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Are you flying with Delta, but aren’t sure if you will make your flight on time? Or do you just want to get home from a long week and jump on an earlier flight?
If so, Delta allows Same-Day Flight changes through two options: Same-Day Confirmed and Same-Day Standby.
This article explains the rules, fees, and eligibility requirements to fly standby and get an upgrade with Delta Airlines.
Delta Same-Day Flight Changes
If you’re making a flight change within 24 hours of your originally scheduled departure time, Delta can help you with Same-Day Ticket changes. This is as long as you are flying within the United States, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands,
Same-Day Flight changes are only valid for certain types of tickets. Other tickets, such as Basic Economy fares and tickets for international travel, are not eligible for Same-Day Ticket changes.
If you are unsure about the kind of ticket you have and want to find out whether or not you are eligible for a Same-Day Ticket change, it’s best to check the terms and conditions of your ticket or get in touch with Delta directly.
Options for Same-Day Ticket Changes with Delta
If you are looking to make Same-Day Ticket changes, there are two options for you to choose from:
1. Same-Day Confirmed
If a seat is available in your originally purchased fare class, you can change your ticket to a confirmed seat on a new flight.
The Same-Day Confirmed option is complimentary for Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion members of Delta. If you do not have this status and your ticket is eligible for the Same-Day Confirmed, you can pay the Same-Day Confirmed fee of $75.
Basic Economy fares are not eligible for same-day confirmed travel changes.
2. Same-Day Standby
In case the Same-Day Confirmed option is not available, you may wait for a seat on an earlier flight than your original ticket. The Same-Day Standby ticket is a complimentary service offered to the traveler at no cost. Until you have been assigned a seat on an earlier flight, your original flight will remain confirmed.
Now let’s dig into the details of each standby option.
Same-Day Confirmed Rules
When you get a Same-Day Confirmed ticket, you’ll move to a confirmed seat on a new flight. Review the following rules before you make a same-day confirmed ticket change:
- You can use the Same-Day Confirmed option for travel within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Delta and Delta Connection flights. It is not available for international flights.
- You may request a same-day flight change within 24 hours prior to the departure time of your original flights. However, changes are limited to flights departing on the same day as ticketed departure.
- If you have a refundable ticket, you may be able to change your itinerary without a fee.
- If you have a Main Cabin ticket, you can only stand by for a seat in the Main Cabin—not in First Class or another premium cabin.
- If you have a premium cabin fare like Delta One, Delta Premium Select, or First Class, you may make a Same-Day confirmed change as long as a seat is available in the cabin purchased or a lower cabin.
- If you are traveling in Delta Comfort+, you may make a Same-Day Confirmed change as long as there is an available seat in Delta Comfort+.
- If there are no seats available in Delta Comfort+, you may be eligible to make a Same-Day confirmed change in the Main Cabin seat if there is one available.
- Origin and/or destination changes are not available for a Same-Day Confirmed change. Same-city/co-terminals (e.g. LaGuardia Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport) changes are not available for Same-Day Confirmed change.
- Same-Day Confirmed changes from connection to nonstop flights are not permitted.
- Basic Economy fares (E) are not eligible for Same-Day Confirmed travel changes, regardless of Medallion or other elite status.
Fees for Same-Day Confirmed Flight Changes
For Silver Medallion Members, General SkyMiles Members, and non-members:
- Same-Day Change Fee is $75 — if your requested flight is Same-Day Confirmed eligible.
- Applicable Change Fee — These fees vary based on your ticket and applicable fare rules.
For Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion Members:
- Same-Day Change Fee is waived — If the requested flight is eligible for Same-Day Confirmed, the fee will be waived.
- Applicable Change Fee — These fees vary based on your ticket and its applicable fare rules.
- Medallion Complimentary Upgrades do not transfer to your rebooked ticket.
- The same-day travel program is subject to change, and the rules in effect on the date of travel will apply.
- Seats or upgrades purchased for the original flight do not transfer to your rebooked ticket.
Same-Day Standby Rules
If a Same-Day Confirmed flight change is unavailable (or you don’t want to pay the fee), you may be eligible to fly on standby on a different flight. If you choose to fly “Same-Day Standby”, you will wait for an open seat on a different flight. Review the following rules before you apply for a Same-Day Standby flight:
- Same-Day Standby is only offered if Same-Day Confirmed is not available.
- You may request a same-day flight change within 24 hours prior to the departure time of your original flight; however, changes are limited to flights departing on the same day of ticketed departure.
- Silver Medallion Members, General SkyMiles Members, and non-members may only fly Same-Day Standby for a flight that is earlier than their original flight.
- Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion Members may standby for a flight at any time on the same day as their original flight.
- Basic Economy fares (E) are not eligible for Same-Day Standby travel changes, regardless of Medallion or elite status.
- You can use the Same-Day Standby option for travel within the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Delta and Delta Connection flights. It is not available for international flights.
