We booked our flights and hotel on Thursday and left two days later. Are we crazy? Probably. Was it stressful? Yup. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
I had someone I know through Instagram reach out and tell me they would love to read a blog post about standby travel. So, here you go!
We have the privilege of being able to fly standby when we travel because I work for an airline. This is fantastic because we save money on flights. However, how standby works is that you only get on if there are seats available. So, basically, if the flight sells out, you don’t get on.
To say it can be stressful is an understatement. I have seen many standby travellers get stuck at the airport for days trying to get on a flight home. We joke that Carlos has a horseshoe because he always manages to luck out and get on flights, even if they are sold out (ie. someone misses their flight and he gets on in their place).
When it was just the two of us, we didn’t worry so much about getting on flights, because we wouldn’t mind being split up, or if there was only one seat left, Carlos could take it, and I could sit in the jump seat in the cockpit with the pilots (which is super cool by the way).
Now that we have kids, it does make it more stressful, but we decided to take the risk anyway and give it a shot. We booked the flight and hotel on Thursday afternoon, I tried my best to be a minimal packer, and we woke up at 4am Saturday morning to catch our flight, not knowing if we would eventually arrive in Punta Cana that night or not.
I had told myself to relax and whatever happens happens. Our flight from Halifax to Toronto went off without a hitch, we got upgraded, and my friend just happened to be sitting next to me, so we got caught up over pretzels and mimosas.
We made it to Toronto knowing that there was only one seat available now on the flight from Toronto to Punta Cana. When we had booked the ticket there had been 8 seats available, but things can change a lot in two days. We found our gate and started the waiting game. We were pretty much waiting for someone not to show up to their flight. It didn’t happen. Everyone got on the flight and there were no seats for us. Bummer.
We asked the agent to “roll us over” to the flight the next morning, and in the mean time we were weighing all our options – should we go to Jamaica, Cuba, or Mexico instead? In the end, the best option looked like trying again the next day for Punta Cana. We booked a hotel with “bump protection” which I highly recommend if you ever do get a chance to fly standby. If you don’t make your flight, they will switch the dates for you or you can get your money back.
While we were figuring out a plan, the kids were fantastic. Linden had been quietly playing with his leap pad, and Lucia was just walking back and forth in the airport saying hi to everyone. She wore herself out so bad, that when we went to leave the gate, I picked her up and she just fell asleep in my arms. I swear all the stress I had just been feeling was worth it to hold my little girl like a baby again.
We called Carlos’ sister. “SURPRISE!” We are coming for a visit! She lives in Kitchener and didn’t hesitate to jump in the car to pick us up. Not getting on the flight had perks too- it meant we could visit with Carlos’ family! My brother-in-law Jeff threw together a delicious BBQ and then the girls went for pedicures, which was perfect because I desperately needed one before I hit the beach!
To be honest, I was ready to give up hope that we would get on the flight the next day, but Carlos said no, we are going. So the next morning, we headed back to the airport with fingers crossed that we would get on this time. Luck was on our side, and there were just enough seats for us to get on!
We also lucked out on the way home and were able to get on both flights without having to overnight in Toronto.
If you had asked me in the middle of the trip if I would fly standby again as a family of four, I probably would have told you never again! But now that we are back home, and everything worked out, I say it was a fun adventure and sign me up for the next trip!