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Earlier this year, Delta made it much easier for fliers to change to an earlier (or later) flight that day by adding the ability to make same-day changes on the Delta smartphone app. Now, Delta is making some of these requests free for everyone. But it may not be as useful as it seems.

How To Get An Earlier Flight Delta

How To Get An Earlier Flight Delta

Delta announced Wednesday that effective immediately, all Delta flyers can fly standby for free. This means you can request a seat on an earlier or later flight on the same day and then wait to see if your request is processed. Previously, most Delta flyers had to pay $75 to fly standby — only frequent flyers with Delta gold, platinum or diamond medallion status.

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You can make this standby request directly through the Delta app or online. On paper, this is a nice option for Delta flyers looking to change their flight on the day of departure. In practice, this may be a longshot with limited value.

Standby mode is not a guarantee. You only have to look at the long standby lists on the gate screens to see that many are missing the cut – and this is especially true today. Delta, like all airlines, is still flying less than before the pandemic… but flights are filling up as more passengers return. This means more competition for fewer available seats, standby or not.

Basically, there are two types of same-day changes: Flying standby and hoping for the best, or making a confirmed same-day change. So if you’re lucky and find an earlier or later flight with open seats to confirm the change, you won’t get a free option, period.

If you don’t have Delta Gold status or higher, your only option will be to pay $75 to confirm a seat on a flight change. This could easily be worth the price if you need to change flights, but it mutes the value of this new free option. These same-day confirmed changes are free only for higher Delta status flyers.

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And there are other caveats to keep in mind for same-day and standby changes. For starters, it’s only an option on domestic flights. Delta’s cheapest base economy fares are not eligible for same-day changes, period—you’ll need a main cabin fare or higher to get them.

But if you’ve got the right fare and are prepared to hope for the best while you wait at the gate for your permanent application to be processed, this new free option could pay off.

Delta is late with this move. Both American and United have made same-day standby requests free over the past year or so.

How To Get An Earlier Flight Delta

Think of it this way: Flight standby may be free, but you’re rolling the dice. Making a confirmed same-day change will guarantee you a seat on that new flight, but you’ll have to pay $75 for it (unless you’re Delta Gold or higher).

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However, there are plenty of caveats, loopholes, and restrictions on making same-day changes to Delta flights that can complicate things. Here are some basics:

If you want to dig deeper, Delta has more information on the pros and cons of same-day changes on their website.

On paper, it’s a smart and valuable addition from Delta. Even the chance of a free upgrade to a better flight is worth trying when you need it.

But in practice, it adds more confusion to the same-day change process and flying Delta standbys. And … real talk: Chances of scoring a free same-day change to an earlier or later flight are probably not too high.

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How To Get An Earlier Flight Delta

Same-day flight changes can be a lifesaver when your plans change: Most major airlines allow you to switch to an earlier (or later) flight within 24 hours of your scheduled flight for a small fee—or free if you have elite status. And Delta just made those changes much, much easier.

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In its latest update this week, the airline just added the ability to make same-day flight changes directly through the Delta smartphone app. It usually requires a phone call or message to Delta to get started. And as Delta’s call centers are inundated with calls with increasing wait times, it’s a great option.

As with check-in, the flight change window opens 24 hours before departure. You will then be presented with the option to make a confirmed change on the same day (if there are seats available in your cabin or below on your new flight) or join the standby queue. Delta Basic Economy fares are not eligible for same-day changes.

These changes cost $75 – unless you have a Gold, Platinum or Diamond Delta Medallion, in which case they are free. If you go on standby, you will not be charged $75 unless your standby request goes away.

Even at $75, the savings can be significant. Consider this: You can change your flight before that 24-hour window because Delta and other airlines eliminated change fees on most fares last year, but you’d be on the hook for a potentially big price difference.

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With a same-day transfer, you won’t have to pay the difference when transferring to a more expensive flight. If there is an available seat, you can switch to an earlier or later flight if it departs on the same day.

Being able to handle all of this within a smartphone app is a big improvement, but it’s not like Delta is breaking new ground here. Both United and American have had this feature for years. Still, a win is a win.

It seems simple, right? And with this new smartphone app feature, it’s even easier. However, there are plenty of caveats, loopholes, and restrictions on making same-day changes to Delta flights that can complicate things. Here are some basics:

How To Get An Earlier Flight Delta

Delta has some more information on the pros and cons of same-day changes on their website, so check it out.

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The pandemic (and the increase in calls to airline call centers) has forced airlines to go more and more digital. This should make it much, much easier for passengers to make a same-day change to Delta flights.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely the author’s, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The answers below are not provided or entered by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise approved by the bank’s advertiser. It is not the Bank’s responsibility to ensure that all submissions and/or questions are answered. Log in to the “My Trip” section and change Delta Flight online on the official website or mobile application. Passengers can change the date, time or flight. You can also visit the ticket counter at a nearby airport to make the necessary changes to your Delta flight. Delta Airlines allows free changes and cancellations on all fare types except Economy. However, the airline continues to charge cancellation fees in some areas, including main cabin and premium tickets. There are specific conditions for each ticket and destination. If you’ve been hit with a sudden change of schedule, review Delta Airlines’ Flight Change Policy.

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Delta Airlines allows flight changes at any time prior to scheduled departure. Refundable e-tickets or tickets booked through online media including the Fly Delta app or website are eligible for a flight change. You can also call the airline’s helpline number or visit the nearest office for changes to the flight date and time policy. This includes non-changeable or Basic Economy tickets. However, for flights from Europe, Africa and several other international destinations, earlier tickets can be exchanged for an additional fee.

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