Southwest has had a history of doing things differently than the rest of the airlines and that is what makes them awesome. However, one thing I never liked was the fact that flying Standby required a full-fare (Anytime) ticket. That meant if you took a low-cost fare on vacation and decide you need to come back earlier that day, you had to pay the difference in cost between that low-fare and the full-fare. For shorter flights, this was less of an issue. However, for longer flights where there are bigger fare differences, this was a real problem. For example, if I booked a flight from Seattle to Dallas on a Wanna Get Away fare, it might be $149. However, the Anytime fare would be well over $500. So if I decided I needed to take a different flight that day, I would have to pony up the difference in fares. That was really cost prohibitive.
Starting September 13th though, A-List and A-List Preferred members will now enjoy free same-day standby regardless of fare booked. You can do this as long as it is on the same day and you are going to the same destination. Here is the catch though, your standby flight has to be within two hours of the original flight. This to me is a bit disappointing. While this will be nice if I am trying to catch an earlier flight back from Houston (when there is a flight every half hour). It doesn’t do me any good when I am flying across the country and flights are less frequent. I think if Southwest opened this window to four hours it would be a lot more useful. I am not complaining too much though as this is a step in the right direction none-the-less.
If you do want to try flying standby, just talk to an available gate agent to get your name added to the list. A-List and A-List Preferred members still get priority standby as well so that means you might be able to get home earlier for less.