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Ski trips can be expensive. And I mean really, really expensive. Of course, you can offset the costs of hotels and flights by using points and miles, but lift ticket prices can add up, especially when multiplied by the number of people in your family. But, it is every bit worth it when you get to fly down the powder with your friends and family.

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Fortunately, there are a few mountains that will actually let you ski for free simply by showing your airline boarding pass. Some give you a complimentary ticket to ski the afternoon you arrive, while others are for the morning you depart. There are even some mountains that will simply give you a free lift ticket for any day of your vacation, regardless of your arrival or departure date. This is an amazing way to help offset the cost of your lift tickets since there is no better way to ski than for free.

skiing
Photo by Jennifer Yellin

Alaska

Alyeska Resort

Alyeska Resort is only 40 miles from Anchorage Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport (ANC) where Alaska Airlines offers nonstop flights from Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Spokane. All you have to do is show your Alaska Airlines paper boarding pass at any resort ticket office, and you can ski the rest of the day for free. This offer is only valid during the weekdays between Jan. 7 and April 19, 2019. Unfortunately, blackout dates apply: Jan. 21, 2019, Feb. 19 and March 11–15, 2019.

Alyeska Resort
Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska (Photo courtesy of Visit Alaska)

California

Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows are right next to one another and just an hour away from Reno-Tahoe International Airport — although you can always fly into Sacramento (two-hour drive) or San Francisco (three-hour drive) for potentially a more cost-effective flight. Both of those mountains are on the TPG list of the best Tahoe-area mountains for families. If you are flying on any commercial airline, you can receive a complimentary same-day lift ticket. All you have to do is show your same-day airline boarding pass at the guest services center. If you do not have a paper copy, you’ll have to email an electronic version to info@squawalpine.com.

Ski for free same day from 1-4 pm with your Alaska boarding pass
Ski for free same day from 12:30–4pm with your Alaska boarding pass.

Sierra-at-Tahoe

If you happen to be flying into Reno-Tahoe Airport on a non-holiday Sunday–Friday, you’ll receive a complimentary same-day lift ticket. Sierra-at-Tahoe is still 90 minutes from the Reno-Tahoe airport, so your time on the mountain might be limited, but a few free runs is better than none. Holiday dates include Jan. 19–21, 2019 and Feb. 16–23, 2019.

Canada

Big White Ski Resort

Present your Alaska Airlines boarding pass to the Village Centre Mall ticket office at the Big White Ski Resort and you’ll receive a complimentary lift ticket for the rest of the day. This mountain is only 35 miles from Kelowna Airport, which makes skiing the same day quite easy for those with early arrivals.

Ski Marmot Basin

When you show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass or itinerary to the Ski Marmot Basin Guest Services desk, you can select from one of these two options: 1) a free full-day lift ticket; or 2) a three-day consecutive day lift ticket for the price of a two-day lift ticket. The best part about this offer is that the free day doesn’t have to be used the same day you fly in, which makes sense since the airport is four+ hours away. The complimentary lift ticket just must be redeemed within 14 days of your travel date through Edmonton Airport.

Big White Resort in Canada offers free same day skiing with Alaska boarding pass
Big White Resort in Canada offers free same day skiing with Alaska boarding pass.

RED Mountain Resort

For those flying Alaska Airlines into Spokane Airport between Dec. 8, 2018 and April 7, 2019, you will receive one complimentary lift ticket to RED Mountain Resort. The lift ticket can then be redeemed during any day of this ski year, which is more flexible than most similar ski free programs. To be eligible for the promotion, you must fly into Spokane Airport (approximately a 2.5-hour drive to RED Mountain) and not any of the other nearby airports within Canada.

Colorado

Steamboat

Steamboat has two different free lift ticket promotions: one for those flying on Alaska Airlines and one for those flying on every other US carrier.

  • Alaska Airlines passengers: If you are flying Alaska Airlines from Seattle or San Diego to/from Steamboat Springs Airport, you’ll receive a complimentary day of skiing on your departure date.
  • American, Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines passengers: As long as you are flying into Steamboat/Hayden Airport, you can receive a complimentary lift ticket for night skiing. If your flight arrives on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, your lift ticket is valid for the evening in which your flight lands. If your flight arrives on a Tuesday or Wednesday, the complimentary night skiing ticket will be valid for Thursday of that week (there is no night skiing on Tuesdays or Wednesdays).

Not only that, but Steamboat has several family-friendly hotel point redemption options to help keep your costs down.

Snowboarders take in the views of Steamboat from the top of a run. Image courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort.

Idaho

Schweitzer

For flights into Spokane Airport on Alaska Airlines only, you can ski Schweitzer for the rest of the day for free. The mountain is approximately 90 minutes away and offers nonstop flights from Anchorage, Boise, Portland, San Diego and Seattle. Take this promotion into account when comparing different fight options between airlines since there are many other US carriers that fly into Spokane.

Montana

Red Lodge Mountain

Instead of skiing for free the day you arrive, Red Lodge Mountain will give you a free lift ticket to ski the day of your departure. All you have to do is show your Alaska Airlines boarding pass at any ticket window and you can enjoy a few runs before heading off to the airport! On Alaska Airlines, you can fly nonstop from Seattle and Portland to the Billings, Montana, airport (about 90 minutes from the mountain).

Whitefish Resort

If you are flying Alaska Airlines, you’ll receive a free Whitefish Resort lift ticket on the day of your departure. Again, this is another opportunity to get your last ski fix before heading home, especially since Glacier Park International Airport is just 19 miles away. Show your boarding pass on your departure day to any ticket window to receive your complimentary one-day lift ticket. The only caveat to this promotion is that it is not valid on non-revenue tickets, although I am not quite sure how they know simply based on your boarding pass. There are blackout dates: Feb. 16–18, 2019.

winter skiing
Skiing at Whitefish. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Nevada

Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe

Although not free, you can score a discounted list ticket for the day you arrive at Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe. Show your boarding pass to the Guest Services office and you can purchase a $69 lift ticket. This offer is valid every day of the week except holidays. This is much better than the going rate of $115 for a half-day lift ticket at the mountain.

Oregon

Mount Bachelor Ski Resort

At Mount Bachelor, your boarding ticket will score you not only a free lift ticket, but also a ski or snowboard equipment rental package. Although there are morning flights on multiple airlines and destinations, this promotion is only valid for those flying Alaska Airlines from Portland or Seattle into Redmond/Bend Airport (sorry United, Delta and American Airlines travelers). The airport is only 20 miles away from the mountain, which leaves you with the opportunity for a decent amount of (free) ski time.

Utah

Snowbasin Resort

Fly into Salt Lake City on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and you can snag a free lift ticket to use the day after your arrival at Snowbasin. To take part of this promotion, you’ll need to register at VisitOgden.com after you book your Alaska Airlines flight. Within 24 hours of your arrival, you’ll need to present your boarding pass, your VisitOgden.com confirmation email and your photo ID at Snowbasin Resort. The offer is valid for travel Jan. 7–April 11, 2019.

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Bottom Line

When you are flying into any of these mountain airports, make sure not to lose your boarding pass. Do not rely on mobile check-in and maybe even print out multiple copies just in case. While many mountains did away with their ski free programs (most likely due to now being part of the EPIC Pass), there are still a decent number of resorts offering promotions for those who fly in to ski. Enjoy your free day of skiing!

Are you planning a family ski vacation? Here are some more resources:

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