Pros & Cons of Flying Standby

I cannot remember the last time that I bought an airline ticket. As an American Airlines flight attendant, my mom’s job has allowed me and my family to travel to places such as Paris, Jamaica and Cabo San Lucas free of charge. Although flying standby has allowed me to travel around the world and make lifelong memories, there have also been times where I was stuck at the airport for 12 hours because all of the flights were full. Or, I had to drive to another nearby airport in order to try and get on a flight there. So, flying standby is definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you are willing to accept that you may spend several hours stuck inside of an airport, then I encourage you to try flying standby. 



The cost of flying standby is significantly cheaper than buying a ticket

With my mom’s status of 25 years as a flight attendant, we are able to fly for free. With the money that we save on flights, we are able to spend more money elsewhere on things such as activities, accommodations and food. Especially for international travel where flights can attract price tags of upward of $1,000, this pro is undoubtedly the most beneficial because it has allowed my family to travel out of the country multiple times without breaking the bank.


There is the possibility that you may get upgraded to business or first class

When my family and I traveled to Paris, we were able to upgrade to first class! For four of us total, the cost to upgrade was $500, which averages to $125 per person. Obviously, this is much cheaper than the cost of a full-fare first class ticket. Although being able to upgrade to business or first class is not a guarantee every time I fly standby, it is exciting when it does happen because it is luxury that I am able to enjoy without paying thousands of dollars. 



Flying standby with checked luggage can be difficult

If you check your baggage upon arrival at the airport and you do not get on the flight that your baggage is on, you have no way to retrieve your checked bag. However, it will be waiting at your destination for you whenever you finally arrive. This can be time-consuming and frustrating because it could take a while to locate your bag, and if you are stuck for several days without your clothes, well, you might just end up purchasing all of the touristy clothes you can find in the airport’s gift shop. 

You may not get on the flight you want 

When I was 13, my mom and I were trying to fly from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. We got to the airport at 8 a.m. in hopes that we would get on an early flight. However, all of the flights were full and continued to be full throughout the entire day. So, we drove to another airport in Washington D.C. at 6 p.m. and got on a flight there. Although we eventually got on a flight home, we did spend an entire day at the airport just hoping we would get on a flight. One can only eat so many fast food meals and watch so much Netflix until she decides to throw in the towel and pay for a flight. 



Booking accommodations at your destination can be challenging

You do not want to pay hundreds of dollars for a hotel, only to miss the first three nights you paid for because flight loads changed the day before. Not being able to book accommodations can be stressful, especially if you are traveling during a busy time such as Christmas or summer vacation because it is very likely that many places have no rooms left. So, although you may have gotten to your destination for free, you may end up at an outrageously expensive five-star hotel or a run-down, bed bug infested one-star hostel. But if you’re lucky, you may be able to find somewhere in between. 


Standby has allowed me to travel to places that my family would have never considered traveling to before, due to the steep price of airline tickets that often is too expensive for families to afford. Although there have been instances where I have found myself wishing that I could be a “normal” ticketed passenger to avoid the stress and waiting that is associated with flying standby, I will forever be grateful for the vacations and experiences that flying standby has allowed me to have.