Southwest Airlines Standby Earlier Flight Policy

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Southwest Airlines offers a generous ticketing policy on their tickets since they don’t charge any change or cancellation fees on any of their tickets. Depending on your type of ticket, you’ll either get a full refund or a refund as a Southwest Airlines voucher for a future flight.

However, when it comes to standby travel their policies aren’t as generous as you may think. Standby travel on Southwest depends on your type of fare. Below are the policies of Standby travel by fare:

Business Select: Standby travel between the same city pairs and on the original date of travel is permitted with no change in fare. Applicable taxes and fees associated with standby travel will apply on a per passenger basis. You may lose the privilege of boarding in the first portion of the “A” group if you choose to standby on a different flight.

Anytime: Standby travel between the same city pairs and on the original date of travel is permitted with no change in fare. Applicable taxes and fees associated with standby travel with apply on a per passenger basis.

Wanna Get Away: Standby travel requires an upgrade to the Anytime fare.

Southwest Airlines

Bottom Line:

While the airline doesn’t charge any change or cancellation fees, depending on your type of ticket they may not be so generous when it comes to standby. As most of us savvy travelers are booking the cheap Wanna Get Away fares (the ones for $39 each-way), if you want to take that hour earlier flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, you’ll be subject to the fare difference to the Anytime fare to do so.

Once you upgrade to the Anytime fare, you’ll then have the privilege to go standby on that earlier flight, assuming their are seats.

It’s important to know the polices and rules of standby travel on Southwest, so the next time you fly you won’t be in for a surprise.

Have you flown standby on an earlier flight on Southwest before? Feel free to share your thoughts below. 

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  1. As a business traveler this is the #1 reason I will never give them a significant portion of my travel. Far too often I find myself with a meeting that finished early and wanting to head home. On Southwest this option generally costs a significant amount of $$$.

    I’ll risk the cancellation penalties on Delta and take my free same day confirmed options.

  2. So I’ve actually had gate agents offer earlier flight standby free if they want to “do extra work”. If there are seats available in your seat class bucket (anytime) on the flight you want and they were available for the same price (or I imagine less) at the time you purchased your ticket they can move you to an alternate flight without having to upgrade the ticket. If though, you buy the $39 fare and you want to get on the earlier flight and only Antyime fares were available, you’re paying for the upgrade.

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