I read on https://flybytheseatofourpants.com/flying-on-a-buddy-pass/:

Travel Light. Traveling on standby means you might not get on a flight. Checking bags to your final destination can be complicated when you don’t make the flight. We always travel with only carry-on luggage. You will get a seat last minute which means you need to board quickly. Have your stuff together! Make sure you don’t look like a lot of work, or they may not hold the door for you.

It seems to implies that traveling without checked-in luggage increase the likelihood that a standby passenger gets into their flight. Is that true?

  • 3
    Every airline will have different policies which makes this question unanswerable in a generic sense.
    – Doc
    Aug 6, 2022 at 0:53
  • @Doc if it helps for some airlines, then the answer is yes. Do you know any airline where traveling without checked-in luggage increase the likelihood that a standby passenger gets into their flight? Aug 6, 2022 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


This depends largely on the airline, what specific mechanism got you on standby, and the mood of the gate agent.

A friend of mine had a free stand-by for life from United. These tickets have the lowest priority and frequently you basically wait outside the gate until they are ready to close the door and then they decide to let you on or not. Checked luggage was either not allowed (he never took any) or significantly reduced your chances, since it's extra hassle for the gate agent and ground crew.

I've done a few same day flight changes (mostly to get on an earlier connection) using Platinum or 1k status with United. First questions I always got was "do you have checked luggage". I'm quite sure that wouldn't have gotten a seat if I had checked luggage.

I'm fairly sure that the gate agent who manages the stand by list has some guidelines but also a fair bit of discretion. Criteria are booking class, fare class & rule and $ paid, status, reason for standy, culpability by the airline (delayed connection, overbooked, cancellation, etc.) and, yes, checked luggage, i.e. "how quickly can I get this show on the road"

  • Probably also depends on the flight one is waitlisted on, including whether it’s already late, how long before departure they’ve gotten to handling waitlists, etc. Possibly also how efficient the airport/local ground handling company is.
    – jcaron
    Aug 6, 2022 at 21:28
  • 2
    After flight disruption, I've gone standby with checked luggage, and been given a seat. They had to radio down to the ramp staff to tell them to load my bags, which had a big obvious "standby do not load" label on them
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 8, 2022 at 13:49

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