Standby Flights – A Guide on All You Need to Know

Have you ever tried to show up at the airport (such as Heathrow Airport) without a booking with the hope of buying a flight ticket at the counter? Or did you miss your flight, and wondered if you could get the next one at a cheaper rate or for free? That’s what standby flights used to be. So, now you’re probably confused about what a standby flight is, what it means and wondering how you might be able to get one. Relax, and let us answer all your questions about standby flights with this guide explaining everything you need to know.

standby flights 1

Image credit: courtesy of @mackie_photo_airplane via Instagram

What is a standby flight?

The nature of standby tickets has changed drastically in South Africa over the last few years.

Standby Tickets Then

A standby flight was a term that was used to describe the ticket you would need to get after you missed a flight. An example would be: you missed your connecting flight, then your airline would accommodate you by issuing you with a standby ticket for the next available flight.

Perhaps you arrived at an airport (Dubai International Airport) without a booking. You have a sunny destination in mind, but you’re on a budget, and you’re looking for a last-minute flight (such as those you can still get today in Europe).

Alternatively, you may have arrived too early for your scheduled flight, and you’re requesting to take a flight that leaves earlier. You could then get a standby ticket for a much cheaper price (or even for free!).

Standby Tickets Now

Airline companies have become more efficient with the booking process. It no longer works to simply show up at the airport without a ticket and expect to get a cheap, last-minute flight (in South Africa).

Today, flying on standby has a different meaning. Let’s say, you need to catch a plane that’s departing from Cape Town International Airport. It may happen that there are too many passengers on the plane and you’re late getting to the boarding gate. If you’re among the last to check in, you may get offloaded. The airline can offer you an alternative flight, that can be classified as a standby ticket.

standby flights 2

Image credit: courtesy of @capital.aviation via Instagram

How can you get a standby flight?

Nowadays, only airline staff, their family members and selected travel agents are eligible for standby flights. Although they are required to pay a discounted fare, at the discretion of the specific airline.

Before you start getting jealous, think about this scenario. Let’s say, a flight’s about to depart in a few minutes, and then staff members need a seat, but the plane is full. Standby ticket holders have a higher chance of getting off-loaded. Catching a standby flight might sound like a good idea, it’s not always a pleasurable experience. When it was possible to get an earlier flight at a reduced cost, you still wouldn’t get the best seats on the plane.

standby flights

Image credit: courtesy of @leecher1 via Instagram

Are standby flights cheaper?

In the past, flying on standby was a budget adventure when you could show up at the airport and get an amazingly cheap standby ticket for the next immediate flight.

But today, missing your flight, or changing to an earlier flight, will ensure you pay the full price of the date change penalty. This is subject to availability on the new flight date or time (there may be cheap tickets among the last bunch, but they usually sell out first). Find out what you can do if you miss your flight.

If it’s a cheap airline ticket you’re after, rather book cheap flights with us!

standby flights 4

Image credit: courtesy of @lhyv.92 via Instagram

Are there alternatives?

If you used to be someone who enjoyed the flexibility of standby tickets, then the closest option to standby flights is our flexi tickets. They allow you one FREE date change after you book your ticket. Take note that the new departure time must be at least 24 hours after your request. You will have to pay in the difference if there are no seats left in the same fare and cabin class of your original booking or there has been an increase in taxes.

Get other ways to find cheap flights by scoring discounts on airline tickets.

standby flights 6

Image credit: courtesy of @guanchecelta via Instagram

Standby flights were a big deal in the past and are now much harder to come by. But there are still ways to fly to your dream destination when you want. Stick to your confirmed flight ticket for peace of mind and a relaxing travel experience. Find out the best time to buy an airline ticket to ensure you score the cheapest tickets for your trip. So, where do you plan to go next? Do you long to discover the classical culture of Europe? Or do you wish to immerse yourself in the exotic scenes of South America? Wherever it is, simply book a flight to your next dream destination with Travelstart and let us ensure you have a wonderful holiday experience.

Stay updated with our latest flight specials by subscribing to our newsletter for great deals and travel tips!

All information on this page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of information from this website.

Our Readers Comments

  1. Will there still be stanby flights to Dubai UAE after lockdown? And what does standby tickets cost +- ? Kind regards..

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      For standby tickets you need to contact the airlines direct. However I think they will only be able to quote you just before departure.

Have something to say...