{October 25, 2012}   Standby travel or how I slept in the airport with my family

When standby travel works out, it’s awesome! As airline employees,  we get to travel relatively inexpensively and get unlimited travel for ourselves,  our spouses, children and parents. Sounds pretty sweet,  right?  Sometimes we even get upgraded.  But when something goes wrong, it is dreadful.

We were invited to an out of town family wedding and my whole family was planning on attending: myself,  my husband and my three children. But, as that weekend approached,  the flight was getting fuller and fuller. In the end,  my husband and I decided that just myself and our oldest son, H, would go,  as then we would only need two empty plane seats instead of five.

Frankly, we were traumatized from the last time we tried to get away for a few days.  We had jumped on a plane to visit my brother and his family.  In fact,  we got the last five seats on the flight and my daughter, D and I got to sit in first class! Now that’s the way to travel! On the way home,  we missed the first flight to our city, as the flight was full. No problem. There were 3 more flights that day. The next flight had a mechanical problem as one of the airplane instruments was broken. The airplane was to be grounded until the next morning. Oh no!  Now we are in trouble!  All the empty seats that day were going to be filled up by all those passengers from the canceled flight. We were never going to get out of here!  And I had to work the next day!  I made a quick decision to fly to a different city,  and from there,  try to fly home. Fortunately,  once again,  we got the last 5 seats on the flight.

When we landed at that alternate city, we were pretty confident we’d get out as there was a flight almost every hour to our home town. We started standing-by at 5 pm. Every flight,  we impatiently waited to hear our names called, as to indicate that we got on the flight. But, it wasn’t to be. They were all full.  By 10 pm, my children were fast asleep on the plastic airport seats. By midnight,  we had to bunker down and hope we’d make it on the 6 am flight the next morning. By this time,  my husband was not talking to me as he was angry that I did not purchase discounted tickets on other airlines,  called zed fares, before we started on our trip, as that has to get organized before you travel.

I looked at my 3 children uncomfortably sleeping,  draped a sundress on them,  as I had no blankets,  and decided to try to get some shut eye. As I was relocating my valuables,  I noticed I only had 4 passports instead of 5. Somehow,  I lost my daughter’s passport!  Now, my husband is even more angry.  I retraced my steps and tried to find it, to no avail. I think I might have slept 45 minutes that night.

The 6:00 am flight was full.  If I did not make it on,  I would miss work that day.  I decided to ask to sit in the flight deck, as I am a flight attendant,  I am allowed to.  I kissed my family good-bye,  promised them they’d be leaving soon too and off I went.

Once I landed,  I drove home,  showered,  put my uniform on,  and drove back to the airport.  Meanwhile,  my family still had not made it on a flight home. I had left my husband to wander around an airport all day with 3 young children.  Boy, did I feel bad!  I headed to the plane to work my turn around flight.  When I arrived back home at 11:00 pm, I called my husband,  hoping that he was enroute to home.  But, he was still at the other airport.  He told me that he’d probably get on the next flight,  which he did.

Next morning at 5 am, the family landed. As I went to the airport to pick them up, I kept my lawyer’s number on speed dial,  in case I needed it. So, you can see why my husband was reluctant to go to the wedding with me!


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