How to ski for free with your airline boarding pass

Dec 13, 2019

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Ski trips can be expensive. And I mean really, really expensive. 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.

(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 lift ticket for the afternoon you arrive, while others are for the morning you depart. There are even some mountains that will 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.

Here is a list of all of the resorts that will allow you to ski for free, simply by showing your boarding pass:

Alaska

Alyeska Resort

Alyeska Resort is only 40 miles from Anchorage Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport (ANC), where Alaska Airlines offers nonstop flights from Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland and Seattle. All you have to do is show your Alaska Airlines paper boarding pass at any resort ticket office and you can ski the remaining part of the day you arrive for free. This offer is only valid weekdays between Jan. 7 and April 17, 2020. Blackout dates are Jan. 20, Feb. 17 and March 9–13, 2020.

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

Eaglecrest

Only 15 minutes from downtown Juneau, Eaglecrest will give a free lift ticket to those flying into Juneau airport that morning on Alaska Airlines. For subsequent days, or for those who are driving to the area, the most expensive lift ticket is only $53, so you are still looking at a relatively economical ski vacation.

Related: Best times to 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 (a two-hour drive) or San Francisco (a 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 for the day you arrive. All you have to do is show your 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.

Of course, if you have the Ikon Pass, you can ski an unlimited amount at these two resorts without having to worry about flashing your boarding pass. (Ikon Base Pass includes blackout dates).

Related: Top 5 family-friendly ski resorts in Tahoe

Sierra-at-Tahoe

If you happen to be flying into Reno-Tahoe Airport on a 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.

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

Ski Marmot Basin actually has two different promotions for those flying in on either Alaska Airlines or Flair Airlines for their ski vacation. When you show either boarding pass or itinerary at the Ski Marmot Basin Guest Services desk, you can select from either a free full-day lift ticket or a three-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-plus hours away. The complimentary lift ticket just must be redeemed within 14 days of your travel through Edmonton Airport.

RED Mountain Resort

Those flying Alaska Airlines into Spokane Airport between Dec. 12, 2019 and April 5, 2020 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 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 U.S. 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).

Steamboat also 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.
(Image courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort.)

Idaho

Bogus Basin

With many flights into Boise, it is easy to hit the slopes of Bogus Basin after an early-morning flight. Just show your Alaska Airlines boarding and ID to the Simplot Lodge ticket window, and you’ll receive a complimentary lift ticket to ski for the rest of the day. This offer is valid every day of the week, although there are a decent amount of blackout dates: Nov. 29–Dec. 1, 2019; Dec. 21, 2019–Jan. 5, 2020; Jan. 17–20, 2020 and Feb. 15–17, 2020.

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 Boise, Everett, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego and Seattle. Take this promotion into account when comparing different flight options between airlines, since there are many other U.S. 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 at 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 plane tickets, although I am not quite sure how they would know that simply based on your boarding pass. There are blackout dates: Dec. 24, 2019–Jan. 1, 2020 and Feb. 15–17, 2020.

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

Nevada

Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe

Although it’s 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 $67 lift ticket every day of the week except holidays. This is much better than the going rate of $125 for a half-day lift ticket at the mountain.

Oregon

Mount Bachelor Ski Resort

At Mount Bachelor, your boarding ticket will score you a free lift ticket for the day you fly in. This promotion is only valid for those flying Alaska Airlines into Redmond/Bend Airport. The airport is only 20 miles away from the mountain, which leaves you with the opportunity for a decent amount of (free) ski time.

Bottom Line

When you are flying into any of these mountain airports, hang on to your paper boarding pass to leverage a variety of promotions. Maybe even print out multiple copies just in case. Although many mountains have done 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 deals.

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

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