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Donít Fly Cross-Country on Standby Tickets With Kids During the Summer When Youíre Broke
NYC Aviation ^ | August 22, 2012 | Matt Molnar

Posted on 08/24/2012 7:45:40 AM PDT by Gamecock

The Saxton family was stranded at Salt Lake City International Airport for six days.

According to the local ABC affiliate, the Saxtons got there last Wednesday night and didn’t leave until Tuesday.

Weather was great. Flights were going in and out on schedule.

But the Saxtons — Curtis the dad, Nicole the mom with Dominic and Sadee, their 4- and 13-year-old kids — were flying back to Virginia on JetBlue buddy passes. Buddy passes are vouchers that airline employees can share with family and friends, allowing them to fly for next to nothing.

Flying for almost free comes at the cost of convenience. Buddy pass users are not just flying standby, but they’re at the very bottom of the standby list. After all the regular passengers board, and then all the higher-priority standby passengers board, if there any seats left, only then are buddy pass passengers allowed onto the plane.

And because it’s August, when everyone is traveling to or from vacation, there haven’t been any seats, nevermind four, so the Saxtons remained at the bottom of the list.

Unable to afford purchased seats, a hotel or even enough food, the Saxtons slept on airport benches without showering while eating only one meal a day. Dominic, the 4-year-old, had to be checked out by paramedics at one point.

JetBlue did nothing wrong. The rules are the rules.

And speaking of rules, it’s possible the employee who gave the Saxtons their buddy passes will land in hot water over this. There are fairly strict rules about the people who use buddy passes being well behaved. If “crying to the media and making the company look heartless when it did nothing wrong” was not in the rulebook before, it probably will be after this.

United Airlines, which has been battling its own customer service demons as of late, perhaps in hope of generating some positive buzz, stepped in as the savior and hooked up the Saxtons a free flight home on Tuesday. Kudos to them for helping out, but had the Saxtons been flying on United buddy passes, we all know they’d have maintained the same position as JetBlue.

Correction: United Airlines provided a hotel room, and a generous individual donor bought the Saxton’s a flight home.

I do feel for the Saxtons. I’m not sure if they knew what they were getting into, if whoever gave them the buddy passes explained fully how it worked, or if they simply thought that luck would be on their side. Although tempted, I won’t blast them or their parenting skills.

But hopefully this will serve as a lesson to airline employees to be sure to be very clear with their friends lest they end up in a similar predicament


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: idiot
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1 posted on 08/24/2012 7:45:43 AM PDT by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock
Opined one reader:
As a JetBlue employee who travels frequently to (and from) SLC I can tell you that once daily flight to JFK is without question JetBlue's hardest flight to pass ride on. I battle to get on with employee priority and more often than not, don't. Buddy pass riders don't stand a chance. Many nights there are upwards of 40 people on the standby list with just a handful of unsold seats. Imagine 2,100 JetBlue employees in SLC all jockeying for a few seats on a once daily flight. It's a nightmare, but that's how the pass riding game is played, and the employee who gave them the buddy passes should have known that. I don't give buddy passes to my SLC friends and family because there's no point.

And a lib reader:

I dont understand why is everybody bashing the parents? Is it a crime to travel with no money? You are all refering to parents having no funds with such a disdain that is so sad....come on people more than half the population of the USA is POOR. The airline is at fault indeed, they could have offered a hotel room, if they were concerned about the kids safety, they could've also offered an I-75 or I-90 to another airline,JetBlue simply didnt care....yes my husband has been an airline employee for over 20 years, luckily not for Jet Blue they worry more about their reputation than the wellbeing of a family. As for the relative that gave them the vouches - instead a reprimand he deserves a medal, this person allowed a POOR family to have some sort of relaxation...some of you Well off crtitics should have come to the family assistance instead of bashing them for offering their kids some kind of travel experience. God help us with people like you.

