Budgets are tight when you're a student – think ramen noodles for dinner, washing your dirty clothes in the sink, and living with roommates. But one of the perks of being a student is that you can get a discount on tons of different things, from museum admission and sporting events to retail purchases and even flights. Yes, you read that right.
Several major U.S. and international airlines offer discounts specifically for students (or any young adult) that can help you save on airfare. What you get varies from airline to airline, but you can usually count on a decent discount on economy seats, a free checked bag, and flexible tickets if you need to change or cancel your flight.
And the definition of student is broad, too: While some airlines require you to verify that you're in school or show your student ID to a gate agent, some simply offer discounted rates for teens and young travelers in general. If you're in school or even just under the age of 31, there's a good chance you could save a little on your next flight. No matter how small, taking advantage of these discounts is a no-brainer way for younger travelers on a budget to free up some cash.
While by no means exhaustive, we put together a list of the airlines currently offering some kind of discount or perks for students and younger travelers.
Which Major U.S. Airlines Offer Flight Discounts for Students?
Planning a trip this year or next? United is offering travelers between the ages of 18 and 23 a discount on flights booked by Dec. 31. These travelers can save at least 5% on flights – if not more. And it applies to both flights within the U.S. and select international flights as well as some flights on partner airlines booked through United.
You don't have to fly before the end of the year, though. The discount applies to flights in 2024, too – so long as you book by Dec. 31.
There are some other caveats, though. First, you have to use the United app to book. And you can only use the discount to book flights for yourself – you can't book them for friends or family.
You must sign up for a free United MileagePlus account and add your birthday to your profile to be eligible for the discount. Then, open the United app, select the “Book” tab, choose “Discounted travel (ages 18-23),” and start searching for flights to your desired destination. If the flight is eligible for the promotion, you'll see the word “Discounted” noted in green below the fare.
While it's not the biggest discount you'll see on this list, it could make a United flight more enticing than flying a budget carrier. Every little bit helps, right?
Which International Airlines Offer Student Discounts?
German carrier Lufthansa offers what it calls “student fares” which allows college students to book flights at a slight – or maybe even significant – discount.
These “student fares” provide a special discount on flights, a first free checked bag, and the option to cancel your flight and get a refund for a fee – perks you won't get with the airline's cheapest basic economy fare. To see which routes offer student fares, you'll first have to verify your student status.
Start typing your college or university and select it from the drop-down list. You'll have to either log into your student account or upload proof of your student status like an acceptance letter or photo of your student ID card.
From there, you should be able to search for flights. The discounts are only available for booking economy. Flights offering student fare pricing will be denoted with a blue circle.
The discounted fares might be available for every flight, but if you find one that works, you'll be able to select the student fare – and see the price comparison – when you go to book.
The airline doesn't say explicitly how much you'll save booking a student fare, but a few searches revealed you could save anywhere from a few dollars to around 10%. If these fares work for your travel plans, booking a student fare is an easy choice – especially since you'll get a free checked bag and flexible cancellation policy.
These discounts are only offered on economy tickets, but there's not much lost there as the Lufthansa first class and Lufthansa business class seats are way out of most young traveler's budgets anyways.
You'll need to provide your student information in order to search for these fares on Lufthansa's website. And critically, you'll also need to bring your student ID with you to the airport to check in for your flight.
Air France claims to offer a student rate on its long-haul flights, allowing you to save up on some routes between the U.S. and Europe.
So if you're jetting off to Europe to study abroad for the semester, this discount could help you save on the flights to get you there. Plus, you'll get two free checked bags when you book the student rate and the ability to change your flight for free or cancel for a refund for a fee.
You're eligible for this discount if you're a full-time student at a college, university, or other educational institution between the ages of 18 and 29. You must show your student ID or other proof of enrollment at the check-in counter or to the gate agent to be allowed to travel on a student ticket.
To get the student rate, click “Passengers” and select “Student” from the drop-down menu while searching at AirFrance.com.
Finding flights with these student rates can prove to be a challenge, though: Our recent searches for a variety of dates and destinations in both 2023 and 2024 didn't yield any flights that had special student fares available.
Air France Youth Pass
Air France also offers children and young adults an additional way to save on flights with its Youth Pass. For about 49 euro (about $52) a year, travelers between the ages of 12 and 24 can purchase a yearlong pass that gets them up to a 30% discount on flights, the ability to change a ticket or get a refund, and one free checked bag.
When searching for flights, you should see the Youth Pass fare at booking. At checkout, you'll need to input the pass number in order to complete the booking.
If you're hoping to use the youth pass to save on a family trip from the U.S. to France, though, you're out of luck. The Air France Youth Pass is only valid on flights within France or on select routes from France flying elsewhere in Europe or North Africa.
European low-cost carrier Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) might just have every other airline beat when it comes to youth discounts.
Travelers ages 12 to 25 can book a youth ticket on nearly any SAS flight, whether you're flying within Europe or across the Atlantic all the way from the U.S. And the discounts can be enormous: 25%, up to 50%, or even more.
Simply select a “Youth Ticket” from the “Travelers” drop-down menu when searching for fares, and you'll see these discounted youth fares.
Exactly how much you'll save varies from route to route. For example, this nonstop flight from Newark (EWR) to Oslo (OSL) costs $850 roundtrip for an adult ticket.
Meanwhile, a youth ticket for the same flight comes out to just $408. That's a savings of $442 – over half off the regular fare!
But another search for roundtrip flights from Chicago (ORD) and Copenhagen (CPH) found you'd save about $162 booking a youth ticket.
You'll get an up to 25% discount on flights for children under 12, too. A child ticket on that same flight to Oslo would cost $85 less than an adult ticket.
Yes, SAS is widely considered a low-cost carrier. But in our experience, the service you get is still a step above the bare-bones budget carriers flying similar routes to and within Europe. And with discounts like these, the price just might be right.
Read our review of SAS economy!
To participate, you'll need to sign up for a free KrisFlyer account and verify your student status. After that, you'll be able to search for flights that are eligible for discounted rates.
Singapore says students will get up to 10% off economy and premium economy fares. The cheapest economy ticket on this Singapore flight from New York City (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) is $644. You'd save $46, though, booking as a student.
There's no age limit on who can take advantage of these fares: All that matters is whether you're currently a student. It also appears everything from short-haul to long-haul flights, one-way or roundtrip, are eligible for the discount so long as they're on Singapore-operated flights – not partner airlines.
If you're looking to travel to Asia this year or next, Cathay Pacific has a special deal for students so long as you book and fly before April 4, 2024.
Students under 31 can save on flights from Cathay's U.S. gateways including Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), and New York (JFK) to nearly anywhere in Cathay's network. That's true whether you want to fly nonstop to Hong Kong (HKG) or connect onwards throughout Asia, the Middle East, or even down to Australia. And the discount applies on both one-way and roundtrip bookings.
Simply apply the discount code “USSTUDENT” when searching for flights to see the student fares. While Cathay doesn't spell out specifically how much you'll save on flights, a few searches indicated you could save as much as 20% on flights.
Take this roundtrip flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG), for example. You could save $210 with the student discount!
Be prepared to show your student ID card or a letter of acceptance from your school at the airport in order to board your flight.
Want some free points? Cathay will give 3,000 bonus Asia Miles to travelers who book a student fare before Dec. 1. Just make sure you're signed up for a free Cathay Pacific account and input your frequent flyer number when booking your flight.
On Emirates, students between the ages of 16 and 31 can get an up to 10% discount on both flights to or from the U.S. and Canada – but only if you book before March 31, 2024.
Searching is simple. All you have to do is enter the promo code “STUDENT” to see the discount reflected in the price of your flights.
Flights that are eligible for the student discount are denoted with a small sun icon. The discount applies to both economy and business class flights, including the airline's fifth-freedom routes between the U.S. and Europe.
Here's what that same flight on Emirates' route between New York City (JFK) and Milan (MXP) would be without the student discount.
Students get other perks on Emirates, too, including additional baggage and more flexibility to change their ticket. To actually take the flight, you'll need to show your student ID or other proof of enrollment at check-in.
Emirates student rates won't save you a ton, especially compared to some other programs on this list – plus, Emirates is rarely the thriftiest option to begin with. But if you're eyeing an Emirates flight there's no reason not to take advantage of the student discount and put a little money back in your pocket for your travels.
“Joven” means “young” in Spanish, so it makes sense that's what Iberia has dubbed its discount program for younger travelers.
Travelers under 30 can join Iberia Joven to get 10% off flights between Europe and the U.S. You can sign up for free on Iberia's website. From there, you'll be able to search for flights. Only the lowest fares are discounted, but you should see the cheaper price right on the results page.
Traveling with a group? You'll save 15% on flights for four or more passengers.
It's worth noting that the discount only applies to Iberia-operated flights – you won't get the discount on flights with partner airlines like American or British Airways. Iberia says that “positive identification and confirmation will be required at the time of travel.”
These are just a few of the special deals and discounts airlines offer for students and travelers in their teens and 20s.
Knowing what programs are out there and learning how to take advantage of them can help you save on your next trip. Whether it's a few dollars or a few hundred, it can all add up fast.