Here’s the criteria:
- Within 6 hours of your original scheduled departure
- On the same day with the same number of stops
- All flights have open seats (if you have connecting flights
You can only do 6 hours earlier, so if you have an 8pm flight, the earliest you can do is 2pm.
Now, when you ask to move your flight (which must be done at the airport according to the rules), you get a confirmed seat on an earlier flight. Similar rules apply for going standby.
Technically though, once you move your flight up, you have a confirmed seat so it may be possible to go on standby for an even earlier flight even though it is more than six hours earlier than your original ticket. Huge YMMV here.
People with any US Airways elite status can get the fee waved for this, so I tend to
abuse the system often.
Today I broke the rules in a few ways.
First, I called to try to move up my flight rather than head the the airport. The agent on the phone was able to help me move up my flight.
Second, I wanted to get on the noon flight. I was planning on asking for as early as I could get (2pm) and go on standby for noon. I admitted to the agent I wanted the noon flight but knew I could only get on the 2pm based on the rules. My plan was to call back after I got my two PM flight, and failing that, hit standby. The agent was able to move me up to the noon flight with no problem.
So why was I able to break the rules?
Programs like MoveUp are good for airlines. If there’s a series of delays from flights flying into an airport, it is great to have more room in the later routes to accommodate people who may have missed their original flights.
The flight I wanted to switch to was really empty. My original flight was the last flight of the night. It was good for the airline to move someone off the last flight to an earlier, mostly empty one flying the same route. Now, if someone missed an earlier connection, my seat is still there and available.
There’s probably an unofficial policy that encourages agents to “break the rules” in these situations. Again, YMMV and you never know what is going on behind the scenes, but since this policy benefits the flier and the airlines, I’m willing to bet they will be more flexible in most cases than their rules suggest.