Posted by: Kate Ashford | February 11, 2010

Flying Standby? Prepare to Pay Up.

Old Fashioned Plane

May I take your money for you, sir?

Ever flown standby? Who hasn’t? Maybe you missed a flight and were hoping to get a seat on the next one. Or you arrived at the airport sooner than expected and managed to squeeze on to the plane leaving an hour earlier.

Starting February 22nd, you’ll pay American Airlines $50 for the privilege.

Oh, but they’re not charging everybody. Says an article in USA Today:

…elite frequent fliers, travelers in first or business class, military personnel and people who bought pricey coach tickets will be allowed to fly standby for free.

(What do you think counts as a “pricey coach ticket,” I wonder?)

In its press release, American Airlines touted the move as an effort to “streamline processes and the customer experience during flight departure.” This is corporate speak, I believe, for “make more money from you folks flying coach.” Especially given that American just announced that it’s going to start charging $8 for a pillow and blanket on flights over two hours. (Getting your chatty seatmate to shut it so you can get some shut-eye? Priceless.)

To be fair, American isn’t the only airline that charges for a standby seat. But the list is still about 50/50. Here’s a somewhat comprehensive breakdown.

Standby Fees*:

AirTran: $0
Continental
: $50
Delta
: $50
Frontier Airlines
: No standby option, $100 for economy ticket change
JetBlue
: $0
Midwest
: $50
Southwest
: $0
Spirit
: $100-$110
United
: $0
US Airways
: $50
Virgin America
: $50

*In all but a few cases, if you fly these airlines often enough to be considered Elite, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond, Striped or Unicorned, the standby fee is reduced or waived.

What do you think of these fees? Fair?

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Responses

  1. Now that you need a boarding pass to get to the gate, what else do the gate agents do before boarding?? If they really wanted to streamline processes and the customer experience during flight departure, they should take a look at the security screening…

  2. [...] if you're thinking about flying stand-by, get ready to pay for the privilege. [Her Two [...]

  3. My sister had to buy a REALLY expensive coach ticket in 2008. She had to pay full price – and it was about $1600. She had to get back for her wedding in the UK, and because of Visa issues, she missed her original flight the night before. She just sucked it up and paid the money.

    • Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But that doesn’t make it less painful!


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