Looking to get a cheap flight by purchasing an airline buddy pass? Buddy passes can seem like a great deal, allowing you to fly for just taxes and fees. However, there are a lot of limitations and restrictions to consider before buying one.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Buying airline buddy passes is risky and not recommended for most travelers due to many restrictions, limited availability, and risk of getting bumped off flights.

It’s better to earn your own buddy pass if you have an airline employee friend or family member willing to put you on their pass privileges.

In this comprehensive 3000 word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about buddy passes – what they are, how they work, where to buy them, pros and cons, and alternatives to consider.

What Is an Airline Buddy Pass?

An airline buddy pass is a perk or benefit given to airline employees that allows them to extend discounted or free travel privileges to friends, family members, or acquaintances. It is a way for airlines to show appreciation to their employees and also provide them with the opportunity to share the joy of travel with their loved ones.

Definition and How It Works

When an airline employee receives a buddy pass, it typically allows the recipient to travel standby on a flight. This means that they can only board the flight if there are available seats after all paying passengers have been accommodated.

Buddy passes often come with restrictions and limitations, such as blackout dates or limited availability during peak travel seasons.

Types of Buddy Passes

There are different types of buddy passes offered by airlines. Some airlines provide unlimited buddy passes, which allow the recipient to travel on any flight, while others have a limited number of buddy passes that can be used within a specific time frame.

Additionally, some airlines offer one-time-use buddy passes, which can only be used for a single trip.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements for airline buddy passes vary depending on the airline. In most cases, only immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, are eligible to receive buddy passes. Some airlines may extend the privilege to close friends or domestic partners as well.

It’s important to note that the employee who receives the buddy pass is responsible for the actions and behavior of their guest while traveling.

It’s worth mentioning that the availability and terms of buddy passes can change at any time, so it’s essential to check with the respective airline for the most up-to-date information.

Where to Buy Airline Buddy Passes

If you are considering purchasing airline buddy passes, it’s important to know where you can find them. Here are three common ways to obtain these passes:

From Independent Sellers Online

One option is to look for independent sellers online who offer airline buddy passes. These sellers may advertise on various platforms such as social media, online marketplaces, or dedicated websites. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when dealing with independent sellers as there may be risks involved.

Make sure to thoroughly research the credibility and reputation of the seller before making any purchases. Read reviews from previous customers and look for any red flags that might indicate a scam.

Using a Buddy Pass Broker

Another way to purchase airline buddy passes is by using the services of a buddy pass broker. These brokers act as intermediaries between individuals who have buddy passes and those who want to buy them. They typically charge a fee for their services and handle the transaction process.

Using a buddy pass broker can provide an added layer of security and assurance, as they may have already vetted the sellers and can facilitate a smoother transaction. However, it’s still important to do your due diligence and research the reputation of the broker before engaging their services.

Directly Through Airline Employees

One of the most reliable ways to buy airline buddy passes is directly through airline employees. Many airlines allow their employees to sell their unused buddy passes to friends, family, or even strangers.

This option can provide a greater level of trust and transparency, as you are dealing directly with the airline employee who owns the pass. However, keep in mind that availability may be limited, and the prices may vary depending on the employee’s discretion.

It’s always a good idea to establish clear communication and negotiate a fair price before making any purchases.

Before purchasing airline buddy passes through any of these methods, it’s important to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions associated with the pass. Familiarize yourself with any restrictions, blackout dates, or other limitations that may apply.

Additionally, be aware that the availability of buddy passes may vary depending on the airline and the specific circumstances. It’s always a good idea to compare prices and options before making a final decision.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Buddy Pass

Potential Benefits of Buddy Passes

Buying a buddy pass can come with several potential benefits that make it an attractive option for travelers. One of the main advantages is the ability to bring a friend or family member along on your trip at a significantly discounted rate.

This allows you to share your travel experiences with loved ones and create lasting memories together.

Furthermore, buddy passes often come with flexible travel options. Unlike traditional tickets, which may have strict travel dates and limited availability, buddy passes can provide more flexibility in terms of when and where you can fly.

This can be particularly beneficial for those who have a more spontaneous travel style or need to make last-minute changes to their plans.

In addition, some airlines offer additional perks for buddy pass holders. These perks can include access to airport lounges, priority boarding, or even complimentary upgrades to business or first class. These added benefits can enhance the overall travel experience and make it even more enjoyable.

Major Drawbacks and Risks

While there are certainly benefits to buying a buddy pass, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks and risks associated with this option. One of the main drawbacks is the uncertainty surrounding seat availability.

Buddy passes are often standby tickets, which means that you are not guaranteed a seat on the flight. This can be problematic if you have a strict travel schedule or need to be at your destination by a specific time.

Another risk to be aware of is the possibility of being bumped from a flight. Airlines prioritize their paying customers over buddy pass holders, so there is a chance that you may be denied boarding if the flight is full. This can be frustrating and may require you to rearrange your travel plans.

