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I'm flying United from DTW to ORD to SFO. However, I have a 3 hour layover at ORD and, in that time window, there are 2-3 earlier flights that depart to SFO from ORD. If I'm not mistaken, United charges $75 normally to be on the standby list for earlier flights or something like that. Are there any tricks that would allow me to get on one of those earlier connecting flights for free (or a lower fee than $75)?

(Note: I don't need a response about why the standby fee exists.)

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    What's your MileagePlus status? – Michael Hampton Oct 13 '16 at 21:46
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    Huh. I used to standby for free all the time with united. Is this a newish policy? (Then again I haven't really done so regularly for almost five years....) – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 13 '16 at 22:14
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Same-Day Change is not the same thing as standby. – choster Oct 13 '16 at 22:33
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    Dunno it sounds like what "standby" means to everyone else and it never cost me a penny. (And ive never been better than silver). – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 13 '16 at 23:08
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So apparently there's NO FEE for getting added onto the standby list if you arrived on a connecting flight. Source: I just did it and the agent told me there's no fee as long as you arrive on a previous connecting flight.

(I have no status with united, I rarely fly with them and have like no miles or anything.)

Thanks everybody for their input.

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    This makes a certain amount of sense. If they can get you to your destination on an earlier flight, your seat on the later flight is free for any other problems that may arise (someone else misses their connection, for example). And if the later flight is cancelled, that's one less person to rebook. – Michael Seifert Oct 14 '16 at 15:30
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Officially it depends on your status. Here are the rules: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/reservations/samedaychange.aspx

This being said, you can always ask. If your original flight is oversold or if the expect a large rebooking crowd because of an earlier delay and there are plenty of open seats on your original flight, they will probably take you.

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