Airfare as a gift?
November 29, 2012 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to give someone the gift of travel? I think what I'm looking for is some kind of airline credit.

I am thinking of a Christmas gift for someone that really would like to travel, but has enough other money issues that they always talk themselves out of trips as impractical. I would be going in on this with someone, so we could fully fund a round trip ticket, but I would prefer to leave the destination up to the giftee.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Airlines offer gift cards. Is that what you are looking for? The only downside is the recipient would have to use the airline that you chose.
posted by signondiego at 9:47 AM on November 29, 2012


Airlines have gift cards, as do hotels, so do cruises.

You limit yourself.

The best way to do this is to create a pretty coupon, "Good for-One Trip with Me, you pick the destination"

Then force them to do it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure where you are but Flight Centre offers gift cards in Canada and Australia. They are located in the US as well but it's unclear if they offer the same.
posted by Snazzy67 at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2012

If you have miles you can give them away (that's what I do with all of mine). There are also miles cards and straight up gift cards.

Because the "official" gifting process usually has huge fees, and some of the cards are crap. (restrictions, fees etc)

I prefer to write an email or a personal card for 1 free flight.
posted by French Fry at 10:04 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think an airline gift card that covers a round trip ticket somewhere amazing would be perfect. While, yes, you'd be picking the airline, as long as you choose one that offers plenty of different types of destinations (especially international), I think that would be fine.

If you wanted to be amazing, you could find out if they have a frequent flyer scheme with any particular one and do that, but honestly, if someone wanted to pay my airfare to a destination I couldn't otherwise afford, I doubt I'd be all "UGH I got this airline gift card, but it's DELTA! UGH I HATE DELTA!" Just make sure not to pick Southwest or Spirit or one of those airlines that only flies a few places.
posted by Sara C. at 10:16 AM on November 29, 2012

Give an atlas. Say that this is part one of their gift, but you're waiting on something before you can give part 2. After they go through it, ask what place they were most impressed by. Surprise!
posted by bfranklin at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is an awesome gift! Can you give say an AmEx card or cash (or an IOU type card you make up, promising to pay for travel up to $xxx) and present it in a way that makes it clear that this is for travel only? I say that only because if you get a specific airline card then he is tied into using that airline and maybe not getting the best deal. With a set dollar amount for the gift, he can budget appropriately for hotel and car as well, so he could get the whole vacation taken care of and not be worrying about how to come up with the extra cash (I say this because if money generally is an issue, it might affect the trip). I think with the right presentation this could be great. Then you just have to force them to use the gift...
posted by mrs. taters at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2012

Given that travel paid by a less-traceable third party could be subject to exceptional scrutiny and general pains in asses, I think I'd just make an IOU and let them pick and you pay. I would just assume that if one of your tickets was paid for by gift card, there will be a little tiny red flag next to the passenger's name for the duration of travel.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:04 AM on November 29, 2012

I would just assume that if one of your tickets was paid for by gift card, there will be a little tiny red flag next to the passenger's name for the duration of travel.

Then why would airlines offer that service?
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2012

Yeah, I vote for giving them a nice travel book -- National Geographic's World's Best Travel Experiences comes to mind -- and a gorgeous card that says "I'll call you in 10 days -- you better have a destination picked by then!" and then funding the trip that way.
posted by AmandaA at 11:34 AM on November 29, 2012

When I had an American Airlines gift certificate, I couldn't use it to book online where the prices were a lot cheaper than booking by phone. This was waaaay back in 2006 or 2007, though. I would caution against using those if that's still the case.
posted by sweltering at 1:05 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time (about 8 years ago) I was given a gift certificate to a travel agency. They helped me book flights and a resort. Not sure if that is still possible but it was flexible and the travel agent was great.
posted by Sukey Says at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2012

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