he was the only one who bought a ticket for first class. As for food, while riding up front the captain told a lead FA to bring me a steak for my meal. Next thing I knew the cockpit door opened and a trash bag of almonds came flying up with a big laugh. Again, remember to be professional and enjoy the privilage. There are a lot of great crews out there who will make you feel welcome.
Best of Luck.
As far as whether or not 121 carriers allow 135 guys to jumpseat I can say this. Vangaurd, ATA, and Frontier are taking 135 guys right now. Out of those 3 airlines my company has an agreement with one of them, but all 3 have welcomed myself and other fellow pilots from my company with no prob. A friend I work with has regularly jumped with one of the "Big 3" airlines. It`s all up to the Captain so at least give it a try. If the gate agent says "you aren`t on the list", then ask if he/she will let you talk to the captain, or if he/she will ask the captain themselves. Just don`t be pushy, or act like they owe you something. Good luck to ya.
I'd have to echo wildbill's point about introducing yourself to BOTH crewmembers. Being a lowly FO I am biased about this but I think it's just common courtesy. I've lost track of the number of jumpseaters who have blown by me with hardly a nod on their way to talk to the captain. To me that's a little rude so I try to introduce myself to everybody up front when I jumpseat. Sometimes the FO is busy or just isn't interested in talking (common on a RJ) but I always make the effort.

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