If you’ve broken into all of your piggy banks and you’re trying to make every dollar stretch as much as possible when it comes to travel costs, we’ve got some good news.
For starters, some flight costs had been going down as the situation with fuel costs changes. But with airplane prices going up and cuts in flight schedules, things are complicated. You’ve worked incredibly hard for the money you’re about to spend on your trip, so you might as well save money or take advantage of great perks when you can, right? RIGHT. So today we’re going over flight perks available now that you’ll want to take advantage of BEFORE they disappear!
Note that some of these perks or changes may have been introduced a while ago, and some policies may have been in place for a long time. But you never know when they’ll go away or change in the future. Since airline policies can change often, it’s a good idea to take advantage of these things in case they aren’t there to use later.
Just note that in some cases (for some perks and on some airlines) the airlines may indicate that the change in policy is “permanent.” Still, we think these are things to take advantage of sooner rather than later. You never quite know what the future will hold.
This is less of a “perk” and more of just a big thing to consider when booking travel. We’ve seen airlines offering some HUGE deals even as travel returns to more “normal” levels. These are often VERY limited and may only last for a few hours, but if you can catch them while available, you could save BIG on your flight.
In the past, we’ve seen airlines offer flights for $39, give out 100% discounts on flights, or offer deals that could get you 90% off of a flight.
We’re regularly searching for these, so subscribe to our newsletter and keep an eye out for posts from us on these deals. Be sure to also check the individual airlines’ websites for deals. If you check the “deals” or “special offers” portions of their websites, you can see what deals are available.
For example, when we checked the Southwest Airlines website, we saw that they were offering airfares for as low as $29 for a very limited time earlier in October.
You may also be able to sign up for email newsletters/messages from these airlines, which could provide you with notices about current offers/deals. Remember that these change often and typically don’t last long, so you’ll need to be prepared to book that trip ASAP when you find a discount. But the savings could be tremendous!
No Change Fees
Need to change your flight? Some airlines won’t charge you a fee to change your tickets — under certain circumstances. According to Forbes, as a general rule, your best bet to avoid those change fees is on domestic flights in the U.S., and you may find that you are less likely to pay a change fee if it’s not a same-day change.
Having a higher airline status can also help with changes. Keep in mind that for most airlines, basic economy fares tend to be non-changeable, so opting for main cabin is probably best bet.
Here’s a look at some of the airlines’ individual rules:
Delta’s website indicates that there are NO change fees when you purchase a ticket in Main Cabin or above for flights originating from North America.
According to American Airlines, there are NO more change fees on domestic, short-haul international, and select long-haul international flying when you buy a Premium Cabin, Premium Economy, or Main Cabin fare.
Keep in mind, however, that Basic Economy fares purchased on or after April 1st, 2021, are non-refundable and non-changeable.
Southwest shares that they “never” charge fees to change flights. But if you do end up booking a flight that is more expensive than your previous flight, you may be asked to pay a difference in fare.
What if your new flight is LESS expensive than your previous flight? Southwest will actually refund the difference to your form of payment (if applicable) or give you a flight credit. Keep in mind that all flight credits that are unexpired or created as of July 28th, 2022, and beyond DON’T expire!
These are just examples from a few airlines. Be sure to check the airline you’ll be flying with to learn about their terms.
Fly Standby for FREE
Some airlines let you fly standby for FREE on earlier domestic flights that are going to the same destination on the same day. Just note that what we’re focusing on here is flying standby. If you find a seat on an earlier flight and get a confirmed seat, that’s different.
But if you are looking to hop on a different flight that leaves earlier and are willing to be on standby (leaving things more open to chance), this could work out for you. Here’s what a few airlines have to say about this:
Delta notes that you might be able to wait for a seat on a flight that takes off earlier than your original ticket. Same-Day Standby is a complimentary service, and until you get an assigned seat on an earlier flight, your original flight will still be confirmed. Note that Same-Day Standby is available only if Same-Day Confirmed isn’t available (Same-Day Confirmed lets you move to a confirmed seat on a new flight).
You can request that same-day flight change within 24 hours before the departure time of your original flight. And if you reach a certain level within the Delta rewards membership, you could potentially go on standby for flights that depart at ANY time on the same day as your original flight.
Just keep in mind that basic economy fares are NOT eligible for the Same-Day Standby changes. Other rules apply which you can review on the Delta website.
