How To Get Military Discounts On Flights

The types of military discounts on flights vary from company to company, and of course, there are rules to follow. Some discounts are for flights, and others are for cargo. Some also come with boosted miles accrual with their frequent flier programs, and others even offer overseas flights. Sometimes you get free checked baggage, and that's all the discount you'll get.
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Table of Contents
    1. General Rules For Discounted or Enahnced Benefits Military Flights
  1. Who Qualifies for Military Discounts?
  2. What Airlines Offer Military Discounts?
    1. Air Canada Military Benefits
    2. Air France Military Benefits
    3. Alaska Airlines Military Benefits
    4. Allegiant Airlines Military Benefits
    5. American Airlines Military Benefits
    6. Breeze Airways Military Benefits
    7. Delta Airlines Military Benefits
    8. Frontier Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    9. Hawaiian Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    10. JetBlue Military Benefits
    11. Lufthansa Airlines Military Benefits
    12. Southwest Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    13. Spirit Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    14. United Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    15. US Airways Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
    16. Virgin Atlantic Military Benefits and Flight Discounts
  3. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) Offering Military Discounts
    1. Expedia Military Benefits
    2. CheapTickets Military Benefits
    3. American Forces Travel Military Benefits
    4. Free TSA PreCheck
  4. Buyer Beware Of Shady Websites
  5. Can Military Members get Upgraded to First Class?
  6. The Bottom Line

Our airlines are very much in tune with how appreciative the country is of our service members. After all, there are pilots, mechanics, and more working in the industry who came straight from a Military career. In fact, AOL Jobs named a pilot as one of the top 10 jobs if you’re leaving the military.

So it comes as no surprise that the airlines still find it within their budgets to offer military discounts on flights. We’re grateful to these airlines for recognizing all that U.S. military personnel do to serve their country.

The types of military discounts on flights vary from company to company, and of course, there are rules to follow. Some discounts are for flights, and others are for cargo. Some also come with boosted miles accrual with their frequent flier programs, and others even offer overseas flights. Sometimes you get free checked baggage, and that’s all the discount you’ll get.

To help you navigate the maze of military travel discounts, here’s a handy guide, including a current list of airlines and the types of benefits they offer. Most of the rules apply across the board no matter which airline you eventually choose for your travel.

Keep in mind. However, things change every day. What’s printed here may become old news by the time you’re reading it so always confirm with the airline that their discounts are still on the books and haven’t been retired.

General Rules For Discounted or Enahnced Benefits Military Flights

As you might expect, there are some rules to follow for your discounted military fares.

  • Must have ID Card or separation papers for travel within 7 days of discharge from active military service.. (New recruits will not have a Military ID yet)
  • You must be on Active Duty. Some airlines allow discounts for Reservists or active members of the National Guard.
  • Non-refundable rates, some airlines offer refundable tickets to the military at no extra charge

Who Qualifies for Military Discounts?

In addition to active duty service members, dependents need to be a legal relation of the military members, have proper identification, and those ages 10 and up will need to have a valid ID with “active” on it.

The travel industry breaks down benefits based on your status as a military member, dependent, or families traveling together. Another factor is your status as an active duty military member, Reservist, veteran, or those coming back from an overseas location. All of these play an important role in the discounts offered.

If you’re traveling on official orders for a PCS or TDY, explain that you’re performing official travel and give the destinations. Check with your preferred airline if any of the following describe you:

  • Active U.S. Military dependents traveling on orders
  • Active U.S. Military with separation papers
  • Reservists traveling with orders
  • Members of immediate family of Active military personnel
  • Discharged personnel
  • Military personnel traveling on officially excused absence

You will need to ask specifically for the type of discount that may apply to your military travel. When you call to inquire about airfares, be sure to tell the representative the specific type of travel you’re planning, your military status, and how many people traveling with you who are either military, military dependents, or in the other categories noted above.

Also, if you’re taking a family vacation, ask about military family airfare discounts for vacation travel to your destination and what other discounts might apply in that situation.

What Airlines Offer Military Discounts?

Air Canada Military Benefits

  • Air Canada gives perks to Canadian and American military.
  • Service members can check 3 bags up to 70 pounds each for free. This applies to active-duty and retired service members alike and doesn’t change whether traveling on orders or for leisure travel.

Air France Military Benefits

  • Air France is a member of SkyTeam and operates flights around the world, including to the U.S., the Maldives, and more, which can make its perks highly valuable.
  • Air France’s baggage discount for military members varies based on the type of travel and cabin of service. If you’re on orders, you and your eligible family can check 5 bags up to 70 pounds each when traveling in economy. If you’re heading on vacation, you — and no one else — can still check 2 bags up to 50 pounds each free of charge.

