Standby to pay more

When I am on the road for work I almost always book the last (or close to it) flight out from wherever I am. I never know if work is going to require me to stay until the very end of the day or if things will wrap up early. And when they did wrap up early I’d head over to the airport, walk up to the gate or lounge and ask for a seat on an earlier flight. This seemed to be a win-win deal for the airline and the passenger. I get where I’m going earlier and the airline fills up a seat with a body, opening up the seat on a later flight to either sell or otherwise use for other passengers. What’s not to love?

Apparently having such a policy is so onerous on the airlines, however, that they find themselves in a position where they feel compelled to charge passengers for this benefit. Over the past couple years most of the major carriers in the US have initiated such charges, so I shouldn’t be all that surprised that Continental has chosen to join the ranks of those who do, but it does annoy me.

They only charge you if you actually get a seat on the new flight, and they’ve expanded the offering for a “confirmed standby” seat from 3 hours to 12 hours, but it still stinks. Oh, and half price ($25 instead of $50) for Platinum and Gold elites – but not silver which is a bit surprising. And Continental was in the minority for not charging fees for this benefit, but that was a good thing.

At this point I think I’d rather sit in the lounge and drink more to counteract the income that they think they’re getting for this new feature. Or eat all those little cheese packs or something. I just don’t see this generating enough money to tank up a 737 for a flight to Florida, and it sure does piss people off to be nicked for the little things.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.