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Military personnel on leisure travel enjoy exclusive benefits that can save them hundreds of dollar per trip, as well as make the trip itself much more enjoyable. Perks like free TSA Pre-Check, USO lounges, rental car and hotel discounts and various airline benefits are all extremely valuable, but it’s important to know about them. No benefit is worth anything until people know about it. Today I’ve compiled a list of the various military benefits offered by some of the top domestic airlines.
Airline Military Benefits
Airline military benefits are extremely generous and valuable. In addition to discounted fares, the one benefit a military leisure traveler can typically depend on when traveling with a domestic airline is the ability to check 2 pieces of luggage for free. This benefit is generally extended to accompanying dependents. From there, individual airline benefits differ tremendously.
American Airlines (AA)
Out of the “Big 3” domestic carriers (United, Delta, AA), AA has the perhaps most extensive list of military benefits. The airline not only grants 2 free checked bags for service members and dependents, but also offers priority boarding. This enables the traveler early access to overhead bin space in order to store carry-on luggage. But what separates AA from other airlines is that it offers complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Extra- or Priority- seats, whichever are available. Simply present a military ID to the gate agent to receive the upgrade. Alternatively, a traveler can call the AA hotline when booking the ticket and request the military fare. The booking agent can then immediately assign the premium seat. Just make sure that the military fare is your cheapest option, it not always is.
Allegiant is another airline that separates itself from its peers as far as military benefits are concerned. The budget carrier offers highly discounted fares, but charges extra for services that are usually a given. Having a boarding pass printed at the check-in counter, for instance, costs a fee. It is this business model that enables the airline to charge far less for airfare than their main stream competitors.
However, not only does Allegiant waive the ticket printing fee for all service members, past and present, plus dependents, the airline also offers the following perks:
- 3 complimentary checked bags. Each bag can weigh up to 100lbs (the industry standard is a 50lbs limit)
- Free seat assignment
- No charge for oversized bags
- 1 free carry-on bag allowance
- 1 pet in cabin, free
- Priority Boarding (Active Duty only)
United and Delta Airlines
The two airlines’ websites are very vague regarding military benefits. The United website states that military travelers (leisure or official) may check additional bags free of charge. It does not specify how many, but it is safe to say that there is a 2 bag limit for leisure. Delta doesn’t mention anything online regarding military benefits, but it’s a known fact that service members and accompanying dependents can each check 2 bags free of charge with the airline. However, United does have one other benefit. “Active duty service members are invited into United Clubs on the same day they are traveling on a United- or United Express- operated flight.” (www.united.com)
JetBlue permits military leisure travelers and dependents to check 2 bags each. The airline also offers a military discount, but all it does is waive any advanced-purchase requirement. That could potentially result in a lower fare, if the advanced-purchase price has expired. What is noteworthy is that JetBlue donated JFK’s Terminal 5 a USO Lounge, which is exclusive to military personnel and family members.
Before you fly, check with the airline for military benefits. The list of perks with each individual carrier is sporadic and consistent at the same time. Service members generally receive 2 free checked bags, as well as some sort of reduced airfare. But there’s so much more; anything from a free seat upgrade to complimentary lounge access is a possibility. Happy Flying!
What’s your favorite airline military benefit? Any perk I may have missed? Please let me know in the comment section below or on social media.