Free Stuff

Free things you can get at airports

Flying during the holiday season can be a stressful and expensive, once you add up ticket prices, baggage fees, parking and a meal with a drink (or two) in the terminal before your flight.

But from ping-pong and yoga to water and other top-notch entertainment, many airports in the U.S. and abroad offer a wide variety of amenities for free. Some are available year-round, while others may be tied to a certain season or event. Here are a Baker’s Dozen you can take advantage of now.

Free phone calls

At Denver International Airport and both Washington Dulles International and Reagan Washington National Airports, travelers can make free phone calls year-round.

In Dulles and Washington Reagan airports, local and long distance calls are free to anyplace within the 48 contiguous United States for the first five minutes from marked courtesy phones located both pre- and post-security in the main terminal and in each concourse.

Denver International Airport has ad-supported phones offering free domestic calls and 10 minutes of free long distance calling

Free yoga studios

A pop-up (pay) yoga studio is operating for a few months at Denver International Airport, but there are a handful of airports around the country, including San Francisco International, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway, Miami International and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airports, where travelers can make use of yoga rooms for free. Most have complimentary loaner mats available as well.

Free shoe shines

A throwback to the days when people actually dressed up to fly on an airplane, at Los Angeles International Airport, Denver International Airport and Missouri’s Kansas City International Airport travelers can set their own price or just simply leave a tip when getting a complimentary shoe or boot shine at an airport shoe shine stand.

Free movies

Free movies by local filmmakers are offered to travelers in the post-security 17-seat Hollywood Theatre micro-cinema at Oregon’s Portland International Airport, the pre-security Video Arts room at San Francisco International Airport and in the post-security See 18 Film Screening Room (by Gate C18) at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Free first run films are offered at two 24-hour movie theaters at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Free personal shopper

Passengers traveling through London’s Heathrow Airport can book ahead to tap the complimentary services of the airport’s team of personal shoppers, who make no commission but make it their point to know the all the latest trends and the current stock available in all the shops. There is no minimum spend and consultations take place in a private lounge where free champagne is served.

Free art and history and games

 

SFO Museum Exhibition

San Francisco’s SFO Museum offers no fewer than 20 free exhibitions inside the airport at any one time, while airports in Miami, Albany, NY, Minneapolis, Portland, St. Louis and elsewhere offer a rotating schedule of free museum-quality art and history exhibits throughout the year.

Austin-Bergstrom International and Seattle-Tacoma International airports each present more than 20 free music performances each week and, at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, passengers can play ping pong for free.

Free water: bring your own bottle

Buying a bottle of branded water can set a traveler back $5 in many post-security airport shops, but travelers who bring their own empty bottles can fill them up for free at complimentary water bottle refill stations now located in airports in San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago and many others cities.

Free city tours

Fliers with long layovers can take advantage of free city tours at some airports.

Passengers with layovers of two hours or more at Salt Lake City International Airport can get a free shuttle ride to and from Temple Square, where they can join in a free tour of the thirty-five acre historic site. Free city tours are also available to travelers with varying lengths of layovers at Singapore’s Changi Airport, South Korea’s Incheon Airport in Seoul, Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport in Doha (with Qatar Airways), and Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei.

Free ride to the city

Travelers who land at Boston Logan International can ride the Silver Line bus from the airport into the city for free. The bus picks up at every BOS terminal and offers free connections to the Red Line once in town. (Rides from the city back out to the airport, however, are not free.)

Free CPR training

At a growing list of airports, passengers can learn to save a life while waiting for their flight by taking a free course on an interactive hands-only CPR kiosk. A “how-to” video is followed by a practice session on a rubber manikin and a 30-second CPR test.

Airports with hands-only CPR training kiosks currently include: Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, Orlando International, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Harrisburg International in Pennsylvania and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA.  In many cases there are multiple units at each airport.

Free trading cards

They look like sports trading cards, but at more than 60 airports throughout the country, passengers can stop by information booths and tourism booth to pick up a free, collectible, airport-themed trading cards featuring a photo of the airport on one side and geographic and historic tidbits about the airport on the other.

Animal encounters

To ease the stress of modern-day travel, dozens of airports now have specially-trained therapy animals regularly mingling with passengers in the terminals. Most airports have dogs on their pet-therapy teams, but San Francisco International Airport has a pig on its team, Denver International Airport has a cat, and miniature therapy horses visit the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport twice each month.

Free travel item

Customers of Google’s Project Fi can use their phone to get one free item a week from Project Fi vending machines located in airports in Baltimore, LaGuardia, Chicago Midway and O’Hare, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Jose. Free items include bottled water, playing cards, fuzzy socks, eye masks and luggage tags. Travelers who aren’t Project Fi customers can also get free items by playing a trivia game on the machine.

Did I miss anything?

(My story about free things at airports first appeared on CNBC in a slightly different form.)

