San Jose Airport Offers Amazing Free Flights

Aloha. Well, I should be in Hawaii, but due to a couple of hurricanes the trip is postponed. Why must my islands be under attack?

Changing flights is such a pain. So much so, my significant other and I contemplated curling up in a wheel well for a few hours. But who knew San Jose Mineta International Airport provided free flights?

All those years counting miles and all I really needed to do to get a free flight was show up at my local airport. The silly rituals of removing shoes, standing in line, checking identification, removing liquids, and forcing some poor security screener to endure visuals that could cause PTSD symptoms—and all I really had to do was hop the fence?

No check-in requirements, no change fees, no luggage charges and I could bring my own food on the plane? Sure, the wheel-well is a little cramped, but I fly coach most of the time anyway.

Of course, my traveling companion was having none of it. That is until she saw the latest version of the San Jose’s ticketless travel program. Show up and hop on a plane of your choice to any destination. You don't even need a boarding pass. Just follow a very large family into the security line and board.

We always wondered why Airlines charged "change" fees.  Now we know. We are subsidizing the ticketless traveler.

But the airlines aren't without a heart. Hawaiian Airlines publicly offered to waive change fees for people scheduled to travel during hurricane Iselle, which should be hitting the islands today. But after waiting an hour and 51 minutes on hold, my reservation rep informed me she could only waive the fees if we rebooked before Aug. 12.

Noting that hurricane Julio was supposed to arrive 72 hours after Iselle, I informed her that traveling to Hawaii during Julio would not be prudent. She informed me that it would be $200 per person to change flights. Obviously, Julio was not on their radar. Mahalo to you, too. The representatives are nothing if not polite.

Being traditionalist, we opted for real tickets. We rebooked at a later date and paid the change fees. My significant other still refused the wheel-well idea. It was either $400 or stow away on a container ship and travel alone.

After posting our displeasure on Facebook, we were contacted by Hawaiian Airlines, which cheerfully expressed an interest in looking into the matter. So far, no resolution.

It may sound strange, but next time we are going to Hawaii via Alaska ... Airlines. And to be on the safe side, we’ll fly out of Oakland instead of SJC.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.


  1. Poor Rich, tropical vacationing can be ever so taxing… I’m willing to bet the TSA, Southwest and Hawaiian employees you slyly belittle aren’t as privileged as you. If there’s any justice in the world, FaceBook complaining will result in a well connected, politically savvy attorney getting his way. Hope the weather improves for your jaunt to a tropical paradise, Esquire.

  2. As opposed to getting ripped off–absolutely. But it is not the employees I have an issue with in either case, it is the corporate policies and a TSA security system that gives the illusion of protection. That’s not the employees fault.


  3. SJC’s moron PR flack who said the woman who got through screening and on a plane without a ticket did not constitute a security breach should be terminated immediately. Clearly she is clueless.

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