Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
It looks like you're new. Click here to learn more.

Doesn’t hurt to ask: 7 things you can get for free on your next flight

“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” is one of the many sayings I live by. While there are some exceptions to this rule, it is mostly true and has served me well.

This is especially true when flying. Some passengers keep to themselves for fear of troubling flight attendants. But most flight attendants want you to have a good flight, which makes their jobs easier.

That said, you can often get the following seven things for free on your next flight. You just have to ask.

  1. Extra food and drink. If you’re extra hungry or thirsty, ask for two snacks and the entire can of soda. I’ve done this on occasion and have never been denied. Rumor has it you can even do this with international entrees, which my seat mate recently did with no problem.
  2. Headphones. While some domestic flights charge a few dollars, you can always get this free on international flights and sometimes on domestic flights just by asking with a smile.
  3. Cockpit tours. I do this often with my younger kids and have never been denied airline wings, cockpit photos, and meet and greet with the pilots, who have always been delighted with the request.
  4. Seat upgrades. This is hit or miss, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I say it works for me on average 50% of the time, which is better than 0% of the time. Exit rows are usually the easiest to snag when available.
  5. Pain-killers. I always bring a few Advil just in case, but I’m told that airlines always stock their own in case passengers suffer a headache.
  6. Bathroom babysitting. I’ve never done this but single parents can ask a flight attendants to hold their child while going to the bathroom. How nice is that?
  7. Entertainment. Many flights offer free entertainment, text messaging, and wifi now—you just need to ask how to access it, preferably before take off in case you need to download an app first.

Happy flying!

See also: After seeing this movie, I’m never complaining about air travel ever again