- Origin and/or destination changes are not available for a Same-Day Standby. Same-City/Co-terminals (e.g. LaGuardia Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport) changes are not available for a Same-Day Standby.
- Same-Day Standby changes from connection to nonstop flights are not permitted.
- Same-Day Standby is a complimentary service at no cost to you if you purchase Main Cabin or above…
- Standby is not permitted to/from Canada.
- Standby is permitted for multi-segment flights.
- Customers must stand by for each individual flight segment.
How to Make Same-Day Ticket Changes with Delta Airlines
All Same-Day Ticket changes can be made online, during check-in, or within the Fly Delta app. All changes are subject to availability.
Delta Same-Day Standby Scenarios
Here are the options for flying Delta standby when you miss your flight, need to leave early for a medical situation, or want to fly standby for a free flight with a buddy pass.
1. Standby Rules for Missed Flights
If for any reason that is your own fault, you miss your Delta Air flight, you can ask to be placed on standby as long as you are in the airport within two hours after the flight departure. You will most likely have to pay a fee (like the fare difference)—depending on the type of ticket you have or your level of membership in their rewards program.
Usually, gate and ticket agents decide how much you have to pay or if you have to pay at all. Even if you feel stressed because of your missed flight, be kind to and honest with them as it can help you save money on some fees and help you get on a flight right away.
If the missed flight is because of a canceled or delayed flight, Delta Airlines will do its best to confirm a seat for you on another flight. If the flights are already booked, you can opt to be placed on the standby list instead. Remember that they are listed according to priority, with the full fare and passengers with elite status or memberships before other discount passengers.
You might also want to chat with the customer service agents and gate or ticket agents and ask about your chances of securing a seat, especially if a full flight got delayed. It might be better to reschedule your trip than to wait without knowing if you will be able to board or not.
2. Standby Rules for Bereavement (Death) or Medical Emergencies
If you need to fly out for a medical emergency or the death of a family member, your best option is to purchase a Bereavement or Medical Emergency fare. These are not available online, so you will need to call Delta Reservations. Bereavement or Medical Emergency fares are competitive as they sometimes offer a more discounted rate than tickets still available at the last minute. They also give you more flexibility in case your travel plans change.
If the flight you are eyeing is sold out, they will place you on the standby list. If you arrive early, you may be able to increase your chances to board the flight you want. As priority goes, you’ll be behind passengers bumped off from an earlier flight, but above everyone else.
If you’re hoping to get an upgrade, you may not have that big a chance as the Bereavement or Medical Emergency fare isn’t so high on the upgrade list—unless you have Medallion status.
3. Standby Rules for Non-Rev Travel (Delta Employees, Friends & Family Members)
Delta Airlines employees can fly for free anywhere the airline flies using the “Delta Buddy Pass.” This perk extends to their parents, children, spouses, and domestic partners. Other family members and friends—non-dependent children travel companions, relatives, etc.—can purchase tickets at reduced rates. There may be some government or airport fees for international travel, but it is generally cheaper than buying a regular ticket.
There’s a catch though. Anyone using the Delta Buddy Pass has to fly on standby — meaning there are no guaranteed seats. The Delta Buddy Pass also cannot be used for business, but only for personal or leisure travel.
If you plan to fly using a Delta Buddy Pass, you must check in at the airport kiosk or with a Delta agent. You can also contact Delta Reservations to find out if there are available seats.
Remember to dress and act appropriately. Because seating is subject to availability and standard Delta priority rules apply, if you are traveling with a large group, you may not be able to sit together. You may also not switch seats after departure, although flight attendants may ask you to change if necessary.
4. Standby Rules for International Flights
Delta Air no longer offers the ability to fly standby for most international flights. There are a few exceptions, however — flights to and from certain locations including the following:
- Central America
- The Caribbean
Delta doesn’t also allow you to fly standby for international upgrades. While there used to be complimentary international upgrades for elite SkyMiles members, these things no longer exist. If you want an upgrade when flying internationally, you’ll need to redeem miles or use a global upgrade certificate (if you have Diamond Medallion flyer status).
Best Carry-On Luggage When Flying on Standby
If you are looking for a great carry-on bag when flying on standby, I recommend the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner. I have used this carry-on for years. It’s durable, reasonably priced, and holds everything I need for shorter trips. Plus the spinner wheels make it very easy to get through the airport quickly and effortlessly.
If you know you are going to be flying on Standby, it’s always best to travel with only a carry-on!
4-wheel spinners rotate 360°.
- H: 21 in. W: 14 in. D: 9 in.
- Weight: 5.4 lbs.
This carry-on bag has been sizer bin tested to accommodate overhead bin space on most major US airlines. Fully expanded Carry-On may not meet airline restrictions.
How to Standby for a Cabin Class Upgrade
Aside from having a standby list of passengers flying standby, Delta Airlines also has a list for passengers requesting upgrades. Generally, the order of the list is based on various factors, including the type of upgrade requested, the fare class purchased, frequent flier status, type of ticket, time of ticketing, time of check-in, and so on.
