February 12, 2024

Buddy Pass

I had no idea what to name this post, but I don't want to keep trying to think of something else, hahaha.

Last week, I was really wanting to get out of the house and just go somewhere--anywhere. My parents, as well as Jeanie and Shawn, are in Hilton Head, South Carolina right now. My parents go down every year to enjoy nicer weather in the cold months of Michigan.

They've always wanted Jerry and I to go down there (with the kids of course) for a week or even a few days, but we're not "beach" people and it just isn't a place that we've had interest in visiting. (Noah and Eli have gone, though.) Last week, the idea just popped into my head to go down there (alone) and surprise my parents. Since Jeanie and Shawn are there now as well, I asked Jeanie if they could pick me up from the airport if I was able to go. She liked the idea too, so the next step was to ask Brian for a buddy pass to fly.

The cost of a ticket was insane--about $1000--so that was out of the question. Being a pilot, Brian has "buddy passes" that he can let friends/family use to fly for cheap (to go to Hilton Head is $187 with a buddy pass). The biggest problem with using a buddy pass is that you don't have a confirmed seat. The best part is that you don't have to plan ahead; you can literally decide right before the flight if you want to be listed for standby. It's kind of fun to use for last-minute trips! 

Unfortunately, Delta doesn't fly directly into Hilton Head anymore, so I'd have to fly into Savannah. And there aren't direct flights from Detroit to Savannah, so Brian said I'd have to go from Detroit to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Savannah (where Jeanie would pick me up).

My credit card would only get charged after making the flight, so if I didn't make it on, then I wouldn't have to pay for it. I'd planned to head down on Thursday and the flight was looking more and more full. By Wednesday night, Brian said that he was very confident that I would *not* make it on the flight (meaning there weren't many open seats and the list of standby passengers was long).

On Thursday, Brian said everything was looking okay for the first flight (5:20 am) on Friday. The problem was that flights from Atlanta to Savannah were full for all of the flights except the first one (which would be my connection). That meant that if I didn't get on the first flight in Detroit (to Atlanta), even if I took a later flight, I would likely get stuck in Atlanta.

I realize this is all confusing, haha. Anyway, I decided to go for it--Brian said it would probably be *very* close whether I got on the flight or not, but I was really hoping I'd be able to go. So I left the house at 3:45 am for the airport (Jerry dropped me off and then went out for coffee to wait and hear from me whether I made the flight.

When I got to the gate, I nervously watched the app, seeing my name way at the bottom of the list. As the flight filled up, some of the standby passengers were given seat assignments. Based on the number of seats open and the number of people on the list, it started to look like I might not make it. Still, things change right up until the last second.

Eventually, I was third on the standby list. And there was only ONE seat open. I noticed that the two people ahead of me were likely traveling together (same last name) and I hoped that since there was only one seat left, they'd pass it up--and then it would be ME that got the last seat!

Then it got confusing for a moment. After checking with the couple, the gate agent actually gave me a seat assignment and then the second my name came from her mouth, a flight attendant came out and said that there was one more open seat... so there were actually TWO available. And naturally, the couple on the list ahead of me got the seats.

I was so bummed. Flying on a buddy pass is never a guarantee, so I knew I many not make it--still, it was disappointing to be *that* close to getting on the flight! It did get me to start thinking about going somewhere else, though. I may take a spontaneous trip soon :)


  1. Awww. I'm so sorry you didn't make it, but good for you for wanting that adventure! It seems like a growth curve for you and I mean that in the best way. You stepping out to do that. YAY! Or maybe I'm projecting because that would have been a huge deal for me.

  2. Oh my goodness, that sounds stressful! When I was a kid, my grandfather was a pilot for American and we would fly stand-by to Orlando...but being just a kid, I didn't sense any pressure. And is your name spelled Katiee?!

    1. Ha! At first, I wondered if Brian misspelled my name when he added me to the list, but then I realized it’s probably because my middle initial is E :)

  3. My friends husband has been an American pilot for 35 yrs. She NEVER flies on his pass, because just about all flights are full with stand-by. I fly pretty frequently and just buy a ticket when I want to go somewhere with JetBlue CC miles-charge everything, groceries, utilities, etc and fly with points. You do realize it's like 50-60 degrees in SC right now-not "beach" people weather??

  4. Too bad it didn't work out - at least fun to think about getting anywhere warmer than Michigan!

    And to those who undoubtedly will come here to criticize you for trying to use a buddy pass and recommend you pay or use credit card miles/points:


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