Everything You Need to Know About Booking Seaman Flights

Jun 18, 2024 · 9 mins read ·

Crew Management, Maritime Industry
AI generated image of a seafarer at an airport holding flight tickets

As a busy Crew Manager or Manning Agent, you know full well that when it comes to crew planning, a smooth crew change relies heavily on having timely transportation booked in good time for the changeover.

And more often than not, your on- and off-signing seafarers will be using a number of different forms of transport and have any number of legs to their journey. And while they might not have too many issues getting themselves to the airport by bus, taxi or train, it’s the plane journey that can be an unknown quantity.

Seaman flights are crucial for the efficient operation of the shipping industry, ensuring that crew members are precisely where they need to be at the right time. These specialized travel arrangements are essential for the seamless management of maritime workforce logistics.

But if you’ve only just started working in maritime crew planning, or booking seafarer travel is not yet part of your job, there are a few things to know about seaman flights before you jump in and start booking travel arrangements.

Probably the biggest thing to know is that to cater to the specific needs of the maritime sector, many airlines provide distinct pricing structures for seaman flight tickets. But who exactly qualifies for these specialized fares? 

Who qualifies for a seaman’s flight?

Also known as marine flights, eligibility for these tickets is for a select group of people only. These are:

  • Seafarers who hold a valid seaman’s book and who are traveling to or from their vessel.
  • Contractors or engineers working on ships or offshore platforms.
  • Other personnel listed on the ship’s manifest.
  • Spouses of individuals working on vessels, provided they are also included on the ship’s manifest.

For verification, those eligible must provide specific documentation such as a valid seaman’s book or crew ID, an employment or contract letter, an approval from an authorized crewing agency, or a letter of appointment from the vessel’s owner.

Are marine airfares cheaper than regular airfares?

The advantages of seaman fares over regular fares are significant, especially in terms of flexibility and cost. 

Given the unpredictable nature of shipping schedules, which may change due to factors like vessel delays or travel restrictions (as seen during COVID-19), these tickets offer much-needed flexibility. Airlines, recognizing these challenges, typically do not charge cancellation fees for marine fares.

Seaman fares are also generally lower in price due to contracts between airlines and maritime companies that need to transport large crews. 

These fares also don't restrict the length of stay, providing further convenience as Crew Managers often book one-way tickets without fixed return dates due to variable contract durations.

Do seaman tickets come with an extra luggage allowance?

Seaman or marine tickets often allow for additional luggage - a necessity considering the extended duration of contracts and the unpredictable weather conditions at sea.

Engineers and other technical staff, in particular, may need to transport extra equipment, necessitating the higher luggage allowances typically included in these fares.

How do Crew Managers book marine flights?

Marine flights can primarily be booked through authorized maritime travel agencies rather than the standard flight booking platforms that you would use to book flights for your summer vacation.

The process usually involves direct communication with the travel agency for bookings, changes, or cancellations.

However, some agencies working with clients in the maritime industry  have begun to modernize the booking process, allowing seaman fares to be handled much like regular travel bookings, streamlining the reservation and adjustment processes through an app or website.

What else do I need to know about seaman flights?

Booking seaman flights is not just about cost savings - although optimizing travel expenses can save shipowners significant amounts of money in the long run. It’s also about logistical efficiency, ensuring that crew members can arrive and depart according to the shifting schedules of maritime operations. 

In addition to this, in cases where special equipment needs to be transported, careful planning of air freight logistics ensures that necessary tools, work gear, uniforms, safety equipment and other materials reach their destination efficiently and in a timely fashion.

Seaman flights play a vital role not only due to the sheer volume of global trade conducted by sea but also because of the direct impact on the profitability and operational success of maritime enterprises. 

Delays can immobilize a vessel if it is unable to meet its Minimum Safe Manning numbers due to missing crew. This in turn can lead to substantial financial losses. Thus, marine travel agencies need to be highly responsive and adaptable to the dynamic needs of the maritime industry.

Ultimately, the importance of seaman flights lies in their ability to ensure that the maritime industry operates smoothly, supporting global trade and the economies dependent on it.

By continuously improving the booking and management processes, travel agencies provide invaluable support to maritime operations, enhancing safety, convenience, and cost-effectiveness for seafarers and shipping companies alike.

Can Martide help with booking seaman flights?

We’re glad you asked, because, yes we can help Crew Managers and Manning Agents simplify the task of booking marine flights - as well as other forms of transportation.

That’s because our maritime crew management software solution has a feature called Crew Changes, which lets you easily plan your on- and off-signers using our highly visual calendar. Crew Changes in Martide not only enables you to send crew change information to both the Port Agent and the seafarers themselves, it also integrates with travel agencies.

Read more: How Martide Makes Arranging Travel for Your Seafarers Easier

The blog linked to above has all the details you need, but as a brief explanation, the feature allows you to request quotes for marine flights from a travel agency.

We work with a number of different travel agencies and you can request flights from as many, or as few, of them as you like. We also have a C Teleport API function which allows Crew Managers and Manning Agencies to enter and submit a password so that you can sync with C Teleport and request ticket information from them.

Once you’ve booked a seafarer’s travel you can store their eTickets in Martide too. This means that you can see at a glance what’s been booked, whether it’s a bus, train, taxi or plane, and so can the seafarer, who is then able to access all of their tickets and info.

Screenshot of Martide's maritime crew management software solution

If you’d like to know more about how Martide can streamline your seaman flight and travel bookings and you’d like to learn more about the other features of our maritime crew management software, either contact us here, or request your free, no-strings-attached demo here.

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.

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