Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Types of Standby Tickets
- Is my Ticket Eligible for Standby Travel?
- How to Fly Standby for an Earlier Flight
- Elite Airline Status
- Tickets with Little or No Restrictions
- Travel Tips for Flying Standby during the Holidays
- How to Use a Buddy Pass
- Non-Rev Standby Status
- Best Times to Fly on Non Rev Ticket
- Destinations to Forget
Got a friend that works for American Airlines? Can they help you achieve your dreams of a fabulous holiday on the white sands beaches of a forgotten island? Maybe. Or did your meeting in Minneapolis end early and you want to head home? Flying standby is the answer to both of those questions. And TravelingMom’s former flight attendant offers the best tips on flying standby, even during the holidays.
Learn the top tips for using your airline ticket to grab a different flight by flying standby. Read on for how to get a standby seat, as a ticketed passenger or with a buddy pass.
Types of Standby Tickets
There are two types of standby reservations.
You can grab an earlier flight in the day and choose to fly standby for the earlier departure. This type of standby reservation might have restrictions or charge fees, based on the type of fare or airline status.
The other way to fly standby is a with an employee’s friends and family ticket, also known as a buddy pass. An airline employee would have to secure a reservation for you.
Is my Ticket Eligible for Standby Travel?
Some ticketed fares allow for same day reservation changes. Look for higher priced fares with little or no restrictions, like business select fares.
Before you book a ticket for your next trip, keep in mind “wanna get away” or “basic economy” tickets usually don’t allow same day changes. This is especially important for business travelers who prefer flexibility.
How to Fly Standby for an Earlier Flight
That afternoon meeting just got cancelled and your mind starts to churn. How can you get home earlier? Grab a ride share and work on it on the way to the airport.
Read More: How to Fly Standby on a Buddy Pass
Elite Airline Status
Have you earned an elite status with the airline? Then you might get free same day reservation changes.
1. Call the dedicated reservations number for elite mileage members to check on seat availability for an earlier flight or later flight.
2. Check in at the ticketing kiosk, or the ticketing agent, to get a new standby boarding pass and proceed to security.
3. Head to the gate to check the standby list, usually posted on the departure board over the gate agents.
4. Sit close by and wait for your name to be called.
Tickets with Little or No Restrictions
If you’re traveling and you’re not a member of its frequent flyer program, then check out the restrictions on the original ticket. See if there’s a hefty change fee, standby fee, or if there’s restrictions on same day reservation changes.
1. If it’s all good, then head to the airline’s app or website and do some research. Check on seat availability by selecting an earlier flight as if you’re purchasing another ticket. If the flight is sold out, it will be noted. Then you know there’s no available seats on the earlier flight. Keep your original reservation and grab a bite at the airport.
2. Though if the flight has seats for sale, then call the reservations number and ask for a same day reservation change. Some airlines will allow same day flight changes within its app. A convenient feature if you’re headed to the airport.
If not, head to the ticket agent and ask to be put on the earlier flight’s standby list, or use the ticketing kiosk. A new boarding pass will be issued in most cases to clear security.
3. Head to the gate. Most airlines post the standby list on the departure board over the gate agents. Verify your name is on the list. Then find a seat close by and wait for your name to be called.
4. If your name doesn’t get called make sure that you are rolled over to the next flight.
Travel Tips for Flying Standby during the Holidays
Though flying standby during the holiday season offers some complications with full flights, it can be done.
- If possible, start early in the day. Flights tend to be less affected by weather and have more no-shows.
- Mid-week travel favors flying standby since the flight load tends to be lighter.
- The actual holiday can offer lighter flight loads. Though airlines offer discounts for traveling on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas.
How to Use a Buddy Pass
Got a friend or cousin who can hook you up with a buddy pass, or non rev ticket? Here’s how to use one. Though each airline has different procedures, the basics are the same.
1. Do your research before reaching out to your friend with buddy passes. Some destinations will require multiple connections and eat up a lot of travel time.
2. Ask your friend, the airline employee. Now, be prepared, they might say no. Since airline employees only get a certain number of passes per year, they might not have any.
3. Get a non-rev or standby reservation. Either the airline employee can make one for you, if they can, or you can call the 1 800 reservations number.
