Over the holiday season, I had a couple of flights on American Airlines where I was flying in First Class and I wanted to take an earlier flight. American has a solid standby policy where same-day confirmed change (if available) and same-day standby are complimentary for First & Business Flight Awards. And it so happened that I wanted to do American Airlines Standby in First Class so I could get to my destination earlier. Unfortunately, both times when I did standby, it got a little messy, but eventually, it was all sorted out. I wanted to share my experiences, so you can stay proactive and make sure you don’t end up in a middle Economy seat when booking First Class!

My American Airlines Standby in First Class Experience:


I was flying from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) in First Class and originally booked on the last flight of the day. I preferred to get to LA a bit earlier, and no flights were showing available for same-day confirmed change, but I could always standby. The option to join standby on the app was available but I didn’t want to accidentally standby for Economy. The app doesn’t have an option to only standby for your booked cabin, so I decided to do it when I checked in at the airport.

At the airport, I joined the standby list and confirmed with the agent that I would be only standing by for First Class, and not a lower cabin. She confirmed that would be the case.

I headed to the gate of my standby flight 10 minutes before boarding and I let the agent know I was waiting for standby. She then called my name 5 minutes before boarding and handed me a new boarding pass. Looking at my seat number it showed, 15E, which was the Main Cabin in a middle seat. Yikes!

I asked why I cleared into the main cabin and she stated that because my ticket wasn’t in first class. I then showed her my original ticket in First, and she was confused so she called over a new agent. Thankfully, he understood that I was booked in First, then he handed me a new ticket in First. Phew.


Again, I was flying from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) in First and wanted to get to LA a bit earlier. No flights were showing available for same-day confirmed change, but I could always standby. This time, when I got to the premium check-in, I asked the gate agent if I could standby for an earlier flight in my booked cabin. He informed me that I could not do that, and could only standby for Economy.

Puzzled, I let him know that I did standby for just First Class last month. So, he went on the phone to call a supervisor. After finishing his call, he then handed me a standby boarding pass. He let me know I was added to the list and would only clear if a First Class seat was open.

I wasn’t completely confident that he did it correctly. Wanting to get a second opinion, when I got to the first-class Chelsea Lounge, I asked the lounge agent at the front desk to confirm if I was on standby for First Class. She informed me that the agent at the check-in did it wrong, and she fixed it. She also found me when I was finishing up my meal to alert me that an extra seat opened up and to see her in 10 minutes for an update. When I got to her, instead of having to go to the gate and check in with the gate agent, she called the gate, processed the standby, and handed me a new boarding pass, in first. The lounge agent was amazing, and I am very appreciative of her service!

American Airlines Standby First Class

Don’t forget that agents in the lounge are often very good at ticketing!

The Verdict:

Overall, I really like the standby policy American has, but it seems their employees aren’t well-versed in it, especially when it comes to premium cabin tickets. That being said, I suggest you always double (triple) check their work. And, if it doesn’t sound like they know what they are doing ask another associate for assistance.


Have you done American Airlines standby in first class before? Did you have any issues? Comment below!




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