Comprehensive Military Airline Benefits and Discount Guide [2019]

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US airlines offer a range of benefits for military members who are currently serving our country and for those military members who helped to protect and serve our nation in the past. You might be surprised by some of the benefits these airlines offer that can go well beyond a couple of free checked bags.

In this article, I will go over military airfare discounts and benefits given out by each of the major US airlines in detail and highlight all of the different types of savings available to you. 


Military airfare discounts

Most US airlines will have a small discount when it comes to flying with that airline. Each airline has a different program to get the discount, but I will go over what type of discounts one can receive if they are active military or a veteran.


Alaska Airlines

Special military fares are available in certain markets for active duty military personnel.

The special military fares are available to military personnel that is on official excused absence, discharged from active duty (travel must be completed within 7 days of discharge), and military reserves on active duty. Immediate family members (spouse, children, parents) are eligible for the special military fares.

The only way to book special military fares is by calling Alaska.

  • Reservations 1-800-252-7522
  • Hearing and speech impaired (TTY) dial 711
  • Accessible services 1-800-503-0101

The military passenger must present a valid active ID card or separation papers for travel within 7 days of discharge.

Family members must be a legal relative, present proper ID and docs at check-in. Dependents 10 or older must present a tan Uniform Services Dependent Identification and Privilege Card marked “active” at check-in. If the name is different, more docs are required.

Veterans and active duty military personnel are able to receive a 3% discount through Veterans Advantage. The discount is available on all routes (except routes to SCC), no blackout dates, no limit to how many tickets, works with one-way or roundtrip tickets, and up to 5 companions on the same itinerary. You will have to provide your VetRewards number during booking.

Did you know? While you’re in the air, show your military ID to a flight attendant for a 15% discount on snacks from the menu.


Allegiant Air

Sadly, Allegiant doesn’t give military discounts on airfare. However, Allegiant does have a bunch of benefits for active duty, reserve, and National Guard passengers that you can find under the benefits section of the article.


American Airlines

Strangely AA doesn’t have an official page for military discounts. However, AA does offer airfare discounts to active duty personnel and their dependents on select routes. You will have to call AA to receive the discount and have proper documentation ready.

  • Reservations 1-800-433-7300
  • Hearing and speech impaired (TTY) dial 711

Delta Airlines

Only available for active duty military personnel, Delta has special discounts on fares. The fares are subject to availability and you have to call the Military and Government Desk M-F 8:30 to 17:30 EST 1-800-325-1771.

If there is a war-injured immediate family member or domestic partner, aka medical emergency, then immediate family such as spouses, domestic partners, children, parents, siblings, step-siblings, stepchildren, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and laws are eligible for medical emergency fares by calling the Military and Government Desk.


Frontier Airlines

Sadly, Frontier doesn’t give military discounts on airfare. However, Frontier does have a bunch of benefits for active duty passengers flying with them that I wrote about under the benefits section of the article.


Hawaiian Airlines

For anyone enrolled in Veterans Advantage, you are eligible for a 5% discount on any Hawaiian flight. This means U.S. Active Duty Military, Retired Military, Veterans, National Guard and Reserve, and families are eligible for the discount.

One can book directly through the private link found on the Veterans Advantage website. Book any number of tickets without limitations, but mainland flights might be subject to blackout dates that changes each year. It’s best to check their terms and conditions on the link above for details regarding blackout dates.


JetBlue Airlines

Military Leisure Travel (MIL fares) is exclusively for active duty military personnel and their immediate family (spouse or children). The discount will give you 5% discount off the base fare. The fare is only available on regular JetBlue fares M, R, or V. Once those fares are gone, the MIL fare won’t exist anymore. Proof of name, branch of service, and military rank is needed to confirm the flight.

The MIL fare is only available if you call JetBlue.

