A standby flight is an option for travelers who want to fly on a different flight than the one they’re booked on without a confirmed reservation.
An airline also may put you on a standby flight if your scheduled flight was canceled.
When flying standby, you’re essentially waiting for an available seat on a different flight, typically on the same day as your original flight.
If a seat becomes available due to a no-show, cancellation, or any other reason, you may be able to board the flight.
How Standby Flights Work
Standby flights operate on a first-come, first-served basis. To fly standby, you need to:
Hold a valid ticket: You must already have a ticket for a flight with the airline you’re trying to fly standby with.
Arrive at the airport: Head to the airport and approach the airline’s check-in counter or gate agent to request a standby status for your desired flight.
Wait for seat availability: Once you’re on the standby list, you’ll need to wait at the gate until the airline can confirm if there’s an available seat for you. This usually happens close to the departure time.
Board the flight: If a seat becomes available and you’re next on the list, the airline will grant you a boarding pass for the standby flight.
Keep in mind that being on the standby list does not guarantee a seat on the desired flight. It all depends on seat availability and the airline’s priority system for allocating standby seats.