How to Travel using Buddy Passes


Airlines allocate buddy passes to employees that they can give to friends. Buddy passes are essentially coupons that are exchanged for an open seat on an airplane. When using a buddy pass you won't pay for the actual flight, but you will pay for taxes and fees. Passengers using buddy passes are non-revenue, standby passengers who get the last open seats on flights after revenue passengers, current and retired airline personnel and their families are given seats. As a traveler using a buddy pass, you need to be extremely flexible with your travel plans and you'll eventually get a seat.

Things You'll Need

  • Driver's license or government-issued ID
  • Extra set of clothing
  • Determine the dates on which you're able to fly and the locations to which you're interested in traveling. Select multiple destinations if you wish to travel on a particular day. If you're planning to travel to a particular location to visit a friend, you may have to attempt flying on multiple days before you're able to catch a flight to her city.

  • Book your flight through your airline contact who provided the buddy pass, or call the reservation system and book your flight. At the time of booking, you'll be notified of any taxes and fees, which you must pay to book your flight. Book the earliest flight of the day, because people sometimes oversleep and miss flights, giving you the best opportunity to get a seat that day.

  • Dress in the appropriate attire specified on your buddy pass. You're representing the airline and they can decide not to seat you if you're too casually dressed. Pack an extra set of clothing into your carry-on bag, so you'll have clothes in case you get stranded somewhere.

  • Arrive early at the airport, and check in at the gate. After showing your ID to the agent, you'll receive a standby boarding pass that will get you through security. Passengers using buddy passes receive seats in the order they check in; if you're the first to arrive out of seven passengers traveling on buddy passes and there's one open seat, provided you're polite and willing to wait at the departure gate, you'll get the open seat.

  • Go through security and wait at the departure gate for your name to be called. Once there's an open seat available, the gate agent will call standby passengers up to the ticketing terminal and change their pass to indicate a seat number. If you're not in the area and they call your name, the next person on the list will get the seat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Treat agents and airline personnel with respect. They determine who boards a plane and, if you're rude, they can give an open seat to another passenger.
  • Avoid checking luggage, if possible. Airlines aren't liable for luggage belonging to non-revenue passengers. If your bag gets onto a flight and you don't, you may lose the luggage.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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