IMG 0135Flying your family standby to Disneyland can be a risky proposition. When every minute you miss at the Happiest Place on Earth counts, no one wants to be stuck in an airport thinking about all the fun they’re missing while flight after flight goes out without them. But, it was a calculated risk we decided to take when Traveling Moms and their families were invited to enjoy the Holidays at Disneyland the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Our daughter is at just the right age that we had been planning a trip anyway and had always heard the week before Thanksgiving was the best time to experience Disneyland and the Holiday magic they do so well.

The timing seemed perfect. Or so we thought.

In general, the week before Thanksgiving is a good time to fly standby, since most people are planning their travel for the week of Turkey Day. But, as our departure date grew near, the flight filled up more and more until Thursday morning when we were set to leave, it became oversold. By one seat. We needed three.


What was going on? My stress level immediately began to build.

Adding to that stress was the fact that my husband Danny, a pilot for the airline we would be flying out on, was actually working that day and wouldn’t be returning to the Denver airport until just one hour before our flight that afternoon. I imagined him doing an OJ Simpson through the airport just as we were boarding… or, not boarding.

As my daughter, Reagan and I arrived at the gate I quickly discovered the reason for the full flight. There were teenage girls everywhere with huge dance bags containing their dresses for a big dance competition being held in Orange County. Oh. I had not taken into account one of my own tips for flying standby – check for events in the area the day you want to fly. But, would it have stopped us from trying? No way! We had a back-up plan.

IMG 0002If we didn’t get on this flight, there was another one that evening that looked good, and the option of flying at a discount on two other airlines as well. Nothing would be as good as getting in at our planned time of arrival though, so we’d be able to relax, enjoy Downtown Disney, the pool and the hot tub all waiting for us at the Disneyland Hotel.

We wanted to get there. Now.

Then I got a call from Danny. He had landed. I told him he should hurry; people were just beginning to de-board our plane; it just pulled in.

“I know,” he said, “I’m on it.”

What luck! We had no idea that morning when Danny left for work that he’d pilot in the plane we would all then be boarding later! We took this as a sign… maybe Mickey was smiling on us.

The gate agent had told us all passengers had checked in for the flight, it was 100% full. It appeared the last of the passengers had boarded, and just as we were beginning to think about exercising Plan B, the gate agent called our names. A few people must’ve lost track of time at the bar… we were on! This is why you never give up! We celebrated all the way down the jet way and then decided it was safe to finally tell Reagan the news, as well as everyone else in line to board…


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Chris is a designer, WAHM and pilot’s wife living in Colorado. She writes as Standby Traveling Mom as well as at Follow her on Twitter as @BirdBanter.

Disclosure: Disneyland hosted us for the purposes of writing this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are my own and without influence by Disneyland.