It is also worth noting that buddy passes are typically non-transferable. This means that you cannot resell or give away your pass to someone else. It is important to carefully consider who you choose to travel with and ensure that they are committed to the trip, as you may not be able to change the name on the pass once it is purchased.

Lastly, it is essential to understand the terms and conditions of the buddy pass before purchasing. Some airlines have restrictions on when and where the pass can be used, as well as blackout dates during peak travel periods.

Familiarize yourself with these limitations to avoid any surprises or disappointments.

Tips for Using Buddy Passes

Avoid Peak Travel Times

If you want to maximize your chances of getting a seat on a flight using a buddy pass, it’s best to avoid peak travel times. These are typically the times when most people are flying, such as holidays or weekends.

By choosing to travel during less busy periods, you increase your chances of securing a seat and reduce the risk of being left stranded at the airport. Remember, buddy pass holders are usually given lower priority than paying customers, so planning your trip during off-peak times can greatly increase your chances of a successful journey.

Be Flexible with Dates and Destinations

When using a buddy pass, flexibility is key. Since buddy passes are often subject to availability, it’s best to be open to different travel dates and destinations. By being flexible, you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities and find flights with available seats.

Keep in mind that popular destinations and peak travel seasons may have limited availability, so consider exploring lesser-known destinations or traveling during less busy times of the year. This will increase your chances of finding a flight that fits your schedule and destination preferences.

Fly Midweek

Choosing to fly midweek can be a smart strategy when using a buddy pass. Weekdays generally have lower demand for flights compared to weekends, which means more availability on flights. By flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday, for example, you increase your chances of finding a flight with available seats.

Additionally, midweek flights often have lower fares, which can be beneficial if you’re looking to save money on your trip. So, if you have the flexibility, consider flying midweek to make the most of your buddy pass.

Check Seat Availability in Advance

Before making any concrete plans using a buddy pass, it’s important to check seat availability in advance. Airlines have a limited number of seats available for buddy pass holders, and these seats can fill up quickly, especially during popular travel periods.

By checking seat availability ahead of time, you can avoid disappointment and plan your trip accordingly. Some airlines even provide online tools or dedicated phone lines for buddy pass holders to check seat availability. Take advantage of these resources to ensure a smooth travel experience.

Alternatives to Buying Buddy Passes

While buddy passes can offer discounted travel opportunities, there are alternatives worth considering before purchasing them. Here are a few alternatives to buying buddy passes:

Earn Your Own Through Friends/Family

One alternative to buying buddy passes is to earn them through friends or family members who work for airlines. Many airlines offer their employees the opportunity to share their travel benefits with loved ones.

By establishing a close relationship with someone who works in the airline industry, you may be able to enjoy the perks of buddy passes without having to purchase them.

Additionally, some airlines offer referral programs where you can earn buddy passes by referring friends or family to work for the airline. This can be a great way to not only earn your own buddy passes but also help someone you know find employment in the industry.

Use Miles for Award Flights

If you’re a frequent flyer or have accumulated a significant number of airline miles, using them for award flights can be a great alternative to purchasing buddy passes. Most major airlines have loyalty programs that allow you to earn miles through flights, credit card purchases, or partner promotions.

By redeeming your miles for award flights, you can often secure free or heavily discounted tickets without relying on buddy passes.

Before redeeming your miles, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the airline’s award flight redemption policies. Some airlines have blackout dates or restrictions on award flight availability, so it’s crucial to plan your travel accordingly.

Find Discount Airfare Sales

Another alternative to buying buddy passes is to keep an eye out for discount airfare sales. Airlines frequently offer promotional fares or flash sales that can provide significant savings on air travel.

Websites like Skyscanner or Kayak can help you find the best deals and compare prices across multiple airlines.

When searching for discount airfare sales, flexibility is key. Being open to different travel dates, destinations, and airlines can increase your chances of finding a great deal. Additionally, signing up for airline newsletters or following them on social media can keep you informed about upcoming sales or promotional offers.

While buddy passes can be a convenient option for discounted travel, exploring alternative options can save you money and provide more flexibility in your travel plans. Whether it’s earning buddy passes through friends or family, using miles for award flights, or taking advantage of discount airfare sales, there are plenty of ways to secure affordable air travel without relying solely on purchasing buddy passes.


While buddy passes can seem like an easy way to get cheap flights, there are many drawbacks and risks to buying them as an outside traveler. Limited availability,getting bumped off flights, and strict policies make them unreliable.

Instead of buying buddy passes from strangers, it’s better to earn your own directly through airline employee friends or family. You’ll have higher priority and better chance of getting flights.

If that’s not an option, look for discount airfares or use your credit card rewards for award flights. With flexibility, advance planning, and some digging, you can often find budget-friendly fares without the hassle of trying buddy passes.

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