Flying on stand-by internationally (Ireland)

I’m planning a trip to Ireland to do some genealogy research in October. After the research portion I want to go visit the town where I believe my great grandfather came from. It would be nice to stay an extra day or two if I have luck and just to get the flavor of the place.

Rather than scheduling my departure when I arrange my flight there I’m thinking I could just get on stand-by and get home whenever I can. Since October is the slow season for tourists in Ireland I’m thinking this is a good option.

I’d like to hear if anyone has done this and what your experience with it was.

The only tidbit I can offer is that a co-worker’s daughter works for a major airline. I asked that person about what it’s like these days* flying standby (as an employee typically would), and they said domestically it is very frustrating, but internationally it almost always works out fine.

  • I was an employee of Pan Am when there was a Pan Am; flying standby even domestically was pretty easy. Now with the perfection of computerized load optimization, things are different.

I don’t think many (if any) airlines do this type of standby anymore. In my experience, these days flying standby means you have a flight booked and you try and get on an earlier flight. Or maybe your original flight is overbooked and you take a bump and are standby on the next flight.

I think in order to accomplish what you desire, you’d need to buy a ticket that specifically allows that type of flexibility, which will likely cost more than your standard economy ticket. I’d take a look at the carriers that have service to your destination and see what types of tickets they offer. Or, go ahead and book your return for a couple days later and have a plan for how to use those extra days even if the genealogy search doesn’t pan out.

Good point above that international might be different. Long story short, it’s likely to be airline specific, so figure out who you’re likely to fly with and then check their rules.

My daughter used to work at an airline also, and we flew standby (non-rev) a lot domestically and to Hong Kong once. There is a pecking order about who gets first crack at the seats.
Even internationally there are high days and low days. As an employee she could see loads on her airline, and there was some mailing list or site where she could ask about the load on a particular flight for another airline. The OP can’t do this, but there might be some resources around giving average loads.

BTW, if you do this pack light, since you don’t want to have to retrieve your bag if you don’t get on.
I don’t know for sure that standby fares are available, but it is possible.

Decades ago, I flew with my parents to London on standby. At the time, the airlines practically gave away the open seats in the hours before takeoff. So you practically had to camp out at the airport. But I think now the business model has changed and they charge a lot for the last-minute fares, on the theory that people for whom it’s urgent will pay through the nose. And also the computers and software allow them to pack the planes more, so I rarely see open seats on the domestic flights I take.

Regardless of how you get there, and it’s probably low risk because of it being Ireland (they are friendly with the US), but there are potential problems with not having a return or onward travel ticket in place.

This is just one take on it.

They may not let you on the plane, or may not let you in once you land! (Not to turn this into a political thread, but think of someone from south of the US border flying to the US on a one-way ticket without proof of return. Starting to come into focus?)

Does this option even exist? What does it mean to get on stand-by? How would it work, in terms of buying a ticket?

No, it doesn’t exist. It is not possible to buy a ticket with the return segment not allocated to a particular flight. The only exception is non-rev (staff and their nominees).

I hope you weren’t planning to fly on WOW Air.

When you non-rev you don’t get a return ticket until you are ready to use it. I don’t see why anyone using a standby ticket - if they exist - would have to buy a return ticket at the same time.