Flying Standby: Tips And Tricks For Standby Flights

How To Fly Standby

Flying standby can be an exciting and cost-effective way to travel, offering flexibility and the potential for last-minute adventures. Whether you’re looking to save money or spontaneously extend a trip, understanding the ins and outs of standby flights can significantly enhance your travel experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what standby flights are, how to fly standby, and essential tips for maximizing your chances of success.

What Are Standby Flights?

Standby flights refer to a travel option where passengers without confirmed tickets wait for available seats on a flight. This often occurs when a passenger is trying to catch an earlier flight or when they hope to fill a seat that becomes available due to a no-show or cancellation. Standby travel can be divided into two main categories:

  • Voluntary Standby: This is when you actively choose to fly standby, often in hopes of catching an earlier flight or taking advantage of open seats.
  • Involuntary Standby: This occurs when you are placed on a standby list by the airline due to overbooking, flight cancellations, or missed connections.

How To Fly Standby?

Flying standby can be a great way to travel if you’re flexible with your schedule. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fly standby:

Check Eligibility

Before you consider flying standby, ensure you are eligible. Different airlines have varying policies regarding who can fly on standby. Generally, eligibility falls into the following categories:

  • Ticket Holders: Passengers with flexible tickets or same-day flight change benefits.
  • Employees and Family: Airline employees and their immediate family members often have standby privileges as part of their employment benefits.
  • Frequent Flyers: Some loyalty programs offer standby benefits to their elite members.

Understand The Airline's Standby Policy

Each airline has specific rules and procedures for standby travel. To prevent any surprises, familiarize yourself with these policies. Common aspects to look for include:

  • Fees: Some airlines charge a fee for standby travel, while others offer it for free to certain passengers.
  • Priority: Standby lists are often prioritized based on various factors, including ticket type, frequent flyer status, and time of check-in.
  • Restrictions: There may be restrictions on which flights are eligible for standby or certain blackout dates.

Arrive Early

Arriving at the airport early increases your chances of securing a standby seat. Since standby availability is often on a first-come, first-served basis, being at the top of the list can be crucial.

Join The Standby List

To fly standby, you need to be added to the standby list. Here’s how you can do it:

  • At the Airport: Approach the airline’s check-in counter or a customer service desk and request to be added to the standby list for your desired flight.
  • Online: Some airlines allow you to join the standby list online or through their mobile app.
  • Over the Phone: Call the airline’s customer service and ask to be placed on the standby list.

Stay Informed And Flexible

Keep an eye on the standby list and listen for announcements regarding your flight. Flexibility is key, as you might not get on your first choice of flight.

Be Prepared For Alternatives

Standby travel comes with the risk of not getting on your desired flight. Have a backup plan in case you don’t make it on standby. This could include being ready to book a confirmed seat on a later flight or even considering alternative transportation methods.

How Much Fee Is Charged To Get Standby Flights?

Although traveling on standby used to be inexpensive, you now have to pay a standby charge on top of the ticket price. Although first-class passengers, business-class passengers, and members of elite programs frequently have free standby alternatives, most airlines impose such surcharges.

The price of a standby ticket varies depending on the airline and the trip. On average, standby costs range from $25 to $100, and the majority of airlines impose a $75 same-day change fee. New travelers may wish to avoid standby travel until they have more expertise navigating airports and dealing with airlines because flying standby is more expensive and not guaranteed.

  • Passengers with tickets booked in advance can standby for free on Alaska Airlines the same day. Standby seats are available on only nonstop routes between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, and Seattle and Spokane. Standby passengers must arrive at the departure gates thirty minutes before takeoff.
  • Allegiant Air does not offer typical standby flights. Instead, travelers can modify their flight and destination up to one hour before departure if they purchase TripFlex at the time of booking. Any variations in airfare are the responsibility of the passenger.
  • American Airlines charges $75 for same-day standby tickets; however, military personnel, first-class, business-class, and AAdvantage Elite members are exempt from this price.
  • $75 is the standby fee charged by Delta Airlines. Passengers traveling in Basic Economy are not entitled to standby costs. Members with Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallions are entitled to free same-day confirmation adjustments.
  • Only elite-level Frontier Miles members are eligible for standby seats on Frontier Airlines. 
  • Hawaiian Airlines provides Pualani Platinum and Pualani Gold members with complimentary standby flights to early Neighbor Island flights. 
  • JetBlue charges a $75 standby fee for flights between the same locations that are sold out on the same calendar day. 
  • For $99, customers of Spirit Airlines can travel on standby on earlier flights.
  • Southwest Airlines is offering complimentary standby seats for its Business, Wanna Get Out, and Senior tickets. At least ten minutes before the original flight's planned departure, you must request to be added to the same-day standby list. If you don't, the airline's no-show policy will take effect. 
  • Flying Standby costs $75 for United travelers. Premier Members are entitled to a complimentary standby.

