American Airlines has issued a warning to its own employees, telling them not to give out their so-called Buddy Passes to friends and family hoping to travel to several major European destinations because the chances of them being stranded abroad are just too high.
Along with getting generous travel benefits that allow them to fly for a nominal sum, employees at American Airlines can also gift Buddy Passes to friends and family which allows them to also fly for a fraction of the price of a normal ticket.
Buddy Passes are highly sought after but the catch, of course, is that these perks are for standby tickets and employees, along with their friends and family only get a seat if there is one going spare on the plane.
Internally, Buddy Passes are assigned a D3 priority, meaning that other standby passengers are prioritized first. When there are only a few spare seats on a busy service, Buddy Pass holders can find themselves left behind.
And that’s exactly what’s been happening recently in Europe – notably tourist hot spots including Barcelona, Dublin, Madrid, Paris and Rome. “During the last several days, no D3 guest listed for flights between cities and the United States was accommodated,” warned an internal memo sent to AA employees on Wednesday.
Employees have been encouraged to “avoid” giving out Buddy Passes for these cities over the coming months because passenger caps, along with overcrowding and delays have been “greatly limiting non-rev departure availability”.
The memo also reminds employees to warn Buddy Pass holders of “the risks of flying at the D3 priority”.
For now, the warning doesn’t include AA’s own employees but an embargo on all non-rev travelers remains in force at London’s Heathrow Airport because of the airport operator has imposed a strict passenger cap due to ongoing staff shortages.
The embargo was initially put in place until July 25 but has since been extended to September 11.
Last week, AA’s chief executive Robert Isom said the airline’s recovery from the pandemic was being “driven by the strong demand environment”. In the last quarter, American Airlines reported an impressive average load factor of 87%.
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