AA Standby "Stupid Airline Trick"

Apr 26th, 2010, 12:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 10,009
AA Standby "Stupid Airline Trick"

(My apologies for plagiarizing/paraphrasing David Letterman's Stupid Pet Trick bit....)

I should have been keeping up w/the postings on the air travel board and would not have had the following PITA experience.

We have always appreciated the fact that on AA if we get to the airport early and present ourselves at the gate, that we can get on an earlier flt if there are empty seats. An eminently logical policy, it would seem, b/c if we occupy empty seats, there is always a chance that those seats we are giving up on a later flt could be sold to someone else. A win-win proposition, it would seem to me!

However unaware of the recent change of policy, when we were going to LA this past Thur from Boston, we found we had time so we arrived at the airport so as to be able to get on the 5:10 flt, provided, of course, that there were empty seats. (We were scheduled for 7:15) We watched the plane board. We spoke to the gate person who told us that there were at least 10 empty seats and we were willing to pay the $50 fee. It was previously free.

She then proceeded to tell us that they were not seats in a category that she could sell. Now mind you, they were coach and the plane flew off with those seats EMPTY! To her credit, she also seemed not to know why she could not sell them, just that she could not. A co-worker standing next to her just shook her head in confusion.

So instead of getting to LA at 11:30 PM (Boston time), we sat at Logan for 2 more hours and finally got into our hotel at 3:30 AM (Boston time) b/c AA chose to send off a plane w/EMPTY seats.

I am not only p-----, I am perplexed. How did AA profit by not letting us give them $100 for seats that remained EMPTY??
socialworker is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 12:51 PM
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not to excuse the airlines at all but

part of tightening on standby rules (all airlines have, not all as strict as AA) has to do with the fact that flights that get in or leave at crappy times often cost less. SO what savvy travelers would do was to book the cheaper flight and standby as a way around the higher fare.

What AA is now doing (and I hope the legacy carriers do not follow suit) is to say, if oyu bought the cheapest ticket, we are NOT going to let oyu standby for a flight where oyu would have had to pay a higher fare to get on that flight in the first place. Possibly a way of making people pay the higher fares from the get go.
mztery is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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It's interesting to hear people (not the op mind you) go on to complain that policies like this will lead to less airline loyalty. In my mind it's exactly the opposite. As AA gold FF member I can still do the same day standby for free, and also check bags for free, and get priority boarding.

Having and maintaining perks like that make we want to fly more with AA and not their competitors.
J62 is online now  
Apr 26th, 2010, 04:13 PM
Original Poster
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I have no issue at all w/frequent travelers being rewarded for their loyalty. My issue was in not even being allowed to *pay* a fee for a seat that was going empty. That just seems plain stupid, to be very blunt.

We fly ~6 times/yr, exclusively on American, but that is not frequent enough to be "rewarded" and yet if they end up losing my brand loyalty, it is not as if it were completely insignificant.
socialworker is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 06:14 PM
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The policy seems quite fair to me. Three choices:

1) If you want the flights at more desirable times, then pay for those flights from the beginning.

2) Or fly enough with AA to be able to standby for free. That means at least 25,000 miles in a calendar year to achieve Gold status.

3) Or purchase higher fares when you travel. If you are buying tickets at the most discounted fares, those seats will be gone by the day of the flight. Hence the gate agent telling you that the seats were gone in the category of ticket you held.

Those are your options if you want to continue to try to standby with AA.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 07:13 PM
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This actually strikes me as "clueless" gate agent. I am pretty suret they can sell standby for ANY fare at the gate. So since you were willing to pay the money, perhaps you should send AA an email and suggest TRAINING???
CarolA is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 08:07 PM
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the agent was correct - to standby oyu pay the fee PLUS the fare difference

What happens if Confirmed Flight Change is not available for a flight and I am not a premium customer, but I would like to take an earlier flight?
A: If it is not a full-fare ticket, you may remain on the flight you booked or pay the difference in fare for the flight desired and any applicable charges for the change.
mztery is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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again not saying it is right or wrong, just that airlines are getting stricter and stricter. TO the airline the seat can go empty unless someone is willing ot pay the fare difference. If seats keep going out empty, they will either adjust the fare or sometimes they type of aircraft used for that flight at that time.
mztery is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 09:50 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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So what if the fare on the earlier flight would have been the same or more expensive? Would the original poster have been able to pay the $50 fee and get on that flight?
andrews98682 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2010, 09:58 PM
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no, she would have had to pay the $50 AND the fare difference.
mztery is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 04:04 AM
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This certainly has never been the norm for European airlines where the only way to get an earlier flight was to pay for it.

As others have suggested this is a means to stop people buying cheap tickets for unpopular flights then get on an earlier popular flight.

I suspect AA have done some research and found they are getting increasing numbers of such people and hence are losing revenue as a result - thus the stopping of it
alanRow is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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If you're flying 6x/year and half of them are transcon, you may be very close to gold (i know this isn't where you were going with this....) Keep your eye out for "Double Elite Qualifying Miles" promotions.

I actually enjoyed alot of free upgrades with gold status including a long flight to Hawaii.
fishee is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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i've been gold for years (at least) and never get upgraded anymore. it's almost as if everyone is exec plat.
jt7dreamz is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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Really? Almost every request of mine cleared last year as a Gold -- only ones that didn't clear were last minute requests at gate.

ORD-AUS, ORD-DFW, SFO-HNL, SFO-ORD, DFW-BUR are the ones I remember. The one to Honolulu may have been from DFW (not SF) I can't recall exactly but it took 6 stickers.

You must fly heavy business travel routes and times (Monday mornings and Friday afternoons)
fishee is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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I used to do this on AA quite a bit, and the fares were the SAME for the late afternoon/early evening flights. Now they're charging $50/seat? Sorry. I will not be an apologist for this type of policy. I'm with the OP. It's greedy and stupid.
christycruz is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 03:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Greedy? (stupid, maybe as they don't seem to have a solid business plan....)

AA and other US carriers are not Goldman Sachs -- these are not corporations rolling in obscene profit. They seem to be fighting to stay out of bankruptcy and I'm hoping they all stay in business -- so that people keep their jobs and so I can redeem my miles. I know people feel nickel and dimed but I sometimes marvel at the low fares I purchase. I am very happy that flying is not prohibitively expensive even if it is, at times, inconvenient.
fishee is offline  

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