Jumpseat Etiquette

The Landing

With the holiday season upon us, many pilots across the globe are jumpseating to visit family and friends while others jumpseat to and from work and home.

During the holidays and throughout the year, it’s important to remember that the use of the jumpseat is a privilege and not a right and that individual airlines have differing jumpseat policies. Please keep in mind that the following etiquette guidelines and restrictions should always be observed while exercising jumpseat privileges:

Given the global pandemic and heightened hygiene protocols, some airlines have changed their jumpseating policies, including the requirement to wear a face mask. Check our jumpseat page for the latest information on particular airline policies.

  •  Always dress appropriately and act professionally while jumpseating.
  • Be polite and courteous to agents when requesting the jumpseat. But never let them talk you into taking the jumpseat or becoming a jumpseater on a flight for which you’re ticketed, as this practice has resulted in lost reciprocal jumpseat agreements in the past. Remember that the jumpseat belongs to the captain, not the gate agent. It’s not just another seat.
  • Jumpseat availability is usually first come, first served based on boarding priority. Airlines typically give their own pilots, and in some cases those of their subsidiaries, a higher priority. In addition, most airlines allow multiple jumpseaters when unoccupied cabin seats are available. The captain makes the final decisions, not the gate agent or computer.
  • Check-in procedures vary by airport and airline. Allow sufficient time at either the ticket counter, gate, or in some cases both. Also keep in mind that some airlines require nonrevenue passengers and jumpseaters to board and deplane last.
  • Always ask the captain’s permission and offer thanks for the ride, even if occupying a cabin seat. Federal regulations require that the captain knows you’re on board. Also identify yourself as a jumpseater to the flight attendants when boarding.
  • Remember that as a jumpseater you’re an additional crewmember. This means that if you’re sitting in the flight deck, keep your eyes and ears open. Wear a headset. Follow sterile cockpit rules, but speak up if necessary. Remember to turn off your phone as soon as you enter the cockpit and refrain from texting. Even during cruise, it’s best practice while in the cockpit to ask the captain if they mind if you read or do another activity. Remember that at 10,000 feet and below, an additional cockpit crewmember conducting nonflight activities isn’t allowed.
  • No matter where you’re seated in the aircraft while jumpseating, do not drink alcoholic beverages. You’re legally considered an additional crewmember, and you may be required to perform duties in case of unusual or emergency circumstances.
  • Express your gratitude to the crew when deplaning. No matter how rushed, remember to say “thank you.” 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.

Always be the consummate professional while jumpseating, as it’s one of the most valuable privileges an airline pilot has, no matter where you sit.

For more jumpseat information, contact your pilot group’s Jumpseat Committee coordinator, visit ALPA's jumpseat page, or download ALPA's mobile app.

"Yes, Please!" to Jumpseat Etiquette

The ALPA Aviation Jumpseat Group’s short video titled “Jumpseat Etiquette? Yes, Please!” gives an overview of reciprocal jumpseating procedures and proper jumpseat etiquette. Watch it now.

Coming Soon: More Jumpseat Information Access at Your Fingertips

Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA president, has made it an Association-wide priority to provide all airline pilots access to timely and accurate jumpseat information.

As such, the next major upgrade for the ALPA mobile app includes our specialized Flight Finder tool to help jumpseaters determine the best available flights to reach a specific destination. Pilots will have access to custom search options to quickly find jumpseats available across air carriers (including passenger and many cargo carriers), the number of legs involved, layover locations, and more—reducing much of the current guesswork currently involved in determining the best existing options.

Be ready for the new features by installing the latest version of the ALPA smartphone app now, available for Android and iOS devices. Learn more.

Read the latest Air Line Pilot (PDF)