When we think of airline perks, amenities and freebies we automatically think of business or first class. Flying coach gets a bit of a bad rap, often associated with cramped seats, arguments about overhead storage space as well as pricey in-flight food and drinks. But you may be surprised to know there are still perks in economy class that can help make your flight easier and more pleasant.
Pretzels, cookies and peanuts
Even though many airlines leave you to fend for yourself when it comes to food, the snack cart does still roll through the aisles on a lot of flights. Feel like snacking on a Delta flight? You’re in luck. The free snack tradition is alive and well, with offerings of peanuts, mini pretzels and Biscoff cookies. Pretzels have you covered where crunch is concerned, Biscoff cookies satisfy a sweet tooth (they taste like a shortbread/gingerbread hybrid) and peanuts offer a bit of protein with their salty kick. (Keep in mind, if you have a peanut allergy, make sure to give the airline a heads up ahead of time.)
All passengers flying with Japan Airlines get a pair of slippers – in either pink, blue or yellow – as a way to help travellers relax during the flight. Not only do you get to choose the colour, you can also ask for an amenity kit with a toothbrush, set of earplugs and eye mask.
Postcards, playing cards and writing kits
Over on Singapore Airlines, you can request free postcards, playing cards and writing kits. There is also a power outlet at every seat so you can conveniently charge your devices. And when you’re ready to grab a little shut-eye, request a free eye mask and set of earplugs from the flight attendant. Don’t forget to check out the complimentary toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, moisturizers, cologne and aftershave available in each lavatory.
Need a bit of extra help getting your kids settled or keeping them occupied during the flight? If you’re flying with Etihad, you can request a nanny to come to your aid. These nannies can’t take your kids off your hands completely, but they are able to provide extra care and entertainment. Every nanny is equipped with a goody bag of games and activities.
Blue potato chips
If you’re hoping for a snack upgrade once you’ve reached cruising altitude, you can look forward to a variety of free and generally healthy, upscale snack options on jetBlue. Here, when you ask for chips, you won’t just get just any old chip. Terra Blues are made from blue potatoes and have a slightly nuttier flavour in addition to offering a salty crunch.
Amenity kits aren’t just for those flying business or first class. Many airlines offer free amenity kits for long-haul flights. For example, Virgin Atlantic offers an economy amenity kit that contains eyeshades, earplugs, a toothbrush, hand wipes and a pen. On Singapore Airlines your amenity kit has a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks. If you’re flying overnight on jetBlue you can take advantage of their Snooze Kit and Eye-Opener services. The former gets you an eyeshade and earplugs, while with the latter you get a hot towel, coffee, orange juice or bottled water.
Kids’ packs and toys
Grown-ups shouldn’t get to have all the fun when it comes to free in-flight stuff. Some airlines offer kids’ packs and toys as a way to help keep the younger set occupied during the trip. Once onboard a Virgin Atlantic flight, kids will find a KiD backpack on their seat filled with fun goodies to keep them busy while parents get settled in. On Singapore Airlines travellers younger than 12 are treated to exclusive Cartoon Network collectible items on most flights to and from Singapore. On British Airways, kids are gifted Skyflyers activity packs on all flights longer than two hours from London Heathrow and London Gatwick. For children between 3 and 5, the pack contains crayons and a “Spread your Wings” colouring book featuring Cuthbert the Cat. Kids over 6 get a pack with a pen and “Wing It” book, filled with facts about flying, together with puzzles and sudokus.
One tradition that remains on most flights is beverage service. You can almost always get a free soft drink, juice or water. And, if you are headed overseas, the menu often expands to include free booze. If you find yourself in the main cabin of an American Airlines flight, you can enjoy a complimentary beer or glass of wine when travelling between the U.S. and Europe, Asia and select Latin American countries. United recently started serving free beer and wine to all economy-class passengers on flights to Europe, Asia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Porter Airlines offers free beer and wine (along with snacks) to all of its passengers both on board the aircraft and in airport lounges. Other airlines serving free adult beverages? Air Canada on international flights, KLM on intercontinental flights and many more international carriers.
When it comes to freebies, don’t be afraid to ask for extras. Most airlines, unless they’re running low, will comply with your request for a few more snacks or even an extra glass of wine. Most airlines will also hand over the full soda can when you order a drink. Just ask.
Featured image: istock.com/BraunS