An American Eagle CRJ-200 during boarding at LAX – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Occasionally, I’ll be as lucky as some of my AirlineReporter colleaguesÂ to be flying high in a premium cabin while being waited on hand and foot (see, e.g., David Delagarza’s vacation flight in first-class on ANA, orÂ Jacob’s Pfledger’s mile-high shower on Emirates). But as most of us can attest to, sometimes (or most of the time) we have to schlep it to get to where we want to go.
My wife and I traveled to Europe for a two-week whirlwind honeymoon tour that included 10Â cities in eight countries, as well as eight individual flights within Europe. We found a smashing deal from DeltaÂ to experienceÂ premium economy on Air France’s Airbus A380 to Paris. Â There was just one slight issue: our Air France flight tookÂ off from San Francisco, but we live in Southern California — over 350 miles away. Â The solution: flying in the much-maligned CRJ-200.Â What sort of life decisions did I getÂ wrong to lead me toÂ suffering this mighty indignity?
This is the reason that most of us fly, being able to look down at the earth below us.
Flying around the U.S. is something that so many people do on a regular basis. Â The process used to be much more stressful. Having to track down a travel agent or even buying your ticket at the counter, hoping that there was a seat available. Today, we are able to book our tickets online, months in advance and can have increased confidence that we have a seat on the plane. Â But even in today’s hi-tech aviation business, there are still times that almost make it feel low-tech and high-stress.Â I experienced one recently on a flight to Las Vegas.Â That weekend in Vegas may have been fun, but for this AvGeek it was extremely stressful and I am not even sure if it was worth it.
There are manyÂ people who have airline benefits and have the ability to fly for free around the world. Â I have flown on these “buddy passes”Â beforeÂ and previously, and it was not that bad of an experience.Â However, this trip to Vegas has seriously made me reconsider ever using one again.
Slow morning at Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) in upstate New York – Photo: Steven Paduchak
Ever wonder what itâ€™s like to be â€œthat guy?â€ Specifically, when trying to get on a particular flight, standing up at the kiosk as the gate agent scans everyoneâ€™s boarding pass?Â Well people, I had the distinct opportunity to be â€œthat guy.â€Â Welcome to the world of flying via standby.
What is â€œstandbyâ€ flying?Â Well, Iâ€™ll tell you.Â People who are on a standby list for a particular flight have the option to snag any available seats left over once the boarding process is complete.Â By â€œstandard passengers,â€ I, of course, mean people who actually paid money (or miles) for their ticket.Â Flying standby is most commonly a result of a friend or relative working for that specific airline, or regional affiliate. My first week being a part of this kind of travel was entertaining, exciting, nerve-wrecking, aggravating, and unorthodox, to say the least.Â Hereâ€™s how it all got started.