Commuting is hard work. Commuting adds hours, if not days, to my work week. First, there's lobbying for a seat. A non-rev is the absolute last person to get on board. I fly free yes, but that also means I am the lowest person on the totem pole. Even after that guy that was too drunk to fly the last few flights and has since taken a nap on the floor in the gate area to sleep it off. He smells like stale alcohol, BO and vomit.... I am even after him.
If the gate agent takes pity on me or deems me worthy of a seat, they may give me a boarding pass prior to 30 seconds before they close the door. Even *gasp* 20 minutes ahead of time. While taking the pass from their hand, they hold onto it, clenched fist, staring into your eyes and give you a warning that they could, at any time, for any reason, take this little piece of pleather real estate away from me. So don't get too comfortable. *insert evil laugh here*
This is all on my own airline. Try flying standby on another airline. I'm not only after the smelly alcoholic, but I'm after their own employees, their employee's family members, the gate agent's uncle's friend's brother's car mechanic's ex step-daughter's cousin twice removed. I just keep smiling, I'll get there. Someday.
When I finally do cross over the threshold, into the jetway and from the jetway into the actual airplane, I am dead last. I will get the middle seat in a non-reclining row, next to the bathroom and the one screaming lap child. There isn't any space for my luggage so I had to check it at the door. No problem. I am just -oh-so-thankful I am there.
However, until that entry door closes, I am holding my breath, the voice of the gate agent echoing in my brain.... "anytime, for any reason....." In fact, I never feel completely comfortable until the gear is up and we soaring above 5,000 feet. But never ask for anything. Ever. For any reason. Ever.