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The American Airlines $50 Standby Fee…Stop Complaining

There has been a great deal of whining about American Airlines’ decision to institute a $50 standby fee (essentially putting it on par with other airlines).  Boo hoo.  As I’ve mentioned before:  Airfares are basically the same as they have been since 1981 – not adjusted for inflation, I mean they are actually the same.  Except where they are way, way cheaper.  Transcons are still $99 on sale, but now there are basically no restrictions.  A 1-way fare from NYC to LAX used to be $1000 or so with no advance purchase.  I can buy a 1-way ticket on that route for Tuesday and it’s $140.

Oil was $35/barrel in 1981 – half what it is now.  Planes have not gotten cheaper.  Guess what?  Airlines have to make it up somewhere if they are going to charge you next to nothing to fly all over the place.  There is absolutely no reason to whine about fees – flying is one of the world’s great bargains.  An extra $20 isn’t going to change that.

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  1. Not only that, Jared, but the fee is waived if you are even in the lowest elite status tier with AA. Since most travelers standing by to begin with would I imagine be business travelers, a pretty high percentage would fall into the elite category. I for one have no issues in paying $50 for a confirmed seat assignment on an earlier flight if my meeting turns into a half-day session instead of full-day. For those without elite status, $50 to save four hours of travel time should be more than welcome so yes, stop your complaining out there.

  2. Well done, Mike. That’s a great point – Elite members get this for free. Even beloved Southwest Airlines has forced you to buy a new ticket when you wanted to leave on an earlier flight – they don’t allow standby at all. Free standby for all was gravy for a loooooooooong time. $50 seems like nothing if you really want to be home (which, if you hate your family, you may not want to do).

  3. Steve From

    I can’t believe how people constantly complain about the airlines.

    They complain about how services are being cut, cut, cut but they don’t want airfares (or fees) raised. Personally, I wish my airline would charge me 20% more so that I don’t feel like a sardine packed in a can when I fly.

  4. Stop Complaining…just pay the fee…Become an “elite” member…all of that is easy to say for someone with money, just don’t forget, to some people, $50 (which is what I am being asked to pay) is a make or break situation. I wish I did have money to throw around every time I am inconvenienced. Must be nice. Those who have always seem to forget those that do not have.

  5. Actually we were told today by an AA rep when calling the Platinum number on the phone that “free same-day standby for Elite members is no longer available”. We are Platinum and they said it would cost us $50 to fly same-day standby, despite what it says at

  6. It’s free to standby as Platinum but $75 to have guarnteed standby. (Use to be $50 for guaranteed standby but raised to $75 this January.)

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