United has sensed a business opportunity and chance to score corporate brownie points in the aftermath of Southwest Airlines’ decision to ground 80 737-300 aircraft. With about 300 Southwest flights canceled today, stranded passengers now have another reasonable option to get home:
United is offering Southwest Airlines customers affected by the recent announcement to ground certain aircraft for inspection the ability to purchase a non-refundable, standby ticket for $150 each way (origin and destination, including tax). This policy is valid for customers with Southwest tickets purchased on or before April 2, 2011 for travel through Wednesday, April 6, 2011. To purchase a standby ticket, present your Southwest Airlines ticket to a United Airlines Ticket Counter representative at your departure airport.
I have a few questions of my own, including what fare class these tickets book into and whether these tickets would be eligible for mileage accrual, upgrades and other elite benefits for those UA elites who might have been traveling on Southwest.
Although I would never condone such an action, if you need to get somewhere cheap on United this weekend and fares are high, consider…never mind. You get the idea.