If you loved American Airlines' decision to charge for blankets and pillows, you're bound to go nuts over today's announcement: Starting with tickets bought on February 22, you won't be able to fly stand-by on the Fort Worth-based carrier unless you're willing to pony up $50 for a confirmed seat. Now, this won't apply to everyone -- George Clooney's good to go; so too other "elite frequent fliers, travelers in first or business class, military personnel and people who bought pricey coach tickets," according to the Associated Press. Everyone else, pay up or sit down: "In announcing the change, American played down the $50 and said it was improving the boarding process by eliminating the gaggle of would-be standby fliers who flock to the desk before flights."
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The announcement comes just as stories are stacking up on the runway about a pending announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration concerning a possible fine -- anywhere from $10 to $20 million, according to media guesstimates -- over the 2-year-long MD-80 investigation. Our old pal Tim Wagner tells the AP that AA doesn't know what fines the media's referring to and that, look, "the airline has long said the safety of its aircraft was never jeopardized."