I've heard unverified stories of people who wait around at airports until there is a vacant spot on a flight where they want to go, and then get on for insanely cheap. I would also imagine that it is theoretically possible to hitch a flight with a non-commercial plane where you want to go. I'm thinking international fares in the double digit range.

Of course, the kind of travel I'm imagining would not be comfortable or convenient. I'm thinking things that might be borderline "stowaway", but legal and ethical. I don't mean flight search websites, promotional deals, or other obvious ways of flying cheap.

Does anyone have any experience or ideas on how I could travel like this?

  • 1
    I edited your title as it sounded very similar to some of the other ones we have on here, until I read your content and realised you're not about finding merely discounted flights :) Hope that's ok!
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 22:05
  • Your question is effectively answered by these two above, hence closing this as a duplicate. Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 22:22
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    Not really looking to slip a gate attendant. Looking for ethical ways to tag along for a ride while paying next to nothing.
    – Jo Sprague
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 2:04
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    If we post the answer here, then its no longer a secret :-)
    – Mawg
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


The first thing you mention is often called a standby flight. You turn up at an airport, go to the airline desk, tell them where you want to go. Then, if passengers do not turn up for the flight and they don't have time to resell the seat, they may let you fly for a heavily discounted fare just to fill the plane. Expect to be waiting around, but this is a great option if you have time but limited money, such as a young traveller or backpacker.

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    I was under the understanding that airports don't do this anymore. Can anyone confirm having luck with this option in the last couple of years?
    – Jo Sprague
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 15:29
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    JAL still does dirt-cheap standbys, but for under-21s only: jal.co.jp/en/dom/rates/rule/r_skymate.html Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:12

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