Help us get home for the holidays

Thanksgiving is hands-down the best holiday there is. I don’t need red and green presents or a basket of pastel Easter eggs — just give me a turkey dinner and a room full of family and I’m over the moon.

When you’re away at college, the prospects of a home-cooked meal and hugs from relatives are all the more appetizing, which is why it breaks my heart that some students don’t get to go home for Thanksgiving. My solution is simple: More airlines should offer college student discounts.

While there are airlines that offer student discounts through third parties, there are no airlines that directly offer discounts. American Airlines partners with Student Universe, but these “cheap” flights often run either late at night or early in the morning and are hard to fit into a college student’s busy schedule.

Baylor boasts an incredibly diverse population, with students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. While many of my classmates hail from Houston, Dallas or San Antonio, many are also from out of state, which means that home is not just a two-hour drive in Texas traffic — home is a two-hour drive in Texas traffic to the nearest airport, with a two-plus-hour flight across the country that could cost upwards of $300.

Being from Phoenix, Ariz., I am well aware that flying home on the weekends is a luxury that many students can only afford once or twice a semester. And while the college experience is most definitely a journey laced with independence and finding yourself, that should not mean that you have to miss out on family gatherings simply because you live a thousand miles away.

Now, I’m not implying that you should head home for every sibling’s soccer game or aunt’s birthday. I am, however, implying that students should be able to enjoy Thanksgiving and fall break with family and friends back home despite the ridiculous amount of money airlines charge for a round-trip ticket.

Many companies understand the struggle and cost of being a college student — Amazon offers students free two-day shipping, Apple supplies a price cut on their laptops when it’s time for back-to-school shopping and the New York Times gives students digital subscriptions at a fraction of their normal price. Other businesses get it, so why don’t airlines?

Even if just one airline started offering student discounts directly to customers at reasonable times of the day, imagine the revenue they would bring in. Students across America, if not the world, would fly with no one but that airline, and the money would be continuously flowing in.

The best part is that no one would have to spend Thanksgiving stuck in their dorm room munching on cold Kentucky Fried Chicken and lumpy mashed potatoes, envisioning their father’s roasted herb turkey and their grandma’s famous pecan pie.

I know several students who will not be spending Thanksgiving with their families simply because the airfare is too costly, and it’s close enough to Christmas break that many parents can’t justify another pricy plane ticket in such a short time span.

I’m not saying that if a round-trip ticket is $400, an airline should start passing out seats at $100 apiece to the nearest university. Even a $50 discount would tremendously help students who are already selling their souls to get a quality education.

Perhaps airlines that reward frequent fliers with miles or points could even adopt Starbucks’ method of “double stars day.” The Wednesday before Thanksgiving or two weeks before Christmas could be “double miles day.” This would be a break for sleep-deprived college students sprinting across the airport, away from finals and dining halls and dismal dorms and toward their own bed and mom’s cooking and the happiness of home.