The airline employee standby game is fun, but it can be frustrating too. Unlike standing by as a revenue passenger with top tier elite status on United, where you can generally count on being accommodated on whatever flight you want to standby for, this is not the case with airline employees (and their friends…), who are among the last to clear.
Friday afternoon I was trying to get from Frankfurt to Dublin on Lufthansa on standby—key word, trying. The loads did not look bad earlier in the day—an A321 with 185 seats overbooked by three with three waitlisted and six standing by. So a colleague and I proceeded to the Senator Lounge about an hour before the flight, thinking our chance to make the flight was pretty good.
As a side note, travelers on staff/ID tickets with Lufthansa Miles & More HON, Senator, or Frequent Traveler status are permitted lounge access even when standing by. Star Gold members from other programs are not granted access.
Back to the story. We get to the gate just before boarding has started and find the waitlist is now 29 people deep. I am number 18 on the list so it doesn’t look good. We add our names to the jump seat list and I run into a friendly Irish-American Lufthansa FA I sat next to on my Lufthansa flight to Dublin last June. She doesn’t remember me (oy vey) but I remembered her—what a flirt she was to the crew and gate agents and how she was a woman who seemed to get what she wanted.
She was below me on the waitlist, but I leaned over to my colleague and said, “Mark my words. She will get on this flight.” She was having a nice chat with some of her other colleagues standing by for seats and perched only a few feet from podium, trying to include the Lufthansa Flight Manager (essentially the head gate agent) in her conversation.
In the end, she got a seat and my friend and I did not. Of course.
Now I’m not complaining—it could have been that the waitlist screen was just displaying priority incorrectly. But I have to doubt it. As I have mentioned before, for all the talk of Lufthansa and rules, Lufthansa is often willing to bend them when necessary and here it seems the gate agent was taking care of her own.
So I spent the next four hours back in the Senator Lounge. My colleague was able to catch an Aer Lingus flight that departed about an hour before the late Lufthansa flight, but I am glad I held back—the Lufthansa flight, though also overbooked, went out with open seats and I scored an exit row and an open seat next to me. While my friend paid 2EUR for a bottle of water, I enjoyed a Greek salad and all the beverages I wanted courtesy of Lufthansa.
Meanwhile, six of my other colleagues were trying to standby for Lufty’s late flight to Beirut to attend the wedding of one of our former colleagues. Due to high loads and a weight restriction on the flight, they missed it and were unable to attend the wedding. They had already tried to catch the morning flight to BEY and failed.
That’s the sad reality of flying standby. It can be great—you can go just about anywhere in the world if you work for an airline (thanks to partner agreements), but you can never count on getting a seat. If you really need to be somewhere, it is wise to purchase a ticket because you really are at the bottom of the waitlist totem pole, as so many of us found out on Friday.
Interesting, LX employees are not allowed to use the lounges when travelling on an ID ticket (but then again, not all lounge wardens are aware of this…)
What ID priority did you travel with? AFAIK for jump seats priority doesn’t matter. So getting along well with the gate agents/crew can pay off.
@florian: I was R2. Interesting point on jump seat priority–that would explain things.
Interesting – I always thought you need to be jump seat certified (aka FA) to NRSA in the jump seat – or maybe that’s just UA specific. Since now I’ve thought about it, I see plenty of Southwest employees ride in the jump seat.
Also depends on airline policy with regards to jump seats, and which jumpseat you are referring to. UK carriers can’t grant access to anyone on flight deck jumpseats any more (due to DFT rules), but usually jumpseats (or at least some of them) are at the sole discretion of the Captain. For example in my carrier the Captain has complete discretion over whether to grant use of any jumpseats, and he can also choose who travels on two of them, wherever they are on the priority.
I have on the odd occasion been told by a ground staff agent (who was a sub contractor in our uniform) that my girlfriend was unlikely to make the flight, even though I said she had a cabin jumpseat. So I simply said, “Ok, well the aircraft isn’t going anywhere without me, so if you’re not in the departure lounge with a seat or a jumpseat boarding card at STD – 10, then text me and I’ll get off and come and get you!”