Two ways to fly free on JetBlue

If you’re lucky – or fast – you might score a free flight – or a year’s worth of flights – on JetBlue this week.

As part of the carrier’s newest version of its All You Can Jet promotion, anyone who purchases a non-refundable ticket on jetblue.com by December 15, 2017 is entered into a contest that will award 3 lucky winners an All You Can Jet pass good for flights for the winner and a companion anywhere the airline flies – for one year. Winners will be announced December 27, 2017.

(More details – including a way to enter without purchasing a ticket – can be found here.)

Another way to get a free flight is to purchase a JetBlue Get Packing board game, which goes on sale at Amazon for $19.99 today (December 12, 2017) at 12 p.m.

Each game comes with a roundtrip JetBlue flight certificate for JetBlue flights to/from JetBlue cities on JetBlue-operated flights. (All travel must be booked and flown within January 2018 – December 2018.)

Good luck!

JetBlue’s new board game includes a flight

JetBlue is doing its bit to help make holiday get-togethers a bit more fun and rewarding by rolling out a limited edition travel-themed board game called Get Packing!

The Get Packing game goes on sale at Amazon.com on December 12 for $19.99 and the list of what’s in the box reads: 6 Packing Boards, 60 Packing Cards, 48 Wild Cards, 1 die, 1 rule book and 1 certificate for a JetBlue flight, making this a potentially great travel deal even if you don’t actually sit down and play the game.

Free ice-skating at Denver International Airport

Here’s a contender for Airport Amenity of the Week:

Free ice-skating (with complimentary ice-skate rental) is back at Denver International Airport from November 24 through January 7, 2018.

The 38-by-60-foot rink (which will be bigger than last year’s rink) will be  located in the pre-security area DEN Plaza and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with holiday decorations, a lounge, storage cubbies and a wide variety of entertainment and family-friendly music playing in the background.

 

Free airport meals for military during Thanksgiving

In airports around the country, restaurants and concessionaires will be offering complimentary meals and menu items for traveling military personnel over Thanksgiving.

Here are the offers from Delaware North restaurants:

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Free meals for active duty military during Thanksgiving week at participating Delaware North locations: Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Maudie’s TexMex, Salt Lick BBQ and Saxon Pub

Boise Airport

Holiday meal will be provided to airport police and EMTs on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

10% discount for uniformed military personnel during Thanksgiving week

Detroit Metropolitan Airport

On Thanksgiving Day, active duty military can receive a free sandwich from Subway in the McNamara Terminal or from Le Petit Bistro in the North Terminal

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

10% discount for uniformed military personnel during Thanksgiving week

Los Angeles International

Preparing holiday meal and carving traditional turkey for active military at Bob Hope USO post on Thanksgiving Day (starting at 11am)

Nashville International Airport

Preparing and serving traditional Thanksgiving meal for active duty military at Swett’s (beginning at 10:30am)

Richmond International Airport

Serving traditional Thanksgiving meal (roast turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and salad) for traveling military at the airport’s USO post

Tampa International Airport 

Free meals (entree and a drink) will be offered to active duty military on Thanksgiving Day at participating locations: RumFish Grill, Four Green Fields, Chick-fil-A, Auntie Anne’s, Plane Box kiosk, Panda Express, New York New York Pizza. Free pizza will also be brought to the airport’s USO post on Thanksgiving Christmas Day

Will Rogers World Airport (OKC)

Holiday meal will be served to active duty military, airport police and USO staff

Ontario International Airport

Holiday meal will be served for active military at airport’s USO post on Thanksgiving Day

In addition: 20 restaurants operated by Paradies Lagardère in 10 North American airports will offer active or retired military to a free meal through its Food and Beverage Division’s Treat Our Troops program during Thanksgiving weekend, Thursday, November 23, through Sunday, November 26.

Show your military identification when ordering or checking out to take advantage of this offer.

Participating airports/restaurants:

Asheville Regional: Blue Ridge Tavern

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta: Sweet Auburn Market

Long Beach: Long Beach Marche, 4th Street Vine, The Boathouse

Austin–Bergstrom: Second Bar + Kitchen, Ruta Maya Coffee, ThunderCloud Subs

Northwest Arkansas: Smokewood American Grill, Say Si Bon! Gourmet Market, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Core Brewing Co.

Denver: Say Si Bon! TravelMart, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Big Bowl, The Magic Pan Crepe Stand, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs

Pittsburgh: Bar Symon, Bottega dei Sapori

Reagan National: Say Si Bon! Gourmet Market – Center Pier and North Pier, The Magic Pan Crepe Stand, Wow Bao, Washington Pour Bar, U Street Pub

Eagle County: Townie Tavern, Alpenglo Grille

 

And HMSHost offers a 15 percent discount year-round or military with valid identification on food and non-alcoholic beverages at HMSHost airport (and travel plaza locations) throughout the United States.

Find a list of locations here.