“Free” Still Flys: Domestic Airlines with Free Amenities

The airline industry has seen many changes over the past few years, what used to be included in the cost of an airline ticket is now “a-la-carte” and sometimes there seems to be a fee for everything. But, because of quickly things change, whether you travel once a year or once a week you might not be aware of some the free amenities domestic flights still offer.

First of all, almost all airlines (now, I said ALMOST) allow you to check a bag at the gate for free when the bin space on-board has run out. Also, almost (again, ALMOST) all airlines offer non-alcoholic drinks for free. And it used to go without saying that your carry-on bags are free — but that’s also not always the case any longer. Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier Airlines all charge for the above amenities. Frontier however offers everything except for over-sized gate checked bags for free to their Elite travelers.

Southwest Airlines

  • Baggage: Your first 2 checked bags are free, and must be less than 50lbs.
  • Snacks: Southwest doesn’t serve meals onboard, but the airline still offers complimentary pretzels and peanuts. On longer flights large Nabisco snack packs are also available.
  • Entertainment: Although Southwest has never been known for their inflight entertainment if you’re lucky enough to be onboard a Wi-Fi enabled aircraft (which does come with a charge), you can connect to the hotspot (without paying) and access 19 live TV channels and up to 75 television episodes from popular series thanks to DISH Network.

JetBlue Airways

  • Baggage: For all passengers, your first checked bag, under 50lbs is free. At least for now. “The concept of a first-bag fee is on the table,” Chief Financial Officer Mark Powers said in an interview. A fee may be part of JetBlue’s new fare structure, as the New York-based airline creates different classes of tickets.
  • Snacks: Free snacks are available ranging from Doritos, to cookies, blue potato chips and more.
  • “Fly-Fi:” The airline is currently installing and beta-testing inflight Wi-Fi and during the installation phase their basic “Simply Surf” plan is free to use, broadband is available for an additional fee.
  • Entertainment: JetBlue was the first airline to launch it, and it’s still free – Live satellite TV from DirecTV onboard every flight.

Delta Airlines

  • Blankets: Remember these?? They seemed to have disappeared from domestic flights after the Swine Flu outbreak years ago but Delta still offers new, clean, individually wrapped blankets on domestic flights including flights operated by their regional partner airlines.
  • Snacks: Domestic passengers will receive a choice of cookies, pretzels or peanuts. On shorter flights, you may only be offered one selection.
  • Entertainment: Delta is currently installing and on-demand video service on all aircraft that offer a two-class (first and economy) service. The programming can be accessed by anyone’s Apple or Android device free of charge.

Virgin America

  • Entertainment: Arguably the best inflight entertainment system in the sky, dubbed “Red,” the system is available to all passengers and includes: Free Music, video games and satellite TV.

American Airlines

  • Entertainment: Most domestic aircraft still offer drop-down television screens from the ceiling airing an in-flight movie followed by “NBC Universal on American,” newer planes offer in-seat entertainment for a personalized experience with some free programming but these planes usually stick to specific routes.