How to fly to Disney World for free: Money-saving tips

in Disney, Travel, Walt Disney World

disney world parks

Credit: Disney

If you’re anything like us, you love everything Disney. And a magical Disney vacation is at the top of pretty much every fan’s bucket list — whether you’re dreaming of your first Disney trip or your 50th.

But traveling can be expensive and the costs can add up really quickly — especially if you’re not traveling to Disney World alone. So we’ve put together some helpful tips when it comes to saving money on flights to Walt Disney World (including how you can fly for free).

Use credit card rewards points

Perhaps one of the most popular ways to fly to Walt Disney World (or other Disney destinations) for free is by signing up for a credit card with a great signing bonus or rewards program.

southwest airlines
Credit: USA Today

One example of a fantastic credit card that can get you free flights to Walt Disney World is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards. According to the official Southwest Airlines website, this card allows cardholders to earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, you earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the first year. To put it in perspective, 40,000 points can be worth well over $400 in free flights. And depending on where you live, that can be a free round-trip flight to Orlando!

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards can also get you a Companion Pass, which allows you to bring one other person with you for free when you fly. You can read all about this credit card here.

Disney Visa Cardmember
Credit: Disney

The Disney Visa can also save you a lot of money on a Disney vacation, as you get Disney Reward Points back on Disney purchases and non-Disney purchases. You can definitely use your reward points toward flights (as well as hotel stays!), so this one you can look into if the Southwest card isn’t your first choice. You can read all about the Disney Visa here.

Fly frequently and redeem miles

orlando international airport
Credit: Orlando International Airport

There are plenty of airlines that offer terrific mileage rewards programs. If you are someone who flies frequently (or you recently became a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder and you’ll be flying to the parks more frequently) then you’ve got to look into committing to a particular airline and racking up those points.

Of course, some airlines offer better rewards than others, so it’s important to do your research to figure out the best airline to commit to. One way to decide is by checking for an airline that offers the most flights from your home airport to MCO. That’s a great place to start!

Get bumped from your flight

orlando international airport planes
Credit: Orlando International Airport

Okay, so this isn’t the most exciting option (in fact, it’s pretty nerve-wracking), but some travelers sweat by it.

“Get bumped when a flight is overbooked,” advises Mark McKay, a senior project manager at passport expediting firm the Passport Office, in an interview with USA Today.

You can intentionally get “bumped” from a full flight by selecting to fly on a popular route during a busy time — like from LAX, DFW, or JFK to MCO on a Friday. Of course, you’ll want to book this popular flight while willing to get “bumped,” so don’t be disappointed whether or not you actually make it on the popular flight.

If the flight is overbooked, the gate agent will likely ask for volunteers to take the next flight. That’s where you come in. If the airline accepts your offer to volunteer to get on the next flight, they will rebook you and issue a voucher for a free flight.

If the airline can’t find volunteers, there’s a chance you will be “bumped,” a.k.a. you will be involuntarily denied boarding. USA Today reports that federal regulations require airlines to rebook you on the next available flight and pay up to four times the one-way value of your flight, up to $1,350.

This is really a game of chance, but if you’re willing to play it could be worth it.

Work with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Tree of Life, Tower of Terror, EPCOT ball, Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

Okay, so working with a travel agent won’t always guarantee you free flights, but it will for sure help you save money. Authorized Disney Vacation Planners (like our go-tos at Academy Travel) are some of the most knowledgeable sources when it comes to planning a Disney vacation. From having access to the best Disney World discounts to knowing the ins and outs of booking affordable flights, they’ve got you covered.

Click here for a free, no-obligation quote from Academy Travel to start planning the (affordable) Disney vacation of your dreams.

Have you ever flown to Walt Disney World for free? Share your money-saving tips in the comments!

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