Flight Discounts for Nurses and Medical Professionals: Do They Really Exist?

As the holiday season approaches, many travel nurses will be heading back home to spend time with family, taking time to go on vacation, or if you are working the holidays, you may be thinking about booking a trip home after. Whichever your circumstance, Stability Healthcare wanted to offer some travel tips for this holiday season and to check for any flight discounts for nurses or other healthcare workers.

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of flight discounts offered by major airlines, but we did find these helpful sites and a few tips to help you save some money.

Join a membership.

I started this article by looking at whether flight discounts for nurses really exist. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were times when major airlines were offering nurses and healthcare professionals discounted flights. When the pandemic started to slow down, so did these flight discounts for healthcare workers. Right now, there is not a lot or any through major airlines, but there are some healthcare-related memberships you can join that can give you discounts on flights and travel. Here are some examples of memberships.

  •  Heroes Vacation Club is an exclusive membership that allows medical professionals, teachers, police, firefighters, etc. to join. With their membership, you can be eligible for discounts or flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Registration is easy. You just answer a few questions. Then there are two types of memberships to choose from, standard membership, which is free, or their premium membership, for a monthly or annual fee.
  •  ID.me is a discount website for nurses, military, and other government and medical professionals. You can search for deals on flights, hotels, and merchandise. Many of the items purchased through the ID.me website will give you a discount upfront or cash back after your purchase. This is a great site to see what other companies are offering discounts for nurses.
  •  VerifyPass.com is another discount website that offers travel and other products at a discount for medical professionals.  

When planning your trip, it might be useful to investigate these types of discounts. You may need to verify your employment with a work identification badge or a work email when signing up.

Sites that Offer Discounts for Medical Professionals

In collaboration with the memberships mentioned above, these sites offer great deals and discounts for medical professionals. Deals are subject to change frequently, but these are what I found just recently.

  •  Priceline in collaboration with VerifyPass offers up to 60% off flight and other travel discounts for medical professionals. Priceline is a travel site that allows you to look at the prices of several different airlines at once to compare.
  •  Hotwire is offering this same type of deal through ID.me. Hotwire is a travel website that offers discounted airline tickets by selling unsold travel inventory.

Cheapest Sites for Booking Last Minute

If you are a flexible flier with nonspecific dates or locations, you might find these websites useful.

Blogger Colby Holiday recently posted about the 5 best websites for booking a flight when you have no specific destination. These included:

  •  Skyscanner. This company offers deals from smaller airlines that are not available on other sites but to get the best deal you have to be flexible with dates, times, and location. This would be good if you are unsure when or where you want to take your next vacation. If you have that type of flexibility, this would be a great site to use.
  •  Kiwi.com. If you know where you want to go but not exactly when Kiwi.com will give you the dates of the best deals based on the location you want to travel to. So, if you want to plan a trip home, but don’t have a specific time you want to be there, Kiwi.com might be able to give you a great deal.
  •  Kayak.com. Want to travel at the last minute? Kayak.com has a feature that will let you know the cheapest flights available, but you will need to be flexible about where you are going. If you are adventurous and find yourself needing a break at the last minute, this might be a good site to use.
  •  Skiplagged.com. This site works a little differently where you don’t focus on the end destination, but you look at the layover. For example, if you want to go to Atlanta, GA you might find a cheaper flight if you book a flight to Orlando, FL with a layover in Atlanta. When your plane lands in Atlanta you just exit the plane and stay in Atlanta. This works best with one-way flights. It is harder to join a flight on the layover. 
  • Google Flights. This is another great site if you are flexible with both your dates and destination. Google flights may also have competitive prices even if you are flexible with dates and destinations.

Tips for Booking Flights

There is so much information online about how to save a buck or two when booking a flight but is that information still valid? I reached out to travel agent Alicia Cooper with Live a Little Travel to see what the real deal is. If you need to book a flight to a specific location, these tips might be helpful.  

  • Book last minute? NO. According to Alicia, if you have a specific destination, booking at the last minute will not only raise the cost of your flight but you could be running the risk of all flights being booked.
  • Be Flexible with dates? Yes. While booking at the last minute is not ideal, if you are flexible with your dates, you may be able to get a better price. There are times when it could be cheaper to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday versus a Friday or Sunday, or flying a week earlier or later depending on the situation.
  • Book after the Holidays? Yes. Alicia explained holidays and summer bookings have the most expensive price tags on flights, but right after the holiday, prices tend to drop and gradually start going back up through Spring break. So, if you are hoping to book a vacation, it might be worth saving some holiday money and looking at prices in January.
  • Is Tuesday the best day to book a flight? Maybe. It’s not only Tuesday but midweek tends to have better prices than the weekends.
  • Pack your own snacks? Other tips from save70.com include bringing your own snacks to avoid the extra cost of eating snacks on the flight.
  • Bring a carry-on only? Baggage fees can also add up. Make sure to research what the baggage fees are for both checked luggage and carry-ons to avoid any additional fees at the gate.

Overall, the best thing according to Alicia, is to plan ahead and book a trip as early as possible, but if you find yourself in a last-minute crunch, work with a travel agent to help you in your situation. She reassures us, “Travel agents are looking at trips and pricing options all day long, every day!” They are a great resource to help you and your unique travel needs.

Tips for Packing

Checked baggage can add additional fees to your trip. If you decide to save some money by sticking to carry-on luggage, there are a few things you need to know. Travel + Leisure offers a few recommendations:

  • Size matters. The average carry-on bag should be: 22”x14”x9”. There are a few airlines that will accept 22”x16”x10”, but to stay on the safe side look for the smaller bag.
  • Check your weight. Many airlines have no weight requirement, but others do. Best to stay between 20-25 pounds or check with your airline ahead of time.
  • Personal items. Along with your carry-on, you can bring a personal item, but make sure this item also fits the airline’s requirements. Most of the time these are smaller objects that fit on your lap or under the seat in front of you, like a laptop or purse. Acceptable sizes can vary depending on the airline.

Tips to Remember

The holidays can be a busy hectic time for airlines, but if you are thinking about planning a trip this holiday season or sometime next year these are the key takeaways from our research on when to book, what websites to use, and how to get those nursing discounts.

  • Join a membership that offers deals or discounts for nurses and medical professionals.
  • If you are flexible with dates and destination you might be able to book an awesome vacation at the last minute.
  • If you are not flexible, plan ahead. You get the best deals if you purchase early.
  • Pay attention to packing. If you can stick with a carry-on to save some money, do so, but make sure you follow the airline’s recommendations on what is an acceptable carry-on.
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