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Standby tickets


We are in the process of changing where our kids get treated for their genetic disorder, from Big City to Big City Far Away.  We managed to an appointment for their initial consultation next week.

We are on a couple lists for charity flights, but since it is such short notice we are looking at standby plane tickets as a backup plan.

Long story short- how do standby tickets work?  How soon do we need to buy them?  How long are we likely to be waiting for a flight that can accommodate us?  And what else do I need to know?

Short answer - it depends.

I've gone standby several times because I've changed my flight.  Basically, they don't load your luggage until there is a space for you.  Then, usually right before the flight takes off, they are certain that there will be room and they give you a boarding pass and load your luggage. 

It seems (and makes sense) that the fewer number of people travelling together, the easier it is to get on the flight.  Travelling alone, and being polite to the person at the computer, I always got on the plane.  But, for the same flights I've seen couples have to wait for the next flight.  So, if three people are going.  I would group one parent with the child, and have the other parent on a different reservation. 

I would also call the airline.  They can look at their stats and tell you the odds of getting on via standby.  Also, the flights that give you the best odds. 


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