I can’t imagine anything more frightening; being forced to remain in an airport for almost a week when your cost-cutting travel plans fall apart. But it happened recently to a family from Virginia.

Curtis Saxton and his family flew from Virginia to Utah using so-called buddy passes. The passes offer incredibly low prices. But there’s a catch; you are last in line to fly on any airplane. Even stand-by passengers get boarded ahead of you. And, once the plane is full, the plane is full.

A Salt Lake City TV station reported on the family five days into their ordeal:

[ABC News 4]

Finally an anonymous donor paid to fly the family home.

It’s not fair to blame JetBlue for the hold-up. It was following its normal policy. Indeed, it would have had to strand others who had more right to a seat had the airline moved the Saxton family ahead [indeed, JetBlue consistently finishes at or near the top of customer satisfaction surveys across the industry].

Moral: you always get what you pay for. Always.