How to Fly Standby on Southwest

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 00:20
Knowing what to do and expect when you fly Traveling standby can be risky since you don't officially have a ticket. But it's a great option if you've had a change of plans that requires an earlier or alternate arrival time. You'll need...
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Traveling standby can be risky since you don’t officially have a ticket. But it’s a great option if you’ve had a change of plans that requires an earlier or alternate arrival time. You’ll need to know what to do before you get to the airport and at the airport in order to increase your chances of getting on your preferred Southwest flight.

Part 1
Part 1 of 2:

Searching for Standby Flights

  1. Step 1 Look up your preferred flight online to see if there are seats available.
    Go to the Southwest online booking page and search for the new flight you want to be on. Then, see if it's sold out or if there are still seats available. If your destination city has multiple airports, be flexible and search for alternative Southwest flights going into each one.[1]
    • Note that this isn't a fool-proof method of checking for standby seats. It's not uncommon for airlines to overbook flights, so even if it doesn't say "sold out," there could still be a chance that it is.
  2. Step 2 Call the airlines to ask about any available seats before you go to the airport.
    Ask if your preferred standby flight is already full or if there's a good chance you'll get a seat. Sometimes people change or cancel their reservations last minute. Or, if there is inclement weather in certain areas of the country, cancelled connections or delayed flights might mean that a seat could open up on connecting flights.[2]
    • Note that all standby passengers need to already have a confirmed ticket. Flyers with companion passes do not get the same benefits as the original (top tier) ticket holder they’re traveling with, which means they’re not eligible for standby.
    • For instance, say you want to fly from Denver to Los Angeles. If another traveler is flying from Chicago to Los Angeles with a layover in Denver, they might miss their connection in Denver due to winter weather delays in Chicago, opening up a seat on the flight you want.
  3. Step 3 Choose non-peak travel times and seasons to increase your chances.
    Avoid trying to fly standby during the busiest hours and seasons. Holidays and big events make it less likely that there will be no-shows. Instead, search for early morning (before 7:00 AM) or late night (after 10:00 PM) flights (ones people are more likely to miss or reschedule) to increase your chances of getting a seat.[3]
    • If there’s a big event in your destination city around the time you plan to arrive (like a big music festival or sporting event), you may have less of a chance of getting a seat.
    • Trying to get a standby ticket around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas is going be very difficult.
    • Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be the least busy (and cheapest) days to fly, while Mondays and Fridays tend to be the busiest.[4]
    • You can still try to fly standby during peak times and seasons, but the odds won’t be in your favor.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 2:

Requesting Standby at the Airport

  1. Step 1 Go to the airport 1 to 2 hours before the standby flight’s boarding time.
    If you've found an earlier flight that you want to try to get on, arrive at the airport at least 1 hour before that flight starts boarding. If you're traveling internationally or from a major hub (like Houston or New York) try to get there 2 hours before boarding time.[5]
    • Check for delays before you go at
  2. Step 2 Talk to a customer service agent about putting you on the standby list.
    Go to the airport and visit a customer service agent at the Southwest ticketing counter. Let them know which flight you'd like to be on and have your current confirmation information handy to streamline the process. You cannot request standby online, over the phone, or at a check-in kiosk.[6]
    • If you're already past security, you can talk to an agent at the gate of your current flight (or at the gate of the earlier flight you want to be on).
  3. Step 3 Pay the fee or difference in ticket price, if required.
    If you purchased one of the cheaper ticket options like “Wanna Get Away” or “Senior” for your original flight, you’ll need to pay the difference in price for the two flights. "Anytime" and "Business Select" fares don't require you to pay the difference in fees.[7]
    • The fee is typically around $75 but it may be more or less depending on the price difference between the two flights. You’ll only pay this fee if you’ve been issued a ticket on your new standby flight.
    • You're more likely to get the extra seat if you frequently fly with Southwest (and have “elite” status) or if you purchased a more expensive “Anytime” or “Business Select” fare.
  4. Step 4 Go to the departure gate and wait for standby procedures.
    Ticketed passengers will board the plane first, so you'll have to wait for each boarding group to go before they start ticketing standby passengers. Once the agent calls for standby passengers, you'll need to listen for your name to be called or watch the screen to see if your name is cleared on the standby list.
    • Be patient; don't ask the gate agent about where you stand every 5 minutes!
    • Download the Southwest mobile app and sign in with your reservation number or rapid rewards number in order to view the standby list from your phone.
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  • Don't change plans at your destination under the assumption that you'll be on your standby flight! It's not confirmed until you've been issued a new boarding pass.
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  • If you’re an A-List or A-List Preferred member and have a friend or loved one traveling on your Companion Pass, they cannot travel standby with you. So if you get a standby ticket, their reservation will be cancelled![8]
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