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Old Aug 22, 10, 2:01 pm   #1
 
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Talking Southwest allows the sale of a 'Standby' ticket for a sold out flight!

I just wanted to post a bit of praise about Southwest, and let people know about the ability to purchase a standby ticket at the ticketing counter.

I found myself stuck in LGA on Thursday afternoon a few weeks ago. My flight was canceled and I was rebooked on a flight that was scheduled to depart the next morning. I wasn't very happy about the prospect of spending another night in New York, but every single other carrier was sold out of seats to Chicago (ORD/MDW) and it didn't seem like I was going to be able to get back to Chicago.

I checked the Southwest website earlier in the day and tickets for LGA->MDW were showing as "Sold Out". I popped over to the Southwest ticket counter just to check and see if they could do anything for me though. Much to my delight, the desk agent was happy to sell me a standby ticket on the next flight out. The agent was very careful to make sure that I understood that she wasn't selling me an actual seat. I didn't mind though since this was my best shot at getting myself back to Chicago and my alternative was to spend the night in New York and fly out the next morning.

For those that find themselves stuck somewhere that WN flies, and Southwest is showing that their flights are sold out, I recommend checking with the ticketing agent to see if they will sell you a standby seat.

Kudos to WN!
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Old Aug 22, 10, 2:43 pm   #2
 
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You don't say whether you actually were able to board the flight. I'm assuming you did board the flight given how happy you sound about the situation.

Last edited by FLYERIL; Aug 22, 10 at 8:31 pm.
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Old Aug 22, 10, 4:10 pm   #3
 
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Except you don't know "how overbooked" the Southwest flight was compared to "how overbooked" other airlines' flights were.

Some airlines will sell you a full fare confirmed coach seat even if your sneak peek at whatsitsname dot com shows all the fare buckets zeroed out i.e. the flight is indeed sold out. How long they do this i.e. how deeply they overbook any given flight this way I don't know.

But yes, do ask if you can buy a ticket.
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Old Aug 22, 10, 8:06 pm   #4
 
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Happiness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYERIL View Post
You don't say whether you actually were able to board the flight. I assuming you did board the flight given how happy you sound about the situation.
WN isn't my favorite carrier, but I do on occasion enjoy flying with them. I would say that I was happier that I was able to get back to Chicago than I was to be flying on WN.
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Old Aug 22, 10, 8:15 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Except you don't know "how overbooked" the Southwest flight was compared to "how overbooked" other airlines' flights were.

Some airlines will sell you a full fare confirmed coach seat even if your sneak peek at whatsitsname dot com shows all the fare buckets zeroed out i.e. the flight is indeed sold out. How long they do this i.e. how deeply they overbook any given flight this way I don't know.

But yes, do ask if you can buy a ticket.
The ticketing agent showed me her screen that showed that flight 3222, the flight I ended up taking, was oversold by 7. The next flight out (I forget the flight number) was oversold by 14. I got the feeling that the agent would have sold me a seat even if there were 20 people on the standby list. The agent also made it very clear that the ticket was fully refundable if I wasn't able to fly out that night.

I checked at the ticketing counters for AA, Continental and United, and nobody but Southwest would sell me a ticket. I did check the loads on ExpertFlyer and everything was zeroed out, including F at 2pm on the day of travel.

And if you haven't already gathered, I was able to board the plane. I believe that I was the last standby passenger to be called .

Last edited by WildRyan; Aug 22, 10 at 8:17 pm. Reason: formatting
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Old Aug 22, 10, 9:11 pm   #6
 
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This is just a matter of semantics. WN no doubt sold you a full-fare ticket, since you were a walk-up customer and would not qualify for any advance purchase discount. To do the same on any other carrier, just by a full-fare ticket for the next flight that does have availability on the route that you want to fly, even if it's a future date. Once you have that ticket issued, have yourself added to the standby list for the flight you want - no charge since you have a full-fare ticket. If you don't make it, then refund the ticket - again, no charge since you're full-fare. Also, depending on the airline, you may find that your full-fare ticket moves you to the front of the standby line for similarly-situated passengers.
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Old Aug 23, 10, 11:24 am   #7
 
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Really? Sweet!

That's a pretty clever idea. Have you tried that before? You might run into the fact that the airport ticketing or gate agents won't let you fly standby since it's not on the same day of travel.

I am pretty sure that if I would have pulled that with AA at the ticketing counter that it wouldn't have gone off too well. I can see them selling me a full fare ticket for the next day, but they probably wouldn't be willing to let me fly standby on anything for that evening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
This is just a matter of semantics. WN no doubt sold you a full-fare ticket, since you were a walk-up customer and would not qualify for any advance purchase discount. To do the same on any other carrier, just by a full-fare ticket for the next flight that does have availability on the route that you want to fly, even if it's a future date. Once you have that ticket issued, have yourself added to the standby list for the flight you want - no charge since you have a full-fare ticket. If you don't make it, then refund the ticket - again, no charge since you're full-fare. Also, depending on the airline, you may find that your full-fare ticket moves you to the front of the standby line for similarly-situated passengers.
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Old Aug 23, 10, 12:13 pm   #8
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If this does indeed work regularly then it is a significant difference from legacy carrier operations.