Upgrade Rules If You Are Not a SkyMiles Member
Upgrades for regular passengers or non-members of Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flier program are somewhat limited. It is, however, possible to get an upgrade from an economy fare ticket to a higher class service without paying the full price, although you will have to wait until 24 hours before or on the day of your flight to see if such an upgrade is available.
If you are a SkyMiles member but don’t have elite status, you can use the non-member upgrade options or miles to buy an upgrade.
You can also request same-day standby upgrades for a fee if there is still available space on your flight. The following specific flights and routes are the only ones eligible for upgrade standby status for regular passengers and non-elite SkyMiles members:
- Within North America (except JFK-Lax, JFK-SEA, JFK-SFO)
- To and from
- Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands)
- Los Cabos (Mexico)
- Montego Bay (Jamaica)
- Nassau (Bahamas)
- Providenciales (Turks and Caicos)
- San Juan (Puerto Rico)
- St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands)
- Between Atlanta and Costa Rica, St. Maarten, and St. Lucia
- Between Cancun (Mexico) and Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis, and Minneapolis
The fees for availing standby for upgrades vary depending on the distance to be traveled and the fare class you booked. You can request an upgrade when you check in online or via an airport kiosk or at the Delta counter. Please note that, for some flights, you may not be able to request an upgrade until you arrive at the gate.
Rules for SkyMiles Members without Elite Status
If you are a member of SkyMiles and do not have elite status with Delta (Gold, Platinum, or Diamond) you have two upgrade options: “Upgrade with Miles” and “Mileage Upgrade Awards.”
Upgrading using your miles allows you to upgrade your flight to, for example, first-class, by paying the difference in fare between your original and upgraded class through your miles (or you can pay for the upgrade – the miles upgrade will give you about $.01 per mile). International flights and Basic Economy (E) flights, however, are not eligible to use “Upgrade with Miles.”
Delta’s Mileage Upgrade Awards can be used on both domestic and international flights. You have to call Delta Air Lines reservations 24 hours before your departure and make the request. If an award is not eligible when you make the request, you can request to be placed on the upgrade waitlist. Please note that the upgrade waitlist is different from the standby waitlist. Getting one does not affect the other, and your priority in the upgrade waitlist does not carry over to the airport standby waitlist.
Only certain fare classes are eligible for Mileage Upgrade Awards. You must be level K or higher (Y, B, M, S, H, or Q) for an upgrade for domestic flights. For international travel, only Y, B, and M fare classes are eligible for Mileage Upgrade Awards.
Rules for Medallion Elite Members
Medallion members, on the other hand, have unlimited automatic complimentary upgrades. Make sure that your reservation is associated with your SkyMiles frequent flier number on Delta to avail of the upgrades you want. You will automatically receive a complimentary upgrade request which will clear based on your elite status level, seat availability, original fare class purchase, and the time and date of the request.
Please note that the following routes are the only ones eligible for Medallion Complimentary Upgrades:
- Within the United States (as long as they are sharing a border), except JFK and LAX or SFO
- Between Hawaii and LAX, SEA, SFO, or SLC
- Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda
- Central America (excluding Delta One)
- Northern South America (excluding Delta One)
Delta’s Comfort+ Upgrade
Comfort+ is Delta’s option for those looking for a few perks while flying. You still fly in the main cabin, but at a step up from regular Economy class. Some perks you can get include the following:
- Priority boarding
- Dedicated overhead bin space
- Seats at the front of the cabin
- Extra legroom
- More seat recline
- Complimentary drinks on flights over 250 miles
- Complimentary snacks on domestic flights over 900 miles
- Complimentary meal service on most international flights
- Sleep kits on international flights (between JFK and SFO or LAX)
Medallion members can also get complimentary upgrades to Comfort+ seating which is available on all Delta’s 2-cabin aircraft. Access to Comfort+ upgrades depends on the SkyMiles Medallion status level:
- Silver members: 24 hours before departure
- Gold members: 72 hours before departure
- Platinum members: at booking
- Diamond members: at booking
How Does the Delta Upgrade List Work?
Some airlines’ standby lists are on a first-come, first-served basis. Meaning, that if you are the first to get listed, you are the first to fly when a seat becomes available. For Delta, their standby list for upgrades order of priority depends on your membership or flier status.
You are arranged according to your membership status when you ask to be placed on the standby list. Even if you are the first to come in, you will be bumped further down the list if those with elite flier status ask to be placed on the standby list after you.
Here are some more articles that explain how the standby list works on other airlines:
- Air Canada Standby Rules
- American Airlines Standby Rules
- Alaska Airlines Standby Rules
- Frontier Standby Rules
- Hawaiian Airlines Standby Rules
- jetBlue Standby Rules
- Spirit Standby Rules
- Southwest Standby Rules
- United Airlines Standby Rules
- WestJet Standby Rules
Other Delta Airlines Articles: