Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Realities of Stand-By Travel

Flying standby. 

Most people think of it in regards to missing a flight or trying to jump on an earlier one. We think of it as obsessively tracking flight loads, never EVER checking a bag, staring at the customer service agent until they (hopefully) call your names, being the last to board the plane, frantically booking hotel/car when you get on the plane...well, you get the point. It's now our normal.

Standby is easy when there is no place you have to be - it's actually quite liberating. "Oh hey, we're not busy this weekend, want to go to Seattle?" "Oh, the weather looks bad in Seattle? Let's go to Key West instead!" We get that not many people can do that. 

On the other hand, if you DO have to be somewhere, it can be a nightmare. Any one thing can set off a chain reaction that results in you missing your flight. Bad weather here? Bad weather where the flight came from? Business travelers get to the airport early and want to catch your flight instead? Crew needs to get to their home base? Any of these things can really mess you up. Making plans with other people is virtually impossible.

People see the fun of it all - and it is. It's awesome. But there is the other side as well. We've had to adopt the attitude that everything will work out - but it usually does! 
Overall, its luck, planning and dealing with a little stress that allow us to travel like we do. 

At the end of the day though, traveling for free is amazing. We've had the opportunity to see places it would have taken us so many years to see. Jason will be with Southwest for a long time and we are definitely cherishing each new memory we can make during this time.

Now, for the numbers.

Traveling on Southwest is 100% free domestically. When we fly internationally on Southwest, we do have to pay departure taxes like everyone else. For example, those taxes from Mexico City were about $90 for both of us RT.

International on other airlines is a little different and is based on deals that Southwest has with those airlines. It's also based on mileage. Just to give you an idea, for the two of us, we typically pay around $500 RT for Europe and Asia and even less to Central America and the Caribbean. 

So, moral of this story? Get a job at an airline. Then become our travel buddies!

*All the above pictures are from our stand-by travels to SE Asia last year - our most stressful and AWESOME trip to date.

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