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Last year Southwest implemented free standby for A-List and A-List Preferred members, but with a huge catch. This benefit was only available for flights 2-hours prior to your originally booked flight. For many routes, there aren’t even flights 2 hours beforehand, or they might require a horrible layover which might get you to your destination after your originally planned flight! While any extra benefit is always nice, it wasn’t really usable for most.
Fortunately, Southwest just changed this benefit, and you can now standby for free for the entire day (for A-List and A-List Preferred members). This is great as you can book the last flight of the day if you aren’t 100% sure of your travel plans and hope that a seat earlier in the day has space available if you happen to be able to fly out earlier (great for business travelers). It also allows you to book a cheaper fare and fly on a a more expensive and desirable flight earlier in the day (assuming a seat is available).
This benefit is still only for those looking to standby for a flight PRIOR to the originally booked flight, it will not work for flights later in the day. You’ll also need to actually go to the airport and speak to a customer service agent to get on the standby list. It also must be for the same city pairs. If you are traveling with other passengers, unfortunately the other passengers will not be eligible for the free standby option. Same holds true for those that are traveling with a companion pass passenger.
While I love that Southwest has no change or cancellation fees, for those looking to standby on an earlier flight (if you do not have status), you’ll have to pay a difference in fare price which could be outrageously expensive if you are looking to change your flight the same day. Although, these passengers do not actually have to standby and can instead change their flight over the phone or online (assuming there is a seat available).