Flying standby (sometimes referred to as ‘same day flight changes’) used to mean buying a cheap ticket for the next flight with empty seats. Today, standby generally means you’ve already purchased a ticket, but want to get on an earlier flight, or maybe you’d rather sleep in and catch a later one. Here’s how to do that on U.S. airlines.
Standby Tickets: How It Works
Standby is never guaranteed; today’s airlines work hard to fill every seat, so empty ones for standby travelers are harder and harder to come by. But they do exist.
A few standby seats are free, but most will cost you. The freebies typically go to elite miles members or those who’ve already purchased tickets in first or business class (but this varies by airline, so always check). Those who buy more expensive refundable economy seats also may get free standby. However, standby policies and prices can change with no notice.
Standby Tickets: What It Costs
Check your airline’s app or website for the latest updates and contact information, or click the links below.
Alaska offers free same-day standby on the date of departure for a few routes that include cities in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and California. For other standby requests, there is a $25 fee. More information here.
For flights within North America, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, American charges $75 for same-day standby for earlier flights. AAdvantage elite members are not charged, nor are those traveling on military, first class, business class or high-fare coach tickets. More information here.
Same-day standby for earlier flights costs $75, unless you have top-tier status in Delta’s SkyMiles program. More information here.
Elite members of Frontier’s EarlyReturns program can stand by for earlier or later flights for free. Others pay a $99 fee. More information here.
Standby is not available on every route but where it is, it’s free. You must, however, contact JetBlue before your original departure time. More information here.
Standby is free for those holding the more expensive Business Select and refundable tickets. Those who purchase the cheaper Wanna Get Away fares have to pay to upgrade to the Anytime fare to get standby. More information here.
Standby is generally free to elite MileagePlus members from the Gold level on up; others pay a $75 fee. More information here.