Flying standby is different than it used to be. With increased airline restrictions, it's nearly impossible to stand by and get a cheap flight without having purchased a ticket earlier. However, once you have that ticket for a cheap flight, flying standby is possible on a last-minute flight if you take the right approach.
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Call ahead to see if any airlines are offering standby tickets for people who haven't already purchased tickets. If they are, you're in luck. If not, purchase a ticket for the day you want to travel. The earlier you look for tickets, the cheaper the price is going to be. Make sure your ticket allows you to switch to a standby flight for no extra cost.
Pack your luggage in a suitcase small enough to carry onto the plane. You won't have time to check luggage onto a last-minute standby flight.
Get to the airport as early as possible on the day for which your ticket is purchased. Boarding a standby flight only makes sense if it's an earlier flight than your own, so the earlier you get there, the better.
Inform the employee at the check-in counter that you are interested in boarding a standby flight at the last minute if a seat opens up. They will put your name on the list.
Remain by the gate of the same airline your ticket is for. Don't leave the area unless necessary, because you could easily miss your name being announced for a last-minute standby flight. Check with a gate agent periodically to reconfirm you're still on the list.
Tips and warnings
- Some airlines will let you change your flight confirmation to a different flight on the same day for a small fee of £16 to £32, but there must be a seat available in your class.
- Get on the plane that your original ticket is for if you aren't able to get on any earlier standby flights. If you miss your original plane, you risk not being able to get on a standby flight at all.
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