US Airways and Buddy Passes

There was recently a news article in the Daily Mail about two gentlemen who were declined boarding for First Class due to a dress code.  I like to dress in business attire because my slacks are often more comfortable than my jeans and I feel like I am taken more seriously when I do, but I also know that often the worst dressed people in First are often some of the highest paid people there (actors, musicians, other celebrities trying to lay low by dressing down or .com execs who shun business norms) and I never judge anyone in First by how they dress.

That being said, US Airways and other airlines do have a dress code for employee travel benefit users.

First or Envoy Class: Pass travelers may wear casual attire, including blue or black denim attire, skirts, capri-style pants, and sandals, provided it is well groomed, neat, clean, and conservative. Unacceptable attire in First Class/Envoy includes tee shirts, shorts, jogging suits, athletic gear, baseball caps, athletic shoes, beach footwear, flip flops including Croc style footwear.
The men were reported to be wearing jeans, hoodies, and baseball caps.  Jeans are listed as appropriate, but baseball caps are not and the hoodies could fall under jogging suites or athletic gear and should be changed for a button up shirt.  Employees who allow a friend to travel on buddy passes are supposed to inform them of any of these regulations.  I am sorry the men had to experience this humiliation and maybe US Airways will reconsider their dress code since revenue and upgraded passengers in First class do not have a dress code (and that is a discussion for another post!).
The Daily Mail link features a video of the men.


  1. Friends/Family of employees that get the benefit of heavily discounted premium fares thanks to passes like this have always had to dress in business casual as they are representing the airline when taking advantage of that promotion. I have zero problem with what US Air asked of these two men. Agree that the person who gave them this benefit should have notified them before they flew.

  2. When I had non rev benefits more than 5 years ago on United, jeans were unacceptable in first and business. One time my dad and I went to the airport and he was wearing jeans. We figured if we got first or business he would quick change into trousers. We were the last ones on and cleared a minute before the door shut. GAs handed him an economy ticket and me a business ticket for the LAX to SYD flight because he was wearing jeans. My dad didn’t make that mistake again.

  3. “Two gentlemen”? Doesn’t seem to me that they met any criteria, no matter how loose, to be deemed gentlemen.

    I have flown on numerous delta buddy passes and always dressed at least in business casual. They make their policy quite clear which is fine with me.

  4. I agree, the media has not reported this correctly.

    Back when I used to work for an airline, they gave us a pass rider’s handbook to share with anyone on buddy passes. I used to make friends and family wear business attire (slacks and button down shirts for guys, appropriate skirts/pants/dresses/blouses for women), and there were people I did not offer passes to because I was not sure they could handle the responsibility (behavior, unpredictability, etc.)

    Riding on a pass is a privilege not a right. You are supposed to be quiet, out of the way, and act professionally. I can’t stand pass riders who request seats, bother the gate agent or crews, dont dress “above average” or don’t treat the benefit as a professional courtesy, rather than a right like a paid ticket.

    How many of these incidents will occur before airlines remove this great benefit? I hope US Air punishes the employee as it is his/her responsibility to communicate the information.

  5. I like how they cry foul…. But no where do you see what they were wearing when the incident happened. Only what paying customers are wearing. I’ve flown first class wearing gym shorts but only because I dumped coffee on myself on the way to the airport…. When i pay 1600 for NYC to Mia one way in first….. It’s my right to wear anything but a bomb vest!!, if I pay a super low company rate…. I play there game!

  6. The owner of the buddy pass should have told their guests the rules of the ticket. However, it seems unwise to offend a potential future customer.

  7. Why should US reconsider the dress code? They have certain standards they want to uphold. Expecting the people on pass travel to be better – behaved, dressed, etc. – is a laudable goal.

    1. True, Seth. They should run their business as they see fit. Since I had heard of the dress code before this event I’m pretty sure that it is being applied consistently and was not applied simply because of the race of the buddy pass holders. If they are indeed using it to prevent a certain race to use the passes that is an issue, but the dress code seems reasonable to me. As I said, I always dress business or business casual when I travel unless it is a purely leisure trip where I am not bringing slacks at all.

  8. The news reports are disappointing as race is being played and the buddy pass rules are only a side comment. The point is there are rules for using a buddy pass and US Airways was following those.

    1. @Cranky: which is why I did the opposite…talked about buddy passes and did not mention the race of the men…even though the lawsuit is the reason it is news.

  9. When I started in this business…over 45 years ago.. we wore shirt and tie cause we were proud of our airlines..and then there was no f/c.. I am now and was then grateful for the ride….clean cut, neatly dressed, well mannered riders is NOT too much to ask.

Comments are closed.