How to Fly Standby on Delta Air Lines

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Standby for Flight Changes, Upgrades, Missed Flights, and More

Airline policies and procedures can change without notice.  If you plan to fly standby, always confirm the relevant standby rules and information with Delta Air Lines prior to your flight.

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Standby for Same Day Flight Changes on Delta Air Lines

If you want to change your Delta Air Lines flight to a different flight the same day, your best option is to request a same day flight change and avoid standby altogether if possible. Delta allows same day flight changes on flights within the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

24 hours prior to departure, and for a $50 fee, you can request a confirmed seat on a different flight the same day as your original flight (known as a confirmed same day flight change). If a confirmed seat is not available, you can opt for standby status instead (known as unconfirmed same day flight change or same day flight change standby). Unlike confirmed flight changes, same day standby is not available in Canada. If you are not allocated a seat on a standby flight, the $50 fee is refunded.

An additional $200 change fee may also apply – this will depend on the fare rules on the ticket you purchased. Some fare types allow changes, some don’t. You will have to read the fare rules for your ticket to figure out if there is a fee. Generally, flexible or refundable fares don’t require a Change Fee, and the $50 Same-Day Change Fee may be waived as well (it’s also waived for Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallion members).

A few other important things to know about confirmed same-day flight changes:

  • If you have a flexible fare (usually a refundable ticket – fare class Y or sometimes B), you may be able to change your itinerary without a fee.
  • If you have an Economy fare, you can only be rebooked in the same fare class as your original flight.
  • If you have a premium cabin fare, — including BusinessElite, First and Business Class — you may make a same-day confirmed change as long as a seat is available in the premium cabin on the flight you want.
  • Award Tickets are eligible for same-day confirmed flight changes.
  • Origin, destination or co-terminal (e.g., LGA to JFK) changes are not eligible for same-day confirmed flight changes.
  • Basic Economy fare (E) for flights flown on or after February 1, 2015 are not eligible for same-day confirmed flight changes.

A few other important things to know about standby for same-day flight changes:

  • Same-day standby is only offered if same-day confirmed is not available.
  • Silver Medallion members, general SkyMiles members and non-members may only fly same-day standby for a flight that is earlier than their original flight.
  • Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members may standby for a flight any time on the same day as their original flight.
  • No routing changes are allowed.
  • Eligible same-day standby flights must be on the same day as the original flight, starting 12am of the same day to 11:59pm the same day.
  • Change is only permitted based on the original ticketed paid cabin. For example, customers confirmed in RU class may only standby for flights in the Economy cabin
  • Basic Economy fare (E) for flights flown on or after February 1, 2015 are not eligible for same-day standby travel changes.
  • You can use the same-day standby option for travel within the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Delta and Delta Connection flights.

You can request standby or confirmed flight changes by phone at (800) 455-2720, at an airport check-in kiosk, or at the ticket counter 24 hours prior to departure

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Standby for International Flights

Delta no longer offers standby for international flights except for some flights to or from certain locations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, and they also don’t permit standby for international upgrades. Complimentary international upgrades for elite SkyMiles members are also a thing of the past – you must redeem miles for international upgrades (or use a Global Upgrade if you have Diamond Medallion status).

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Missed Flight Standby on Delta Air Lines

If you miss a flight because of a cancelled or delayed flight, the airline will try to confirm a seat for you on another flight. If the flights are booked, you can opt for standby instead. You will be placed on the standby list according to priority (full fare and elite status passengers before discount fare passengers, etc.). You may have to wait for more than one flight before a seat is available. Make friends with the customer service agents and ask them about the chances of securing a seat – it may be better to re-schedule your trip.

If the missed flight is your fault, ask to be placed on the standby list. You will most likely be charged a fee. Officially, you have to pay the change fee ($200 for domestic flights; $200-$450 for international flights). However, the gate or ticket agent has wide discretion to charge you a lower fee or no fee at all. If there is a good reason you missed the flight and you present your case in a compelling and believable manner, there’s a small chance you could save yourself some money.

Lame excuses like “My car broke down” and “My babysitter was late” aren’t going to cut it, either. Airline staff has heard them all and they’ll know in a heartbeat if you’re being honest with them or not. You’re probably a little stressed out at this point, but remember try to be nice to the customer service agents as this can possibly save you some money on fees and will go a LONG way toward getting you onto a flight sometime in the near future.

There may be a difference in fare between the flight you booked (and missed) and the new flight you wish to take. If so, you will have to pay this difference – there’s no getting out of that one.

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Standby for Overbooked Flights:
How to Negotiate the Best Deal When You Voluntarily Give Up Your Seat

Every airline sells more tickets for each flight than actually exist on the airplane, which results on flights being overbooked. If you are on an overbooked flight, you can volunteer to standby for a later flight or even flights on a different date. Delta will compensate you for your willingness to be “bumped” in the form of Delta Dollars transportation eCredits, which can be used toward the purchase of another Delta airline ticket to the destination of your choice, or for other travel-related services.

