Skip to comments.Donít Fly Cross-Country on Standby Tickets With Kids During the Summer When Youíre Broke
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 didnt 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 theyre 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 its August, when everyone is traveling to or from vacation, there havent 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, its 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 theyd have maintained the same position as JetBlue.
Correction: United Airlines provided a hotel room, and a generous individual donor bought the Saxtons a flight home.
I do feel for the Saxtons. Im 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 wont 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As usual, stupid liberals wind up ruining it for everyone.
Beggars expect to be choosers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dirty little secret about Buddy Passes is that some airlines charge almosr $100 each way (albeit most of it is taxes) When I worked for an airline I would always tell my friends that it would be cheaper to buy a discount ticket that almost GUARANTEES you a seat. In the rare instance I did give out one I told them the seat wasn’t guaranteed until the wheels pulled up.
I always told the lead FA that I was NR (non-rev, back in the day when they did serve meals and they were short NRs went w/o) and they appreciated it and I even scored a few extra drinks because of it.
They were stuck in SLC, not NYC.
I dunno, I've never flown on a Buddy Pass before.
The one time my family flew standby, the fact that there was four of us actually worked in our favor. We arrived at the airport for our flight to Orlando 4 hours early, (obsessive-compulsive husband, HATES to be late). At the gate, there was an earlier flight getting ready to leave. The weather in Philly was deteriorating, and they were threatening to close the airport. Southwest announced that they would allow people to go standby on an earlier flight to their destination if there were seats left. There was a couple, a group of three, and us, third in line. There were four seats on the earlier flight, the gate agent did the math and decided choosing us would fill all four empty seats.
Do we heartless conservatives even dare to ask why they flew to SLC and where/who they stayed with and how they got around while there?
when we were poor, summer vacation fun was a big zinc wash tub filled with water in the backyard, and maybe popsicles from the ice cream truck
I misread your post, I thought you said they were trying to leave NYC....
The problem is that JetBlue has three flights a day from Salt Lake City. One to the NYC area (JFK) and two to Long Beach, California.
My wife used to work for Delta. The perks are amazing!! Can you name another industry with perks that include your family, your parents and another un-related person (usually a spouse - but any individual may be named) who get to fly absolutely FREE, anytime, anywhere ... as long as there is an empty seat?
Then, each employee gets some number of (Enemy) passes they can give to friends, that allow them to travel for very low rates. I mean, if the normal fare is $300 - their fare will be in the $75 range (round trip).
When you opt for this - this is a PERK that someone else earned - and you are a benefitiary of this perk. Sometimes you may wind up sitting up front in First, sometimes you get the center seat against the restroom - and sometimes you spend the day or night at the airport.
But - when you pay next to zero; this is the risk you take. Most people know not to undertake a trip like this, on busy routes, during the high travel portions of the year. These people wanted the trip- free; and apparently felt that they were entitled to something more than the nearly free trip.
Sorry - no sympathy at all. If you can’t afford the hotel room, then you should stay home.
Yes “I dunno.” Perhaps you ought to stay out of the conversation, if you aren’t able to gasp even the basics. Yes, they were attemting to travel FROM Salt Lake. The multiple airports out east they cannot get to had nothing to do with the dilemma.
Unfortunately, this is true. There are over 24,000 fewer flights in the US today, than there were a decade ago. Taking flights around the world as a Non-Rev used to be pretty easy. Heck, I remember seeing empty seats in First Class as a regular event - and being on flights that had several (dozens) of seats unclaimed. Now, pretty much every flight I get on, is chock full. I count myself lucky if there is an empty middle seat -which is becoming more and more uncommon.
There are so many people walking the streets today with no education and no common sense. Any travelers checklist recommends taking cash for unintended expenses. If you don't have a backup plan or a way to get out of this type of predicament, then stay at home.
Fair question ..
When you have a friend/relative work for an airline; you can use a Buddy Pass to buy a ticket between point A and point B for a very reduced price.
The price you pay, depends upon the destinations.
The destinations are ONLY the airports that the partucular airlines (or it’s subsidaries) support.
If they had a Delta Buddy Pass, then there are plent of choices as you listed, however this was Jet Blue.
From Salt Lake City, Jet Blue runs 2 routes - your choices are either Long Beach, CA or JFK in New York. Jet Blue does not service those airports, from SLC. They are stuck.
Ahhhhh......that makes a little more sense, now. And it's not like you can just drive an hour and hit a major metropolis.
So, I'm a little more sympathetic to this family. But I still think that they're pretty foolish.
