It is amazing how much Delta “stuff” is on the web like “Buddy Pass” info

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I blogged last month about the fact you can find some fun details about Delta’s relationship with travel agents, how they are not paid commissions and how much the Alitalia site has open for all to see.

But the information to be found never seems to end. I have had readers ask me many question about the “buddy pass” from Delta Air Lines. I have never had the opportunity to use one [ok shameless plug for anyone who has one I would love to try this some time] but as long as you have a somewhat flexible travel schedule and don’t mind either a center seat back row coach or a first class seat if open this can be a fun and great way to fly. Delta employees are NOT allowed to sell them or they risk losing their jobs, but they may give them away to friends and family. But what are the rules about this type of pass with Delta? Check out what is listed here on the web from Delta.
Now what about twitter. Do you have any idea how many official Delta twitter handles there are? Here are just a few:


And the list goes on and on including Spanish and others. So those of you who have been asking about buddy pass info, you now know where to look! – René


I would love to know how many have ever flown on a buddy pass on any airline. So how about this, for a set of Delta amenity / drink coupons tell me if you ever have, and if you can what class of service you ended up in. Neither answer will improve you chance to win the coupons!


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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. I’ve never had the “privilege” of flying on a buddy pass. I’m sure my life won’t complete until that happens…

  2. No, I’ve never even heard of “buddy passes” much less flown on one. Thanks for telling us about them.

  3. My sister has a pilot friend and has used the Buddy pass many times, although I have never gotten to use one myself.

  4. My father-in-law is a pilot for US Airways. I’ve been able to fly buddy pass from DCA-CLT a couple times to visit the in-laws. Generally it is back of the bus middle seats only.

  5. Haven’t flown on a buddy pass yet. Guess I need to find more airline employee “buddies”. 😛

  6. I flew with my mother to Guatemala City on a buddy pass and we were upgraded to first class (granted we did get stuck in Atlanta for a day en route)!

  7. HockeyCoachBen Reply

    Have flown Non-Rev on US many times in the past. Of maybe 100 segments that I’ve flown, incredibly I’ve only ever been bumped once and it was to a better flight…from a Dash-8 flight to an A320 flight leaving 15 minutes later but arriving earlier and also to the front of the plane. Can’t complain about that at all!

  8. never had, but my coworker uses them all them time on united international and 9x our of 10 gets 1st! not biz or econ!

  9. Flown a few times with DL and AA. Mixed results. It was not so bad about 10 years ago, especially if you flew T-TH but these days it is a crap shoot.

    It might sound like a good idea but I don’t like the pressure of missing flights or being bumped with no hope of getting on the next flight. I had a friend stuck in CDG for 6 days trying to fly S3 back to the US.

    BTW are you going to the FlyerTalk meetup in atl this week?

    • @ padrevic – txs for the feedback. Sorry I can not make ATL this week. I will be at the ORD DO in Oct 100% and have a room at the event hotel. – Rene

  10. Yup, I’ve used or, more precisely, tried to use Delta Buddy Passes on numerous occaisions. I have a friend and neighbor of 30+ years who is a retired Delta captain who doesn’t have much use for the passes, especially since two of his adult kuds work for the airline.

    But getting a seat on a flight is problematic as one can’t peer into Delta’s system to see what one’s chances are of getting on board a preferred flight. For example, the day before a planned trip ATL-LAX everything looked wide open for an early AM departure. That night he checked with computer access he has but I don’t to discover there was virtually no chance of an open seat. It was the same thing the next day. A day later I got on a seat to RNO instead. I’ve been able to get to BOS, but not back as planned. Same thing for EWR. Trying to get to Dublin I got only as far as JFK. After a few more fizzled attempts I gave up on the passes. AND, they’re not “free”. There are the taxes and some significant fees. Don’t envy anybody who has access to Buddy Passes.

  11. Recently Gailen David with AA better known as The Sky Steward got in trouble with AA management over videos he posted. As part of this, his flight privileges were suspended. So if he was out of the country on one of these passes, he would have to pay his own way home.
    Anyone using these buddy passes, needs to understand this and know they could be on the hook for paying their own way home….

    • @Mike – txs – all good info. Also the reason to have lots of miles in case you need them when doing something like this. Then again, how often does something like this happen. – Rene

  12. I flew on delta buddy passes 3 times. 1 trip to Denver from DCA and ended up in coach.
    The other was two legs. DCA-ATL and was put in first, and the next leg was ATL-FCO and was put in coach

  13. Had a friend who’s mom worked for US Air and he flew something similar all the time. Didn’t know Delta had a similar program or what they were called.

  14. I’ve never had a buddy pass but my son was given a couple several years ago and flying out west, all went well but that was the only experience I’ve had with them.

