If you have ever flown with a buddy pass, you already know how frightening it can be when you are at the airport, out of money and faced with the prospect of not ‘making the flight’ because you are number 56 on the stand-by list on a flight with only 3 open seats. Yes, this can be a nightmare of all nightmares. Buddy passes, however, can be quite useful- if you know the right questions to ask and you plan ahead. Nomadik Nation has put together a a checklist of sorts to make sure that the next time you fly with a buddy pass, you don’t get stranded sleeping in the airport for a week!
1. Know the person who is offering you the pass!
It may be tempting to ‘buy’ a pass from a random stranger, especially when choosing between buying a regular ticket or paying the discounted rate for a buddy pass, but the selling of buddy passes can get you and the person selling it into a lot of trouble. If the airline employing the person from whom you are buying the pass finds out (this happens A LOT), your pass will likely be canceled and the employee fired. Even if you are already at your destination, you will have no way of getting back nor any legal recourse. If you know the person well enough, you can always call him/her for advice on what to do. They work for the airline and can most likely help you out of a bad situation.
2. Ask the RIGHT questions
If you know the person who is offering you the pass, it easier to ask questions that can help you not get stranded. Inquire about the number of available seats and the number of people on the stand-by list ahead of you. You should always ensure before you go that you will be able to get on at least from the time you book. Factors you should also consider are whether the destination is popular in certain seasons, what events are taking place at your destination, weather or anything that could sharply increase the capacity of a flight in a short time.
3. Be flexible and plan ahead
Although with regular tickets, it is more price worthy to book as far in advance as possible, buddy passes are best used at the last minute. That way, you have a better idea of the seat availability. Instead of deciding on a destination first, choose the time period that you plan to go somewhere, then book your flight according to the available number of seats. The more seats available, the better your chances are of not getting stranded. If you happen to not make your original scheduled flight, try to arrange accommodations with someone that you know at your destination. This will allow you to stay with them until you can fly out without having to spend money on a hotel or hostel. If you know the flight is tight before you leave, then bring items to make your stay in the airport a little more comfortable. Blankets, pillows, packaged food and reading materials are always a good idea when traveling.
4. Know your options.
Just because you have a buddy pass with a scheduled departure city doesn’t mean that you can’t change it. Changing a buddy pass ticket is usually easier and less costly than changing a regular ticket. That means you should also try other nearby departure cities where flights may not be as full.
5. Set aside money for the ‘worst case scenario’
Although easier said than done, having money in the bank in the event you cannot get on will save you a ton of heartache and worry.