Affordable Travel Guide to Flying Stand-by

If you can wait, you may get a great price

Flying Stand-by

Gone are the days when poverty-stricken students could rush an airport ticket counter, grab a flight for a song and make it home for the holidays. Stand-by ticket policies have changed and continue to evolve as airlines shift and adjust their pricing of airline tickets to the economic times.

A stand-by airline passenger must have a ticket, but it does not necessarily have to be for a specific flight (this varies airline to airline and country to country, depending upon local laws), and they need to be flexible as to which flight they take, be that earlier or later, sometimes as late as the next day. Stand-by travel depends entirely upon seat availability.

Generally, stand-up airfares are lower than regular ones, but some airlines charge a fee of about $50 USD in addition to the ticket price, so be aware of this and ask if such a flat fee will be attached to your stand-by ticket at the time you purchase it. And remember that stand-by tickets, unlike days gone by, are not always available at the last minute; if a flight is full, it’s full.

When you pay the lower fare associated with a stand-by flight ticket, you also get lower priority in your treatment by the airline. Upon arrival at the airport, speak with the ticketing agent or (if you have your ticket beforehand) the gate agent and be sure your presence is known. That way you’re less likely to be overlooked when that last possible seat opens up on the flight of your first choice.

Stand-by tickets work best for individuals or friends who don’t care if they sit together on a flight. Odds are higher that single travelers will get a seat than a group of seats for a family. On busy or sold-out flights, sometimes a single seat comes up as unoccupied just before take-off and one person will get it, where others will be left behind; this doesn’t work for a family hoping to travel as a unit.

If you are planning to travel stand-by, travel smart and take only carry-on luggage. Because of the nature of stand-by tickets, it’s possible, if not likely, that a checked-in suitcase will not be on the same flight as the passenger it belongs to. If you must take check-in baggage, be sure to pack an overnight bag of essentials in your carry-on so that if you have to wait for your main luggage, you can get by for 24 hours.

Knowing the ins and outs of stand-by means learning the individual stand-by policies of the various airlines you might be considering, so be sure you do your research. If you’re flexible about travel times and ready for a little adventure, a stand-by flight may be a great way to save on airline tickets for you.

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