6 Airfare Discounts You Should Know About

Sep 12, 2017

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Here at TPG, we think travel is one of the best ways to spend your money — but it can get pricey. In order to experience new things in new destinations, you have to get there first. And while paying with points and miles could give you great value and save you some cash, sometimes buying a standard revenue ticket is the way to go.

That being said, there are ways that you could potentially get lower airfare than what’s publicly advertised and save on other fee-crazy parts of air travel. We took a look at six discounts that could end up saving you some cash on your next trip:

In This Post

Government Employees

Like military personnel (more on that below), government employees are sometimes given discounts on their airfare. Specific rules and how much you’ll save — if at all — vary by carrier. For each of the carriers that offer special government fares, you can find details below:

American Airlines

AA’s website lists that it does offer government fares. However, it clarifies that the fares are only available in some markets. To see if your position and your route are eligible, you’ll have to contact AA’s reservations line at 800-433-7300.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines offers special government fares. However, the carrier doesn’t detail just how much you’ll save. In order to learn more about the fare rules, prepaid tickets, seating arrangements and other special requests government employees are entitled to, call Delta at 800-325-1771.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue offers negotiated fares for federal government employees for air travel. The special fares are fully refundable, have no penalties for changing, cancelling or refunding and more. To find out more, visit this page or call JetBlue at 888-538-2583.

United Airlines

With United’s government business travel policy, federal government employees are eligible for special fares. Only employees of the federal government traveling on official business are eligible for the fares, and government contractors are not eligible. To learn more, visit this page.

Image by OGphoto / Getty Images.
Image by OGphoto / Getty Images.

Group Discounts

Traveling in a pack? You could be in luck when it comes to discounted airfare. Several US airlines offers travelers who have more than a certain number of people discounts and other perks. These types of fares can be especially appealing when planning a group getaway or family vacation. Here’s how group fares and benefits break down for each of the major US carriers:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska offers two options for group travel: one for groups traveling separately and one for groups traveling on the same flight. For each, you’ll get discounted airfare and the ability to earn tour conductor credits based on your group size. To get a better idea of which option is better for your group and to book, call Alaska’s group desk at 1-800-445-4435.

American Airlines

American offers a group travel option for leisure groups of 10 or more people traveling together to the same destination. If your group is traveling to any American or Oneworld destination, you’ll get a guaranteed fare and be able to block space up to 11 months in advance. In addition, you’ll get one free name change per ticket up to 48 hours prior to departure and there’s no Saturday night or minimum stay required. You’ll need to request a proposal in order to be eligible for these leisure group rules. In addition, AA offers fares for company meetings and those for group incentive travel.

Delta Air Lines

For travel with 10 or more people on the same flight, Delta offers group competitive fares, flexible ticketing options and dedicated support. In order to take advantage, you’ll need to fill out the Group Travel Request Form or call Delta at 1-800-532-4777.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue offers a somewhat flexible group travel option. If you’re traveling with 10 or more people on the same flight, you’ll get a customized group fare quote, a $50 per person deposit and $100 per name change up to 72 hours prior to departure. If you’re traveling with 10 or more, you’ll need to fill out a form on this page. Where JetBlue is flexible with its Group Program comes if you have just fewer than 10 people. If you’re traveling with 8-9 people, contact JetBlue at 1-800-538-2583 for alternative options.

Southwest Airlines

If you’re traveling with a group of 10 or more people, Southwest offers its Group Travel Program. With it, you’ll get special discounts off published fares, no blackout dates, no Saturday night or minimum stay requirements, flexible payment options, unlimited name changes up to 72 hours prior to departure, no booking, ticketing or change fees. Contact Southwest’s group reservations number at 1-800-433-5368.

United Airlines

United Groups offers those traveling with 10 or more special pricing and service. More specifically, if the 10+ people in your group are traveling to a common destination, you’ll get a guaranteed fare. In addition, you’ll get a group coordinator to assist at the airport and priority check-in. In order to get the group rate, you’ll need to complete an online bid request form or call United Groups at 1-800-426-1122.

Image by Morsa Images / Getty Images.
Image by Morsa Images / Getty Images

Membership-Based Card Discounts

Some of the greatest perks in the travel industry don’t even come from credit cards. Membership-based card services, like FoundersCard, can give members great value and savings. While the card offers some exclusive benefits like status challenges and complimentary status, some of its other perks come in the form of airfare savings.

Some airline-specific benefits of FoundersCard membership include:

  • 5%-15% off all Cathay Pacific flights
  • Up to 5% off JetBlue economy fares
  • Up to 25% off Qantas travel on US-originating flights;
  • Up to 5% off most US-originating Singapore Airlines flights;
  • Up To 10% off most fares between the US/Canada and the United Kingdom on British Airways

In addition to these airline discounts, FoundersCard members also get access to discounts on other travel purchases, like hotels. If you’re not yet a FoundersCard member, you can sign up as a new member with a preferred annual membership fee of $495 as well as a waived initiation fee when you apply using this link or the promo code FCTPG17. The standard annual membership fee is $595 with an initiation fee of $95 — so you’re saving $195 right away.