According to the American Airlines website, you can fly standby for FREE on earlier domestic flights (within the U.S.) that go to the same destination (as your booked flight) on the same day. This includes flights to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To request a same-day standby, you can look online, on the app, or stop at a ticket counter, starting 24 hours before your original flight’s departure. While standby is free, confirmed changes do come with a fee.
Southwest notes that if there are no open seats for same-day change, you can get on the same-day standby list to try and grab an earlier flight (on your same day of travel) if one opens up. Whether this is included in your ticket type or not, however, depends. We’ll get to that in a second.
You do need to take some steps when it comes to same-day standby, so just keep that in mind. You must request to be on the same-day standby list on the same date as your booked flight, up to 10 minutes before your original departure time.
Depending on what fare type you buy, the same-day standby option may be included (or not). It’s included for Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, and Business Select. But if you’re an A-List or A-List Preferred Member, you can fly standby for free even with Wanna Get Away fares.
It’s a good reminder that airline memberships and elite statuses can get you great perks. Speaking of which…
If you aren’t already a part of the membership/loyalty program for the airline you fly often, you will want to look into that ASAP. Typically, the loyalty programs are free to join, but if you fly enough you can earn some higher statuses that’ll give you big perks!
American Airlines’ loyalty program — called AAdvantage — comes with its own set of perks. For example, AAdvantage status members can usually apply their travel benefits to ALL tickets, including fares that are just basic economy.
AAdvantage Gold and AAdvantage Platinum members also now get some expanded complimentary upgrades (this went into effect in March of 2022).
And if you’ll be traveling with a friend or family member, AAdvantage status members can also extend their ability to get complimentary upgrades to 1 companion. This started in July of 2022. Essentially, American Airlines will automatically request the upgrade for you and your 1 companion, and your companion will get the same upgrade priority as you.
Delta’s rewards program involves SkyMiles and Medallion Members. You can join SkyMiles and start earning to eventually obtain Medallion Status. Certain extensions have been made for a limited time when it comes to a person’s Medallion Status and their Medallion Qualification Miles, due to the pandemic and changes in travel.
Specifically, whatever Medallion Status an individual had in 2021 has been extended an additional year, through January 31st, 2023. (Time is running out!).
All Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) that were in a person’s account at the end of 2021 were also rolled over to 2022. That provided people with a headstart on earning toward their ultimate 2023 status.
Those with Medallion Status get special perks. For example, Silver Medallion members get unlimited complimentary upgrades, priority boarding, and waived baggage fees. If you make it all the way up to the Diamond Medallion level, you’ll get even more perks, like complimentary CLEAR membership.
In terms of perks that are running out, if you have an unused and active global or regional upgrade certificate (a perk available to those with Platinum and Diamond Medallion status) that was selected between March 1st, 2019, and January 31st, 2022, that’s something you’re going to want to use FAST. Typically, those expire at the end of the elite year, but if you’ve got one within those specific dates they’ve been extended so you can book and fly with them through January 31st, 2023. That’s not far away so be sure to use those up quick!
What about Southwest? If you earn enough rewards with Southwest, you could reach A-List or A-List Preferred status. For A-List status, you’ll need to fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points.
What happens if you get that status? Well, A-List status individuals get priority boarding, access to same-day confirmed changes with NO difference in the base fare, and more.
A-List Preferred members get all of those same benefits PLUS free inflight wifi and the ability to earn points even faster.
At JetBlue, you’ll want to be on the lookout for Mosaic. All Mosaics get special perks like 2 checked bags for free, early boarding, and certain complimentary inflight alcoholic beverages.
But there are some Mosaics perks you’ll need to take advantage of ASAP because they’re ONLY for 2022. Specifically, there is a Mosaic+ level for members that spend a certain amount of money on their JetBlue Plus Card or earn a certain number of qualifying points. All Mosaic+ perks are ONLY available in 2022, through the end of the year. These include the ability to get complimentary helicopter transfers and complimentary FoundersCard Elite Membership.
Need to cancel your flight? Some airlines give you the ability to do so with NO cancelation fees. This sort of goes hand in hand with no change fees, but we wanted to point out some specifics regarding cancelations here because whether you’ll get a refund or a credit (or nothing at all) can depend.