2 posted on 08/24/2012 7:48:23 AM PDT by Gamecock (We don't come to Christ to be born again; rather, we are born again in order to come to Christ. RCS)
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To: Gamecock

I saw these folks on Fox News yesterday, and have ZERO sympathy for them.

They gambled and LOST.
Not my trouble, not United Airlines problem, not the American public’s problem.

UA did a good thing, but they didn’t have to and unfairly using the press to EXTORT freebies from UA is unconscionable.


3 posted on 08/24/2012 7:49:13 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: Gamecock

My wife worked for Alaska and, being empty nesters without pets, we flew a LOT on standby. Got to be true jet-setters for a few years but I HATED flying standby. We were stranded only once overnight, thank God, but that is because we tried to be very careful about where we went and when.


4 posted on 08/24/2012 7:49:26 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Gamecock

I don’t have a problem with the “lib readers” comment, except for the reflexive “There are so many poor people, it’s terrible!” comment.

I was poor with little kids at one point. I’m sure people looked at me askance, we did things at times that many would almost consider child abuse (kids sleeping all in one bed, asking everyone to give up Christmas presents, etc). Today I have an extremely close knit and happy family.


5 posted on 08/24/2012 7:54:51 AM PDT by I still care (I miss my friends, bagels, and the NYC skyline - but not the taxes. I love the South.)
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To: I still care

Did you fly accross the country with no money?

These folks are from NYC. Tons of things to do there for free or at low cost.

The issue is not being poor.
The issue is being stupid


6 posted on 08/24/2012 7:57:33 AM PDT by Gamecock (We don't come to Christ to be born again; rather, we are born again in order to come to Christ. RCS)
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To: Gamecock

My wife and I are both retired from United with a total of 60 years service. Even for us, pass riding is a nightmare, and has gotten worse with the Continental merger. We’re on the bottom of the list. Continental is the surviving carrier (they just like the United name better).


7 posted on 08/24/2012 7:58:11 AM PDT by QBFimi (When gunpowder speaks, beasts listen.)
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To: QBFimi

Also, my strong impression is that back in the day planes flew with empty seats all the time, but as airlines continue to cut costs and improved profitability it is considerably more difficult to fly standby than it was even in the 90’s.

Not that that’s bad. The function of the airline is to make money getting PAYING customers to where they want to go. Empty seats is bad business.


8 posted on 08/24/2012 8:03:10 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: SJSAMPLE

Exactly. Not only do I have no sympathy for them, I have scorn and disdain for them.

These kind of people are the reason why perks like JetBlue Buddy Passes are revoked. The benefit isn’t worth the negative media attention, even if it’s just once.


9 posted on 08/24/2012 8:04:55 AM PDT by Dan Nunn (Support the NRA!)
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To: Gamecock

The family made a stupid choice - travel for cheep, and it didn’t work.
Really they weren’t feeding the kids?
Well, they are getting their fifteen minutes and I am sure will receive enough free stuff to make up for their poor decisions.


10 posted on 08/24/2012 8:05:30 AM PDT by svcw (If one living cell on another planet is life, why isn't it life in the womb?)
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To: Gamecock

Different scenario, I traveled from an RAF base to the US on a standby flight years ago. It was a great way to get from one place to another cheaply. I understood that I could be bumped by anyone having a higher rank than me doing the same thing, but it saved a lot of money and I did not get bumped. I had to buy a commercial airline ticket to get back to the UK after my leave.

The family doing it is stupid as is the person that gave them the buddy passes.


11 posted on 08/24/2012 8:05:48 AM PDT by DonkeyBonker (Oppose Senate Amendment S.A. 2575! I need more than 10 rounds in my magazine.)
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To: Gamecock
OH give me a break. I grew up in the airline industry and then worked in it for 10 years myself. Getting "left behind" is just a fact of life. My entire family once was seated onboard (never together, mind you) and ready to take off when the gate agents came onboard and took us all off again. You didn't whine about it, it's just what happens *WHEN STUFF IS FREE.* (Now translate that to "healthcare.") Non-rev flying became a thousand times more difficult when they started issuing these "buddy passes" because all it does is put more complications onto the gate agents. They have to deal with these people who are clueless to the process in addition to dealing with revenue customers and employee non-revs.

