American Airlines to charge $50 for flying standby

Monday, February 15, 2010, 19:52 by Jose Philip

American Airlines, based in ort Worth, Texas, the United States, will charge the non-premium-class passengers a fee of $50 for flying standby on the day of their scheduled flights for tickets purchased on or after February 22, 2010.

The airline’s new policy will apply to passengers flying within United States as well as between the United States and Canada, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

However, the standby option will continue to be free of charge for passengers who are higher-level members of the frequent-flier programme, first-class and business-class passengers, those paying military fares and also for some coach-passengers. All others who switch flights on their day of travel must pay $50 for a confirmed seat.

In a statement, American Airlines, a subsidiary of AMR Corporation, said it effected the change in policy vis-à-vis flying standby with a view to “streamlining processes as well as customer experience” during the departure of a flight.

A customer of American Airlines who wishes to change to another flight on his day of travel can buy the airline’s ‘Confirmed Flight Change’ by paying $50, provided inventory is available on the opted flights. And, this option has been in place since 2005, American Airlines, the second biggest airline in the United States, said in the statement.

Tim Smith, a spokesman of American Airlines, said the company’s decision to charge $50 for flying standby is expected to ease congestion caused by a large number of passengers wanting flight changes.

He explained that the new policy has not been prompted only by a need for more revenues but also by American Airlines’ experience that, on many flights, there are a good number of passengers wanting to stand by. This, the spokesman added, not only called for an enormous amount of time and effort but also caused interruptions in the boarding process and the gate-agents having to keep track of it.

The fee for flying standby adds one more to the list of goods and services that coach passengers can buy as airlines are attempting to increase their revenues apart from sales. AMR Corporation earned $2.3 billion in 20098 from such sales – a 5.4% increase from 2008.

Other major airlines based in the United States like US Airways and Delta Air Lines and have similar policies regarding flying standby.

Delta Air Lines, like American Airlines, offers the elite frequent-fliers free flight-changing, but charges other passengers a non-refundable fee of $50 to change their flight on the day of the travel.

Continental Airlines allows certain passengers change flight for a fee of $25 or $50, while the flight-change is free of charge for elite fliers. United Airlines lets regular coach passengers fly standby free of charge, but passengers have to pay $75 for a guaranteed seat.