People often ask me about using a buddy pass so here are a few helpful tips for anyone who wants to have a little insight into using them.
1. Don’t check your bags
You absolutely should not check a bag when you are flying to your destination on a buddy pass. When you have a buddy pass you have gotten a heavily discounted ticket from an airline employee (I explained the misconceptions of a buddy pass here). Because of this discount you are given the privilege of catching a flight that may have an extra seat. That privilege doesn’t come with many rights.
For instance, let’s say you are traveling to LAX and you are flying from JFK and all of the direct flights are full. Now you want to hop on another flight going to LAS or SFO or PHX in order to try and eventually get to LAX but guess what? If you’ve checked bags many airlines won’t let you change your flight path and you will have to wait. Sometimes waiting pays off but many times you may not make any flight especially if you are trying to use a buddy pass during the holidays. Which leads to tip 2.
2. Don’t use a buddy pass during holiday season
Seeing people on buddy passes during Christmas season is what prompted this post. Any holiday, but especially Christmas, is a really bad time to try and use a buddy pass. Flights are extremely full with revenue passengers and the chances of you getting out on a buddy pass over the holidays isn’t good.
As an airline employee I almost never fly over the holidays because it’s truly not a smart idea. I’ve seen flight attendants and pilots that commute to work that didn’t get on flights so why would someone on a buddy pass be able to get on? It’s not likely to happen so don’t set yourself up for disaster.
3. Do check your attitude
I saw several people that were on buddy passes get attitudes with gate agents because they weren’t able to get on flights. Now why would you do this? Why piss off the person that is trying to help you? Gate agents are the key to you getting on and if they don’t like your attitude they can make sure you don’t get on a flight so please don’t irritate them.
I know, I know, some gate agents aren’t nice at all. I get it. But if they can help you and you are at the bottom of the totem pole then you have to suck it up, be nice, and check your attitude.
4. Do have money for alternative plans
There are times when you simply won’t be able to fly out (this is rare but it does happen). I’ve had it happen to me a couple of times since I have had flight benefits and I had to rent a car and drive or stay another night in a hotel. Granted, renting a car may not be an option because of how far you have to go, but you do need to have enough money set aside in case you have to buy a last minute ticket (air, train, bus).
You may be thinking, “If I had the money for that I would have bought a ticket in the first place!” I understand but if you are using your buddy pass to go somewhere that you absolutely need to get to, it’s best to have a backup plan.
5. Be prepared to sleep in airport
If you don’t have the money to get a hotel or apartment rental for the night, then be prepared to sleep in the airport. Some airports let you stay at the gate and wait until morning while other airports will make you go back to ticketing at departures and you’ll have to find someplace to sleep there.
Some airports provide cots and blankets (that happened to me and my nieces, read about it here) but many don’t so you can’t rely on them. I normally carry a pillow and a blanket with me and if you are on a buddy pass you should do the same. This way, if you have to stay in an airport you can be reasonably comfortable while sleeping in a chair, on the floor, or anywhere you find to lay your head.
Have you ever flown on a buddy pass?
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