Sure, you could head off to Vail and Park City with the masses this winter. But Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is giving families an enticingly affordable reason to set their snowy sights further afield—think reindeer sledding in northern Norway or spotting the aurora borealis from a frozen lake in Finland or Sweden. The carrier announced Tuesday that it has reintroduced its popular Kids Fly Free deal (or Travelers Start Young, as it’s been renamed).
Through September 27, 2019, when booked alongside an adult fare, children 11 and under traveling from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., will only be charged for taxes and fees on SAS-operated flights to select cities in Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. The deal applies to travel that takes place between November 1 and December 1, 2019, and between January 8 and March 25, 2020—the start and end dates have to be within those travel periods.
We have had our eyes and ears open all year for this deal, which debuted back in 2017 and has in the past been offered twice a year, in spring and fall. “We do not have a fixed schedule for this campaign. We like to try different approaches and see what resonates best among our customers,” explained Max Knagge, general manager for the Americas for SAS, regarding why this is the first time we’re seeing it this year.
Knagge said that the promotion is one of the airline’s most popular and that given “the overwhelming response from travelers,” SAS tries to offer it at least once a year.
The kids’ promotional fares are good for SAS Go tickets, the airline’s version of regular economy (which includes one free checked bag), and SAS Plus, the airline’s version of economy plus, with wider seats, extra legroom, and two checked bags included. SAS Plus usually costs several hundred dollars more, but kids’ taxes and fees remain the same in both fare classes. The deal does not apply to SAS business-class seats.
If you have some flexibility within the allocated date ranges for booking your travel and are looking for the lowest possible rates for the whole family, take a look at the handy Low Fare Calendar tool on the SAS website and opt for the least expensive periods.
Fares are calculated once you put in the dates, destinations, and the birth dates of the accompanying children.
Knagge noted that Scandinavia is a very family-friendly destination, with a decent amount of families traveling with children to and from the Nordic region. “We wanted to make the journey to the region not only simple, but affordable, too,” he added.
The affordability and family adventure aspect are something for which I can personally vouch.
In March 2019, I flew on the Kids Fly Free deal from Florida to Finland with my two young children (one of whom was still a lap baby) and my sister’s family of six, after booking our tickets during the fall 2018 promotion.
For my ticket and that of my two-year-old son (who had his own seat) and my additional lap baby, I paid a total of less than $700 for all of us to fly round-trip from Miami to Helsinki. The taxes and fees for the kids, which you still have to pay, came out to between $50 and $70 per round-trip fare for each child.
To put the value into perspective for an even larger family, my sister’s family of six (with three kids 11 and under flying free and paying only taxes and fees) spent a total of $1,900 for all of their round-trip tickets from Miami to Helsinki. That is the equivalent of just over $300 per person—the same if not less than it would have cost them to fly from their home in Tampa to, say, Denver for spring break.
Not your typical spring break
For our trip in March, we fought off the jet lag for two nights in Helsinki while polar plunging at the urban bathhouse Allas Sea Pool and by hitting the Amos Rex art museum. Then we hopped on a cheap Norwegian Airlines flight to Rovaniemi, Finland (it cost around $100 per person, round-trip) to the self-proclaimed “official” hometown of Santa Claus.
There, we were based in what will go down in history as the best Arctic Airbnb of my life. (Indoor pool and sauna? Check. Host who taught us how to smoke salmon for dinner? Check.) We spent the week snowmobiling across frozen lakes, ice fishing, skating with the local kids at the town ice rink, and even heading out on a reindeer sledding adventure in search of Northern Lights sightings.
Given the affordability and popularity of these flights, you may be wondering if they end up feeling a bit like floating school buses full of voyaging youth. Not really.
“The travel period is rather long with many options for when families can travel, so even though some flights might have more children than others, there are still mostly adults on our flights,” said Knagge. “We see families booking all of our routes, but Chicago and New York are where we have most flights and, naturally, where we see most bookings.”
The bottom line: If a foray to Scandinavia with your kids (or other young members of your family) has been on your short list of dream trips, you won’t want to miss out on potentially massive savings.
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Terry Ward Terry Ward is a Florida-based travel writer whose work appears in CNN, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and the Washington Post, among many other outlets.