Airline scratch cards – what are the odds?

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Have you ever been tempted by an airline scratch card? It’s difficult not to be when you are held confined, bored and restless on a plane for at least an hour. The airlines are fully aware of this too. The sales techniques they employ to hawk their branded scratch cards are very persuasive too. For softies, the charity appeal pulls at the heartstrings. Whereas for the financially minded the chance of winning back the cost of your holiday is very appealing.

What are the odds?

In most cases, the actual odds of winning something on an airline scratch card are quite high. If you are chasing the top prize your odds are significantly reduced.  Not quite as bad as the top National Lottery which is 1 in 8,145,060, winning the grand prizes on offer from scratch cards can be almost as hard. Scratch cards can legally remain on sale despite the big prize having already been claimed. Or they may be subject to very specific small print regulations. The chances of winning the €1m prize from the Ryanair scratch card after you have been declared a winner is further reduced by a second draw with a 1 in 125 chance winning the top prize. 

Despite the Ryanair jackpot remaining unclaimed for five years, other prizes have been won by customers. Cars and cash prizes of an estimated value of  €1,500,000 have been claimed. So if you are happy to win any prize, then the odds of winning something aren’t too bad. Similar to the National lottery scratch cards one ticket will give you a 3% chance of winning a prize whereas 4 tickets will provide an inflated 12% chance of striking lucky. 146 tickets will give you a 99% chance of winning a prize but you could be wasting your hard earned cash for a £2 payout or another card. With the recent Thomas Cook Winning Wings Game Card ‘buy one, get one free’ promotion you automatically double your chances for a £1. 

Are you likely to win?

If you are serious about winning and not just buying an airline scratch card to be charitable then read the small print. Check the websites for previous winners or engage the staff and pump them for this information. If there has been a recent jackpot winner there isn’t any point handing over the last of your holiday cash. Another tip is to buy a cluster of 4 or 5 scratch cards all at once. This increases your chance of choosing the winning card than if you buy the same number of scratch cards seperately at different occasions on different planes.

Is it all above board?

A portion of funds from the Thomas Cook Winning Wings scratch cards goes towards children charities to promote wellness & wellbeing, education and disasters & emergencies. Well-known charities such as Save the Children, The Red Cross and Alder Hey are recipients. In 2015 TUI UK & Ireland claim to have raised over  £1.25m for the Family Holiday Association, Born Free Foundation, and local charities, but this was not from scratch card income alone.

In 2013 a reporter for the Independent launched an investigation into the Ryanair scratch cards. He uncovered the shocking facts that 16 million euro worth of scratch cards were sold, but only 0.3% of this income (55,000 euro) was donated to the nominated charities. 

At the end of the day, scratch cards on airlines are like any other form of gambling. They are a game of luck.  But if your motivation is to be more charitable, then save your spare change for the in-flight bucket collection instead. Then you can ensure your cash will be directly donated.

Posted by Sam Stone

Sam Stone

Sam has been involved in the creative arts industries for over twenty-five years in both France and the UK, working with a variety of specialised businesses and publishers. She is a freelance writer, whose work includes travel blogs, web content and script writing.

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