“I Need a Checked Bag for the Weekend” and Other Adventures in Family Travel

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Team member Harlan told me how he used points to fly his mom to visit him in Dallas.  She doesn’t travel much.  And the idea of free travel was foreign to her.  I asked Harlan to tell you about their experience!

Harlan:   My mom is the type of traveler who only flies once a year – if that!  She had the idea air travel is expensive and hectic.  So when I invited her to visit for a weekend, I wanted to show her how convenient it can be!
I Need A Checked Bag For The Weekend And Other Adventures In Family Travel
I Got to Visit With My Mom – and Changed Her Mind About Using Points for Travel!

It wasn’t just flying I wanted to help her with – but checking bags, getting to the airport, and every step in between.  I had a project on my hands!  (Love you, Mom!)

Sharing Points With Family Who Don’t Travel

Link:   The Gift That Gives…Free Travel for Your Family!

During a recent Southwest fare sale, I noticed flights between Memphis and Dallas were going for ~$100 each way – a pretty good deal on that route.  I considered visiting Memphis (I’m based in Dallas) to see my mom.  But wait, I thought.  Maybe Mom would want to visit Dallas instead?

I Need A Checked Bag For The Weekend And Other Adventures In Family Travel
Dallas Is a Cool City. Who Wouldn’t Wanna Visit Here? 😉

She’s not much of a traveler.  And wasn’t sure about the idea.  But instead of giving up, I saw an opportunity to change her mind.  And made it my goal to guide her travels from beginning to end!

Here are a few of the things she learned.

1.   Mom Tried Lyft and Uber

Link:   Lyft

Link:   Uber

My mom was concerned about parking at the airport.  So I realized this was a great time to share a new way to get there and avoid paying to park!

She must be one of the few people who’s never taken a rideshare service to the airport.  She didn’t have a Lyft or Uber account.  Which meant I could refer her for free rides!

I Need A Checked Bag For The Weekend And Other Adventures In Family Travel
Get Free Rides If You’ve Never Tried Lyft or Uber

I guided her to download the app to her phone.  And she had lots of questions about the service worked, from scheduling a pickup to tipping.

But after she took her first ride, she texted to say how easy it was!  She may not catch a ride in her day-to-day life, but now she knows a cheap way to get to the airport!

2.   Mom Loves Southwest

Link:   5 Reasons to Consider Southwest Versus Other Airlines for Your Next Flight

The other concern was how much she’d have to pay to check baggage.  To begin, I asked if she could fit everything into a carry-on.  She was horrified!  “There’s no way!  Everything I need for a whole weekend?”

As someone who’s taken 2-week, round-the-round trips with one small carry-on, I tried not to laugh.  But some folks still like to travel with extra outfits and toiletries.

Not to worry – I’d booked her flights on Southwest.  She got 2 free checked bags!

I Need A Checked Bag For The Weekend And Other Adventures In Family Travel
Bring It All on Southwest! Check 2 Bags for Free on Every Flight, Even Award Flights

When I told her all she had to do was stop by the desk and drop off her bags, she couldn’t have been happier.  This was a huge concern for her.  Because she didn’t want to pay $25 each way ($50 total) to check her luggage.

With the ride to the airport and baggage concerns gone, Mom was beginning to look forward to the trip!

3.   Mobile Check-In and Boarding Is New for Mom

With Southwest, it’s crucial to check in exactly 24 hours before your flight if you want a good boarding position.  I sent Mom Southwest’s check-in page so she could get check-in and retrieve her boarding pass.  She was concerned because I paid for the flights with Southwest points that somehow they weren’t “real” tickets until she checked-in.

I assured her she did, indeed, have a seat on the plane – she just needed to check-in to get it.  And as an added bonus, she could keep her boarding pass on her phone and simply scan it to enter the lines – which she loved!

I Need A Checked Bag For The Weekend And Other Adventures In Family Travel
Travel Technology Was New for Mom – and She Thought It Was the Bee’s Knees!

This was just the thing to show her how much travel has evolved over the past few years.  And how many of the “little things” that used to be stressful are a thing of the past.

Putting It All Together

After my mom took a Lyft ride to the airport, she went to the Southwest desk to drop off her (free!) checked bag.  Then used her mobile boarding pass to enter the security line and to scan at the gate.

Upon landing, she collected her bag.  And I was there to pick her up!  When I asked her how her flight went, she couldn’t believe how easy it was.  She said my tips made her feel like a travel expert.  And what would have been a stressful experience for her was enjoyable!

To get back home, all she had to do was repeat the steps – and then take an Uber back with her free ride credit!  Now I think Mom knows why I travel so much. 😉

She’s not at the level where she needs to think about signing-up for Global Entry or getting an airline credit card.  But I think I can safely send her the beginner’s guide as some food for thought!

Bottom Line

Team member Harlan helped his mom enjoy a trip to Dallas.  She was concerned about airport parking, checking bags, and checking-in for her flight.  Harlan guided her to:

  • Take an Lyft or Uber to and from the airport
  • Fly Southwest to avoid checked bag fees
  • Check-in online to retrieve a mobile boarding pass

These tips helped his mom, someone who travels once a year at most, through her journey – and calmed her concerns.  Helping your family to travel is one of the best parts about miles & points!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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