Today, my younger daughter and I left early in the morning for a trip to visit my brother and his family. We decided to fly “stand by” since my wife had a few extra passes from her stint at an Airline she worked for last year.
We started our adventure in the wee hours of the morning (4:30 AM) from the suburbs of Middletown, NJ to Newark Liberty Airport in Newark. Being optimistic I figured with a changeover in St. Louis, we’d be arriving in Dallas by 10:30 AM Local time.. Wrong!
We got to St. Louis and that’s when our gate shuffle started. Our intended flight to Dallas was full and we were told to go another gate (10 Gates over) to try for the next connecting flight.. We get to the second gate and we are told by a very very nice gate agent that there is not much of a chance of us to get on THIS flight. Yet I have to tell you something, the gate agents at Southwest are one of the most helpful gate agents you will ever meet. Honest Truth!
They must have seen my pathetic and futile expression and the gate agent scoured all the flights that would enable me to get to my destination in the easiest manner. She sent us BACK to the gate we came from to get on another flight to Tulsa to connect to another (wide open) flight to Dallas! Yes! we were now back in business!
I have to tell you, the helpfulness of “Joy” was truly a joy for us. She fought with her stuck stapler and got us the necessary paperwork, so we could go back to our originating gate and get on the flight to Tulsa!
So we go back to Gate 10, and wait patiently as all the “paid” passengers board the flight to Tulsa.. With dread a sense of despair, I tell my daughter “Well I guess we will have to keep trying”. That’s when the gods of “stand by travel” shined on us.. We were the last 2 seated on the Tulsa flight! Year us!
We got to Tulsa, Oklahoma and jumped on the next connector flight to Dallas! Lucky for us, the Tulsa to Dallas flight was wide open! Oh Happy days!
We finally get to Dallas by 1:30 PM CST and the only casualty of this endless journey is one broken wheel on a checked bag in St. Louis!
Lessons to be learned from this adventure about the perils of flying stand by:
- Don’t travel stand-by during the summer months! You are guaranteed to get “bumped” on full flights.
- Leave plenty of time, for the fact that you are at the mercy of flights being full.
- Don’t travel on Monday’s! Monday is known to be one of the most heavy days for air travel with commuters and vacationers traveling
- Develop patience and accept the fact you will be sitting somewhere, waiting for some flight to open for you to travel on!
- Avoid stand-by Travel if at all possible!
- Pick locations that may be easy to get to.. the larger the city.. the less likely of success in stand-by travel.
Updated on 7/30/2012:
The follies continued on my way back to Newark from Dallas. I gotta tell you one thing, if you ever fly standby, you should never fly an airline that doesn’t have direct flights (Southwest). Don’t get me wrong, the Southwest employees are really helpful and sympathetic both on board and on the ground..
So thing about this trip. We started from Love Field in Dallas at about 8 AM and we landed at Newark at almost Midnight. Yes 12+ hours for a trip that should normally take 3 to 4 hours if you flew direct!
Our original flight to Chicago (Midway) was sold out so we went to the next gate so we could find an alternate route. Even the gate agent was frustrated yet she finally got us on a flight to Houston, TX, so we could at least have a better chance of getting home as a stand-by passenger
So we get to Houston from Dallas and now we are looking for an alternate route. We get on a flight from Houston to St.Louis via Birmingham. Remember if you can get bumped at any stop! We got lucky and ended up at St Louis by Mid-Day and felt lucky.
We were put on a flight to Chicago (Midway) and we got there by Mid Afternoon. After about a 2 hour layover and a boarding pass for a Newark flight in our hand, we felt that we were almost there! Not!
Our flight to Newark was delayed by 2+ hours due to T-Storms in Newark area. Yes the news gets better and better!? so the flight that was to leave at 6:30 PM left at about 9 PM for our final destination: Newark NJ!
We finally arrived to Newark by Midnight! So our long journey for day into night was finally over!
‘We went from Dallas –> Houston –> Birmingham —> St. Louis —> Chicago –> Newark NJ in a period of 15 hours! We changed planes 3 times and I think we must have traveled over 3 thousand Miles! This journey took more time than a normal journey from US to India!
In all my years of traveling standby, this had to be the longest journey I ever had! All I could say was Wow! I think I am now a veteran of flying standby. If you ever fly standby:
- Be flexible and leave yourself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B
- Be prepared for detours!
- Don’t travel during the Summer vacation times
- Don’t travel during Monday or Saturday! Almost every day has a heavy load, but these 2 days happen to be the worst
- Be nice to the Gate Agents. Almost everyone will empathize and try to get you on board if they can!
- Get used to overpriced Airport Food!
- Be prepared to Sit and wait!
- Be prepared to walk from gate to gate to find an open flight!
Have you flown standby? If you have, I’d like to hear your story!
- Stranded at the airport – How the manager of the Detroit airport turned a bad situation into a customer service win (table4five.net)
- The Perils of Modern Air Travel – Part VI (specialeducationlawblog.blogspot.com)