How To Ski For Almost Free (We’re Not Kidding)
Skiing is a famously expensive hobby, and it’s only getting more expensive nowadays with certain resorts sneakily hiking up the price of lift tickets by demand. So, if I told you that you can ski for free, would you believe me?
Across the skiing world, there are resorts, airlines, and more offering you discounts and even free ski days. For the 2022/23 season, Alaska Airlines are offering free lift tickets with flights, there are programs across North America giving school children free ski days, and you can even ski on your birthday for free in some resorts.
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1. Fly High, Ski Free
Starting off with a deal that may seem too good to be true. There are a few North American airlines that are offering free lift tickets when you use them to fly to the mountains.
Alaska Airlines will fly you to some of the most amazing resorts on the West Coast where you can benefit from their “Fly Alaska, Ski Free” deal. With your boarding pass, you can claim your free lift ticket at one of 8 partnered resorts.
These include RED Mountain or Schweitzer, if flying into Spokane (GEG), and Alyeska resort via Anchorage (ANC). Alaska Airlines also accommodate ski/snowboard equipment, so no need to worry about bringing your skis along with you.
Whilst Lake Tahoe Ski resorts are no longer offering a free lift ticket with flights into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe offers a discounted lift ticket with your flight. Just take your boarding pass to guest services and you’ll receive a discounted lift ticket for use on arrival.
2. Seniors Ski For Free
Across the world ski resorts seem to have a shared respect for older people skiing, and pay this respect by offering those over a certain age unlimited free skiing.
Yes, that’s right, once you’re over a certain age, you can ski as much as you like in countless resorts. The age cut-off does differ between resorts so check out your chosen resort’s requirements.
In France, skiing for free tends to be for those over 75 years old with popular resorts such as Tignes, Meribel, Flaine, and many more, participating. In Canada, Whitewater and RED also offer free lift tickets to those over 75.
The lowest age for a free lift ticket that I could find was in the Cataloochee ski area in the US, where you only have to be over 70 to qualify.
You’ll find these concessions all over, and if not free, there’ll certainly be discounted rate
3. NHS Ski For Free Indoors
If you live in the UK and work as part of the National Health Service (NHS) then the widespread indoor ski slope, Snozone, offers a weekly free lift ticket. NHS employees can claim a free 2-hour lift ticket EVERY week.
Snozone boasts slopes with real snow in multiple locations across the UK, and all you need to do is show your NHS ID at reception to benefit. If you’re a freestyle ski lover then you’ll be happy to know that this offer still applies on their weekly park nights.
The snow park is shaped weekly and includes a variety of kickers and rails.
4. Birthday Surprise
There’s no better way to celebrate your birthday than cruising down a snowy mountain, and now you can do it for FREE! There are several ski hills offering you a free lift ticket for use on your birthday.
Big Bear, California, and Lookout Pass, Idaho, are two resorts offering this extra special birthday present. All they require is a form of ID to confirm your date of birth, and you’re in. Unlucky for those who don’t celebrate their birthday in winter!
Booking your ski vacation through a travel group or package vacation provider can not only make your life easier, but it could also save you some money.
Alpine Elements operate solely in France, whereas Crystal Ski covers many locations across Europe and even a few in North America. Their deals are ever-changing so it’s worth keeping an eye on travel providers’ websites to keep up-to-date, but generally purchasing lift tickets and ski rentals together will lead to discounted skiing.
Sunweb is another European travel group that is currently offering free rental equipment when using their services to fly to France. If you book your flights and transfer through Sunweb you will receive free ski, boot, and pole hire for the duration of your visit.
6. School Kids Ski For Free
Many ski hills in North America offer free ski tickets to local school-aged children. What a great incentive to get kids outside and enjoying skiing! These can be found all over, so if you’re local to a ski resort, check out if there are any programs for your little one. Here are just a few to give you an idea of what’s on offer.
SKI NY has confirmed that they’re once again offering Third and Fourth graders in New York state free skiing with their 2022/23 Passport Program. So far there are 18 participating resorts, with more expected to join the list.
Each resort has differing conditions and blackout dates but all require a single processing fee of $41. When purchased with an adult ticket the passport program allows children to ski for 2 days for free in each of the up to 20 participating resorts.