I'm pretty sure I could not show up at a United gate holding a full-fare ticket for tomorrow and standby today. Either the flight is Y1 and the agent exchanges my ticket (perhaps leaving me standing there waiting for a seat assignment...heck, I'd have a right to VDB at that point! or it's Y0 and I'm completely out of luck.

How would a full-fare "tomorrow" passenger be prioritized vs. a displaced (from another WN flight) "today" passenger? If my WN flight is canceled, throwing me onto the standby list for the last flight of the day, can I effectively "buy up" my standby priority with a new or changed ticket?
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Old Aug 23, 10, 1:27 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
If this does indeed work regularly then it is a significant difference from legacy carrier operations.

I'm pretty sure I could not show up at a United gate holding a full-fare ticket for tomorrow and standby today. Either the flight is Y1 and the agent exchanges my ticket (perhaps leaving me standing there waiting for a seat assignment...heck, I'd have a right to VDB at that point! or it's Y0 and I'm completely out of luck.

How would a full-fare "tomorrow" passenger be prioritized vs. a displaced (from another WN flight) "today" passenger? If my WN flight is canceled, throwing me onto the standby list for the last flight of the day, can I effectively "buy up" my standby priority with a new or changed ticket?
I guess we will have to wait for Steve M to weigh in on his results with buying a full-fare day+1 ticket and flying standby for day+0. I'd imagine that this would produce pretty entertaining results at a ticketing counter given that the agent would have just stated that there is no possible way to buy a standby seat.

I'm pretty sure that I was added to the bottom of the standby list when I purchased my Southwest ticket at the ticketing counter. It seems to me that there were no frills or tricks to hopping up to the top of the standby list on WN.
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Old Aug 24, 10, 3:51 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
I'm pretty sure I could not show up at a United gate holding a full-fare ticket for tomorrow and standby today. Either the flight is Y1 and the agent exchanges my ticket (perhaps leaving me standing there waiting for a seat assignment...heck, I'd have a right to VDB at that point! or it's Y0 and I'm completely out of luck.
Why not? One of the primary benefits of a full-fare ticket is that you can change it without penalty to any flight on any day. I think you're right about the Y1 situation - if that was the case, you could have the agent change your ticket such that you'd be a confirmed passenger on that flight, even if it were oversold at the moment. You'd either be boarded before the flight closed, or you'd be entitled to IDB (not VBD) compensation.

But let's say the flight was at Y0. Why could you not be added to the standby list at that point? You'd be in the same situation as everyone else on the standby list in the sense that you a) wanted to get on that flight and b) did not hold a confirmed reservation for that flight.

Quote:
How would a full-fare "tomorrow" passenger be prioritized vs. a displaced (from another WN flight) "today" passenger? If my WN flight is canceled, throwing me onto the standby list for the last flight of the day, can I effectively "buy up" my standby priority with a new or changed ticket?
I don't know about WN, but I did consider situation on my "other" domestic carrier: CO. Based on what I was able to gather from the Contract of Carriage, what's on their website, and various FT posts, the priority for clearing people onto a flight who could not be immediately issued boarding passes upon check-in would be handled in the following priority order:

1. Passengers holding confirmed reservations for that flight. Those might include passengers anywhere from those that booked 11 months out but for some reason didn't have a seat assignment and checked into an overbooked flight after all available seats had been given out, to someone that booked at the last minute (perhaps less than an hour before departure with the flight showing Y1), either by buying a new ticket or changing their full-fare ticket for another flight to the flight in question.

2. Passengers that have been involuntarily displaced off another flight, perhaps because they missed a connection, or their original flight was canceled.

3. Passengers wishing to voluntarily fly on a flight other than the one they originally ticketed, whether on the same or different day (fees might vary depending on the situation).

Within each of the above category, passengers would be prioritized first based on elite status, and within each elite status, based on fare basis, and within each fare basis, based on the time they were added to the standby list.

Given the above, I don't see why a full-fare passenger would not be added to the standby list for any flight on any day, regardless of when they purchased the ticket and regardless to how oversold the flight was, unless the standby list was so large that it was "closed." Barring a closed standby list, they'd be added to the standby list and prioritized based on the above criteria.

At least that's how I see it. Does anyone have information to the contrary?
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Old Aug 25, 10, 5:53 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildRyan View Post
The ticketing agent showed me her screen that showed that flight 3222, the flight I ended up taking, was oversold by 7. The next flight out (I forget the flight number) was oversold by 14. I got the feeling that the agent would have sold me a seat even if there were 20 people on the standby list. The agent also made it very clear that the ticket was fully refundable if I wasn't able to fly out that night.

I checked at the ticketing counters for AA, Continental and United, and nobody but Southwest would sell me a ticket. I did check the loads on ExpertFlyer and everything was zeroed out, including F at 2pm on the day of travel.

And if you haven't already gathered, I was able to board the plane. I believe that I was the last standby passenger to be called .
The correct terminology is that the flight was overBOOKED by 7 and the next flight was overBOOKED by 14. If it were oversold by 7, you wouldn't have gotten on the flights and 7 others would get denied boarding compensation. Just a pet peeve of mine...I'm sure the agent said said "oversold" but that it technically NOT correct.

In theory, the overbooking levels should account for last minutes full fare bookings (assuming the forecasts are correct). So, you were the lucky recipient of accurate forecasting and optimization models running in the background. Mathematics at work!!
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