Depending on airline policy, travelers can book a standby flight by calling the airline's customer service line to buy a ticket, by being part of the airline's rewards program or by having an existing ticket that departs the same day. Some airlines only offer standby tickets to friends and family members of airline employees or allow people to fly standby using a buddy pass when accompanied by an employee.
Only a few airlines sell standby flights directly to consumers. People who want to fly standby should contact the airline by phone to make arrangements. Some airlines place members of their rewards program or airline employee family members before all other travelers who want a standby ticket. Other airlines may sell standby tickets but may not allow the traveler to check luggage or confirm a seat until the last moment.
Travelers who want to change their existing ticket to a standby ticket often have to pay a fee for switch and must arrange their new itinerary at the airline's airport customer service desk. Some airlines, such as Jet Blue, do not charge for this convenience. Other airlines waive the fee for top-tier customers who belong to their reward program.
If airlines have an overbooked flight, travelers can benefit by choosing to fly standby. Many airlines offer a cash incentive and a standby ticket on the next flight for passengers who willingly give up their seats.