Needless to say, she got a seat. I think the cases of ground staff ‘trying it on’ are rare, and tends to happen more at small bases where they all know each other, and also with sub contracted ground staff who don’t really care about the airline employees because they don’t get any perks themselves anyway.
Is this post still alive? Will be traveling on an ID ticket and hav some questions.
Annie, happy to answer any questions you have.
Have a lifemiles award ticket rdu-iad-muc-bud. The first leg on ua got delayed so I would miss my connection on lh to muc. Got rebooked on a (6 hours) earlier flight to iad. Now will be in iad early enough to catch a lh flight to FRA or a lx to zrh. Would lh consider letting me take earlier flights (assuming there are seats)? Otherwise have a very long connection.
Thank you, Matthew.
The answer is yes – explain the situation (schedule change) and hopefully you get a good answer.
I have a quick question.. I am looking to fly standby to SIN early September and have booked stby business. Do I get priority over stby economy pax? If so, does that include LH staff on stby economy? I do not work for LH and was wondering how their priorities worked. I know for business stby, any LH staff will get priority, I was just curious how my priority over stby economy would be.
Thanks a lot in advance.
Ana, you will not necessarily have priority over economy — clearance is based upon R-proirty (for example, R1, R2) and you first clear onto the flight and once cleared are assigned a seat in the highest cabin you paid for. Thus, all LH Group standbys, even if flying economy, would likely be ahead of you on the standby list.
I am retire UA looking at flying LH to FRA from HKG or DXB (EK MNL TO DXB) I was told by a fellow employee that if there are seats available LH will give you a seat up to 24 hrs before the flight. That seems too good to be true. I have my wife and 2 daughters age 8 and 1 even allow Business class from what I am told by staff in HKG for LH.
Arnold, there is indeed this possibility through a special bilateral UA program with LH (also with SN, OS, TP) and also through ID90.
My son works for Lufthansa, he told me I can get a discounted ticket but his stepmother can’t, do you know if this is true?
He should be able to get his stepmother a discounted ticket as well, but he would have to accompany her. You should be able to travel alone.
I know this is an old post but I just stumbled on it via Google.
Mate, not to be a dick, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about.
Jump seats are not handed out to non-jump-certified personnel. Not cabin, not cockpit. It’s extremely rare for airline staff from other airlines to get a jump on any given airline (though the US legacy carriers are a bit chummier in this regard).
Suffice it to say that you had absolutely zero chance of getting the jump seat, even if there had been no other people on the jump list. It has nothing to do with how flirty she was with the gate agent or that she was a woman. Your sexist comments just make you look like an idiot. It had everything to do with the fact that she was a jump certified airline employee.
Sorry Mike, you’re 100% wrong. I’ve been offered the jump seat before.
Mike. I am Lufthansa Systems employee and I did fly jump seat on LH flight from Gdansk to Munich, in the cockpit. My colleague also had a chance to do it on Air Nostrum flight from GDN to FRA. In our cases, when there is no seat, we always ask for jump seat and it is alway captain’s decision to allow it or not. I am not jump-seat certified for sure (working in software development)
I’m trying to fly from FRA to CPT next Friday… do you have a system to see how many seats are open in LH and the stand by list, etc? I work for another airline so it will be a ZED ticket… I’m trying to see my options…
Unfortunately, I do not. I no longer work for Star Alliance/Lufthansa.
I know this is an old post, but it appears in my Google search. I work for Avianca and I want to use a LH ZED pass. I learned that LH has R1 confirmed ZED pass. how much “confirmed” are those LH ZED passes?? Can I assume that my space will be granted??
I’ve never missed on R1 priority. That said, revenue passengers can bump you off. Unlikely, but possible.
I read your blog quite by chance. Your observation about LH gate agents not following the guidelines when giving seats to SA travelers is so true. This has happened to me more than once and in different airports in the US.
Just wondering if we still can access the business lounge on LX awhile stand-by. I got couple of no from the agent at the lounge since I was holding confirmed paper ticket with no status. I’m with UA and standing by with LX a lot but never bother. Have done it in the past and it worked but then got stopped recently
My father is retired and worked at LH, is it possible for his children to travel as a standby?He retired 20 years ago, worked in Frankfurt, what should we do?