Unpacked SPECIAL EDITION: Buddy Pass Travel


The internet is a twitter this week with a story of buddy pass travel gone wrong, and we realize the chatter has raised some questions about exactly what buddy pass travel is and how it works.

Buddy passes are a sweet bonus for having friends or family who work for an airline. Most airline crewmembers are eligible to receive buddy passes which can be shared with our nearest and dearest for travel anywhere the airline flies, and those using the passes only pay a small fee and taxes on the tickets. The stipulation is that travel is standby, and not confirmed.

Of course it’s unfortunate when you don’t get on that flight you planned for, but we’ve all been there – whether having to go home for the night and try again the next day, shell out a pretty sum for a last minute paid seat on a flight, or give up on going away altogether – but it’s all part of the game and should be a part of the planning process when you’re flying standby.

The longer you work in the industry and the more you travel standby, the more tips and tricks you learn along the way. A couple that are helpful include:

  • Be careful flying standby travel during peak travel or to/from cities that tend to have high flight loads
  • Fridays and Sundays are busier than Tuesdays and Wednesdays
  • The first flight of the day (especially if it’s really early) tends to have more open seats than a later flight, Starting with the first flight also means you’re in the right spot for the next flight, if it doesn’t work out
  • Have some flexibility with travel dates in case you don’t make it there or back on the day you first aim for (and don’t fly standby if you have to make an appointment on a certain day/time
  • Understand that you might not get to/from where you need to and  have a backup plan

A great piece on standby travel from Gadling includes some tips for all those airline employees out there. Here are some of our favorites:

  • A three-hour delay doesn’t even faze you as long as you have boarding pass in hand! Or for that matter an hour sit on the taxiway doesn’t bother you simply because you’re on the aircraft – Sonja Hollen
  • You’ve flown five segments all over the country through multiple hubs to get home and still end up 60 miles from home. – Brian Hewitt
  • You’ve pretty much memorized the entire flight schedule of every airline in the US. – Bob Nadelberg
  • You’re happy in a middle seat. – Jim McDonough
  • You have no idea what the flight number is or what time you’ll land. You just know you’re going in the right direction. – Heather Poole
  • You’ve driven half way across the country because it’s faster than rolling your bags from flight to flight for multiple days. – Brian Hewitt

More on standby travel from Gadling