Airline employee stand-by travel can hardly be called a “benefit” these days. Routes have been reduced to the bare minimal options, and loads are so over-sold that it seems volunteers are being bought off every flight.
None-the-less, my seven-year-old daughter and I attempted to fly with my husband from Chicago to San Francisco yesterday. This would have been her first flight on an airplane that her Daddy flew, and she was so excited. Unfortunately, the ordeal ended in sad silent sobbing tears when he backed the 747 away from the gate area where we were still sitting.
She recovered quickly, however, and then insisted that we stay at the airport and try every other flight option to San Francisco before giving up. As we hauled ourselves and our luggage from gate to gate, waiting patiently for our names to be called from the stand-by list, she kept her chin up and her attitude positive.
At one point, I told her, “You’re a good little traveler.”
She replied with a wry grin, “No, I’m a good airport walker and waiter.”
I would have given up and gone home earlier, but she begged to try for the last flight out at night. Our luck finally turned, and we got on the plane and actually even got to sit together. (Bonus!) We got to my husband’s layover hotel around 1:30am California time, which felt like 3:30 to us, and my daughter was still giddy just to have made it.
The plan was to go on from San Francisco to Tokyo with him tomorrow morning, but even if we were to make it there, I’m having second thoughts about repeating the stand-by travel game from Tokyo back to Chicago. Getting stuck at home or in a familiar city like San Francisco is one thing, but getting stuck at an expensive destination in a foreign country with my daughter shortly before her school year starts might not be so hot.
Wherever we end up, wish us luck that we make it home!