Q. What's the deal with flying standby? I'm presently in Europe, after having paid an exorbitantly huge fare to get here from YYZ - and in the hostels I met up with this guy from Spain who tells me that he often flies standby and pays between 50 and 200 euros to fly virtually anywhere. Is that possible from North American Airports? if so... HOW?
A. That is absolutely not done any more in the US... "stand-by" is now for those who have already paid for a ticket and show up early to the airport to try to get on a flight earlier than the one they are ticketed for and quite often will have to pay an additional fee in order to get on an earlier flight. In the old days, you could wait and see if there were empty seats on a plane and pay a reduced fare to travel, but no major US airline does this anymore (with the exception of AirTran's program for college age travelers who have limited last-minute access to empty seats for a discounted fare).