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Fast Facts on How to Fly Standby:
- Flying standby can secure you a flight for a different time than originally booked.
- All standby passengers need to have a confirmed ticket, either by purchasing one outright or thanks to a “buddy pass” from an airline employee.
- Many airlines’ websites and mobile applications can assist you with flying standby concerns.
- In other instances, ticketing agents can help you get on a standby list.
- Being an elite member of an airline’s frequent flyer program can boost your chances of successfully flying standby, as can purchasing a more expensive fare in the first place.
- Fees for flying standby vary, depending on which airline you fly.
Who Can Fly Standby?
In decades past, flying standby meant that you could buy a ticket right before departure and waltz right in to the last seat on the plane. These days, however, the subject of how to fly standby is much more nuanced.
Generally speaking, taking standby flights in the modern era is possible in two instances:
1.) If you or a friend work for an airline and are traveling on a complimentary ticket, sometimes known as a “buddy pass.”
2.) A second possibility that can make you a potential standby passenger is if you’ve already booked a ticket, but can’t take your original flight, either voluntarily (you want to head home earlier after a business trip) or involuntarily, such as when your flight is canceled due to inclement weather.
Is My Ticket Eligible for Flying Standby?
Unless you are an employee of a major airline, or have a family member or close friend who is, your only shot at flying standby is to purchase a flight. Many individuals will snag the cheapest flight possible or last minute flight deals, but it is critical to read the terms and conditions of your ticket, which may prevent you from taking standby flights.
Specifically, the new bare-bones “Basic Economy” fares many airlines offer place heavy restrictions on voluntarily standing by. Delta, for example, has eliminated same-day flight changes for Basic Economy passengers altogether, whether you want a confirmed seat or are comfortable standing by. If your flight is involuntarily canceled, you’ll still be eligible for standby flights, but you might want to avoid Basic Economy if flying standby is your priority.
How Do I Standby for a Different Flight?
Within the United mobile app, for example, you can request a same-day flight change, which either puts you on a list for standby flights (if no seats are available) or confirms you a seat on a different flight if loads are light. Furthermore, the process for passenger re-booking in the case of involuntary flight change is now largely automated, though you should contact an airline representative if you don’t see your name on the standby list within your airline’s app or website.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Flying Standby Success?
These days, rule sand regulations for standby flights are a lot more fixed than they were in the past, with little left up to the discretion of the airline employee. Generally speaking, your standby priority increases if you have elite status with the airline and have purchased a more expensive fare; you’ll be lower on the totem pole if you aren’t a frequent flyer and booked the cheapest economy flight.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to flying standby is that you aren’t truly confirmed until the plane leaves the gate. If a higher status passenger arrives at the gate and wants to standby, even if you already have a boarding pass, the airline technically reserves the right to bump you to the next flight, although recent controversies surrounding this practice might make that a slightly less likely eventuality.
Fees for Standby Flights by Airline
Every airline has its own standby policy and potential fees. This guide can provide some information, but it is always best to contact them directly in case of any changes.
- Alaska Airlines: Offers free, same-day standby for ticketed passengers in certain cities. Must be at gate 30 minutes prior to takeoff.
- American Airlines: Charges $75 for same-day standby tickets. This fee is waived for military personnel, first-class, business class and AAdvantage Elite members
- Delta Air Lines: Standby fee is $75 for most passengers. Basic Economy fares are not eligible for standby or same-day changes.
- Frontier Airlines: Only elite members qualify for standby flights. All other ticketed passengers will have to pay to change to a same-day ticket at a new time.
- JetBlue: There is a $75 fee for first-come, first-serve standby as well as same-day flight changes for select fare types. Note that cities with only 1 flight per day have neither standby nor same-day flight changes available.
- Southwest Airlines: Depends on the type of fare paid by passenger. Only ‘Anytime’ and ‘Business Select’ fares are eligible for standby; if you purchase ‘Wanna Get Away’ or ‘Senior’ fares you will need to pay the fare difference. There may be additional fees.
- United Airlines: Most passengers will be charged $75 for flying standby.