Whether you’re choosing to fly standby because a meeting gets moved and you need to get there quicker, or you just want the flexibility and cost savings of a standby ticket, it can be a gamble. Here are a few helpful tips to increase the odds of your bet paying off:
Know the Rules
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the standby policy of your airline of choice, as they vary widely.
Never check a bag before going through security and confirming your seat on the plane. Even if you just have a carry-on, you might still have to gate check it for space/weight issues. Make sure to pack your basic toiletries and any essentials in your small personal bag in case your carry-on luggage makes it on the plane, but you don’t.
Avoid Peak Travel Times
Be mindful of long weekends, holidays, and big events as it increases airport traffic and can be especially tricky to find a seat.
Dress the Part
Dress comfortably (of course) but it helps to dress more business casual if you can, in case there’s an empty seat in business or first class. You’ll likely miss out if you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed in your pajamas.
“If you bring the flight crew chocolates, sometimes they’ll upgrade you or give you complimentary drinks. It’s not always guaranteed though and completely at their discretion (plus some airlines don’t allow them to do extra),” shared Allyson, flight attendant of 6 years.
Give Yourself Enough Time
It’s best to arrive at the airport early and target the first flights in the morning (as these flights are the most likely to have no-shows). If you absolutely have to be somewhere on a specific date, give yourself at least 1 day domestic and up to 2 days international to get there.
Don’t get upset with the gate agent if you don’t get on a flight or you get on but then get bumped off by a ticketed passenger. Be as polite as possible; they control your fate of getting on a flight or not, after all.
Look for Flights into Nearby Airports
Being flexible and expanding your destination to the airports in the general area can be key to making it there sooner.
“If I can’t get on a standby flight to Oakland, sometimes I’ll check the flights to San Francisco or San Jose. Internationally if I can’t get to London, I’ll check flights to nearby Gatwick,” continued Allyson.
Take advantage of TripIt Pro’s features when you’re flying standby. For example, you can use interactive airport maps when you want to find a quality cup of coffee or the nearest charging station. If you have a lot of time at the airport, it’s easy to access information and locations of airport lounges within the app as well.
Have any tips of your own to share? Tweet us @TripIt and tell us about your experiences flying standby.