How to fly Standby in 2022 | The pros and cons of standby | Passport Kings

How to fly Standby in 2022 | The pros and cons of standby

How are these people flying for free or close to nothing?

Man flying stanby at airport

Have you ever seen people just waiting at your gate while the gate agent is calling up people to enter the plane? Then, when the Cabin Door is just about to close, you finally see those same people who were sitting in the gate area, come on the plane and grab seats that seemed empty?

Well, chances are, those people either didn’t pay for the flight, or they paid pennies on the dollar to only contribute to the gas it will take to get to your destination. They learned how to fly standby in 2021. If it’s an international flight, then they probably also paid to contribute to gas, taxes, and customs fees. The way they are doing this is called “Flying Standby:”

Table of Contents:

I’ve flown standby before. This ability comes with its own set of Pros and Cons. Today I’m going to explain how to fly standby in 2022. We will see if you can use standby to get to your next destination for next to nothing and I’ll help you decide if it’s even worth the trouble to save a few hundred dollars.  

What is Standby?

Standby is a perk that airlines offer their employees.

Along with the excellent salary that Airline Companies pay their employees, they also offer a lot of other benefits that include the privilege of Standby. 

Delta Airplane with connected Jet-bridge

Standby allows a person to get on an airplane that is not full and take it to whichever location the flight is already going. 

A lot of Airline employees are not based in their hometowns. Many of them have to commute to work via flights.

The standby perk allows employees of the company to get to critical destinations like their base cities or back home when they get off of work. Flying standby allows these employees to use the seats that are not filled with paying passengers when they’re commuting. 

Since a lot of planes are not filled to capacity when leaving cities on other days, I guess the companies decided that they may as well let their employees travel for leisure in these empty seats.

They call them standby because employees have to “Stand By,” waiting to see if a paying passenger purchases those empty seats last minute. 

Airline companies also give their employees buddy passes.

Buddy passes extend the standby benefit to the Family and Friends of the employee.

The employee gets a handful of passes that they can offer to their loved ones.

When the scenario arises that a plane is not going to be filled to capacity, the employee can put their family member on the Standby list for the flight. 

If the seat is not purchased before the Cabin door closes by another passenger, the family member will then be able to sit in the empty seat for free - or at a lower price that covers the taxes and fuel for the flight. 

Emirates Flight Attendant and Passenger on plane

The list goes by a hierarchy.

The Standby list will prioritize people on it, by who the company feels are more essential to fly.

Each company has a different set of rules.  

The considerations of this list include (But are not limited to): 

  1. The importance of these people getting to their destination. (An employee getting to work usually gets top priority)

  2. The position of the employee. (Pilots usually get top priority)

  3. How close the family member is to the employee. (The Spouse of the employee is top priority) 

  4. The length of time that employee has worked with the company. (Employees with a long history with the company can most likely get their people on sooner.)

Using a Credit Card to fly standby?

I believe this used to be an option. But as of the writing of this post, I can’t find a credit card company that offers the option of standby. 

I know that if credit card users get to the airport much earlier than their flight, it’s possible for them to get on an earlier flight going to the same destination - if that flight is not full. 

But I’ve also seen regular passengers use this same option. 

If I’m wrong and you know more about credit card perks, please comment below and let me know about it. 

How to fly standby for American, Southwest, Frontier, Delta, and United.

The only way of getting on the standby list for American, Frontier, Southwest, Frontier, Delta, or United is to work for or be the spouse, parent, significant other, or close friend of one of these airline’s employees.

The Benefits of Flying Standby.

If you are one of the lucky ones who are able to use the Standby Benefit, you will be able to fly to cool destinations for close to nothing. 

The life of a Pilot or Flight Attendant can be a lonely one. Having the ability to have a spouse or close friend meet them in a boring city - when they have free time, can break the monotony of working alone and long distances from home.

It also comes in handy when a parent wants to come to visit  

To get the best standby experience you should do homework before flying.

Most airlines will now let you download the airline's app when flying standby. This gives you the ability to make quick decisions and access flight information quickly on your smartphone.

You will be able to see ahead of time, which position you are in and how likely you are to get on the flight. 

Guy at Airport with look of Disappointment about standby

The Cons of Flying Standby.

When you walk on the plane last, many people will think you were late and the reason why the plane was held up.

Waiting to see if your name is called by a gate agent can be uncomfortable.

You will have to be on your best behavior on this trip.

Any infraction will be taken out on the employee who gave you the Buddy Pass.

You could get them suspended or even fired if any interaction with anyone goes south.


Almost everyone can tell that you're flying standby and they will have a look of disdain for you because they paid more.

Most of the cons depend on what feel about what other people's opinions about you. But at the end of the day, who cares what they think? 

Even worse cons are: 

It’s possible to come to the airport ready to get to a destination, and never be able to get there.

Choosing to fly standby either internationally, on the holidays, or during peak travel periods is close to impossible.

Even worse, you could be trying to get home from a country abroad and get stuck at the airport overnight because all of the planes were full.

You also have to be VERY flexible If you're flying to a hotel or resort.

You may miss some of the best times of your stay because you are stuck in an airport waiting for an empty flight to let you board.

View of Las Vegas at night from over airplane wing

To avoid these possible vacation disasters, you're most times better off using a flight curator that I have available at

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Now that you know all of the Pros and Cons of using Standby, become a Pilot! lol. (You know you’ve always wanted to) Or give birth to a flight attendant so you travel the world for close to free Like a king...



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My name is Roklan. I'm a travel advisor. I make Passport Kings Travel Videos to inform, preview and excite you about Vacation Destinations and other travel-related information. Discover, Preview and Book Travel with Passport Kings

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