For many years there’s something that’s been referred to in airline parlance as the ‘flat tire rule’ — if you show up too late to get on your flight, your airline will put you on the next one without a penalty. After all, you may have had a flat tire on your way to the airport, why punish you further?
Little is free in today’s airline world any more. In fact “standby” or wait listed travel is no longer free at most US airlines (and not all international ones offer it to begin with). At American Airlines only full fare passengers and elites can stand by for free, and that’s generally only for US travel — otherwise it costs $75 to stand by for an earlier flight.
But what about when you miss your flight? Although unpublished, American has had a ‘Late Arrival Standby Policy’ that passengers turning up tot he airport within two hours of departure aren’t charged to standby on the next flight (unless the flight that was missed was the last of the day).
American Airlines updated their policy for passengers who miss their initial flight on February 15. They currently allow customers to stand by free of charge for the next itinerary as long as one of the following situations applies:
- they arrive after check-in cut-off, but within 2 hours of their posted departure time, or
- they don’t have proper travel documents and miss their flight, or
- haven’t applied for or received an ESTA to travel to the US, or
- have mobile boarding passes but turned up at the wrong airport (only for Washington National/Dulles and Houston Intercontinental/Hobby)
Naturally American’s new policy only applies for travel on American and not codeshares. If the itinerary connects to another airline and standby options will cause a misconnection to the other airline this is not allowed.
For the technically inclined affected passengers are listed with the RL priority code, and this is even available for basic economy passengers.