Family Gets Stranded while Travelling Non-Revenue And This is Apparently News

By | August 23, 2012

ABC Salt Lake City reportedthis week on a family of four stranded in the Salt Lake City Airport.

English: A panoramic view of Salt Lake City, U...

The family became stranded because they had no seats on any flight. They were travelling Non-Revenue Standby, also known as a “Buddy Pass”. Standby travel by employees, friends, and family is considered a benefit and a privilege.

Back when planes had many more empty seats, it was a bit easier to get one. But as airlines reduce capacity and flights go out more full, it becomes much harder. That isn’t to say it can’t be done, but it is not something you probably want to do with small children. Even airline employees often buy regular tickets, for the peace of mind of knowing they have a seat on the plane. The goal of an airline is to fill all seats with paying passengers, so the profit motive is in conflict with the benefit.

The family ran out of money, and this became a news story. That is a problem. People get stuck while travelling non-revenue standby all the time, and we have all the sympathy for them. If they needed help, they could reach out to charitable organizations, such as Traveller’s Aid. However, once this became a news story, they embarrassed the airline that they were a guest of, and likely caused a world of trouble for the employee who gave them the passes.

That’s right. Guest. Even though people who purchase these passes do pay a fee for them, they are guests of the airline. They are not normal passengers, and can be sent away for any reason without recourse.

A viewer of the news story called JetBlue and offered to pay for their tickets. The cost would have been $6000. The same viewer was able to find a lower price on United for $2400. United Airlines donated a hotel room, which is an interesting thing for another airline to do. But we already knew United cares about media exposure.

While we all feel for a family stuck in dire straights, and they certainly should get help, the decision to travel this way during a peak travel time, with small children…this was not a responsible move. And whoever got them the passes should have advised them better.