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The title summarizes my question pretty well. Basically, I'm looking for a cheap way to fly from California to Europe (Germany, preferably).

Since I have to fly this route several times a year, and I'm a student, it'd be helpful to reduce the price.

So, my question is whether stand by flying is doable, and if so, is it worth it? How much are the typical savings, and how do you purchase a stand by ticket?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

There are generally two different types of "standby" travel.

The first is when you have a confirmed reservation on a later flight, and you "standby" on an earlier flight in order to get to your destination earlier. Many airlines allow this (sometimes free, sometimes with a fee) - but I suspect that's not what you're referring to.

The second type of standby is where you have a specific "standby" ticket - which means that you do not have a confirmed reservation on any flight. If there are seats available on the flight shortly before departure then standby passengers will be given those seats. I'm guessing this is the type of standby you're referring to!

Historically a number of airlines allowed for this latter type of standby tickets, often at a discount to the normal price, but with the catch that you might not get on a flight for days or even weeks, depending on how full the flights were.

Over the years most airlines have dropped standby tickets - at least to the public - and I'm not aware of a single airline that offers them on US<->Europe flights. Most airlines do still allow standby tickets to their own staff, and occasionally to other groups such as family members of staff, staff from other airlines, travel agents, etc - but not to the general public.

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I indeed meant the second type, I am aware of how to do the first (though I want to save money, not time, so it won't help). Thanks for the info! I guess I'll just have to pay the full price then. –  houbysoft Jun 1 '13 at 21:36
    
@houbysoft The best to way to safe money to travel less on that route. Maybe you can ask yourself whether or not it is necessary to make multiple flights on the same route per year. –  Bernhard Aug 19 '13 at 14:49
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