American Airlines Adds New Standby Restrictions

American Airlines Adds New Standby Restrictions

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In the coming days, American Airlines will be making updates to its standby policy, and the changes are unarguably negative…

American’s new limitations on flight standby

Currently, American allows all customers in eligible domestic markets to standby for a different flight on the same day. As of March 1, 2024, we’re going to see two new restrictions introduced:

  • In order to be eligible for standby, you’ll need to be an AAdvantage member (or an elite member of a oneworld partner frequent flyer program — simply being a member of a partner frequent flyer program isn’t sufficient)
  • You’ll only be able to request standby via aa.com and the American Airlines app, so it’s not something that a human can help with anymore; the exception is that top-tier elites, including Concierge Key, Executive Platinum, and Platinum Pro members, can continue to make this request through an agent
  • The cutoff for requesting standby will be 45 minutes prior to departure for most passengers, and 15 minutes prior to departure for Concierge Key, Executive Platinum, and Platinum Pro members
American is updating its standby policy

The first change isn’t exactly a high barrier to being able to request standby. American is making a bunch of changes to the AAdvantage program this year, and overwhelmingly they’re about being sure that people are enrolled in the program.

Airlines are better able to generate more revenue from customers who are also members of the loyalty program, so American is doing everything it can to encourage people to join the program. That’s largely coming in the form of taking away things from non-AAdvantage members, and making them exclusive member benefits.

The second change is perhaps more problematic. Airport agents will no longer be able to add you to the standby list, so you’ll have to make that request yourself, or it’s not happening. I’ve certainly had situations where there were tech issues preventing requesting standby, so I find that to be quite a frustrating policy change. It’s especially strange since Platinum Pro members and above can make the request, while Platinum members and below can’t.

I’m curious what motivated that change about not being able to request standby with an agent. Is it just about trying to limit the work that airport agents have, or is it to prevent frustration when people try to get added to the standby list at the very last minute, after the cutoff?

American has new restrictions on flight standby

The interesting history of American’s standby policy

It’s interesting to look back at how American’s standby policy has evolved over the years:

  • In 2010, American eliminated free standby for non-AAdvantage elite members, so it became a benefit exclusive to status; non-elite members could just pay to make a confirmed same day flight change
  • In 2020, American added back free standby for all passengers, at a time when flexibility was more valuable

So with this latest change, we’re still better off than we were between 2010 and 2020, but not as well off as we’ve been the past few years.

American improved its standby policy in 2020

Bottom line

As of March 1, 2024, American is adding new restrictions to standby. Standby is being limited to AAdvantage members, and on top of that, most members will only be able to request standby via aa.com or the American Airlines app. The AAdvantage membership requirement isn’t a huge deal, though I find it kind of silly that it will no longer be possible to request standby with an airline representative.

What do you make of these American Airlines standby changes?

Conversations (50)
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  1. Deb sav Guest

    Just another way to alienate customers!!

    I'm done

  2. Katie Guest

    I’d be happy to do it on the app, but it never works. Also, you have to get on standby 45 minutes before the flight leaves. A fact they never mention anywhere on the website.

  3. Kiwi Guest

    Just tried to go standby yesterday and could not find where on the app to request to be added to the standby list to save my life. Tried asking 5 different agents throughout the airport to help guide me to where on the app I could find the elusive standby and none of them knew where to do it, how to find it, nor were any of them trained on the app at all to...

    Just tried to go standby yesterday and could not find where on the app to request to be added to the standby list to save my life. Tried asking 5 different agents throughout the airport to help guide me to where on the app I could find the elusive standby and none of them knew where to do it, how to find it, nor were any of them trained on the app at all to be able to assist; and of course aa now prohibits them from doing it manually for me. This makes absolutely no sense that neither the customers nor the agents know how to do this new feature. Ended up hanging out the airport 2 additional hours waiting for my original flight since the app was hopeless.

  4. Gale Guest

    I cannot find an option for standby anywhere even though an agent assured me there was one. Also there seems to be a rule you can only fly standby on the same type of flight you started with? If I have a direct flight, I can't fly standby anyplace there is a stop?

  5. charlene novak Guest

    Another rumor that I need to confirm. Is AA shortening refund policy for "non" advantage members? I can't find anything on it however it has been spoken about through a third party.
    Need to confirm this if possible.
    Thanks

  6. Ben Brown Guest

    Today is 2/29/24 and I ran into this problem at the airport in Wichita KS. Only a couple of the agents even were aware of this change. I don't recall seeing any email about it from AA. And the app was zero help at all.

  7. Granton Guest

    Some of this may be driven by TSA's new ID systems that allow people through security without a boarding pass. Some are checked in, some are not, and standbys wanting to change flight do not help. This creates many issues at the gate and needs to be changed. At 45 minutes, it's time to process the flight as it is to get it out on time.

