If you thought flying was horrible, think again… and then start flying with the right airlines.
We’re all familiar with perks like JetBlue’s free snacks and Virgin’s ultra-zen mood lighting. But a whole bunch of other airline perks don’t get nearly enough attention, and they can majorly turn your trip around. Check out our favorite perks — from oodles of domestic carriers! — for a happier flight.
1. Southwest Airlines: The Companion Pass
This incredible perk allows one person — a friend, a family member, ANYONE — to come along for free on any flight you take (aside from minor taxes and fees of about $5.60). You can earn the Companion Pass by taking 100 qualifying flights or amassing 110,000 qualifying rewards points in a calendar year. It’s valid for one year, during which you can designate a new “companion” up to three times.
2. Horizon Air and SkyWest: Free beer and wine
These brilliant carriers — both partners of Alaska Airlines — serve one free wine and one free local beer per flight. One of their aircrafts, the Skywest E-175, doesn’t feature the free drinks deal… so book your tickets wisely.
3. Delta Shuttle: Expedited security, quicker boarding and free bagels
Delta’s short-haul service is geared toward business travelers, but the perks are for everyone. On the L.A.-San Francisco route or on a number of routes in the Northeast, you’ll check in at an exclusive Delta Shuttle counter and speed through security in a special line. Once aboard, enjoy free fresh bagels if you’re flying before 11 a.m.
4. JetBlue: Free Wi-Fi
You’ll have to pay for Wi-Fi service on most domestic airlines. But JetBlue’s new Fly-Fi program lets passengers roam the Web for free, video streaming included. The service is not on every single plane, and it could incur a charge at some point in the future, but it’s the sweetest deal out there for now.
5. Southwest Airlines: Not one, but TWO free checked bags
Most domestic airlines charge around $25 for your first checked bag, and even more for the second. Southwest lets you check two bags for free.
6. Delta Air Lines: Tons of free movies
Delta claims to have more free onboard entertainment than any U.S. airline, and we must admit: It’s pretty darn great. On some (but not all) flights, main cabin passengers get access to free movies through Delta Studio, with an impressive lineup that rivals movie theaters. Additional titles are available for purchase.
7. Virgin America: Outlets at every seat
Running out of tablet battery — or having to charge your iPhone via your laptop — is a problem on lots of flights. Not so with Virgin, where every sleek, black seat comes with its own standard and USB plugs.
8. Southwest Airlines: No change fee
If you need to change a flight, most domestic airlines will charge you the difference in fare, plus a change fee of up to $200. Southwest doesn’t do this. No matter when you change your ticket, you’ll only pay the difference in fare… nothing more.