You can also read: How To Fly Standby On United Airlines?

Tips For Successful Standby Travel

Flying standby can be unpredictable, but these tips can help increase your chances of success and make the experience smoother:

  • Travel Light: Pack light and avoid checking bags if possible. Having only carry-on luggage allows you to move quickly and easily if you need to change plans or flights at the last minute.
  • Choose Less Busy Times: Flights during off-peak hours or days are less likely to be fully booked, increasing your chances of securing a standby seat. Mid-week and early morning flights typically have more availability than those on weekends or during peak travel times.
  • Monitor Flight Loads: Some airlines provide information on flight loads or seat availability. Tracking these can give you an idea of your chances of getting on a flight.
  • Maintain A Positive Attitude: Patience and a positive attitude go a long way when flying standby. Be courteous to airline staff and fellow passengers, as a good rapport can sometimes make a difference.
  • Leverage Your Status: If you’re a frequent flyer or have elite status with an airline, make sure to take advantage of these benefits. Elite members often receive priority on standby lists.
  • Consider Alternative Airports: Flying into or out of less congested airports can increase your chances of getting a standby seat. If you’re flexible with your destination or departure airport, this can be a strategic advantage.
  • Stay Near The Gate: When waiting for a standby seat, stay close to the gate. Being nearby ensures you won’t miss any important announcements or opportunities to board.
  • Be Ready to Act Quickly: Standby opportunities can arise unexpectedly. If your name is called, be prepared to act quickly, gather your belongings, and head to the gate immediately.

The Pros and Cons of Flying Standby

Like any travel method, standby flying has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a look at both sides:


  • Cost Savings: Standby flights can be a more affordable way to travel, especially if you’re not picky about flight times or dates.
  • Flexibility: Standby travel offers the flexibility to change your plans on the go, ideal for spontaneous trips or extended vacations.
  • Adventure: The uncertainty of flying standby can add a sense of adventure and excitement to your travel experience.


  • Uncertainty: There’s no guarantee you’ll get on the flight you want, which can be stressful if you have fixed travel plans.
  • Potential for Long Waits: If you don't secure a standby seat quickly, you may spend a significant amount of time waiting at the airport.
  • Limited Availability: Standby seats are subject to availability, and popular routes may have fewer open seats.

Wrapping Up!

Flying standby offers flexibility and the chance for impromptu excursions, making it an exciting and affordable mode of transportation. Knowing how standby planes operate and heeding the advice in this article will help you go through the procedure with assurance and improve your chances of success. For more details on how to fly standby, call the consolidation desk at +1-800-865-1848.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How to fly standby for the first time?

When flying standby for the first time, make sure you are eligible, read the airline's restrictions, get there early, and sign up for the standby list. Be adaptable and keep an eye on travel availability for last-minute seat deals.

Q2. What are the chances of getting on a standby flight?

The chances of getting on a standby flight are influenced by several factors. These include seat availability, flight demand, your position on the standby list, and priority status, such as frequent flyer level or ticket flexibility. Understanding these factors can help you make more informed decisions when flying standby.

Q3. How to fly standby?

Check your eligibility, familiarize yourself with the airline's regulations, arrive early, sign up for the standby list, and remain close to the gate so that you can board in the event that a seat opens up. Call +1-800-865-1848 to learn more about the standby policy.

Q4. How do standby plane seats work?

If a seat opens up on a standby list, you can switch to a different flight. This is an alternative if your flight has been canceled or delayed or if you're hoping for an earlier flight.

Q5. Is flying standby doable?

Yes, flying standby is doable if you’re flexible, understand airline policies, and monitor seat availability. Arriving early and being prepared enhances your chances. For more detailed information, call +1-800-865-1848.

Q6. When to show up for a standby flight?

Arrive at least 2 hours before departure for a domestic standby flight, or 3 hours early for international flights, to maximize your chances.

Q7. How to use my standby flight benefits?

Check if your ticket or loyalty status permits standby travel. Sign up for the standby list in advance, and keep an eye on flight availability to take advantage of your standby flight perks. To ensure speedy boarding, be adaptable, travel light, and remain near the gate.

Q8. Could any regular person just fly standby?

Yes, regular passengers can fly standby if they meet the airline's eligibility criteria, such as having a flexible ticket or purchasing standby options. Check the airline’s policies and fees before planning.

Q9. When is standby confirmed?

Standby is confirmed when a seat becomes available due to cancellations, no-shows, or open seats. Passengers are usually notified close to departure time, often minutes before boarding.

Q10. How to get on Same day standby?

To get on same-day standby, check if your ticket allows it, arrive early at the airport, request to be added to the standby list at the check-in counter, and stay near the gate for updates.

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