Great Airline Freebies You Can Get on Your Next Flight
Everybody complains about stingy airlines. From shrinking seats to minuscule meals, it seems like we get less and less each time we fly, despite the cringeworthy cost of a plane ticket (and the array of ridiculous fees airlines tack on to your airfare). Savvy travelers have caught on to plenty of airline secrets. But what even frequent flyers don’t know is you can still get plenty of things for free when you fly.
In fact, if you ask nicely, your flight attendant will probably give you at least a few of these airline freebies. Try it on your next flight.
1. A whole can of soda
Parched travelers, rejoice! When the flight attendants come around with the beverage cart, many of us ask for a soda. But usually, you just get a small cup that’s mostly full of ice. USA Today reports you can politely ask the flight attendant for a whole can of soda instead. “Most of the time, they’re happy to oblige,” the publication explains. “And if they can’t — for instance because the plane is low on cans or isn’t getting restocked in the next city — flight attendants will still usually offer to simply come by again to refill your cup.”
2. A refill for your water bottle
Travelers who like to stay hydrated often have a tough time doing that at the airport, especially because they can’t carry a full water bottle through the TSA security checkpoint. You can usually find a water fountain to fill up your water bottle at the airport. But if you run out of water during a long flight, the flight attendants will usually refill it for you. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that the airplane’s tap water isn’t exactly safe to drink.
3. An entire bottle of water
Woman’s World reports if you’re trying to steer clear of that iffy tap water, you might be in luck. Some airplanes get stocked with bottles of water (usually small bottles that don’t take up a ton of space). If your airline does keep water bottles on hand, you can ask a flight attendant for a free bottle. You won’t expose yourself to the high bacteria counts and iffy sanitation practices you have to brave to drink the tap water. And you can always take your water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the rest of your trip.
4. Hot chocolate
If you want a hot beverage, it can be tough to decide what to order. After all, coffee rarely tastes good on airplane. And hot tea can taste weak. Plus, all the cold drinks — sodas and juices — are packed with sugar. It might not be completely innocent in the sugar department, but hot chocolate is another option on many flights. You probably won’t see it on the menu stuffed into the seatback pocket. But Woman’s Day reports many airlines offer it for travelers who know to ask.
5. A warm coffee mug
If you do order coffee when you fly, you’ve probably noticed it gets cold quickly. That’s probably partially thanks to the cold cabin air. But Fox News reports clean coffee mugs often are packed on the same chilled carts as food items. That can make your coffee get cold faster, too. The solution? Just ask the flight attendant to warm up your coffee mug in the oven or with some hot water before pouring your coffee. As Fox News notes, “It makes a difference in keeping it hot longer.”
6. A second snack
If you had to run to catch your connecting flight, chances are good you didn’t have time to stop by your terminal’s Starbucks. You likely didn’t get to stop to pick up a bag of chips either. And a tiny bag of pretzels often doesn’t help much. But if you’re flying on an airline that offers free snacks or meals, you can always ask a flight attendant for seconds. USA Today reports if you ask after all of the other passengers have been served, the flight attendant will likely oblige. Especially on late-night flights, when most passengers pass on snacks and meals, you can very likely get an extra serving.
7. Sanitizing wipes
It’s no secret airplanes are full of germs. And many of the germiest surfaces in the plane harbor bacteria that can get you sick, even if you do your best to wash your hands and keep your fingers away from your face. Many travelers arm themselves with mini bottles of hand sanitizer or travel-sized packages of wipes. But if you forgot yours at home, just ask a flight attendant.
According to USA Today, you can ask a member of the cabin crew for a few sanitizing wipes. The flight attendants often have them on hand. But even the most germaphobic passengers don’t always know that’s something they can ask for.
8. A cockpit tour
Security is pretty tight on board airplanes these days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a cockpit tour for the youngest travelers in your party, particularly if you have an airplane-obsessed kiddo with you. USA Today explains many pilots are “more than willing to give mini cockpit tours before or after the flight.” The best time for a visit? Typically after the flight has landed. That way, the pilot doesn’t feel as rushed. Many pilots love showing off the cockpit to wide-eyed little visitors. And you can bet that your kids will love a tour, too.
9. A set of wings for your kids
Regardless of whether you request a cockpit tour, there’s another fun way to make an airplane ride extra special for young travelers. If you’re flying with a child or a grandchild, you’ll probably be excited to learn many airlines still offer wing pins for children. They’re a fun souvenir for kids who love flying. However, they don’t usually come from the pilots. You usually have to ask a flight attendant, who have a stash of them in the cabin and often love handing them out to kids.
10. 5 minutes of babysitting
Speaking of children, it gets hectic to fly with kids. You can always ask a flight attendant to watch your infant or young child for five minutes while you go to the bathroom. (Just recognize that the flight attendants have plenty of other responsibilities, too.) Many flight attendants love the opportunity to watch a baby for a few minutes, especially if you don’t hand them a screaming child.
11. A Band-Aid or an ice pack
At the top of the list of things you should never ask a flight attendant is whether they have an Aspirin — and not because flight attendants don’t want to help you out if you have a headache. The plane does have a stock of drugs that can be released to a medical doctor. But Yahoo Travel learned regulations prohibit flight attendants from giving passengers so much as an Advil. However, you can definitely ask for a Band-Aid if you get a minor cut. They can also probably make an ice pack for you if you bump your head on the overhead bin.
12. Help finding a doctor
This isn’t exactly a fun freebie. But if things are more serious than a bump, bruise, or paper cut, rest assured that a flight attendant can help you find medical assistance on board. USA Today notes almost all airlines train the cabin crew to ask for medical assistance. On most airlines, the flight attendant will make an announcement over the speaker. That’s a much faster way to find a doctor than asking your seat mates for help.
13. A different seat
Many travelers think once they get a seat assignment, it can’t be changed, even if you end up sitting rows and rows away from your travel companion. USA Today reports flight attendants will often help negotiate seat switches, so you can sit together. Just ask for help quickly after you board. They might ask you to wait until everyone else has taken their seats. But if they know you want to move, they can help coordinate and find the right moment to make the switch.
14. A bag of coffee to deodorize the bathroom
Airplane lavatories are famously unpleasant places. And the deodorizing devices airlines install in them can’t always keep up. Fox News reports many flight attendants place bags of coffee in the bathroom to neutralize unpleasant odors. If you visit a smelly bathroom on your next flight, just ask one of the flight attendants for a bag of coffee to neutralize the smell.
15. Leftover wine
This won’t work on every flight. But Fox News reports customs regulations don’t allow international flights to enter a country with half-full bottles of wine or alcohol. So flight attendants often have to pour them down the drain before landing. If you’re the only one drinking a certain wine, “you are more likely to be served to your heart’s content or even prance home with a nice bottle yourself.” Flight attendants usually hate dumping it out. So it doesn’t hurt to ask.
16. A cocktail
There are plenty of $10 cocktails on the airplane’s menu. But you don’t have to whip out your credit card to kick back with a mixed drink on your next flight. The trick? Just pack a tiny bottle of alcohol to make a drink with one of the beverages the airline provides for free.
SmarterTravel has the rundown on how you can make a few classic cocktails on your next flight. They might cut a few corners. But they’ll taste great — and won’t add on to the exorbitant cost of your flight.
On the other hand, some airlines do offer complimentary alcohol. They might be few and far between. But it’s worth checking what your airline offers before you fly. Business Insider reports, “Lufthansa offers a selection of free Champagne, wine, and beer on its flights, while Finnair has complimentary beer and wine. Etihad also offers passengers a complimentary bar service, with a range of beers, wines, and spirits to choose from.”
18. Amenity kits
Frequent flyers know traveling in first class can get you an amenity or grooming kit. But Business Insider reports some airlines give away free amenity kits to economy class travelers. Some airlines even hand out socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and earplugs on longer flights. And if you need a specific item — such as earplugs, a pen, a comb, or even a set of playing cards — it never hurts to ask the flight attendant whether the airline stocks them.
Read More: 15 Secrets Airlines Don’t Want You to Know