I’m going to need to update my website. On my How to travel cheaply all over the world on one-way tickets page, near the bottom in the Standby/Last minute section, I said that Airtech, the last bastion of standby travel, had died a quiet death last year—but no! Out of the blue, Mike, the man behind Airtech, sent out a mass email today:
“Well, we tried over the year to get a new contract to Hawaii but alas the industry & TSA want nothing to do with last minute travel. We had a nearly 20 year run so we all have a heavy heart about this. But life goes on, here is the latest news about Airtech: we do have one last flight left, it is from Amsterdam to Boston, New York and Seattle. There are no flights to Europe and we don’t anticipate getting one. These Amsterdam to US flights cost $189 plus 200 Euros (about US$250) tax (paid at departure) to Northeast USA, and $269 plus 200 Euros tax (paid at departure) for the Amsterdam to Seattle flight.”
He’s not allowed to say, but I am 99% sure this is on Icelandair. If you are stuck in Europe this summer, this is probably your cheapest way from Europe to West Coast USA and it’s not bad to Boston and New York. The competition is with Condor which now flies Frankfurt-Seattle—I flew that route two weeks ago, in fact, semi-cheaply—but I just checked and prices are very high for the rest of the summer. The best way to contact Mike is through his email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve done Airtech many times and it’s totally legit.
It’s a great shame Airtech is becoming a relic of history as it answers the question travelers always have about airlines and standby: isn’t it better to have a last minute passenger than an empty seat on the plane? Lamentably, the answer is no. I can’t tell you how many mouth-wateringly cheap standby flights I’ve had over the years with Airtech and it’s cousin, Airhitch, but the concept has sunk to the point that Airhitch has now become a German porn website.
Last thing: where else would you get this information? Who else is talking about this? The Dromomaniac always comes through with the best info for traveling cheaply. Don’t forget it! Stick with me via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or the RSS feed that I am going to fix any day now.