General Question

chelle21689's avatar

How likely is it that I can catch an earlier flight on standby?

Asked by chelle21689 (5085 points ) June 30th, 2010

It’s a LONG story why I have to catch an earlier flight. I already spent a lot of money on my plane tickets….

Anyways, my plane is supposed to leave on July 16th at 10:00pm. I’m flying with Delta Airline. I’ll most likely be at the airport in the EARLY morning…earlier than 10am.

Is there a chance I can get on an earlier flight than 10pm? I’m flying from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH and I do know a lot of flights fly out from LA

I have one checked baggage so I think that might hinder me.

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19 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Have you checked to see online if there are seats available on the earlier flight? Are you flying from a hub airport?

Oh, and I think you cannot change flights if you have checked your bag already. You must fly with your bags.

josie's avatar

These days, there are fewer flights and tighter booking as the airlines attempt to lower costs. I used to use standby a lot because it gave me greater flexibility in my itinerary. I have noticed that on some routes, it is becoming increasingly tough to get a standby seat. I would not stake a whole lot on it, especially flying out of LA to a smaller midwestern airport like CMH.

JLeslie's avatar

I just noticed you said it is LA to Columbus, and I will assume it is nonstop, so I think it will be difficult to go standby if the flight is already booked, but you might get lucky. If a flight is late coming in from Asia and misses a connection seats could easily be open on your flight. You never know.

missingbite's avatar

One word of caution. Your checked bag HAS to fly the first leg of your trip with you per TSA. It is going to be very difficult to check in for a flight with your bag and go standby for an earlier flight. Is there any way you can make your bag a carryon?

chelle21689's avatar

I think it’s possible if I pack lightly. It’s really hard for me to want to downsize on this if it doesn’t guarantee me an early flight.

chelle21689's avatar

If I pack with a carry on how likely is it that I’m going to get on a standby flight?

missingbite's avatar

It will depend on the loads of the flights. My experience is that the earlier you travel, the better off you are. Chances of someone oversleeping, running into traffic, or getting stuck at TSA are pretty high. If the flight is oversold, you will be out of luck. Delta will be able to tell you this information the day before your flight. (if it is oversold or not) I would bet that about 80% of my head start flights leave with at least a couple of people who didn’t show up. Chances are WAY better on the first flight of the day rather than later.

chelle21689's avatar

Well I know that I’ll be at the Airport earlier than 10am.

missingbite's avatar

@chelle21689 Just try to check in before the first flight leaves. Once the first flight leaves, everyone that missed the first is on revenue standby for the next.

chelle21689's avatar

Thank you so much missingbite. I’m just stressing really hard about it…

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The chances are good, I do it all the time. Go online and look up early flights, write down the carrier names and flight numbers then go to the airport. Go to the first desired carrier even if it’s not the same as the one you’ve already paid for and ask the agent if you can get on their flight, most will say yes if they can accomodate and at no extra charge. Sometimes I’ve gone to several until I got a yes but it works. My usual mode is to buy the least expensive ticket for the day of travel and then gamble by trying to get into a desired time. Good luck out there and try to make the most of the situation.

janbb's avatar

i don’t understand the issue with the checked bag. You’re not going to be able to check it in for the later flight anyway til the afternoon. If you get on standby with the early flight, they will take your bag then. You can try to find out how full the flight is, but if there are no-shows, you may very well get on standby. Or if you really want the earlier flight, why not call the airline and find out what the change fee would be? Often it is not a terrible amount.

chelle21689's avatar

Last time I changed it, it was $150

missingbite's avatar

@janbb The checked bag has to do with the TSA. Let’s say you were a terrorist and had a bomb with an altitude switch. You might want to have it on a flight that you are not on. So you book a flight for 11:00 and then get on a flight at 8:00. Your bomb goes off but you aren’t there. This has been in effect since Pan Am 103. That is how they got the bomb on board. If you buy a ticket and check bags but never get on the flight they are supposed to pull the bags before the plane leaves the gate.

I’m not saying this is how it always happens….but those are the rules.

janbb's avatar

@missingbite I understand that completely, but as I said since the flight she is on now is not until the evening, the bag would not be checked in for that flight before she knows whether she can go on the earlier one. I may be wrong but that’s the way it seems to me.

missingbite's avatar

@janbb Sorry, I misunderstood your misunderstanding. Here is the problem. Being on standby she needs to be near the gates as they tend to clear standbys at the last minute. If she checks her bag, which she would have to do before going through security, they are going to make her fly on her scheduled flight as they won’t have time to pull her bag to fly with her. This is why when you check in for an earlier flight they ask, “do you have any checked luggage”. If you say no, they will clear you. If you say yes, you are out of luck unless they have plenty of time to find you bag and send it with you. If you say no, and you do have one (lying), they will find out when your ticket isn’t on the flight your checked bags ticket is and the bag will stay behind. Clear as mud?

chelle21689's avatar

I’m going to pack light lol…I’ll try my hardest

missingbite's avatar

Let me add that IF the earlier flight is wide open, they may clear you at the ticket counter so you could check your bag. Moral of the story, call the night before and find out how full the flight is. When I say wide open, I mean like 20 open seats and no way they could fill it. If it is close, they will send you to the gate with a stand by ticket. Good luck!

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