American Wants Your $50 for Coach Standby

AA says it's "streamlining" the boarding process by cutting down on the number of would-be standby fliers

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010  |  Updated 9:13 PM CDT
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American Wants Your $50 for Coach Standby

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The next time you think about flying standby on American Airlines, be prepared to give the gate agent your name and $50.

The next time you think about flying standby on American Airlines, be prepared to open your wallet.

The nation's second-largest airline said Wednesday that starting with tickets bought on Feb. 22, only elite frequent fliers, travelers in first or business class, military personnel and people who bought pricey coach tickets will be allowed to fly standby. The carrier is dumping standby for coach fliers.

Instead, everyone else switching flights on their day of travel will have to pay $50 to get a confirmed seat. They can purchase the airline's Confirmed Flight Change service from the airline's reservations offices, an airport self-service machine or the airport ticket counter.

The changes also apply to American Eagle and AmericanConnection flights.

In announcing the change, Fort Worth-based American played down the $50 fee, not mentioning it until the third paragraph. Instead, it said it was improving the boarding process by eliminating the gaggle of would-be standby fliers who flock to the desk before flights.

American Airlines said too many people were trying to fly standby. On some flights, the list would top 100 passengers. But the carrier said the while the change is to improve the overall customer experience, it does stand to make money from the change.

"Certainly there is some revenue that will probably be coming in from that,” American spokesman Tim Smith said. “But just as important is the easing of a chaotic situation with the standby list that goes on at the gate prior to boarding."

He said it will be interesting to see how many fliers are willing to pay $50 to fly standby.

Perhaps it will be the same people who are willing to $8 for a pillow and a blanket.

Get More: Changes to Standby Procedures

NBCDFW's Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

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