Flying standby

My first flight on my own, at the age of sixteen, I remember flying standby.

This was on the recommendation of my aunt, who I was going to visit for an indefinite stay in London, England. She told me she always flew standby, because it was cheaper, and that was definitely a selling point to me. I had earned my fare to cross the sea by babysitting and cleaning my mother’s friends houses, and I wasn’t about to waste a dime unnecessarily.

I’m recalling this as I sit, cramped into a packed plane. Does anyone remember flying standby, as a strategy?

The deal was, you bought the ticket in advance, but not for a specific flight. Or, it might be tentatively for a specific flight, but you knew that your seat was not guaranteed. You showed up at the airport well ahead of the scheduled departure time, and out your name on the queue. And then sat down with a thick book, and hoped your name was near enough the top of the list to let you on. In those days, they didn’t oversell seats as they do now, so the chances were good that you would get on the flight you had hoped for (and, as I recall, that first flight, I did make it on). If you didn’t make it on that flight, you’d wait for the next.

This morning, I left the house at 4:45 to make it to the airport in time for a 5:50am flight! Those who know me know that 4:45am is NOT my best time of the day! I had managed to pack, but my toiletries and that little bag of 3oz containers that we’re all constrained to we’re sitting out on the bathroom counter. I collected my things, and brought them out to my car in the garage, but first I had to move my husband’s car out to the curb, so I could pull out. I got in my own car, and started off, feeling quite pleased with myself for an efficient start to my trip.

The airport is about 35 minutes from my house, and I was just pulling into the terminal entrance, heading to the garage where the EV charging stations are when I realized “Oops! I left my toiletries on the bathroom counter.” This realization was quickly followed by my panicked turning on the inside light and realizing that, what a minute, where is my bag and briefcase? And, then I realized, I had leaned them up against the passenger’s side of my car while I pulled out the husband’ scar, and then walked up to the driver’s side of my car, and taken off, not realizing that my stuff was still in the garage.

I circled the airport and headed back home. Now, my biggest fear was that my front right-side tire might have rolled over my laptop, and I was just hoping that if anything got smushed, it was my overnight bag – clothes are so much easier to replace than electronics!

there was no way that I could make it back home and back to the airport in time to catch my scheduled flight, so I relaxed my speed, and took my time. It gave me plenty of time to think. And, it got me thinking about standby flights, since, now, I would essentially be flying standby.

As it happened, although I might have made it on the flight as a standby, I didn’t risk not getting a seat, and I paid the $75 to guarantee my seat. Then, to add insult to injury, the flight that was supposed to depart at 10:43 got delayed until 12:25pm!

But, I made it, and I can look forward to calling home in a few hours and reassuring both boys that I’m safe and sound.

Here’s to hoping the rest of the trip goes more smoothly.

Leave a Reply