  8. Greg Guest

    The internal memo says airport agents can still add OW Emerald and higher (incl AA equivalents) to the list as well as uniformed military.

    Emerald and higher can also be added up to 15 min before departure vs 45 min for others.

  9. Lin walker Guest

    It's very interesting the amount of disdain for this process. It's not that major to get on an app or join AADVANTAGE account. Be happy they aren't charging again 75 a person for standby! It's free people! By the ticket you want to fly and problem solved. If you miss a flight or involuntarily bumped I get it. To complain about standby that is still free is crazy!

  10. George Romey Guest

    I rarely use standby, mostly to avoid a potential misconnect, but typically the AC staff just adds me to the list. I hope the AC can still do it but if not it's not a biggie to go on the app and do so. Assuming the app is functional..

    1. Wendy (flight attendant) Guest

      Standby is when you get on a flight only if there is an available seat for you. You usually have to wait until the end of the boarding process for full flights in case someone doesn’t show up. It sometimes happens. On the flights that aren’t full, you can get on pretty regularly.

  11. Christopher Raehl Guest

    This is "better" than UA, which requires you to be at the airport to request standby (and thus limits your chances for later flights to those with confirmed space.)

    UA does give you a full 24-hour window for free fare-class-available changes, which remains one of the primary reasons I even bother with their program.

  12. Moe Guest

    I have to say, as someone in the airline industry, I appreciate the journalistic integrity here and quality. Some blogs really just want to set people off and you ask such valid questions like when asking why they'd make those changes to a human adding passengers to standby. That's what I'd assume although I don't work for AA. I hope they add some kiosks within the terminals that can help relive any issues with tech someone may be experiencing.

  13. Betty Guest

    I don't like it that it has to be electronic and not be able to have a human input to help you

  14. Brian Lumpkins Guest

    That's bull we pay our money to get us from one place to another and when your plane is delayed and not on time to where people have to run from one plane to another doesn't deem it our fault what so ever. That's your fault to make those changes not ours unless you want to pay us back. That's what happened to me I was coming from Columbus to Chicago and the plane just...

    That's bull we pay our money to get us from one place to another and when your plane is delayed and not on time to where people have to run from one plane to another doesn't deem it our fault what so ever. That's your fault to make those changes not ours unless you want to pay us back. That's what happened to me I was coming from Columbus to Chicago and the plane just landed then all of the sudden I got a notification that my Chicago to Dallas was boarding at this tome we haven't even got off the plane yet and still waiting to park in the spot to get off me and several other had to run and we was a 1 or 2 late and they wouldn't let us on. So we had to go to customer service to get a later flight and I missed a days work because of t your mess up.

    1. Dee Guest

      I think this applies only to those who show up and want to take an earlier flight? I am pretty sure they still are required to rebook for free if you misconnect?

  15. Steve from Seattle Guest

    I never fly AA. Their reputation for hostile employees has always been reason enough for that personal policy. This is just another reason, consistent with AA's overall reputation.

  16. Jr Guest

    Another example of trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Just get on the damn app and request standby for flights that generally go out full anyway.

    1. Ryan Guest

      Getting on the app isn’t the problem. It often doesn’t show standby availability even for flights several hours away where I can see plenty of availability in expert flyer. This policy is problematic if AA isn’t going to fix the app.

  17. Robert Fahr Guest

    AA slowly working gate agents out of a job entirely.

  18. JRG Guest

    You mentioned domestic; does this new rule apply to international AA flights? I'm flying DFW-LHR later this year and the married segment issue with my award ticket doesn't allow a change (there are two flights to LHR the same day). I had hoped to see if I could get on the earlier flight after I get to DFW. Just wondering, or perhaps I missed it.

    1. Eric Guest

      That’s not happening .

  19. Serge T Guest

    Ben, I tried to do a same day confirmed and the agent wouldn’t do it. She eventually caved. But said that they have taken the powers of doing SDC from them. Basically she repriced the ticket as an even exchange. But not as a SDC as that tool is no longer available.

  20. Matt Guest

    Instead of finding ways to create more hoops to jump through to increase AAdvantage members, why not follow Delta’s lead and offer free WiFi on flights to members? Make it an actual benefit versus more BS to make people’s lives more difficult.

    1. Christopher Raehl Guest

      AA can't because they don't have equipment installed that can support that many hers.

    2. Christopher Raehl Guest

      Users* doh

  21. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Just for clarification, you'll not only need to be a member, but also download the AA app. Correct?

    These 12 month rolling Loyalty Point totals will become very important for tie breakers on who gets the standby seat.

  22. Charles Guest

    Same-Day-Confirmed used to be one of the benefits I used most as an Exec Plat. In the last year, I have not seen it offered on my flights and/or haven't been willing to take the risk to do standby. Flights are packed. The standby lists usually exceed 20 people and if there is any IRROPS I have seen lists go over 50 people. In fact, pretty much on every flight I now get an offer...

