US Air Changes Standby Policy Again

Carrier changes same-day standby policy on nonrefundable fares for the third time in five weeks

For the third time in five weeks, US Airways changed its same-day standby policy on nonrefundable fares, allowing customers on those fares to pay $100 to stand by for a same-day flight.

To do so, they’ll need to buy new standby coupons ($100 each), valid for one-way travel on the originally scheduled travel date. Customers on nonrefundable fares used to be allowed to fly same-day standby for free.

But when US Airways unveiled its new restrictions on nonrefundable fares Aug. 27, it immediately eliminated the standby option for most of those travelers.

Soon after, most other major U.S. airlines said they would continue to allow free standby on nonrefundable fares through year’s end, but would begin charging $100 as of Jan. 1.

US Airways responded Sept. 6 by revising its rules and continuing to prohibit standby until the end of the year, but allow it with a $100 fee as of Jan. 1.

The coupons are something new, and were touted by US Airways officials as a method for helping travelers avoid additional lines and gain flexibility. The coupons can be bought in advance at unlimited quantities and are transferable to other individuals, but they are nonrefundable, lose their value after a year and cannot be replaced if lost.

Customers can purchase the coupons at any US Airways airport ticket counter or city ticket office.

By year’s end, the bankrupt airline said, customers will be able to purchase them from US Airways reservations and via the airline’s Web site; the airline has not arranged for availability via travel agents.