By volunteering to give up your seat on the flight you booked and paid for, you are doing Delta a favor. This is your chance to negotiate for as many Delta Dollars as you can, or even a free upgrade on a later flight or a flight on a different date. Don’t be bashful about asking for what you want, and what you think the extra seat is worth to Delta, but don’t be overbearing or rude, either, because that’s a good way to wind up with nothing at all.

When negotiating with airline staff for compensation for giving up your seat and standing by for a later flight, politely but firmly emphasize that the situation represents an inconvenience to you and a disruption to your travel plans, and you deserve to be adequately compensated in return.

Your negotiating power depends largely on how many volunteers there are – if there are a quite a few, don’t expect to get as much in return for giving up your seat. If you’re the only one and Delta really needs the seat, it’s possible to really make the situation pay off.

If there are not enough volunteers, Delta will deny boarding (“bump”) passengers, beginning with all non-revenue producing passengers, then continuing through fare classes T, U, V, X; followed by H, K, L, Q, S; then Y,B,M fares. Passengers with elite status and regular SkyMiles members have priority over non-member passengers.

In this case, you may be placed on involuntary standby as Delta tries to book you onto the next available flight to your destination, whether flights on Delta or on another carrier with which they have an agreement.

As you can see, if you are about to be bumped, it’s better to volunteer for standby and be able negotiate from a position of power. But how do you know if your flight is overbooked? Ask. Airlines are not obligated to inform you the flight is overbooked until you’re denied boarding, and even though many of them say they keep passengers informed of overbooked flights, many times they don’t. However, airline staff is obligated to tell you if the flight is overbooked if you ask them.

The best way to tell if a flight is overbooked is to call the airline and ask before you go to the airport.

Another to tell if a flight is overbooked is to check the airline’s website. Are seats still being sold for that flight? When you manage your booking online, are upgrades available for purchase? Are award seats still available? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there’s a good chance the flight is not overbooked.

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Standby for Family Death or Medical Emergency

Flying standby can add stress to an already tense and emotional situation, so it’s best to avoid it when flying becomes necessary due to a medical emergency or the death of a family member. If possible, call Delta Reservations at 888-750-3284 and purchase a Bereavement or Medical Emergency fare (these fares are not available online). Not only are Bereavement or Medical Emergency fares competitive with or sometimes even discounted over those generally available at the last minute, but they offer additional flexibility in case of changes in your travel plans.

When emergencies happen, it’s not always possible to plan ahead, and the flight you need to take may be sold out. In this case, you will be placed on a standby list. As standby priority goes, it’s really not too bad and you should have a pretty good chance of getting a seat – especially if you arrive at the airport early and use other strategies to increase your chances of getting on a flight. Basically, you’ll be behind passengers who have been bumped from an earlier flight (either voluntarily or involuntarily), but above everyone else. It may be a different story if you try to upgrade though – unless you have Medallion status, a bereavement or medical emergency fare is much farther down the upgrade list relative to its priority on the standby list.

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Delta Air Lines Employee Travel / Standby: Non-rev Travel

Delta Air Lines employees and their parents, children, spouses or domestic partners travel free anywhere the airline flies (hence the name “non-rev” for a ticket that does not produce revenue for the airline). Non-dependent children, registered travel companions, and other friends and family are eligible for reduced-rate travel. Pass travelers may have to pay government or airport fees for international travel. Before using travel privileges, Delta employees are required to pay an annual $50 non-refundable activation fee.

Like all airlines who allow free employee travel, Delta offers employee travel on a standby, space-available basis. Delta pass travelers can check-in at a self-service airport kiosk, at the ticket counter, or at curbside (in locations with skycaps). If seats are not available, check availability for the next flight using the Delta TravelLine at 1-800 MY DELTA (800-693-3582).

Delta pass travelers are allowed 2 checked bags each (!) so this an exception to the “take only carry-on luggage on standby flights” rule.

Official Delta Air Lines Employee Travel Policies and Rules

  • All staff must list online via myIDTravel
  • Checked bags allowed, no charge for 1st or 2nd bag unless oversize or overweight
  • All staff must check-in with a Delta agent or at a kiosk (must be listed with myIDTravel)
  • Appropriate Attire / Behavior:
    • Overall appearance should be well-groomed, neat, clean, safe and respectful, from head to toe.
    • Clothing should be respectful of fellow passengers.
    • Footwear – shoes are required unless the pass rider is not able to wear footwear due to a disability or physical condition.
  • Inappropriate Attire / Behavior:
    • Passenger that is (or appears to be) intoxicated
    • Passenger whose dress violates public decency laws and or community standards (examples include clothing that is sheer or inappropriately revealing or is designated as sleepwear, underwear, or swim attire)
    • Bare feet
    • Clothing that is excessively dirty, stained or torn
    • Clothing that is vulgar, offensive or suggestive

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