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Pre booked flights vs standby flights

Brisbane, Australia
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Pre booked flights vs standby flights

Hi,

I've been told it is super easy and cheap to buy standby tickets for domestic USA flights at the airport. How true is this?

My concerns are.. I'm a planner.. So I have a time of day (evenings) and specific dates set that I want to fly. I have heard that the later the flights in the US the more likely there will be delays. And since I plan on having all my hotels and activities booked in, those times and dates are important to me.

I also have a pref carrier (Southwest) because of their baggage fees.

I want to fly NY to SFO 10/28/12 ($255 p/p), SFO to LV 10/31/12 ($100 p/p) and LV to LAX 11/02/12 ($77 p/p). (Current web prices).

So other things that are worrying me is that those dates are heading into (or into- so I've been led to believe) peak season. LV also has SEMA on at that time which we want to get to.

The people I'm traveling with are not planners. If booking early is the way to go, how do I go about convincing them?

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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1. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

I've not seen standby tickets sold at airport desks for years. 'Super easy and cheap' aren't words that come to mind for buying air tickets at the last minute.

The fares you mention aren't bad, especially if they include taxes and fees. If your dates are firm then I'd say book now rather than run the risk of those fares selling out, with higher fares taking their place.

Some airlines are reducing numbers of flights on certain routes with the result of more pax looking for available seats. There will be little impetus for an airline to reduce fares or keep them low when Revenue Management know that their flights are full for travel from A to B on six out of seven days of the week.

Ask you non-planning friends if they would like to set a small pile of $A50 bills on fire now, in anticipation of spending more on air tickets later in the year, or if they would prefer to save a few dollars to spend whilst on holiday.

South Pole
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2. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

"The people I'm traveling with are not planners. If booking early is the way to go, how do I go about convincing them?"

i know exactly what u mean!

tell them early is cheaper and that u r booking on the nth of the Nth.

are they with you or not?

if not, book and let them stew in their own juice.

Bingley, United...
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for Edinburgh
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3. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

Show them the prices if they booked to fly today and show them the fares if booking in advance.

Edinburgh, United...
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4. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

Actually there's not a huge difference if you compare SW prices.

That said, I wouldn't recommend booking at the last minute either but perhaps there's a middleground between that and booking 5 months in advance.

London
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5. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

The best advice I've seen about air fares is that if you are happy with the price, book it and don't look back.

UK
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6. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

I've been told it is super easy and cheap to buy standby tickets for domestic USA flights at the airport. How true is this?

-------------

Let's not beat about the bush, it's completely untrue. Whoever told you this hasn't flown since the 1970's or has misunderstood how it works now. There is no such thing as standby for members of the general population, there is for airline staff and maybe they know someone who is airline staff, takes advantage of this, and thinks anyone can do it.

Even then of course, there is no guarantee you'll fly on a given date/ time, as i have posted before on this subject, last year a friend of mine who is airline staff gave up after 2 days trying to get from HNL to LAX and bought a ticket which was very expensive as it was last minute - even for her, there was no discount on the day.

I don't know how to solve your dilemma about travelling with friends who aren't planners, that could turn into a nightmare with a clash of personalities, either you fretting for weeks or months, or them getting annoyed with you pestering them. I suppose all you can do is point out to them that planes have a finite capacity and when they are full they are full, what is your friends plan should there be no space on the flights you need? Which is very likely, more and more planes these days are flying full.

Would they be happy to turn over the planning to you? Are you close enough you take their credit card details and book the flights for them in their name if it's just a question of them being too chilled out to do anything about it? If its about saving money and they simply don't believe you, you have a dilemma because what happens if they want to wait until the day, you booked already, they get to the airport and there are no flights available because they are full? Do you go alone? Do they wait at the airport for the next day?

Will they have the same attitude to hotels? Are they aware that last minute hotel bookings are also the most expensive? Will they be happy to book a hotel in advance but risk not being able to use it?

Edited: 06 June 2012, 12:47
San Diego
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7. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

I have no idea where your friends heard such nonsense!

Southwest Fares are at their lowest when they are first published!

As the low fare tickets sell out then only the higher fare tickets are left for purchase. IF I were you I'd buy my ticket NOW-today and let your friends do as they please

You'll be flying and they'll be crying!

Milwaukee
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for Milwaukee
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8. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

If you have hotels and activities booked you really need airline reservations or you run a high risk of missing those activities and being charged for hotel rooms in one city while you are sleeping in the airport in your departure city.

The only way I know stand by works these days is if you have a ticket booked for a certain day you can show up at the airport early on that day and request to be placed on stand by for an earlier flight to your destination.

Without advance reservations the likely result will be that you will pay exorbitant prices for same day tickets or you will not get to your planned destination. Either don't book hotel rooms and activities, which opens up another set of problems, or reserve airfare then reserve your hotels and activities.

That's what I do for domestic US travel. I book airfare then I start booking the other stuff.

Chicago
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9. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

I agree with everything the previous posters have said. Tell your friends you are booking tickets next Monday (arbitrary date) and tell them you are willing to book for them as well (using their credit cards - I'm not sure I'd even trust them to go on the trip at all, it sounds like) and then do so. Hotels are a little easier in that you can book hotels that are cancellable if you find something better.

After that, you are indeed going to have to deal with a clash of travel styles and on that you are going to have to compromise as well. By that I mean, you are going to need to be flexible on your idea of having all your activities planned. Pick out the non-negotiable things (tickets for whatever SEMA is, a couple of other things in your other cities) and otherwise be flexible.

If need be, if there is something you really want to do and they don't care enough to plan in advance, then simply plan to do it yourself. Traveling together doesn't mean you all need to be joined at the hip all the time, and with different travel personalities you will need to have some breathing space. I have traveled with a group before, and basically we each decided what we wanted to do on a given day, it was great if someone else wanted to do it but we all met up for dinner/drinks at some point. Work out something like that.

Good luck.

Milwaukee
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10. Re: Pre booked flights vs standby flights

Warriorjan you just listed all the reasons why I like to travel solo.

Many US hotels have a policy where you can cancel up to the date of your arrival You do have to review the terms and conditions to make sure of the individual hotel policy. But, if you are in one city and go to the airport in the evening expecting to buy a ticket to another city where you have a hotel room booked for that night and you can't get on a flight you will lose a one night deposit in almost every case.

Just a note about Vegas during a large convention, have you looked at hotel prices? They can be really high during peak times.

Edited: 06 June 2012, 14:49