4. Check the weather before your flight. Weather in one part of the country can and will affect the weather throughout the system.
5. After arriving at the airport, check in at the ticketing kiosk or with the ticket agent to get a standby boarding pass. Then proceed to the TSA security checkpoint.
6. After clearing security, head to the departure gate stay close enough to hear the gate agents but you don’t typically have to check in again.
7. Don’t bother the gate agent during the boarding procedure. They know you are on the standby list since you checked in. They will get you a seat if there’s one available. Just be patient.
8. If a seat is available, the gate agent will call your name. If called, be ready to board the aircraft so gather your belongings then grab your boarding pass.
9. Stay at the gate until the boarding door is closed. Boarding passes can be distributed in the last minutes before the boarding door closes, due to misconnects from in-bound passengers.
10. Most gate agents will announce if the flight is full and how they will deal with the standby list after the boarding door closes.
11. Move to the next departure gate or call reservations for other options.
Non-Rev Standby Status
Just like regular passengers who receive a boarding preference based on accumulated miles with a rewards program, passengers flying on non-rev tickets also have a boarding preference.
Traveling on Company Business—Members of the airline traveling for work receive the highest boarding preference, meaning they are getting an open seat first.
Employees and their Spouses—Employees, spouses, and retirees of the airline, get the next highest priority.
Parents and Children of Airline Employee—The parents of the employee and the children (no matter the age) of employee have the next boarding preference.
Buddy Pass—A ticket that airline employees can give to friends and family not eligible for other non-rev status.
Knowing who’s above you on a flight is important. Empty seats will be filled in order of preference.
Best Times to Fly on Non Rev Ticket
If your schedule is flexible, then using a buddy pass is an exciting way to start your getaway. Start by utilizing some common sense and common courtesy while flying standby.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are the best days to fly. The flights are usually full with business travelers on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays.
Start with the first flight of the day to your chosen destination. Most people don’t like to wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning to be at the airport for a 5 a.m. flight so the flights are less full. And the weather issues aren’t as big of a problem with earlier flights.
Fall is an excellent time to travel since it’s off-season for many destinations. So try September (after Labor Day), October and early November for your next getaway.
Winter offers another off-season. So January and February (except for the three day weekend holidays) is good time to time with a buddy pass.
Destinations to Forget
Wanna go to Hawaii? Sure, everyone does. It’s magical and the flights are full of passengers flying on miles.
Don’t even think about flying on a non-rev ticket. Though find lots of U.S. carriers operate flights to Hawaii and that’s keeping the cost down.
Europe can be another destination that might be tricky, depending on the final destination.
Do’s and Don’ts of Flying on a Buddy Pass
Do be very polite to every employee. You are representing the airline and the employee. And while your good behavior won’t be rewarded, your poor behavior will be noted. If an airline employee reports bad behavior, the employee can loose their flying benefits.
Don’t bother the gate agent. Getting to your destination isn’t their responsibility. Other than calling your name to hand you a boarding pass or rolling your name to the next flight if you miss the current one, that’s all they have to do.
Do know the Reservations number. Call the 1 800 number and ask them if they have time to do a non-rev reservation or check some flights for you.
Don’t over pack. You will be a carry-on only passenger. So pack smartly with one rolling suitcase and one personal item, like a backpack.
Do pack comfort items for a long layover. Odds are you will be spending some time hanging out in the airport. So pack a water bottle, a book or two, phone plus charging cords and earbuds, earplugs, eye mask, inflatable pillow and a travel scarf or extra layer.
Don’t check luggage. If you check your luggage, it goes no matter what. OK, if you’re returning from a trip but don’t do it if you’re headed to your destination.
Do be prepared to gate check your carry-on luggage. Since you will be one of the last people on the aircraft, chances are the overhead space will be full. The gate agent will take your larger bag and it will immediately be put on the aircraft.
Don’t complain about your seat. You got a seat so don’t complain it’s the middle seat on the last row.
Do know the airline’s hubs. These cities offer the most selection in destinations along with more flights those destinations.
Don’t brag to other passengers about your non-rev seat. This is an employee benefit so be respectful.