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.
You can also use this trick to turn a one-stop flight into a nonstop flight, even if the nonstop is more expensive. On my way back from Austin to SF I had booked a flight that connected through LA. It's not terribly out of the way, but the one hour layover adds to the total travel time. Given my aversion to flights with layovers, it must have been significantly more expensive to get a direct flight when I booked the ticket. On the day of the flight, however, it was as simple as going to the nonstop gate and asking to take the nonstop flight on standby. There were extra seats, so I was able to get home early.
This trick involves some risk-- you may have to take your original flight, especially during busy times. But it's nice to know about these rules to give yourself a little flexibility when your situation warrants it.
Photo is a terrible photo out the window of a plane because apparently I haven't ever taken a picture in an airport or airplane besides this.
Upcoming travel! Next month I start on a three month trip through Japan, Shanghai (24 hours), Berlin, Mallorca, Panama, and some other places.
We've been making TONS of progress with our startup. It's getting close enough to functional that I can feel what it will be like when completed -- very excited about it. Once we have our logo finished I'll announce the name, which won't really reveal anything useful.