    Same-Day-Confirmed used to be one of the benefits I used most as an Exec Plat. In the last year, I have not seen it offered on my flights and/or haven't been willing to take the risk to do standby. Flights are packed. The standby lists usually exceed 20 people and if there is any IRROPS I have seen lists go over 50 people. In fact, pretty much on every flight I now get an offer to be bumped... and while it has yet to happen, I have wondered what options if any I would have.

    So while this change is disappointing, it really doesn't impact me at all because this benefit has been destroyed.

  23. Points and Miles Doc Guest

    What a shame. The number of times I've had the agents in the lounge put me on another flight or standby me when there were delays otherwise. I trusted them more than the gate agents (who are often overwhelmed), and I definitely trust them more than the app. :(

    1. bc Guest

      Standby during IRROPS would presumably still be able to be handled by AAgents. This is only for voluntary changes, like if you get there early and want to take an earlier flight.

  24. Noa Guest

    How is this legally allowed (since they're a common carrier) when AA has actually banned many members from the AAdvantage program (during Citi Aza shutdowns).

    So now I can't even standby on a paid AA ticket just because AA won't let me sign up for AAdvantage account

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Noa -- There's no requirement for airlines to offer standby at all. For example, ultra low cost carriers like Spirit don't offer this.

  25. tony xu Guest

    Great example of the customer hostile service culture AA has pushed over the last decade. Bet the gate agents are cheering at having one less responsibility.

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      They’ll stop cheering when the app and AI mean they don’t have jobs.

    2. Eric Guest

      One less ? The statement is very disrespectful. Agents have too many multitasking responsibilities.
      This is to make sure people enroll in advantage , and to make sure gate agents are focus on boarding and ensuring on time departure or before. They have too many responsibilities and lot in their plate during boarding .

  26. Dulfy Guest

    Regarding you need to be an AAdvantage member to be eligible to for same day standby. What if you're using a foreign FFN, or Alaska Airline FFN? Especially if you are an OneWorld Sapphire/Emerald elite?

    1. tony xu Guest

      Does Oneworld have alliance-wide standby benefits?

      Some AA status levels give you Oneworld status.
      Some other airlines give their passengers Oneworld status, too.

      Having Oneworld status given to you by one airline does not make you a member of any other airline.

    2. NedsKid Diamond

      According to aa.com...

      *Same-day standby will continue to be available to oneworld® status members, active U.S. military and Main Cabin Select customers

  27. Nolan Guest

    Good thing AA’s technology is so good that this won’t be an issue! Oh wait…

    1. tony xu Guest

      There is exactly one competent software engineer in the local market where AA is headquartered. This software engineer is working on his own AGI startup, after having left his C-level position at Meta/Oculus, and would cost about $100 million a year to hire.

      Which, if you consider all the revenue loss from software fiascos at airlines (not just AA but also for example Southwest), might actually be worthwhile.

    2. UncleRonnie Guest

      You’re a strange man, Tony.

    3. Niji248 Guest

      Actually, I find that AA's IT is usually pretty good, I rarely have any problems on their app. I mean, their website/interface aren't visually appealing or anything spectacular, but it works. Have you tried Delta's app or JetBlue's? These two both look good on the screen but constantly have problems, as in, all the time.

  28. Anthony Diamond

    I don’t really trust AA’s app or website on this one. One of my favorite AA standby policies was the ability to standby on a later flight. Often, on routes like DCA to LGA, I would book the 6 AM flight, but call in the night before and standby for a much later flight. Then, I go to the airport at my leisure and board. It was always a manual process with phone agents, airport staff, etc. No way this really gets done the same way via the app.

    1. tony xu Guest

      No way this really gets done the same way via the app.

      I disagree, if you were an airline employee, you can add yourself to any flight's standby list via an intranet website. There is no reason that can't be replicated to a consumer facing website on the public internet.

  29. Darin Guest

    If I am crediting to BA I can no longer do a standby? Does this impact SDC as well?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Darin -- oneworld elite members still get free standby. Same day confirmed changes are still possible for all for a fee.

    2. Darin Guest

      Thanks Ben. What if you are not a OneWorld elite, but just crediting to another program in the alliance?

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Darin -- Then it wouldn't be allowed, unfortunately, at least based on the rules as published. We'll see how it works in practice, though.

    4. Christopher Raehl Guest

      It seems more likely that they just check that the FFN fields have been populated than try to also determine status.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Darin -- oneworld elite members still get free standby. Same day confirmed changes are still possible for all for a fee.

2
Steve from Seattle Guest

I never fly AA. Their reputation for hostile employees has always been reason enough for that personal policy. This is just another reason, consistent with AA's overall reputation.

1
Ryan Guest

Getting on the app isn’t the problem. It often doesn’t show standby availability even for flights several hours away where I can see plenty of availability in expert flyer. This policy is problematic if AA isn’t going to fix the app.

1
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