I would like to verify if the following is possible:

  • Person's parent's were airline employees for a long time, and has discount rates
  • They purchase a ticket several weeks in advance of the date of travel
  • They are unable to take a flight to their chosen destination, and end up going somewhere else.

Reasons for asking - Someone needed something from me to go visit their family for quite valid reasons. Facebook then very helpfully pops up a notification that they were en-route to mexico (not the same destination). When asked about this, they claimed they got the ticket on standby and hoped to go see their family but this was the only option they could take.

Needless to say, I'm pretty damn sceptical, but there is always the chance there are some possibilities I am unaware of.

  • How well do you know the person concerned? I may be way off the mark, but the inference I get from your question is that you have been scammed into financing a ticket
    – Traveller
    Mar 6, 2020 at 11:57
  • This is too vague to be answerable. Please add some more details, such as: Is this "someone" personally known to you (you've met face to face, not just via a videocall)? As it stands, this sound like a typical romance scam ("Hey darling, please kindly send me $200 for a plane ticket. I need to buy one ASAP to see my dying mom. Love, ABC.")
    – TooTea
    Mar 6, 2020 at 11:59
  • It's not romantic, they are an employee. I didn't want to add too many details because I didn't think that would affect the answer. (I also didn't want to get sidetracked by whether or not an employer should care where their employee's go - I genuinely don't, but making this possible did actually cost me quite a bit of $, and I am romantically involved with $) Mar 6, 2020 at 12:04
  • I don't know the person very well, although they have been with me for a few months. Long enough that I am suspecting this is pattern behaviour Mar 6, 2020 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


Is it possible to buy a standby ticket weeks in advance and not choose your destination?

It's certainly possible, but it depends heavily on the airline and the ticket rules for the specific ticket. Every airline's accommodation tickets work differently and there are often multiple programs in the same airline.

Stand-by means "we will only take you if there are open seats on the plane at time of gate closing". There is always the possibility that the flight is full and what happens then, depends on the terms of the specific ticket. Options include "too bad so sad", "refund", "wait for the next flight", "reroute", "go somewhere else" etc.

One data point: A good friend of mine uses free stand-by flights granted as an airline employee family member. He doesn't pay anything for the tickets but can't make reservations either. So he looks at the number of open seats and tries to determine the routing that's most likely to succeed. That doesn't always work out: if one of the legs in his original itinerary sells out, he needs to reroute or add a stop over somewhere.

For him it would be perfectly normal to end up somewhere else than originally planned or to adapt travel plans dynamically on the go. In general low-revenue or no-revenue tickets are the most likely to get bumped when flights get full, when there are problems or simply if the airline has a chance to make more money off someone else.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .