kids fly free: – deal or no deal ?

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The short answer is almost always not much of a deal. Let me explain why. Most “Kids Fly Free” promotions, whether they be to Disney World, Disneyland, or elsewhere, offer you one free child ticket per adult ticket booked with a vacation package (meaning hotel as well). The problem is that rather than charging the adult ticket at the best available rate, they base it on the full rack rate for the ticket. They also often require a minimum stay. Let me give you and example.

Alaska Airlines Kids Fly Free to Disneyland Promotion (from Feb. 19 – Apr. 15, 2011):
Restrictions include: minimum 2 nights accommodations and many blackout dates.

Option A: Using the “Kids Fly Free Promotion”
Number of People: 2 adults, 2 children
Dates: Thurs. Feb 24th – Sun Feb 27th
From: Vancouver (YVR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Staying at: Disney Grand Californian – 3 Nights – Standard Room (currently 35% off)

Total Cost for Air and Hotel =$2121

Option B: Booking best available rate on Alaska Airlines (4 tickets) and on Disneyland website for hotel
Number of People: 2 adults, 2 children
Dates: Thurs. Feb 24th – Sun Feb 27th
From: Vancouver (YVR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Staying at: Disney Grand Californian – 3 Nights – Standard Room (currently 35% off)

Total Cost for Air and Hotel = $2139


Total Saving = $ 18

Big deal. Slightly more than the cost of a glass of wine at the Disneyland Grand Californian wine bar.  That is less than 1% off.  Would that kind of discount ever motivate you to buy anything? Really, this is just an attractive looking marketing campaign.

Now, despite the above example,  I do not mean to say that there has never been a good “Kids Fly Free” program in the history of the world.  I only urge you to:

  1. Double check the price you are getting to make sure it is a good deal before booking with a “Kids Fly Free” promotion (on Expedia, Travelocity or directly on the carrier website).
  2. Only book it if it is exactly what you want in terms of airline, flight times, hotel and number of nights, and then think of all the things you can do with that huge sum of $20.

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