Military Personnel Discounts

Members of the military can often benefit from airline discounts. Here’s a look at the major US carriers and how their military discounts break down:

Alaska Airlines

Active duty US military members are entitled to up to five checked bags for free. When on travel orders, US military dependents also get up to five checked bags for free. For both groups, if there are more than five checked backs, fees start at $100 per bag. In addition, both groups are entitled to an overweight bag (up to 70 lbs). If it’s more than that maximum weight, it’ll cost $100.

American Airlines

American allows active US military and their dependents additional complimentary checked baggage. If you’re traveling on military orders, active US military and dependents get five bags for free. If you’re traveling for personal reasons, AA allows you to check three bags for no charge.

AA also offers discounted military fares on some routes. Call AA reservations at 800-433-7300.

Delta Air Lines

Delta offers active duty US military members exclusive discounts on travel for both military orders and personal travel. In order to get the discount on travel, you’ll need to call in to Delta’s Military and Government Desk at 800- 325-1771.

In addition to the discounted travel fares, active duty US military members also get complimentary checked baggage. If you’re traveling on military orders, you’ll get five checked bags for free (up to 100 lbs each). And if you’re traveling for personal reasons, you’ll get two checked bags (up to 50 lbs each) in basic economy, Main Cabin or Delta Comfort+ or three checked bags for free (up to 70 lbs each) if you’re traveling in first class, Delta Premium Select or Delta One.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue allows active duty military personnel and their immediate family (spouses or children) to fly with JetBlue at a discount with its MIL fares. MIL fares are for non-duty travel using personal expenses and are nonrefundable. Visit this page for more information.

Southwest Airlines

We’ve covered Southwest’s military fares and how much they can save military personnel in the past. With it, active duty military and their dependents can access the carrier’s discounted fares for travel. You have to call in to Southwest at 1-800-435-9792 and speak with a phone agent for availability.

United Airlines

Active duty US military personnel are entitled to extra checked baggage allowance on their United flights, whether traveling on military orders or for personal travel. If you’re traveling on military orders, you’ll get up to five checked bags for free, or if you’re traveling for personal reasons, you’ll get three checked bags for free.

In addition, United teams with Veterans Advantage to offer up to a 5% discount on its fares. US military veterans, active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members and their families are entitled to the discount.

Caucasian soldier talking on cell phone in airport
Image by Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee / Getty Images

Senior Discounts

Members of AARP are eligible for additional savings when booking travel through select companies. The highlight of savings for AARP members who frequently fly comes via British Airways. With the benefit, members can save up to $200 on flights. Here’s how the savings break down:

  • Save $65 on World Traveller (economy) tickets
  • Save $130 on World Traveller Plus (premium economy) tickets
  • Save $200 on Club World (business class) and First Class tickets

In addition, AARP members get other travel-related discounts, such as up to 10% off at La Quinta properties. Other discounts include those for tours, car rentals and auto insurance.

AARP memberships can be worth the cost of the annual fee, just based on the savings alone. For a one-year membership, you’ll pay just $16, or if you choose to auto-renew your membership, the cost of the first year will drop to $12. If you’re able to take advantage of the savings that come with membership, it could be a great investment.

In addition, some airlines offer specific senior fares for those who are eligible. For example, Southwest, United, American and Delta all offer a Senior Fare option for travelers who are 65 or older, although for the latter three, the discounts are only available on select routes. For Delta and American, you must call the reservations number in order to see if the senior fare is available on your route and how much you’ll be paying. However, for United and Southwest, you can search if your route is eligible (for United only) and how much the ticket will cost right from the carriers’ website.

Image by Digital Vision / Getty Images.
Image by Digital Vision / Getty Images

Student Discounts

Several airlines offer discounts exclusive to students, like Lufthansa. With the carrier’s “Generation Fly” program, US students have access to discounted fares to more than 470 destinations around the world. As a member of the program, you’ll get the lowest and most flexible fare option, the ability to spend up to 12 months abroad and one free date change. To register, you’ll need to enroll with a university email address, select your university and indicate when you’ll be graduating. However, it appears that student fares are not accessible at this time due to “technical difficulties.”

There are also specific travel websites that specialize in giving students premium discounts on their travel. For example, Student Universe offers discounted fares for those in college. To sample, I searched for flights from New York to Venice and found the same flight at a $96 discount when using Student Universe versus when booking directly through Iberia.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 8.55.28 AM

You’re not guaranteed to get a discount on every flight and route you search for, but there is the chance for you to save some big money on your next trip. In order to sign up to become a free member of Student Universe, you’ll need to supply your basic personal information, college or university name and expected graduation month and year.

What other flight discounts do you use?

This article has been updated to remove mention of the American Airlines college discount.

Featured image by Greg Bajor / Getty Images.

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