Adventures in Stand-By Air Travel, by Kristi
When flying standby, it makes no difference when one lists (buys the ticket) for the flight. Since I was on a bike tour the weekend before this adventure, I showed up at the airport at 7 a.m. for an 8:30 flight and asked what were my chances of getting to LA today in time for sunset over Venice Beach. The gate agent responded, "What day?" After checking all the non-stop flights and several one-stop flights, he came back to the 8:30 one and said, "Well, you might make it on." I proceeded to the gate. I was the 13th stand-by; 3 seats were available. I considered going on down to the next flight's gate but decided to stick it out. At five minutes before the door closed, the gate agent called a list of names to line up at the door. I heard my name! My pulse racing, I lined up. They literally shooed us down the ramp telling us to take any seat. At the door, they had even called passengers from the plane to check their carry-on baggage. As soon as the last of the stand-by passengers stepped aboard, they closed the door.
My seat was near the back, in the middle row, middle seat. Since I had been prepared to spend most of the day at Hartsfield or some other airport, I made up my mind the middle seat was a great seat. Turns out, I was surrounded by the most considerate passengers ever. They people on either side left the middle armrests for me. The guys in the row in front asked before reclining their seats. The folks behind never touched my seat.
There was no head wind, so the plan arrived 40 minutes early. The ground crew had to scramble, but Andy was there for me.
What a great start to our wonderful adventure!