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Hello and welcome to Seat 1A!

When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In the meantime please find us wherever you download your podcasts, and tell all your friends!

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Dec 6, 2020

In this experience we explore what happens to crews between their flights when on a layover. There is the glamour of a layover that we see in movies. The reality is usually quite different. It's a good tip to know and appreciate what happens with your crew in destinations.

For a number of years, the layover was Vinod's second home – and he can't imagine how many hotels, hotel rooms and ground transport shuttles he has been in.

There are different types of layovers. There are short in-transit layovers but stereotypically there is an overnight stay involved.

The layover clock starts as soon as the airplane is chocked. Does a crew get backed up clearing immigration? Does a crew have to wait for baggage? How is the crew going to be transported from the airport? Has their airline put out a tender for ground transportation, or do crew need to use airport shuttles? Or maybe the airline is paying for taxis. Sometimes crew members will be familiar enough with a city to just do things as if they were a local.

Where does the airline pick the hotel location – is it by the airport or is it in the city centre? What kind of hotel experience does the airline want for their crews? Is the hotel an international chain or a local hotel? The reality of the layover dictates where the layover hotel is at. Sometimes it's a long drive from the airport to the hotel or resort – Vinod had to mitigate an hour-long drive in Cuba. Coming back to the airport is more pressure-filled to be on time, and sometimes the crew gets stuck while trying to get to the airport. Sometimes taxi or minivan service is shoddy, or unique forms of transport are provided – like Vinod and his stretch limousine experience.

Hotels – do crew qualify for points? Officially no, but Vinod has a crazy story where he collected points for a while and got a nice upgrade. Crews learn which rooms they like and no, crew members DO NOT share rooms. The hotel is a crew members' solace – a home away from home. Geoff shares a story of a sketchy former hotel in downtown Toronto that was a layover hotel for at least one airline. Sometimes the layover is very short, so a layover at a hotel is barely enough to even get few hours of rest.

A key point in all of this, is that crew members are not getting paid while they are on layover. They have ways to make money on the layover through effective management of their per diems and eating their own food. There is also a strategy of which layover to select. Sometimes airlines own the destination resort and put the crews up all-inclusive. Some airlines paid their per diems in cash. Sometimes there are long layovers – up to a week in length. Vinod remembers Canada 3000's multi-leg cross-Pacific milk-runs. Geoff remembers loading Canadian domestic milk-run baggage. We have seen a number of milk-runs during the COVID 19 pandemic. We will likely see that milk-run trend continue.

Of course, there are the parties, but as a crew you have to be responsible since you're still representing the company. Vinod shares an experience he had seeing an Emirates crew on layover in Colombo – that almost felt out of Hollywood. Vinod shares how a crew member was wild and extremely intimate and ended up no longer working for the airline. There are strict rules against flying under the influence of alcohol. Crew are legal to fly but could still be in rough shape.

Crews do different things when they are on layover. Many crew members are mothers, using the time to get some silence. Many crew members use fitness facilities at hotels. Shopping and local cuisine are also something crews participate in. Vinod shares stories of lobsters in Halifax, Nova Scotia and drives in Hawaii.

During the COVID 19 pandemic crews that are working are doing an incredible job – and crew end up working on holidays like Christmas. For crew members who are single, crew mates become family.

If things go wrong due crews need to let their airline know to ensure that the flight can still fly. Flying redeye flights lead to crews needing to make sure they get proper naps and rest.

But weather plays a key factor and can send things sideways in a hurry. Vinod shares a story of Christmas season in St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador – where blizzard cancellations led to a big party.

Crews have to be careful who they party with – particularly at resorts – they may be serving that person the next day.

We touch briefly on crews on reserve, standby and ready reserve. What's in your bag is determined by your layover. Sometimes crews get forced into a layover due to mechanical issues. Sometimes it's a struggle to have enough clean clothes.

You never know as a passenger what's going on with your crew before they were dealing with your flight. Ask your crew member if they had a nice layover.

News Items:

  • article "Free Dubai hotel stay for Emirates customers with minimum ten hour transit".
  • article "South African Airways Sells Everything From Chopsticks To Luggage".
  • article "British Airways launches Christmas selloff".
  • article "SpiceJet To Fly From Delhi To New York… With 737s?!"
  • article "New German Air Force A350 Operates Epic Round The World Flight"

If you have a story about layovers as crew, a question, or other experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon. Show notes are available online at