Alaska Airlines Military Benefits

  • Traveling with lots of baggage? Check Alaska Airlines first because their discount for service members is pretty impressive: 5 checked bags for free! Even if your spouse and kids get five bags too, provided everyone has travel orders.
  • Dependents are eligible only if on travel orders (usually $30 for first bag up to 50 pounds and $100 each for three or more bags).
  • 15% discount on food purchased during flight using a military ID
  • Alaska Lounge day passes complimentary for active-duty military on travel orders
  • Trained service animals travel for free with proper documentation. Additional pet shipping discount available on Alaska Air Cargo with military orders.

Allegiant Airlines Military Benefits

  • Active duty military personnel get up to 3 checked bags free.
  • No charge for oversize checked bags (usually cost up to $75, depending on weight)
  • One free carry-on bag, within Allegiant size limits (usually cost $10 to $75, depending on size)
  • Free boarding pass printing (normally $5) and free seat assignment (can cost up to $80 at the time of booking, depending on seat choice)
  • Up to one free pet in cabin (normally $50)
  • Early boarding.

American Airlines Military Benefits

  • Call 800-433-7300 for special military rates on travel.
  • You get five checked bags free if traveling on orders), and three checked bags for personal travel. You need to make sure they don’t go overweight limitations or size restrictions. Dependents of Active U.S. Military traveling on orders will be allowed to check up to 2 bags free
  • Their other military discount consists of a 50% discount on shipping your pets within the continental U.S. including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada…unless you’re a breeder. You also get a discount on Priority Parcel Shipments and Expedite FS shipments. Call 1-800-227-4622 for more info.
  • Up to three free checked bags at 50 pounds each when not traveling on orders; does not apply to dependents (usually costs $30 for the first bag and up to $200 per bag for four or more)
  • Military and police dogs are waived of pet charges if on official duty with written documents. Checked pets are accepted at the ticket counter for active-duty personnel traveling on orders.
  • Early boarding.

Breeze Airways Military Benefits

  • Breeze Airways launched in May 2021 and provides service to several underserved airports across the U.S.
  • Active duty military travelers receive either 2 free checked bags or 1 checked bag and 1 carry-on. You’ll need to show your ID to airline officials at the airport.

Delta Airlines Military Benefits

  • Delta has two different types of discounts.
  • The first is for reduced flights, and the only way to find out about them is to call Delta’s Military desk at Military and Government Desk at 800 325 1771.
  • The second is through Delta Vacations, which offers anywhere from $50 to $200 off flight bookings to any place “Delta Vacations” flies. That’s great because it includes overseas locations, too. Go to Delta’s Military Page on their website and submit your military email address. Then they’ll email you a promo code for your next booking.
  • If you join Delta’s Skymiles, which is their frequent flyer program, you’ll get extra miles, just for being a member of the military.
  • Up to five free checked bags at 100 pounds each when on travel orders (usually $30 for the first bag and $40 for a second)
  • Up to two free checked bags at 50 pounds each when on leisure travel
  • Pets accepted as checked baggage, up to two kennels per flight
  • Early boarding

Frontier Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

  • Baggage fees are waived for active duty military personnel, in the reserves, or National Guard. These include 1 free personal item, 1 free carry-on, and 2 free checked bags.
  • Discounts are only valid for service members — not their companions.

Hawaiian Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

  • Active duty US military passengers and military personnel who are retired or retiring, who have proof of official government travel orders, and their qualified dependents will be allowed four checked complimentary bags per person for coach/first/business classes of service when traveling on orders (usually $30 for first bag and $100 each for three or more bags up to 50 pounds).
  • For personal travel, active duty US military personnel will only be allowed two complimentary checked bags per person for coach/ first/business classes of service (keeping in mind weight and size limit of baggage. This benefit does not apply to dependents)
  • Military bag fee waiver will not apply to US military dependents on personal travel.
  • Up to four free checked bags of up to 70 pounds when traveling on military orders (usually $30 for first bag and $100 each for three or more bags up to 50 pounds)
  • Up to two free checked in bags per person (up to 50 pounds) on leisure travel (does not apply to dependents)
  • Veterans Advantage members eligible for 5 percent discount across all service classes

JetBlue Military Benefits

  • MIL fare product allows active duty service personnel and their immediate family (spouses or children) to fly on JetBlue.
  • Immediate family members may travel on a MIL fare independently if they present proper identification.
  • The MIL fare may be utilized for non-duty travel using personal expenses.
  • Up to five free bags per person for active-duty military and their dependents with travel orders (usually start at $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second)
  • Up to two bags per person for active-duty military and their dependents traveling for leisure

Lufthansa Airlines Military Benefits

  • For veterans, active duty service members, National Guard, Reservists and their families, Lufthansa offers a 5% military discount to Veterans Advantage® members. This discounted fare is for all Lufthansa or United flights purchased on lufthansa.com.

