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The Long Island Solution

Explorer A

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Our daughter, Brittany, was scheduled to give birth by cesarean section in New York, where she lives, on December 1. Her mother and I live in Kentucky, but we always planned to be there for the big event. We booked our Southwest reservations for November 30, and although we were not packed yet, we pulled our suitcases from the attic. Our grandson, however, was on an entirely different schedule. At about 1:00 p.m. on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, we received a text from Brittany that said, “In labor. On way to hospital.”


The Friday after Thanksgiving is surely one of the busiest days to fly—this was confirmed when we tried to book a flight to New York later that day. Although we live in Lexington, Kentucky (LEX), we are just over an hour from both the Louisville (SDF) and Cincinnati (CVG) airports. On that day, nothing was available on any airline from these airports—nor CMH, DAY, IND, BNA, or TYS, which are all about a three-hour drive—so we searched for next-day flights. There were scattered seats, but only singles. We were not only going to travel to New York on separate flights, but also from different airports. I planned to drop my wife off at LEX mid-morning on Saturday and then drive an hour to SDF to catch a later flight.


Meanwhile, it’s 10:00 p.m., and Brittany is still in labor. We’re booked, albeit on two different airlines from two different airports, and planned to meet at the hospital in Manhattan on Saturday evening to greet our newest grandson.


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But just as I closed my laptop, I had an idea. I remembered that in my college days, I often flew standby. Weren’t those long gone student fares actually standby fares? As far as I knew, there was no way to book standby on any website, but I thought it might be possible if I spoke to an agent. I called Southwest to see.


When I explained our situation to the Customer Service Agent, she said, “Wait, just a moment. Let me check something.” Almost immediately, she returned to tell me that there were two, and only two, seats available on an early flight the next morning from SDF to ISP on Long Island.


“Would you like to book a seat?” Well, YEAH! Fortunately, we were within the 24 hour cancellation window for our separate flights on the two (ridiculously expensive and fee gouging) legacy carriers. And surprisingly, I was able to book the SDF to ISP flight with Rapid Rewards points at “Wanna Get Away” rates and a Companion Pass. How great is that?


I totally forgot about ISP, but Southwest came through to put both of us on the same flight to an airport only an hour-train-ride away from Penn Station. During our train ride, we received a text that baby Andrew was born healthy and happy, just like his mother. Although we didn’t make it to the hospital before he arrived, we were there only an hour or so later. I’m quite sure that after nearly twenty-four hours in labor, the new mom wasn’t quite ready for company until we arrived anyway. Thank you, Southwest!

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