I flew home from Las Vegas on Tuesday and needed to get back a bit earlier than my ticketed flight. Having absolutely no idea what Southwest’s standby policy was, I looked it up online before heading to the airport. As I was on a Wanna Get Away fare, standby required a buy-up to the Anytime fare – a difference of $85 in my case.
The crappy thing is that if you don’t make it on the flight, you’re still charged the fee, something rather unappealing. But since it was a Tuesday (off-peak travel day) and most people were arriving in Vegas for CES, I figured I’d have a damn good chance so I headed to the airport.
When I looked up the Anytime fare, I noticed the Business Select fare was a mere $15 more for the one-way to Reno. When I arrived at the airport, I asked instead to purchase a new ticket at the Business Select fare using the value on my original ticket as partial form of payment. And so $100 later, I had a confirmed seat – and a boarding group of A3 – for an earlier flight. Well worth the price for my need to get home four hours earlier.
The fare difference between the Wanna Get Away and Anytime fare was pretty negligible, all things considered, for the route I was flying. In some longer-distance markets, I’m sure it’s a considerable jump and it would make loyal flying on Southwest less likely if I were prone to frequently wanting standby travel having purchased the cheapest fares.
But what’s most shocking to me is they don’t provide a better standby policy for their most frequent fliers, A-List and A-List Preferred Rapid Rewards members. Maybe I’m just used to legacy airline programs and their liberal, by comparison, standby policies. Why wouldn’t Southwest throw elites a bone and allow standby on all fares? Am I missing something, or is their standby policy a bit off-putting to loyal travelers who buy the cheapest tickets?