Southwest Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

  • Active duty and dependents are eligible for Southwest military discounts. Call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA for more information.
  • Special rates cannot be booked online.
  • Southwest waives ALL baggage fees for active duty (even if overweight or multiple bags) travel or permanent change of station orders.
  • A third checked bag is free for military members, whereas civilians pay a $75 fee. Same for the oversize and overweight bag: Southwest waives the $75 fee for military traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders.

Spirit Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

  • Eligible for active duty military only
  • Two free checked bags and a free carry-on, in addition to the already free personal item. Dependents are not included.

United Airlines Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

United Airlines offers a military travel program, which can be booked via their website.

Military veterans, active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families can use Veterans Advantage® to get up to a 5 percent discount on tickets for United- and United Express®-operated flights

US Airways Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

  • US Airways offer special rates to military personnel traveling on an officially excused absence and to discharged personnel within 7 days of discharge.
  • The military passenger must carry valid active duty identification or separation papers.
  • Military families may also be eligible for a discount.
  • Free access to the United Club airport lounge for members in uniform or with leave orders or rest and recuperation papers. Military ID, boarding pass and sponsoring documentation must also be presented (active duty military only).

Virgin Atlantic Military Benefits and Flight Discounts

Virgin offers active duty and retired, MOD Civil Servants and their dependents discounted fares to worldwide destinations.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) Offering Military Discounts

If you prefer to use an OTA (such as Expedia or CheapTickets), you may still enjoy some military fare and baggage benefits.

OTAs will only ever give you a discount on your actual reservation — not your baggage or airline lounge access. You are, however, still entitled to these. You’ll simply need to ask for them at the airport as you otherwise would; booking via an OTA does not change this benefit.

Expedia Military Benefits

Expedia’s military discounts aren’t constant. You’ll see them from time to time, but the site doesn’t have any ongoing benefits. You’ll need to check its website occasionally to see if any offers pop up.

CheapTickets Military Benefits

  • CheapTickets is a sister site to Expedia and offers a generous military travel discount.
  • Verify your info with Sheer ID (active duty or a veteran) and you’ll receive a 18% discount on your airfare purchase.

American Forces Travel Military Benefits

  • American Forces Travel is a website co-developed between the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) office and Priceline. To use it, you’ll need to verify your eligibility. If you are able to access MWR you’ll be able to get into the American Forces Travel site, which uses the info in your DEERS account for verification.
  • Discounts aren’t specific, but the service does offer some excellent deals compared to public offerings.

Free TSA PreCheck

A nice perk for service members is a free TSA PreCheck you get with a DoD ID card. You can the security line and save a lot of time.

Buyer Beware Of Shady Websites

While searching for military fares have you ever noticed the abundance of generic military-themed sites? There are a lot of unscrupulous operators online, so be extremely careful when buying tickets online, no matter how great of a deal you appear to be getting.

Here’s an example:

Website: MilitaryFares.com. Seeking a discounted flight from San Antonio to Detroit. They quoted $210.71, including all taxes and fees.

Next, I checked Delta.com to find the price for the same flight and it costs a whopping $668.10

Now, I’m interested and I want to learn more about Military Fares.

So like any internet savvy shopper, I want to learn more about the site. In the footer, there’s links to their Terms & Conditions and cancellation policies, both of which return dead pages.

I click the contact link and I’m provided with a number, (408) 500 0755. Unfortunately, no one ever answers the phone…

Finally, I begin searching for terms like “militaryfares.com scam” and “militaryfares.com reviews” and the results validate what my gut felt earlier… Feel free to take a look for yourself:

Can Military Members get Upgraded to First Class?

Generally, there is no official policy about upgrading to first class. Most airlines don’t have official policies on upgrading service members because they can’t guarantee seats always will be available.

However, military service members in uniforms often experience generosity at the airport with free upgrades to first or business class. Sometimes, these upgrades come from the airline itself, and at other times, attendants often offer uniformed service members available seats during check-in as well.

From time to time, individual passengers may offer to give their seats to service members,

Military personnel may have a better chance of receiving the upgrade by not only dressing in uniform but also checking in with their military identification card.

The Bottom Line

alling airlines is the best way to get up-to-date information about discounted fares and who qualifies for what. The travel industry is a high-pressure industry, subject to wild swings in profitability due to its reliance on how well the economy is doing.

Be very careful of third party websites that offer cheap flights for military.

To stay afloat, most airlines have done away with any “extras” they may have offered in the past: free checked bags, meals on flights, and more. Even bereavement fares are now beginning to disappear.

Fortunately, military discounts on flights can still be found with most airlines.

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