It’s no secret that flying can be a huge hassle. Travel days often begin well before dawn and include waiting in line after line, then cramming into an ever-shrinking airplane seat, hoping the person in front of you doesn’t recline.
You could always fly on a private plane, but it’s not always an option. Luckily, you can still find a few perks while flying commercially, even if you don’t want to become an expert travel hacker. Check out these fun freebies you could enjoy — will you pick one of these airlines for your next trip?
1. Flying Nannies (Etihad Airways)
Was your last flight full of screaming babies, bored toddlers and seat-kicking preschoolers? If it was, chances are you weren’t on Etihad Airways.
The United Arab Emirates’ national airline, Etihad, offers a “Flying Nanny” service to help occupy restless kids on long-haul flights. These trained nannies, approved by Norland, the U.K.’s childcare training college, help get kids ready for bed and keep little ones entertained with toys and goodies, including arts and crafts, hand puppets, magic tricks and face painting.
2. Tours of Singapore and Istanbul During Layovers (Multiple Airlines)
Do you usually sit in the airport and catch up on emails during your long layovers? Or do you spend your time searching for a quiet little corner where you can do your best to catch a snooze and ward off the jet-lag?
If you’re on any airline flying through Singapore and you have at least five or six hours before your next flight, take a free tour of Singapore. Changi Airport offers two different free tours to choose from: the Heritage Tour and the City Lights Tour. These free two-and-a-half-hour tours show you some of the highlights of this bustling city while giving you plenty of time to catch your connecting flight.
Turkish Airlines also offers free tours for passengers with long connections in Istanbul. In 2014 alone, 20,000 passengers took advantage of them. These English-speaking tours are for passengers who have a good seven to 10 hours between their flights, Frommers notes that some tour destinations include such historical hotspots as Topkapi Palace and Hippodrome Square.
3. In-Flight Workouts (Scandinavian Airlines)
Passengers on Scandinavian Airlines can enjoy an exercise bar on some flights, and the airline even added an “Exercise in the chair” physical fitness program for passengers to use via their in-flight entertainment systems.
If you’re lucky enough to be flying business class, you can also take advantage of a “handle bar” to stretch your back during flights.
4. Designer Swag Bags (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines)
Passengers who splurge on first class and business class seats on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be handsomely rewarded, according to Frommers. KLM goes far beyond the normal “amenity kit” some airlines offer, featuring ear plugs, eye masks, and the like. Passengers receive a male or female-specific collectible Viktor & Rolf bag containing a branded toothbrushing kit, socks, eye masks and other goodies.
And that’s not all. Premium class passengers also receive miniature ceramic Dutch houses, each of which contains a miniature bottle of jenever, the juniper-flavored national liquor.
5. Drinks and Snacks (Porter Airlines)
I’ve only received one free drink on a domestic flight, and that was right after a bout of severe turbulence when seatbelts saved many a head from smashing into the ceiling. But then again, I haven’t flown on Porter Airlines.
If you’re flying with Canada’s Porter Airlines, you’ll receive free beer, wine and snacks. That beats a $12 sandwich any day.
6. DirecTV (Jet Blue)
While other airlines nickel and dime you and give you the privilege of swiping your credit card to enjoy programs you’d never even want to watch back home, Jet Blue lets you enjoy DirecTV for free on all flights within the continental U.S.
The number of channels you’ll enjoy depends on the type of plane you’re flying. E190s and A320s enjoy 36 channels (including Disney, Nat Geo Wild, Food Network, HGTV, Bravo, three different ESPN channels and more), but A321 passengers enjoy more than 100 channels of entertainment.
7. Checked Bags (Southwest)
Just a few years ago, you could check two bags for free on just about any airline. But not anymore. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline that now lets you check bags for free — and some airlines now even charge for carry-on bags.
Southwest lets passengers check two bags for free, and they don’t even add extra charges for your bulky sports items like skis or golf bags.
8. Wifi (Emirates Airlines)
On many flights, Emirates passengers can enjoy free access to Wifi, with 10 MB of data free (or buy 500 MB for just $1). You can also use your cell phone just as you would on the ground on more than 300 of their daily flights.
9. Playing Cards and Writing Kits (Singapore Airlines)
You won’t get bored on a Singapore Airlines flight. Their amenity kits include standard items like toothbrushes and eyeshades, but you can also request a set of Singapore Airlines postcards or a writing kit. If you’re in a card-playing mood, request a pack of playing cards and challenge your seatmates to a game of Go Fish or Crazy Eights.
Your Turn: Did we miss any great airline freebies? Share them in the comments!
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.