  • Reservations 1-800-538-2583
  • Hearing and speech impaired (TTY) dial 711

U.S. Active Duty Military, Retired Military, Veterans, National Guard and Reserve, and family members enrolled in the Veterans Advantage can receive a 5% discount off any JetBlue flight. You will have to call the JetBlue number and provide them with your VetRewards number.


Southwest Airlines

Southwest doesn’t have an official page for their military discount. However, Southwest does have a military discount available if you call Southwest reservations. Their discount is subject to availability.

Eligible active duty military personnel and immediate family are able to receive the discount. Proof of military ID and papers will be needed. Southwest’s phone number for reservations is 1-800-435-9792.


Spirit Airlines

Similar to Allegiant and Frontier, Spirit is an ultra-low-cost carrier and does not offer military discounts on airfare. Spirit does provide other benefits if you’re in the military as described under benefits down below.


United Airlines

Similar to other full-service carriers, United offers a military leisure fare discount. It’s processed similarly to government fares and subject to availability. It can be done online and a valid ID will be needed. Active duty military personnel and immediate family are eligible for the discount.

United also offers a Veterans Advantage of up to a 5% discount. U.S. Active Duty Military, Retired Military, Veterans, National Guard and Reserve, and family members enrolled in the Veterans Advantage can receive the up to a 5% discount on airfare. You will have to provide your VetRewards number at booking. The routes are limited to US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe.


Military airline benefits

Not only does military personnel get discounts with some US carriers, but you’re also able to receive unique benefits from airlines.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska loves the military and they show their love by giving out benefits to the soldiers defending our country. Here are the benefits that are for active duty military personnel and their dependents while flying Alaska.

  • 5 free checked bags (up to 70 lbs each)
  • No charge for oversized baggage
  • 15% discount on food during the flight
  • Get onboard early
  • Discount for pet transfer

On top of the benefits listed above, a few lucky veterans will get complimentary travel on spacial planned tours of Washington DC.

With any of these benefits, one must show proof like an active military ID at check-in.


Allegiant Air

While Allegiant doesn’t provide any discounts to military personnel, they do offer substantial benefits that make the flying experience easier.

Benefits for active duty or reserve duty and the National Guard:

  • Up to 3 pieces of checked baggage (up to 100 lbs each)
  • 100 lbs weight limit for checked bags
  • No charge for oversized checked baggage
  • One carry-on bag
  • Free boarding pass printing at the airport
  • Free seat assignments
  • Up to one pet in cabin free
  • Active military may board with priority boarding at no charge
  • Active military will not be charged a change or cancelation fee due to a change in orders

With any of these benefits, one must show proof like an active military ID at check-in.

Benefits for U.S. military veterans and spouses or dependents of U.S. active duty or reserve military, and National Guard:

  • 3 pieces of checked baggage
  • 40 lbs weight limit for checked bags
  • No charge for oversized checked baggage
  • One carry-on bag
  • Free boarding pass printing at the airport
  • Free seat assignments
  • Up to one pet in cabin free

All these benefits will be added at check-in to get the fees waived.

For veterans and dependents, you must have an ID that shows proof of being a veteran or military dependent ID at check-in.


American Airlines

AA does have a unique benefit for military personnel besides waived baggage fees. Active duty military personnel and dependents (or up to 2 guests) can access Admirals Clubs for free and all you need is your military ID.

For active duty military personnel and dependents while traveling on orders, you get 5 checked bags for free. While traveling on leisure, you are able to check 3 bags for free. One must present a military ID at check-in.


Delta Airlines

Delta doesn’t go out of their way to offer benefits like Alaska, AA, or United does for military passengers. However, for active duty military personnel while traveling on orders get 5 checked bags for free up to 100 lbs and a total of 80 linear inches.

While traveling on leisure, you are able to check 2 bags for free up to 50 lbs and a total 62 linear inches.

On top of free bags, Delta offers preboarding to military personnel with a military ID at the gate.

You must present a military ID at check-in.


Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines provides free checked and carry-on baggage to active duty military personnel on an unlimited basis. You will not be able to get your baggage fees waived online and will instead have to get your baggage fees waived at the airport.

This benefit extends to spouses of military members so long as the active military member is traveling with them and the bags are under his or her name. One must present a military ID at check-in or be in uniform at check-in to add baggage to the itinerary.


Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian airlines benefits for active duty military personnel and dependents traveling on orders get 4 checked bags for free, up to 70 lbs and 80 linear inches. Dependents traveling without an active duty military family member must present the orders at check-in. While the military personnel must show a valid active duty military ID.

Traveling on leisure, you are able to check 2 bags for free, up to 50 lbs and 62 linear inches. For leisure travel, this benefit is only for the active military personnel and not for dependents. One must present an active duty military ID at check-in.


JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue offers two different military discounts, but they only provide free baggage for active duty military personnel. For active duty and their dependents traveling on orders get 5 checked bags for free. One must show travel orders and DoD Common Access Card at check-in.

Traveling for leisure you would receive 2 bags for free. You must show your DoD Common Access Card at check-in.


Southwest Airlines

Known to not charge for bags, Southwest is the only US carrier that doesn’t have a waiver for military personnel just because Southwest doesn’t charge for bags.

Southwest sometimes allows active duty military personnel to board early. Most of the time, Southwest will call out for military boarding and usually the only proof you need is the uniform or military ID.

However, this isn’t an official benefit and some gate agents won’t call out military boarding. Your mileage may vary.


Spirit Airlines

As an ultra-low-cost carrier, Spirit doesn’t provide a discount for military personnel. Spirit does waive baggage fees for active duty military personnel traveling on both orders and leisure. Spirit will provide 2 free checked bags and a free carry-on.

All you have to do is present your military ID at the check-in counter and the agent will add the bags to your reservation. Do, not add any bags to the reservation online during booking.


United Airlines

While flying on United flights, active duty military personnel and dependents in uniform or with present leave orders or rest and recuperation papers can access the United Club lounge. As always, make sure you have all the support documents that make you eligible for entry.

On top of that, United will waive 5 checked baggage fees for active duty military personnel and dependents on orders. Those bags can be up to 115 linear inches and 100 lbs each. Dependents traveling due to orders are still eligible.

For leisure travel, United will waive 3 checked baggage fees for active duty military personnel and depends. Those bags can be up to 62 linear inches and 70 lbs each. Dependents traveling alone are not eligible.

Free checked bags are a common benefit for military members.

USO Centers airport lounge

Also known as Freedom Center lounges, USO Centers are special lounges for military personnel and families to enter free of charge.

These airport lounges will usually have free snacks, beverages, TVs, and seating. Each USO lounge will have different amenities. Sometimes the lounge will have video games, sports tickets, theater-style rooms, and neck pillows all free of charge.

Some USO lounges will accept retirees while they will certainly always accept active duty military personnel. You can search for these lounge locations here. 

Image source USO

Other travel benefits

  • If you’re an active duty military personnel, some credit cards have lounge access. Credit cards like the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum Cards will waive your annual fee as long as you’re active duty within the military.
  • This can save you hundreds of dollars on premium cards. You’re also gaining lots of benefits and value out of these cards like gaining lounge access, travel credits, bonus points, hotel elite status, trip insurance, and many other unique benefits.
  • Free TSA-Check is available for active duty military personnel and immediate family members. All you need is a Department of Defense ID. Enter in your DOD ID in the Known Travel Number field on the airline’s website during booking.
  • If you want to receive benefits while flying, it’s only available on US airlines. For example, Lufthansa charges for bags even if you’re active duty. Chose your airline wisely.

Final word

It’s nice to see airlines offering discounts and other benefits for anyone in the military. Probably my favorite benefit would be the fact that United and American Airlines allow you to access the lounge. Having a lounge benefit adds a lot of value since you can have snacks, drink, take a shower, and relax before your flight.

 

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