Southwest Improves Complimentary Standby Policy Southwest Improves Complimentary Standby Policy

Southwest Improves Complimentary Standby Policy

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One of the best perks Southwest offers its A-List and A-List Preferred members is complimentary standby. The perk, which was introduced six months ago, gave members complimentary free standby access on the same day of travel to other flights. Per the Southwest website:

“Free same-day standby will be provided for A-List and A-List Preferred Members traveling within two hours prior to their original flight departure time, between the same city pairs, on the original date of travel, where space is available.”

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The policy, which allowed passengers free changes within two hours of their scheduled departure time, was perfect for business executives and other travelers who had unforeseen delays or a change in circumstances and needed to change their flight.

Two Hours is Not Enough

The drawback of the policy is its 2-hour limit. Imposing this limit severely restricts the number of Southwest flights the policy can be used for. In fact, a rudimentary analysis of any day of Southwest schedule shows that only about 25% of flights have an alternative standby option using the two-hour rule.

Although the company has yet to make an official announcement, the rumor on the grapevine is that the company will be scrapping this arbitrary 2-hour limit as of March 8, 2017. The new policy will make the free standby option available for the entire day of travel, not just restricted to a 2-hour window. This will bring more of Southwest flights into the free standby window, not just 25%.


This change is great news for Southwest members, in a world where more often than not changes to airline loyalty programs mean devaluation and the loss of benefits and perks. So, any change that enhances a benefit is a welcome thing. Also, the new policy will not only bring Southwest in line with other US carriers but the no fees for the standby beats many other US carriers.

Source: Seth Miller/Wandering Aramean

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  • Nice change. Still don’t like the no assigned seats though. Great deals though!

  • Good on Southwest, always standing up to the big carriers to show them how it should be done.

  • Karen Klein says:

    Interesting. I thought that Southwest had free standby already. But don’t they allow free changes anyway? Well, possibly difference in fare when changing but they don’t have a change fee right? I don’t fly Southwest really since they fly out of Dallas Love Field, where I don’t prefer to fly out of here. But family has and I would like to better understand rules on them. This does sound promising. A-lister, etc is a loyalty fly frequent level on Southwest?

  • I’d vote for at least a 4 hour window, I’ve done standby a few times usually on a same day or overnight business trip where there are a decent number of flights available.

  • Definitely would bring more competitive edge to Southwest. I believe Virgin America already has this in place.

    I wonder what the other big 3 airlines going to do to respond.

  • Huge thumbs up, Southwest!!

  • Rob Arias says:

    Glad to see SW stepping up their game

  • We made it on to one with 3 people once, really tempted fate!

  • Bertrand Say says:

    At last a positive change to one of the loyalty programs. It seems like all the loyalty programs nowadays are giving negative changes.

  • So given how infrequent many of their routes are with no other alternatives available even without the 2 hour limitation, I can’t see how it can be considered a perk

  • Glad to see they are thinking about more Han he two hour limit. This will be useful to many Soutwest customers.

  • Not sure how many travelers were actually limited by the 2 hour rule, but it’s a nice gesture to open up the standby policy.

  • Well, it seems that now the good news are coming from the modern airlines.
    The majors are busy in copying the cuts made by the competitors.
    W Southwest!

  • Standby all day long will be as nice as their free bags!

  • Slight improvement, but 2 hours isn’t enough. I actually needed to use this recently and wasn’t able to get on stand by, I found it incredibly inconvenient. I was flying into the Bay Area at 9 PM, but there were storms that were coming in the evening, so my flight was slowly getting delayed (by about 10 minutes every hour or so). I asked to get on standby for a morning/afternoon flight, but they said it wasn’t allowed. Really shocked me.

  • This does sound like a really useful benefit for those that use Southwest routes.

  • says:

    I certainly wish the other carriers would follow suit!! This is a great policy!

    • The policies of charging customers to standby is just greedy, & has been a very frustrating trend. Although I agree that the 2 hour limit makes it a moot point in many cases, let’s hope other airlines will follow suit and start providing free standby options.

      PS-Thanks AW for such a great product!!

  • I have yet to ever successfully do a stand-by flight. You business travelers must fly a whole lot to make A-list status each year. Not all that useful for us normal Earthlings.

    • Simon McGrother says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I used to travel a fair bit, and would have had a shot at A-list, but now I’ve absolutely no chance. It would be nice if all Southwest members had this option, but I guess that would create just too much chaos. Perhaps we (the earthlings) could have the 2 hour window?

  • Good to see an actual enhancement!

  • I hope the rumor is true. A two hour window is simply too restrictive!

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    2 hours is not enough, agree 4 hours or more is adequrate!

  • I love how flexible Southwest is. I’ve changed flights multiple times at no charge.

  • useful when I get delayed…or early. thx!

  • It’s not much, given the 2 hour limitation, but for those that can avail themselves of it, at least it’s a refreshingly positive change.

  • Have to agree with the article, 2 hours isn’t quite enough. For the “A-listers” I’d recommend 8 hours, but 4 hours would be OK with me too.

  • This rule change would make Southwest more competitive with the other airlines in this regard.