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Who are go-show, no-show, and standby passengers?

These three terms are very well known to all employees in the aviation industry. Some passengers probably never heard about it, but the no-show term can be found on every ticket. Here's what it's all about.

We are sure that even among our readers there are passengers who bought a plane ticket and did not show up at the airport on the day of the flight. Airlines will those passengers categorized as a no-show. What does a no-show passenger mean to an airline?

First of all, passengers who do not show up on the flight and have a valid reservation are the reason why companies sell more tickets than there are actually seats in the aircraft. No-show passengers cases are actually happening every day and airlines want to maximize their profits, so guided by statistics and experience, they sell more tickets, calculating that not all passengers will show up on the flight. We now leave overbooking aside, this is an special topic that we will discuss in detail on another occasion.

How does a no-show passenger affect a particular flight?

First of all, the company will have a meal loss on the flight on which the passenger did not show up. On the day of the flight, the airlines conclude the Final Meal Order (FMO) and it is actually a very simple calculation. The agent will check the number of valid bookings for a particular flight and order the exact number of meals. This is a very small loss on short, regional flights, but on long-haul flights the company will have a minimum of two surplus meals (dinner, breakfast), potentially more. As companies look to keep all their costs to a minimum, the same attention is paid when ordering food, the main goal is to optimize the order and try to have the same number of meals as there are passengers on the plane.

Once the check-in is closed, airport and airline agents will clearly see who checked in (and who didn’t). Today, this part of the story has become a bit more complicated given that passengers can check in via mobile devices or airline websites, not just at the airport, so in fact the exact number of passengers on the flight is not known until boarding is completed. Here we include in the story standby passengers who appear as a "category" at the time when there is overbooking.

We will best explain this with an example. Croatia Airlines flight from Zagreb to Munich is operated by DashQ400 aircraft with a capacity of 76 seats. The company sold 80 tickets for particular flight. 76 passengers checked in for the flight, 20 online (via mobile device / web), and 56 at the airport. At the end of check-in, there are 4 passengers at the airport for whom there is no seat on the plane. These four mentioned passengers will receive a boarding pass without a seat number and will be directed by the staff to the gate where they need to contact agents again. After the passengers boarded the plane, agents at the gate found that the two passengers had not appeared. Two of the four mentioned passengers from the check-in counter thus got a seat on the flight and traveled to Munich. The other two? They belong to the story of overbooking which, as we mentioned earlier, we will deal with on another occasion.

Standby passengers include also airline staff as well as members of their families who pay very low price, which is one of the most well-known and greatest benefits for airline employees. Such passengers are accepted for the flight only if there are free seats on it. A passenger who has paid the full ticket price (revenue passenger) always has an priority over a standby staff passenger.

There are also those passengers who check in for a flight at the airport but do not show up at the boarding gate, the reasons are numerous, from various private to negligence (staying too long in a business lounge or duty free shops). Such passengers will be called to the gate, and if the passengers do not show up on time, they will become a no-show passengers.

The story gets complicated at the moment when there is such a passenger which already checked his baggage and that bag is already loaded on the plane. While agents on the gate are waiting for the passenger, airport and airline employees are looking for his luggage on the plane (one suitcase among 150 or more others). When it is found, airport agents will wait for information on whether the passenger is on the plane and then re-board the luggage, but if this does not happen the luggage will not travel without the passenger given the safety rules that clearly state that the passenger's luggage cannot be in aircraft if its owner is not in it.

We explained no-show and standby passengers, what about go-show passengers?

The definition says that these are passengers with a valid reservation who want to travel on an earlier flight. So, the passenger has a ticket for the flight to London the next day, but he showed up at the airport today and wants to travel the day before than its stated on his ticket. Depending on the class, this can be possible, with the main condition that the flights is not sold out. Agents will change the date of travel and accept such a passenger on the flight. Also, let’s get back to the food story, that part is important here as well.

On short, regional flights, there is a chance that you will have to agree that there will be no meals for you on the flight, which passengers generally agree to because they have to travel for some urgent reason a day (or an hour) earlier. The problem arises when such a passenger shows up at the check-in counter just an hour before the departure of the aircraft, and is traveling on a long-haul flight. Then the agents will have to check with the airport catering the possibility of preparing extra meal (or two or more, depending on the duration of the flight) and after confirmation accept the passenger. Airport catering prepares food for all flights that day and it may happen that there is simply not enough time to prepare an extra meal.

Go-show passengers are also those who bought a ticket for a particular flight just a few hours before the scheduled departure (STD). Yes, this is possible and it happens almost on a daily basis.

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