Warning: Why You Should Never Purchase Buddy Passes

ravel by airplane using a buddy pass — which is defined in this article — can be one of the least-expensive ways to see the world; but you must know an employee of an airline to have access to one…

…or you can purchase a buddy pass through various channels — which is highly discouraged, as you should never purchase buddy passes from anyone. The sale of buddy passes is absolutely prohibited by the airlines which issue them, as they are not intended to be instruments from which employees should profit. They are called buddy passes for a reason, as they are meant to be used by the relatives or friends — or buddies — of the airline employee who has a limited quantity of them as part of their perks and benefits of employment by the airline.

Airline employees are not permitted to sell their buddy passes under any circumstances. If an unscrupulous person acquires a buddy pass and sells it, the airline employee to whom that buddy pass was assigned may find himself or herself in serious trouble as a result of disciplinary action from the airline, which could include termination of employment from the airline.

Consider the unfortunate experience of the travel companion of a FlyerTalk member back in January of 2014, which should demonstrate to you on how not to procure and use a buddy pass. Although they successfully flew as passengers on Delta Air Lines to Chile, return flights were canceled due to weather; and the FlyerTalk member in question “ended up buying a one way ticket the day before which was uber expensive but I had to get back”; but the friend was “not able to do so” and wound up being stranded in Chile.

In this particular situation, Delta Air Lines only operated one flight per day between Chile and the United States — which meant that the friend of the FlyerTalk member in question would have had to wait until the next day before possibly scoring an opportunity to leave Chile; and having to repeat as necessary until a seat was finally available on a flight on a given day…

…and although it is not unusual for an airline which has a flight that is experiencing irregular operations to ensure that a paying customer is booked on a different airline so that that customer gets to his or her destination as quickly as possible, it goes without saying that a buddy pass issued by one airline would not be considered valid for travel on another airline under virtually any circumstance.

They each paid a “ticket fee” and a separate “commission fee” for their buddy passes, which totaled approximately $1,000.00 and turned out not to be quite a bargain after all. That should have been a “red flag” for them, as they both supposedly eventually had to pay for their respective flights back to the United States in addition to the approximately $1,000.00 they had each already paid.

Simply put, they were not prepared for the pitfalls of airline travel using a buddy pass; and they were burned in the end. A buddy pass can be a great way to travel very inexpensively if the trip is planned wisely, carefully and thoroughly while being prepared for the worst scenario to happen — which is apparently what they did not do in due diligence.

Even if buddy passes are procured legitimately, realize that passengers using them are often amongst the lowest priority in determining who gets to board the aircraft on the day of the flight — as listed as one of the eleven reasons why you may not want to use a buddy pass. Typically, all paying customers have a higher priority than passengers using buddy passes; and in a situation where there are more passengers awaiting a seat on a stand-by basis for a flight than there are seats available, you can forget about being able to board that flight and will have to try your luck on the next flight.

Hopefully, that experience taught them a valuable lesson:

Never purchase buddy passes from anyone.

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