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The Standby Trick

Standby flying has always been a bit of a mystery to me, as I've heard stories of people flying standby to foreign countries for half the cost of a reserved ticket, but never seen a way to do it. Even after interviewing a few ticket agents, it seems impossible to do this these days, but I do have a standby trick you can use to make flying cheaper and more flexible.

Vegas is a lot of fun for a few days, and grows tiresome beyond that. When I played low limit poker I could easily play for a dozen hours a day for a solid week, but as I've crept up the ladder, I find the game more intense and draining. After six days in Vegas, Christophe and I were ready to take our winnings and stop playing. The only problem is that we had a 10pm flight, and we'd had our fill of food and poker by 1pm. For us, there's not much to do in Vegas besides eat and gamble.

Most people don't know that a guaranteed ticket for a day also allows you, at the airline's discretion, to take any other flight they have that day to the same destination. If we had paid for a 6am flight and skipped it, we could have tried to get on later flights for free, but having the last flight of the day made it easy for us to try for earlier flights. We just showed up, got on the standby list, and took the 6:10pm flight in time to eat at Gracias Madre in SF for dinner.

A Few Useful Travel Tools


One of the things that took me a long time to figure out is that often, flying through 2-3 different cities on a single ticket often costs very similar to a one-way flight.

So, going "New York to Berlin on May 25th" might not be cheaper than going "New York to London on April 28th,  London to Munich on May 22nd, Munich to Berlin on May 25th" -- strange but true.

It's especially easy to stop in hub cities for up to a month, so swinging through Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and other regional hubs is easy. It's fun to stop in New York for 2-3 days when you're on your way elsewhere if you've got the time.

The thing is, it can be tricky to plan these routings. That's where Matrix comes in --


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