How to Fly Standby

People fly standby when they don't have a confirmed reservation for the flight they would like to take. Standby passengers are only awarded seats on the flight after all confirmed passengers are checked in. Therefore you won't know if you're on the flight until the last minute. If you're hoping to fly standby it's best to only have carry-on luggage -- luggage that has to be checked won't make the flight. Here's how to go about traveling standby.

  1. Call the airline before you leave for the airport. Before running to the airport to try to get that earlier flight, make sure there are seats available on the flight you want to catch. You can't book a standby seat over the telephone, but you can find out how many people are on the standby list.
  2. Rush to the airport. After verifying that there are seats available for standby passengers, get to the airport as quickly as possible, so you can put your name on the standby list.
  3. Put your name on the list as soon as you arrive at the airport. Go straight to the ticket counter, advise the ticket agent that you wish to fly standby on a specific flight and place your name on the standby list.
  4. Proceed to the gate. Once your name is on the standby list, go straight to the appropriate boarding gate and wait for your name to be called. You will only be awarded the seat at the last minute and the gate agent will only call your name once. If you leave the area and miss your name being called, you'll lose your chance to fly standby. You can, however, advise the gate agent that you have to go to the restroom for one minute and will be right back.

With a bit of luck, there will be some no-shows on the flight and you'll get a seat. Good luck and bon voyage!