How To Get Cheap Flights

How To Get Cheap Flights

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Flying Standby

Standby flying refers to taking a space-available seat on a plane flight where your seat was not reserved in advance. Usually, this happens in one of two circumstanes. First, you may have missed your scheduled flight. In that case, the airline will let you board the next flight to the same destination on a standby basis, meaning that you will be able to take that flight if it isn't already full.


Second, you arrive at the airport significantly early for your scheduled flight and want to see about taking off sooner than you booked for. Again, the airline may allow you to transfer to an earlier flight to the same destination on a space-available basis, meaning you get a seat if the flight isn't already full. Standby flying can also refer to taking the flight you reserved but with an upgrade in status. Many airlines allow passengers flying coach in an elite tier of ticket holders to upgrade free to flying First Class if there is space available in First Class on the same flight.


Rules For Flying Standby


The rules for flying standby vary from airline to airline and, overall, are becoming tighter. Some airlines charge a fee, usually $50 to $100, to board an earlier or later flight (in addition to the fare which was already paid). Many airlines allow airline employees and their families to fly standby at a reduced fair or free, with priority given on the standby lists for passengers who have paid full fare.


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All of that applies when the standby is at the customer's discretion. Passengers whose flights have been canceled, who have been denied boarding, or some similar case when it's the airline's fault rather than the passengers, are allowed free standby boarding.


Not that long ago, free standby was the norm, but of late airlines have been seeking extra revenue wherever they can get it due to depressed economic conditions which have severely affected the airline industry, and, if the past is anything to go by, that is unlikely to be reversed once conditions get better.


Purchasing Tickets For Flying Standby


Under some circumstances and with some airlines, it's possible to buy tickets on a standby basis at a discount. What that means usually is that you buy a ticket on a flight to a certain location at a discount, and can board the first flight on the day you're scheduled to fly that has space available. Some airlines make this service available to all travelers, some offer it only to students, and many don't offer it at all. For most passengers, the option of deliberately flying standby and receiving a cheaper rate simply no longer exists.


What Happened To Flying Standby?


Standby flying was once an easy answer to the question of how to get cheap airline tickets if you didn't mind taking a risk on your flight being delayed. It was a decent deal for both you and the airline, in that you received a cheaper airplane ticket while the airline got to fill a seat on a flight that would otherwise have flown below passenger capacity. Sounds perfectly logical, but for most passengers that option has disappeared. What happened to it?


The simple answer is that a lot of airlines have folded and others have cut back on service and flights, so that it has become a lot rarer for flights to most destinations to have empty seats. In addition, by using a method called "yield management," airlines can fill just about all seats on all their flights in advance, so there is no incentive to offer cheap standby fares, and standby flying has become an accommodation to a missed flight or to arriving at the airport long before a scheduled flight takes off.