For college students trying to make it home on a budget, AirTran Airlines may have the solution.
AirTran U is the airline’s student program which allows anyone under the age of 23 to fly stand-by for $69 per segment and $99 per long-haul segment. Standby is where a passenger can fly only of there is an available seat is left on the plans after the confirmed passengers have boarded. A segment is defined as one take-off and one landing. According to American Express Business Travel, the average one way flight is about $260, so the pricing of AirTran U is a steal for most college students. To qualify for AirTran U, the person must be 18 to 22 years old and it is not necessary to be a student. Once the passenger has reached their 23rd birthday, they are no longer eligible. Passengers are also allowed to carry an infant less than two years of age in their arms at no additional charge. “I fly AirTran U all the time. I think it’s great that Airtran recognizes that flying back and forth from home gets really expensive,” said Jonathan O’Bryan, 20, a Howard student from Atlanta. AirTran serves over 50 cities in the U.S. AirTran U standby customers are permitted one carry-on item and one personal item. A personal item may be a handbag, umbrella, coat, camera, reading material, infant food, briefcase, or laptop computer. All carry-on items must conform to the overall dimensions of AirTran Airways’ baggage policy, and all items must fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. To get on the AirTran U standby list, customers must arrive at the ticket counter at least two hours before the scheduled departure of the flight. The boarding agent will then ask for a valid, government issued photo ID to verify age requirements. The boarding process begins promptly 30 minutes prior to departure, and passengers make sure that they are in the gate area to listen for their name to be called.
AirTran U is a standby program for coach class. Customers do not have a confirmed seat, and no reservations can be made for the program if a passenger has a reservation on any AirTran Airways flight on the same day. Every stop is considered a new segment for which the passenger must be cleared. If the trip requires a connection, customers must pay for all segments at the ticket counter in the origination city for one-way and connecting travel. Flights to or from San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle or Denver are considered long-haul segments, and cost $99 plus all applicable taxes per segment.
Customers who are A+ Rewards members earn a half credit for each segment. A+ Rewards is the airline’s reward program. Customers who sign up can earn additional flights and business class upgrades. Sign-up is free.
There are some drawbacks to the program however. The flight is not guaranteed and at peak times a passenger may have to wait several hours to find a flight they can board. Also there are blackout dates, which can be found on the company’s website at www.airtranu.com.
“I didn’t know about it. They should definitely advertise this more. I would definitely fly AirTran more if I had known about the program,” said Kahlia Handy, 20, a Georgia State student.