How to Fly Standby on Etihad Airways

Flying standby has changed drastically over the past several years, on Etihad Airways and every other airline in the world (many no longer even offer this as an option). You can’t just show up at the airport without a ticket anymore and hope to get on a flight that same day, but a lot of airlines will still allow you to standby for earlier or later flights the same day, for missed flights, and for employee friend and family (AKA “buddy”) travel, and Etihad is no exception.

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One very important point with regard to flying standby is that Eithad Airways discourages changes made at the airport (except in the case of upgrade requests). If you want to fly at an earlier or later time the same day or if you have missed a flight, you should attempt to make the necessary changes to your reservation online or by calling one of the Etihad Airways local offices (through which you can reach their 24-hour call center).

This information applies to international flights booked through For reservations made through third parties, please be aware that different terms and additional fees may apply. For third-party booking or information on domestic standby flights on Etihad Airways, please contact the appropriate Etihad Airways local office.

Standby for Same Day Flight Changes

Etihad Airways allows same day flight changes on international flights, provided there are seats available on the new flights. Changes should be made in advance online or by phone. If this isn’t possible and you need to request standby from a gate or ticket agent at the airport, see below in the tips section for some advice on how to make this request and increase the chances you’ll not only get onto the standby list (which DOES exist, even if Etihad staff insists it doesn’t), but actually catch a flight that same day.

Flight changes on Etihad are going to cost a bit. The amount of the fee depends on the fare type you purchased. For Economy Saver and Economy Value fares, the fee is around $200 per change for international flights. Economy Freedom (the new name for Economy Flexible) fares have no change fees, but are generally much more expensive than the other Economy Fare types. If you purchased the tickets through a third-party vendor and the fare class wasn’t mentioned, chances are you’ve purchased Economy Saver fares.

To check which type of fare you’ve purchased, try to find the Fare Basis (usually located in the Fare Rules). This may be in your e-ticket information, or online where you purchased the tickets. On, once you have selected the flights you want, you can click the Fare Rules link to see the Fare Basis and other rules for each segment of your itinerary. The first letter of the Fare Basis will tell you the fare type. Economy Saver fares are E, U, V, L, Q, and G. Economy Value fares are M and K. Economy Freedom fares are H, B, and Y. Business Saver fares are W, D, and Z.

To make same-day flight changes on Etihad Airways, use the Manage Booking section of (Before You Fly  >> Manage my booking), or contact a local office or their 24-hour customer service call center.

Standby for Missed Flights

If at all possible, we recommend you don’t ever miss a flight on Etihad Airways, because it’s going to cost you, big-time. If you want to fly out later the same day or a different day altogether, you’re going to have to pay a no-show fee in addition to the change fee mentioned above. On Economy Saver and Economy Value fare types on international reservations, that’s currently a hefty $200 USD for the no-show fee and another $200 USD for the fee to change the flight to a different time or different date.

If you have missed a flight on Etihad Airways, call and you wish to fly out the same day, call the nearest  local office or select the option to connect to their 24-hour customer service call center immediately. They will provide instructions on how to standby for the next available flight out. If you plan to fly a different date instead, it’s probably better to make the necessary changes to your reservation online.

If the flight is cancelled or you miss the flight and it is the fault of Etihad Airways, you won’t be charged a fee and they will book you onto the next available flight at their expense. Sometimes you can even get a fee upgrade this way. The key, as always, is to be extremely pleasant end very reasonable when making the request.

Standby for Upgrades

Etihad Airways offers Instant Airport Upgrades, along with several other upgrade choices. To obtain or check availability for an Instant Airport Upgrade, simply ask the check-in agent.

Instant Airport Upgrades on Etihad are based on seat availability. You’ll accrue frequent flyer miles based on the original fare class purchased; be aware that fare classes T, N, I, O, and X are not eligible for Instant Airport upgrades. Access to airport lounges and chauffeur  services are available for upgrades from business to first class upgrades, but not for upgrades from economy to business class.

Employee Friend / Family (“Buddy Pass”) Standby

Like other airlines, Etihad offers special tickets (AKA “Buddy Passes”) for use by designated friends and family of employees. The number of “buddies” and annual flights allowed, as well as the standby status of travelers on the passes depends on the employee’s rank and seniority.

Etihad “buddy” tickets are designated with the letters “ID” and a number that indicated the level of discount (ID90 = 90% discount, ID50 = 50% discount, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, ID50 tickets and better are NOT confirmed and your standby status remains lower than that of full revenue-producing passengers – you can still be offloaded (yes, taken off the plane) in certain circumstances – say, if the flight is overbooked.

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