American Airlines has removed most cancelation fees, but certain conditions may apply (we’re mainly tackling domestic U.S. flights here so make sure to read up on specific policies that apply to flights that originate in other countries).
According to the American Airlines website, you have up to 24 hours from the time you buy your ticket to get a refund (if you booked your flight at least 2 days before it departs). No cancelation fee applies. That applies to ALL ticket types, but you do need to cancel to get that refund.
The refund you get will be for the full amount, minus any nonrefundable taxes and any service charge for booking through Reservations.
Keep in mind that even if you’re past that 24-hour time period and you have a ticket that is nonrefundable, you may still be able to get a credit to use for a future flight if your plans change. You’ll need to make sure that you’ve canceled your original ticket BEFORE the departure of the first flight or you’ll lose the value there.
Basic Economy fares, however, are generally non-refundable and non-changeable, so you’ll lose the value there (typically).
What if you bought a ticket between March 1st, 2020, and March 31st, 2021 but need to cancel or change it? You can actually cancel your trip online and rebook later (this includes tickets for Basic Economy) if it was bought during those days. Note that you may owe a difference in ticket price if your new fare is more expensive.
When it comes to Delta, generally there are NO cancelation fees if you buy a ticket in Main Cabin or above (on flights that originate in North America).
Similar to American Airlines, Delta also has a 24-hour risk-free cancelation policy if you booked within the last 24 hours.
Beyond that, things depend on whether you’re in Main Cabin or above, as we noted above. Those with a nonrefundable ticket in Main Cabin or above for travel within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands will NOT be charged a cancelation fee.
Also, note that if your ticket expires in 2022 or was a new ticket purchased in 2022, you should be able to rebook your trip through December 31st, 2023, and use it for travel through 2024.
Generally, Southwest has eliminated cancelation fees.
But when it comes to credits vs refunds, things depend on the ticket type you purchase. Business Select and Anytime tickets are refundable. Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus tickets are not refundable, but you can get a flight credit to use toward a future flight.
But when you ask for a refund or credit is key. You’ll want to cancel at least 10 minutes before the original scheduled departure time. If you miss that 10-minute mark, Business Select or Anytime tickets will have their values converted to a flight credit. With, Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus, however, if you miss that 10-minute mark, potential flight credits will be forfeited.
Expiration on Flight Credits
And finally, let’s talk about flight credits. These are essentially credits you can use toward future travel which you may have obtained from canceling an original flight or other circumstances.
When it comes to American Airlines, Flight Credits (from unused or canceled tickets) must be used for travel that starts 1 year from the date of issue. It’s valid for flights only (not extras like seats or bags).
Delta has extended some of its flight credit policies. Effective January 12th, 2022, those with existing eCredit get an additional YEAR to book their travel. They’ll get to book their new travel by December 31st, 2023, for travel that takes place throughout 2024.
What if you don’t have an existing eCredit but you have travel coming up in 2022 or you buy a ticket in 2022? You’re in luck too! All customers of Delta that have upcoming 2022 travel or who buy a ticket in 2022 ALSO get the chance to rebook their ticket through December 31st, 2023 for travel throughout 2024. It’s a great perk to take advantage of if your trip plans have changed.
In July of 2022, Southwest took things to another level with a first-of-its-kind policy when compared to its competitors. Southwest has eliminated expiration dates for ALL flight credits that were unexpired (and valid) on, or that get created on or after, July 28th, 2022. That gives you a LOT of flexibility when it comes to trip changes.
That’s a look at the flight perks you’ll want to take advantage of ASAP. Remember that all of these perks are subject to change so you’ll want to check with the airlines ahead of your trip planning to see what’s available.
Now that you know about these perks, what should you do next? Well, get to planning your next trip, of course! Don’t want to plan your next Disney trip alone? Feeling overwhelmed? Let our friends at Small World Vacations help you. They’ve got a ton of experience planning Disney trips, and a wealth of knowledge to help you make the best decisions for your trip, plus their services are TOTALLY FREE!
If you want to do some planning before your flight (or even on the plane!), check out our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining.
We’ve compiled all of our BEST tips and tricks from years of Disney World travel into one eBook that you can download to your tablet or smartphone and take with you!
Stay tuned for more travel tips!
Which of these travel perks have you taken advantage of? Tell us in the comments!
The post Flight Perks to Take Advantage of Before They Disappear first appeared on the disney food blog.