With airport crowds caused by staffing shortages and high volumes of travellers, the “Air Canada Same-Day Standby” feature is a stress reliever worth considering.
The chaos happening now was definitely not on your mind when you booked your plane tickets, 6, 9, or 12 months ago! Here’s how to try to extend your match time to give you more leeway in case of a problem.
What is the Air Canada Same-Day Standby?
Same-day standby is not new to Air Canada. This feature allows us to be put on standby on an earlier flight if there is space available.
Prior to the pandemic, we often used same-day standby to change our itinerary depending on how our day was going.
For example, before the introduction of direct flights between Montreal and Tokyo, it was necessary to stop over in Vancouver, Calgary, or Toronto. When I returned from my trip to Tokyo Disneyland, I found myself at the gate of my flight from Toronto to Montreal 3 hours before my departure (my initial connection was 5 hours, as it was the least expensive option).
However, there are flights between Toronto and Montreal every hour, so I was able to use the Air Canada same-day standby to get home faster than expected.
You can also use this option without having a stopover. If you just want to leave earlier to have more time at your destination, you can ask to be put on standby.
However, there has to be room on the desired flight for this to work. It is subject to availability and confirmation is usually done at the gate about 45-60 minutes before the flight, sometimes only at the end of boarding!
In the event that the same-day standby is unsuccessful, you will keep your seat on your original flight.
These days, same-day Air Canada standby is more attractive because:
- we can take an earlier flight and extend our connection time to hopefully forgo the delays
- we can rely more on flights at the beginning of the day since they are less likely to be delayed or cancelled
- we can avoid bad weather like thunderstorms in the evening
Flight schedules are structured to keep aircraft in the air as much and as long as possible. Therefore, your airplane will rarely be on the ground for a long period of time unless there is an exception, such as early morning flights.
In the afternoon and evening, there are more delays because they take on the delays accumulated throughout the day. For example, it is often the same aircraft that makes the round trip between Montreal and Toronto… so a glitch in the morning causes the delays to pile on!
How much does a same-day standby cost?
The ability to go on same-day Air Canada standby depends on the fare class of your ticket; there is no charge for this feature, but some routes will be restricted depending on the fare class paid.
Passengers who purchase their tickets with Aeroplan points have the same access to this benefit as those who pay with cash. However, when paying in cash, the basic economy rate does not allow for same-day standby.
Since this fare does not exist for award tickets, all flights booked with Aeroplan points can be put on hold the same-day, although the route restriction remains. This is an added incentive to collect and choose Aeroplan points when booking!
Aeroplan points are among the easiest to earn in Canada with the many Aeroplan credit cards and American Express credit cards with their transferable Aeroplan Membership Rewards points. The welcome bonuses are very generous and it is often possible to get a plane ticket quickly!
Plus, since these cards are travel oriented, there are often promotions where you can earn more points on your vacation!
What are the restrictions of a same-day standby?
You can see in this screenshot that same-day standby on the standard economy fare is limited to certain routes, unlike the Latitude fare.
Permitted routes (when there are restrictions) are flights that operate between:
- Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa
- Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary
- Toronto and New York (LaGuardia or Newark)
You must remain in the same group of cities when you there are restrictions; a same-day standby can be done on a flight between Montreal and Toronto, but not between Montreal and Vancouver on standard economy and flex fares.
On the other hand, for the more expensive rates, you can see they mention “included” and there are no route constraints. Then you can request a same-day standby between Montreal and Vancouver, for example, if your ticket is a Latitude economy fare.
Are there any special tricks to know with this feature?
Air Canada’s award pricing is dynamic, so flights that are in higher demand will be more expensive.
Since a same-day Air Canada standby is free of charge, you may find good deals to travel on another flight that was more expensive than when you booked.
Fares with no route restrictions allow you to use this feature on the entire Air Canada network.
In the following example, we can see that there are two links between Montreal and Paris. However, the late evening flight is less expensive than the business class flight. The 7 pm flight is close to being sold out with its 3 remaining seats, which is why the price is so high. That’s one heck of a difference.
So, you can book the business class seat on the 9:05 p.m. departure and proceed with the Air Canada same-day standby if the 7:00 p.m. flight was initially more suitable but too expensive. This also applies to tickets paid in cash; a good way to save money or points!
To determine your chances of getting a seat from a same-day standby, you can look at advance availability on the ExpertFlyer tool. In this situation, we can see that there are still 3 seats available in business class on the 7:00 p.m. flight and 6 seats on the 9:05 p.m. flight (the reason why the latter is less expensive: less demand on that day)
Without ExpertFlyer, you’d find out the day of your flight!
Of course, there must be more than one connection between two destinations per day to proceed with a same-day standby! In Canada and the U.S., this is not a problem, as there are many flights between the major city centers each day.
On the other hand, in terms of international flights, multiple connections within the same day are rare. While it can be done on routes like Paris or London, it would be surprising if Air Canada scheduled more than one flight a day between Montreal and Shanghai.
How do I go on same-day standby?
First, you must complete your check-in online or on the Air Canada app. Then, by clicking on “Standby for Earlier Departure”, you will be able to scroll through the flights available for standby the same day.
In this situation, the original flight was at 8:00 a.m. between Montreal and Toronto. There are three flights that leave earlier, but there was only availability on the 7:00 a.m. flight at the time of selection. So there was only this flight that could be selected.
To place yourself on the waiting list for an earlier departing flight, simply select it and confirm.
Afterwards, you will see your name (first 3 letters of your last name and first letter of your first name) appear on the waiting list in order of priority. Aeroplan Elite status and/or an Aeroplan credit card will place you higher on the list; otherwise, with equal priority, the first person to register and apply will be priority.
So, given the current airport situation, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card can be very useful when traveling:
- priority registration
- line cutter to pass security
- best priority for same-day standby
- access to the Maple Leaf Lounges
- very generous welcome bonus
Lastly, you have to go to the airport on time for the earlier flight and wait for the famous green check mark next to your name… it appears 45-60 minutes before departure if you managed to get a seat! Generally, you will automatically receive a new boarding pass on your Air Canada app or the counter agent will call you to give you your new seat.
The final number of available seats changes quickly and is worth trying whether you are traveling alone or in a group. Indeed, with all the current delays and cancelled flights, the number of passengers who miss their flights is very high. Therefore, it is often these seats that become available even though the flight was full at the beginning.
Again, if you are confirmed on an earlier departing flight due to same-day standby, you cannot change your mind and you must show up. If you don’t board or miss your new confirmed flight, you become a no-show.
Disadvantages and solutions for a better experience
Since you have to get to the airport much earlier and are not guaranteed an earlier flight, make sure you have access to airport lounges… where it’s a little quieter and less chaotic. Time will go by faster with a full belly and a drink in your hand.
Since the majority of layovers will be on domestic routes, a Maple Leaf Lounge should always be nearby. You can access it for free with some credit cards:
- TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege* Card
- American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card
- American Express® Aeroplan®* Business Reserve Card
- American Express* Aeroplan Reserve Business Card
With the chaos happening at airports right now, using same-day standby to leave earlier can be a good strategy.
You reduce frustration with delays and increase your chances of catching your next flight if you have a connection, at no extra charge as long as it is available.
You have nothing to lose by trying it, other than a little time!
A big thank you to Emmanuelle G. for the screenshots, which allowed my to quicklu write this article.
Emmanuelle had consulted the group for advice on how to reduce the risk of missing her connecting flight to Toronto. She was able to get a seat on an earlier flight so that she could begin her trip with a little less stress. She was lucky because her initial flight was ultimately very delayed and she would have definitely missed her next flight.
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