I would. Mama could have taken the first available flight with the little one rather than them trying for the entire family together. Truth be told, if they're that broke then they shouldn't be going anywhere on vacation. Stay home, work and pay the bills - which I'm sure they're behind on. As was said earlier, there's plenty of free things to do and see in NY. I haven't gone on a vacation for better than 10 years and then I didn't have to do it on someone else's dime.
I’ve been finding my stay at the airport to delay my flights between 6 and 16 hours and that is WITH a purchased ticket.
Screw flying standby when the airlines can’t even get passengers from point A to point B anywhere NEAR the ticketed departure/arrival times.
Actually, I’ve heard the departure and arrival times are pretty good nowadays. When we were doing all that flying we were rarely delayed more than a few minutes.
I did find it comical when, before we left, I saw out the window a maintenance man lift a panel on one of the engines and pour in a quart of oil. I saw him as I got off and asked, “So, was she a quart low?” He said, “Actually, yes.”
DING-DING-DING!! That is the right answer.
Years ago we were on the verge of getting stuck in the Atlanta because of an ice storm. The contingency plan was for Momma to go out with the baby and I would stay behind with the older two. If space was available take the middle child. If space was still available take the oldest. Then and only then would I get on the plane.
The DW go on the last flight home with the two youngest. Just before the door closed they found two more seats and the entire family got home late that night.
Point is, you have to plan and adjust fire as needed.
These folks had no plan. If they did they would have stayed home and had a staycation. We had to do that one summer. We didn't have the money to send them all to camp so the DW had what she called Camp-What-a-Momma. Every day for a week she did something fun with the kids. Parks, crafts, museums, marshmallow roasts in the yard. They had a blast.
Now my question is this, what were they doing in Utah. I'm sure it's a lovely state, but why Utah?
1. They are Mormon and wanted to go for some religious reason. Fine. I thought the Mormons take care of their own. They couldn't call someone to marshal resources?
2. They were visiting friends or family in the area. They couldn't get back to their house to to stay overnight and get some food?
3. They just wanted a vacation. Well I want a pony. Doesn't mean I get one.
My experiences may be atypical but it’s what I also observed with a friend. And frankly been my experience going back to the mid 80s. Sitting 2 hours on a tarmac (or waiting at a gate for 6 hours with clear weather) is not new.
But it is frustrating to arrive at rush hour in NYC when you were supposed to land at noon. It’s even more of an upset when you are supposed to arrive in Seatle in the afternoon and get there at 2:30 in the morning because your plane is scheduled to make a roundtrip to NYC (point A to point B back to point A) before flying you to Seattle (point A to point C) and has not left Houston (point A) for NYC by the time your flight to Seattle was to have left. Screw that logistic, get me a new damn plane.
My friend flew Vegas to Houston this summer and arrived over 5 hours late (clear weather, landed around 1am).
No way in hell would I let the airlines possibly bump me for flying standby with that miserable track record.
Well, I confess that all my experience is with Alaska, where my wife worked.
Alaska Airlines, I mean.
These people are idiots.
I did the buddy pass thing 1 time on delta, my layover wasn’t this extreme but the price of the tickets was hardly next to nothing.. in fact it was barely cheaper than what I could have gotten bonafide fairs on JetBlue or Southwest for. After that 1 experience I opted against Buddy Passes from that point on.
LOL. We went to Disney with no money (we had a family pass, gifted to us) and then found we couldn’t get in the gate, because we didn’t have money for the parking!
We thought the gate was $7 but they had raised it to $10. They kept saying, “You came to Disney with NO money?” After a search through the car cushions, they had pity and let us in. We had a pretty good time.
Sometimes, when you have no cash, you just let the adventure happen.
What I want to know is did they have pass through a TSA inspection each time they tried to get on a plane ?
And Salt Lake is horrible to pass ride out of... so many employee commuters live there and everyone has a huge family with 6 children.
And one other thing I didn’t mention... if they knew how to work the system, they would have tried to get to a different airport, like to the West Coast or Denver or somewhere that they had more options. I once had to fly to Brussels to get to London before I could get to Berlin because the DC to London flight was cancelled. You have to be creative.
And the morons were waiting for four seats? One parent and one child could have flown out. Poor AND stupid.
IF you are that POOR, you should NOT be flying anywhere at all.
Senseless gamble. Busy season.
Airlines do not owe them a thing!!!
Getting in a plane and going far away from home with no money in your pocket and a bunch of kids is reckless.
A recent local tv analysis of Indiana EBT/TANF card swipes shows a surprising number in Vegas, Disney (Fl and Ca), Puerto Rico, and even Hawaii.
I remember we were in Montana one year many years ago visiting my in-laws when Northwest went on strike. We had to take whatever the other airlines had available. We split up -- I took our daughter and hubby took our four-year-old son -- so that we could get home in time for our daughter to start school.