When I was flying my last few trips after I had decided to quit, my co-workers kept saying, "Really? How could you leave? You'll never get to go anywhere for vacation!" and my response was, "Are you serious?! I never get to go anywhere NOW!" This so-called "benefit" offered by the airlines is no longer beneficial and it hasn't been for years. Unless, of course, you are willing and able to spend 6 days stuck in an airport.

12 posted on 08/24/2012 8:07:09 AM PDT by ponygirl (Be Breitbart.)
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To: Dan Nunn

As usual, stupid liberals wind up ruining it for everyone.


13 posted on 08/24/2012 8:11:03 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: svcw

Beggars expect to be choosers.


14 posted on 08/24/2012 8:13:00 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Gamecock
I dont understand why is everybody bashing the parents? Is it a crime to travel with no money?

Well, no, not a crime, but walking takes a lot longer, and any other form of transportation costs money, even driving your old beater. There's nothing inherently wrong in the parents trying to take advantage of a legitimate freebie to take the family on vacation.

The only problem is, they should have had a back-up plan. But, having once been young and poor once myself, having gotten bumped off a military standby flight in Albany instead of my destination in Cleveland, I know I never had one. That trip I would up hitchhiking the rest of the way home.

Too bad the parents had the kids in tow, coming up with airfare for four people when you aren't expecting it can be quite a shock.

Hopefully, this will be a valuable learning experience for them.

15 posted on 08/24/2012 8:13:37 AM PDT by Kenton
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To: dfwgator

I read another article where they (the family) stated people offered them food vouchers or to buy meals for them and they refused.
Some even offered to pay for a hotel, they refused under the guise they might miss a free flight.
Really? Jet Blue doesn’t fly 24/7.
Makes one wonderful if this was plan hatched to bring them a few minutes of notoriety.


16 posted on 08/24/2012 8:22:08 AM PDT by svcw (If one living cell on another planet is life, why isn't it life in the womb?)
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To: Gamecock
You are all refering to parents having no funds with such a disdain that is so sad....come on people more than half the population of the USA is POOR.

Then they had no business flying cross country with their kids. Period. There's a myriad of reasons that one could find themselves stranded and with no where to go while travelling cross country. If you don't have the wherewithal to deal with those circumstances than you deserve to sleep on the floor. if you're travelling with kids and get into one of tose situations you should have your head examined.

17 posted on 08/24/2012 8:24:19 AM PDT by pgkdan (A vote for anyone but Romney is a vote for obama...got that? u)
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To: cuban leaf
I read this last night. They'd need to be pretty dumb to do what they did.

I wondered why they couldn't hook a ride to a different airport and make better connections? It's not like there's no other airports within an hour of NYC.

18 posted on 08/24/2012 8:28:57 AM PDT by wbill
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To: Gamecock
I hope JetBlue quietly eliminates the Buddy Pass program. Not worth the hassle. Also, they are a well-run airline who obviously has no trouble filling their planes on a regular basis with paying customers.

This is another example of "no good deed goes unpunished."

Years ago, I took in a friend of my wife who fell on hard times and was essentially homeless. She was only going to stay a week or so to get her life together. Three long months later, I'm the bad guy trying to get her to leave. I'm the one that's kicking her to the curb. But if she stayed any longer, my marriage would have been destroyed.

Never again!

19 posted on 08/24/2012 8:31:02 AM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: wbill

I thought of another aspect of this: We ALWAYS could have just bought a ticket back home, but didn’t want to spend the money if we could avoid it. It wasn’t that we “couldn’t” do it. If that was the case, there is absolutely NO WAY we would have flown standby unless it was a matter of life and death.


20 posted on 08/24/2012 8:33:38 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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