Ski Vermont’s Fifth-grade passport has been confirmed for this 2022/23 season. This amazing deal allows Fifth graders to ski for free for up 90 days with a ticket-holding adult. An initial $20 processing fee and proof of grade are all you need, and it’s even offered to out-of-state kids!
If you’re from Maine or New Hampshire then the Winter Kids App is for you! Costing only $40 annual membership for a family of up to five, subscribing to the app will give you free or discounted kids lift tickets, lessons, ice skating, retail, and more. A great choice for anyone local to Maine.
7. Epic SchoolKids Pass
The Colorado-based Epic SchoolKids Pass offers free access to some of the most in-demand resorts in the US, warranting its own spotlight in this post. It’s a widely inclusive pass as the program can be used by kids from Kindergarten all the way to Fifth grade.
There is no mentioned processing fee and provides kids with four free lift tickets per participating resort, including the likes of Vail, Beaver Creek, and Crested Butte. If it’s your little one’s first time, the Epic Pass also includes one free lesson and equipment hire!
Reminder: Be sure to keep an eye out for restricted dates and also note that the popularity of these ski resorts results in overcrowded pistes and long lift queues.
8. Work In a Ski Resort
This one may require a pretty serious lifestyle change, but for some, moving seasonally between ski resorts is a reality. And it can pay off! Seasonal workers of this kind are commonly referred to as seasonnaires and can come with some pretty great perks.
Ski rentals, bars, and restaurants tend to offer discounted rates to seasonnaires. Perhaps the most beneficial perk is discounted, or even free season lift tickets.
Providing a local work contract leads to a discounted season pass in most resorts and being employed by the ski resort can sometimes come with a totally free season pass e.g. Whitewater in Canada. This means a WHOLE season of skiing for free.
9. Learn 4 life
Red Lodge Mountain in Montana has released a brilliant program for all the beginner skiers out there. Their Learn 4 Life program is exclusively aimed at first-timers, it includes 4 lessons, 4 lift tickets and rentals included all for $299.
That isn’t all, once you’ve completed this program you receive a diploma, lunch voucher, and a FREE season pass for the remainder of the 2022/23 season.
A season pass at Red Lodge Mountain can be up to $1,199, so this is a huge saving and an awesome way to get into skiing.
10. Credit Card Perks
There are a whole host of perks associated with credit cards and discounted skiing may be one of them. If you play your cards right (literally), by choosing a credit card that offers great air miles and/or a card that offers points for ‘entertainment’ categories, your ski trip could end up paying for itself.
Lift tickets and lessons may be coded as entertainment by certain credit cards, for example, some Capital One cards will offer bonus points and rewards for such purchases. The same goes for mountain dining, where the American Express Gold card offers 4 points per dollar at restaurants.
Tip: If you’re traveling to the mountains by air, look into which credit cards offer the best air miles. After several flights, you may be able to earn enough to fly to a ski hill free of charge.
11. Buy Helly Hansen
The well-known and loved ski brand Helly Hansen is now offering free ski passes with selected purchases. When you buy a ski jacket or ski pants from their latest collection you can choose one free lift ticket from an amazing 24 European resorts and 33 North American resorts. An excuse to get some new great quality kit and ski for free, what more could you want?
12. Ski touring
Ski touring is great exercise and can allow you to explore untouched areas of the mountain, or take yourself up the mountain at sunrise to get the first tracks on the freshly groomed piste.
If you’re wanting to get up the hill even cheaper, then get a backpack that you can attach your skis to and boot-pack up. Again, great exercise, and no lift ticket is needed!
Key Things To Know
All of these deals will come with unique terms and conditions, I’d highly recommend looking into each option further to ensure it’s the best offer for you.
Many offers will have restricted dates, usually at peak times, when the offer is temporarily suspended, but all will be sure to clearly list these dates.
These offers and package deals may not be the best available price. Make sure that you do your research and an exclusive offer may present itself to you.
Tip: Booking last minute, being flexible with dates, and contacting smaller companies may result in even bigger savings!
There are countless ways to save on your next ski vacation, hopefully, at least one of them will work for you. Whilst skiing for free may be a little more difficult to find, keep an eye on exclusive offers and you may end up slashing the cost of your trip.