Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Loophole

As most of you know, I'm an impoverished academic, so the question remains- how did I afford to fly to New York on a moment's notice? Many of you may be familiar with the old method of flying standby- show up at the airport and fill a seat at a fantastically reduced price. You might also be aware that flying standby went the way of toiletry bags and goodbye hugs at the gate. In most cases, that is.

A midwestern discount airline, AirTran Airways, has a special program called AirTran U. For folks between the ages of 18 and 22, they charge $69 per short flight and $99 per long flight (LA is always long) if you're willing to fly standby. The downside? From LA, you only get three choices of destinations- Baltimore, Atlanta or Milwaukee. You're welcome to connect from there to anywhere you like- for an extra $69 per segment, standby only.

If you're like me- that is to say, cash-poor but time-wealthy and flexible- it's a fantastic deal. New, safe and comfortable aircraft with onboard XM and internet await the lucky traveler who gets a seat. I missed a flight once, the Friday night red-eye to LA from BWI, but everything else went swimmingly. College kids with the travel itch are honour-bound to check it out.

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