  15. Steven Lipstraw Reply

    I’ve nonrevved a lot. I’ve buddy passed on American once, and for a while I had Mesa/US Airways benefits. I nonrevved all around on those benefits. It’s quite easy. On AA/DL you list yourself, and you get into the highest class thats available. US Airways you must purchase a F class voucher ($20 Domestic/$100 Int’l and Hawaii), which still isn’t terrible… If you can’t make it up front, the gate agents are generally helpful and will put you in an emergency exit (I flew 15+ trips nonrev and only 2 times did I not get First or an E-Exit). I gave a few people some of my buddy passes and its not difficult, they do have to pay, AA/US Airways charge about the same, you can expect most medium range flights (PHX-DTW) to be around $100-$150, Short flights (PHX-LAX) $40-75, depending.

  16. Used 2 back in 2010… one trip to DXB and the other to PVG both on DL… on ATL-DXB… snagged the last biz seat and got biz on DTW-PVG-DTW at check in.

    DXB-STL… weight restricted aircraft so I used my AA miles for the way back DXB-LHR-DFW all in BIZ

  17. Many years ago and on another line, I used a BP for LAX-PDX via DEN. Buddy picked the flights and route to minimize the odds of getting bumped. LAX-DEN leg was FC and I was treated extremely well. DEN-PDX was oversold, so I had a 3-4 hour wait. The gate agent felt so bad for me that after the flight cleared, she took me to lunch (although I did not allow her to pay)! When I finally got on for the DEN-PDX leg, it was FC again and another super nice crew. Later, returning PDX-LAX was direct and again FC with another great crew. The bump in DEN was no big deal and one just goes with the flow.

  18. In college my friend’s dad was a pilot for Alaska Airlines and he would travel non-revenue on a family pass all the time. They required him to dress appropriately (he usually put on a tie) and I can remember many times dropping him off a the airport in FAI only to pick him up several hours later because he couldn’t get on a flight. Or him calling me at some strange hour telling me he’s on a flight and if I could pick him up. He made great use of that.

  19. I did once about 4 1/2 years ago to MSY from CVG. Outbound was easy – got on a flight (back row next to the lav on a CRJ200- but both seats to myself). Coming back on Monday morning was a bit more of a challenge – didn’t make the first direct (the pass is space available so you are basically on standby) and there were dozens of people looking to get back to CVG (or connect through). Didn’t make the next flight to ATL. Luckily I got ahold the friend I got the pass from and she was able to let me know that I could probably get on the flight to LGA, then home to CVG on the last flight to CVG that night (an option most people standing around probably didn’t know about). Worked out fine in the end, but spent the entire day in airports. I wouldn’t want to do it now with all the cutbacks in the past 3 years. Very few available seats on most desireable routes.

  20. I’ve flown on Delta Buddy Passes quite a few times. Really, the best use is always going international during non peak seasons. They are not cheap – meaning an LA-Asia itinerary with taxes can easily run $600 for non-rev. But, while they are flexible and fun if you get assigned business class, they are not always worth the gut wrenching wait while you wonder if you’ll make your flight.

  21. JC is used on International non peak periods. I have used them dozens of times when my friend worked at United. I must admit I have flown to some beautiful countries (Buenos Aires,Korea, England) using buddy passes (20 years ago when I was in my 20s)but now that I’m older and a more seasoned traveller…there is nothing like knowing you WILL be boarding your flight when the doors open instead of sitting around PRAYING you make the flight. Many times you don’t make it and must have a very flexible schedule (and extra cash for food, hotel,etc). Good experience but not for me anymore.

  22. I flew a buddy pass from ATL to DFW on American Airlines. I bought a car from an AA employee who lived in Dallas and he flew me out there on a pass to pick it up. I had a middle seat…thank goodness it was not a very long flight!

  23. I used my uncles buddy passes constantly for a few years in the early 90’s (when I was about 20.) It was a TWA pass – memories… That was when it was a boarding pass sized paper with 9 legs that you filled in as you went, so if you realized a flight was too full last minute, or you changed your mind last minute and wanted to go to Athens instead of Paris. I remember being a starving college student at the time and paying $125. for all 9 legs. SFO to the carribean, JFK, 3 European stops, Israel , Greece, JFK and back to SFO. I always rode coach, I don’t think I even knew being bumped up was an option back then, I was just so excited to be on the flights! Only got bumped once in Chicago (different trip), but had a great time with another girl that was bumped too, we went out dancing and then split a hotel. College times…:)

  24. Alex Johnson Reply

    Flown many times. $300 round-trip, non-stop, Detroit to Puerto Vallarta isn’t too bad, for the complainers. Oh, and I booked it in while pulling into the airport.

  25. I know exactly how buddy passes work. I am one of the very many privileged people to be able to fly for free with the cost of standby. my parents worked for western and delta. buddy pass is a half prices ticket. say a flight is 200$ they have to pay 100$. there is a thing called priority in my case I am s3b it matters on when the employee retired. if you are on a buddy pass you a lowered one priority so s4. so you have harder chance of getting on. as much as I am
    so thankful for getting to travel as often as I do with free flight. it’s a game. a waiting game. there have been times where you sit at an airport all day and sometimes at the end of your day your at the same location. hope this explained some.

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