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Gonna Miss Your Flight? Consider Stand-by to Save $$$

New Arrival

Southwest saved us over $400 with their generous stand-by policy when we missed our flight.


We were flying into Los Angeles on a non-Southwest international flight that was delayed (the delay was entirely that other airlines fault!) and would cause us to miss our Southwest flight from Los Angeles to the Bay Area.  Upon touching down in Los Angeles, I was immediately on the phone to Southwest to see about rebooking.  I assumed that since I had booked the cheapest "wanna get away" fare, I would lose what I had paid and have to pay a much higher, same-day fare.  The agent informed me that as long as we checked into the Southwest ticket desk within 2 hours of our original flight, we could fly stand-by at no extra cost!  Was there room on the next flight?  Yes!  What a great way to end our vacation.  My faith in Southwest is now unshakeable!


Re: Gonna Miss Your Flight? Consider Stand-by to Save $$$

Top Contributor

What you're describing is not technically standby.


Standby travel is arriving at the airport earlier than your departure and getting on an earlier flight when space is available. Southwest doesn't do standby in the traditional sense -- other carriers will charge a small fee ($50-$75) for the service, or even give it free to their elites, credit card holders, or in certain circumstances. On Southwest, to change to an earlier flight on a WGA fare, you must pay the fare difference, which is often very expensive. (Southwest did however just begin offering free standby as a perk for their A-Listers.)


What you describe is an unofficial policy, held by most (if not all) carriers, called the flat tire rule. Arriving at the airport within 2 hours after your scheduled departure, due to a delay out of your control, and you will be reaccommodated on the next available flight. On Southwest, you are put on the standby list for that flight if it's "full," or given confirmed seats if it's not, at the discretion of the agent.