If you’re flying Delta Airlines, but something comes up making it so you don’t know if you’ll make your flight, don’t worry. Excluding Basic Economy passengers, for travelers flying domestically (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and needing to make changes to their flight itinerary within 24 hours of their scheduled departure, you can either fly “Standby,” or go with “Same-Day Confirmed.”

“Flying Standby” means that If a Same-Day Confirmed flight change isn’t available, that may make you eligible to be on the waiting list to “stand by” for an open seat on a different flight.

Note that both Same-Day Confirmed and standby are only available for flights departing on the same day the short-notice change is made and that same-day standby is only offered if Same-Day Confirmed is unavailable.

The standby list is administered at the departure gate shortly before, and sometimes after boarding.  Delta elite travelers (Medallion, SkyMiles) get standby priority over other Delta travelers.

Note that flying standby does not mean you’ll get bumped, just that you’re waiting for your seat assignment.

How Does the Standby List Work on Delta?

Each airline has its own policy when it comes to offering same-day itinerary changes. When you’re flying with Delta, you can get onto the Standby waiting list if you can’t get a Same-Day Confirmed flight, but the airline has its own terms and conditions to determine eligibility. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You cannot use Same-Day Confirmed/Standby option for international flights, only for travel within the United States (incl. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) on Delta and Delta Connection flights departing on the same day.  
  • Delta Basic Economy fares are not eligible for Same-Day Standby travel 
  • Delta Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion Members may fly standby on any flight that departs at any time, as long as it departs on the same day as their original flight.
  • Delta Silver Medallion Members, General SkyMiles Members, and other Delta passengers have the option to fly Same-Day Standby for any flight with an earlier scheduled departure time than their original flight.
  • Same-Day/Standby changes from connecting to nonstop Delta flights are not eligible.
  • You cannot use the same-day change option for changes to your origin and/or destination airport. Changes between airports in the same city, like LaGuardia/JFK or O’Hare/Midway, are not available for Same-Day/Standby changes.
  • Prioritizing for Delta Same-Day/Standby changes typically go as follows:
    • Delta SkyMiles members take priority over non-SkyMiles members
    • Delta Medallion members take priority over non-elite members as follows: Delta 360, Diamond Medallion, Platinum Medallion, Gold Medallion, and Silver Medallion. 
    • Full-fare passengers will take priority over those with discount fare

What Does the Flight Standby List Mean?

Flying standby on Delta or on any other airline basically means you’re on a first come, first served waiting list for an empty seat on the plane that is expected to remain unoccupied. Essentially, flights that are already booked full will not have standby lists available. Delta passengers that cannot make a short-notice (w/in 24-hour) change to their itinerary via Same-Day Confirmed will be able to get on a standby list for another eligible flight on the same day as the original flight.

Is Delta Standby “First Come, First Served”?

Yes, and no. Typically, Delta standby lists are filled on a “first come, first served” basis, though there is some prioritizing based on elite memberships and other criteria. Also, note that at times you might not get OK’ed for the standby list until boarding is already complete.

Prioritizing for Delta Same-Day/Standby changes typically go as follows:

  • Delta SkyMiles members take priority over non-SkyMiles members
  • Delta Medallion members take priority over non-elite members as follows: Delta 360, Diamond Medallion, Platinum Medallion, Gold Medallion, and Silver Medallion. 
  • Full-fare passengers will take priority over those with discount fare

Does Standby Mean You Have a Seat?

Standby is the waiting list you’re placed on until you are assigned your seat. Everyone who bought their ticket as Basic Economy is on the standby list until they have their seat assigned. Flying standby doesn’t mean you’ll be bumped, just that you’re waiting for your seat assignment.

Why Did I Get Placed on Standby?

Standby typically just means you don’t have a confirmed reservation for a flight, like if you needed to change flights within 24 hours of your original departure time, and a Delta Same-Day Confirmed flight was not available.

How Does Standby Work?

For Delta domestic travelers (including to Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands), who are not flying Basic Economy, you can either change your ticket to another flight on the same day as your original flight with “Same-Day Confirmed,” or you can be placed on “Standby.” Standby essentially means that no Same-Day Confirmed flight changes were available, and if you’re eligible, you can go on the standby list for another flight (also on the same day). You will not necessarily get “bumped” from your flight, you’re just waiting to have your seat assigned.

Is it Free to Fly on Standby?

Many travelers wonder if you can fly standby for free, or at least save money by flying standby. Most airlines, including Delta, only offer standby seats to passengers who have already purchased tickets.

On Delta, for Same-Day Confirmed itinerary changes, if a seat is available in your original fare class, you can make your change for a  $75 fee. If a Same-Day Confirmed seat is unavailable, you can stand by for an available seat, and if a seat does become available, you will not pay a fee.  

So, What Does “Standby List” Mean on Delta Airlines?

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Delta Airlines passengers have the option for itinerary changes needed within 24 hours of their flight departure, with some limitations and eligibility conditions. As long as you’re flying domestically (including to Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands), and not flying Basic Economy, you can either change your ticket to another flight on the same day as your original flight with “Same-Day Confirmed,” or fly “Standby.”

Standby essentially means that no Same-Day Confirmed flight changes were available, and if you’re eligible, you can go on the standby list for another flight (also on the same day). Depending on your Delta Medallion membership, you may be able to schedule for a later flight than your original flight, but other eligible passengers will likely need to plan on changing to an earlier flight.

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