Hold onto your boarding pass, because it’ll get you onto the Yosemite shuttle-bus service at absolutely no cost

Matt Gross  – June 11, 2019 | Updated June 25, 2019

Let us point out the obvious: airline boarding passes are weird. They’re poorly designed, increasingly outmoded in the smartphone era, and apparently if you post yours on Instagram, criminals will hijack your identity, raid your bank accounts, and sign you up for endless Groupons or something even more nefarious.

Which is why I’m always excited when a boarding pass—a good ol’ paper boarding pass—comes in handy. To whit: This summer, when you fly United Airlines into one of the airports that serves Yosemite, you get a free ride into what may be the greatest national park of all simply by flashing your boarding pass.

The service is via YARTS, the giggle-inducing acronym for the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation Service, the buses that ferry visitors into the park from multiple locations, including from the Fresno and Mammoth Lakes airports. Normally, depending on your origin and destination, a journey might cost you $10 or $22, plus the oh so complicated rigamarole of, like, buying a ticket online. For an individual visitor, this is a nice little perk. For a group of explorers or a family of backpackers, however, those savings are significant.

There’s fine print, of course, though nothing dire. Your boarding pass is valid for 14 days, meaning you can probably use it to get both in and out of the park, and you’ve got until September 15 or 30 to take advantage of this offer, depending on whether your airport is Fresno or Mammoth Lakes, respectively. Oh, and forget about doing this on July 4, August 25, and September 28—because those days are free already!