Our airlines are very much in tune with how appreciative the country is for 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.
That ensures a close connection between the military and airlines companies. Hopefully, this connection also injects empathy into the boardrooms of the billion-dollar airline companies, securing the military discounts for the future.
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.
But hey, these days with all the rising fees, it’s nothing to scoff at!
To help you navigate the maze of military travel discounts, here’s a handy guide. We’ll start with general rules and what to expect as far as paperwork, reservations, and other set-up processes go. Most of the rules apply across the board no matter which airline you eventually choose for your travel.
Keep in mind. However, that 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.
We try to always give the latest info here on our site but travel news changes fast!
General Rules For Cheap Military Flights
As you might expect, there are some rules to follow for your discounted military fares.
- Must have ID Card. (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.
Various airlines offer military discounts to the following types of personnel, so check with the 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
- American Airlines. 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
- Alaska Airlines. 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.
AirTran. Like American, you get free checked bags unless they go over weight and size restrictions. Go over, and you’ll get hit with fees just like everyone else.
- Delta. Flying coach on Delta? You and your dependents can each check up to 4 bags free.
- Southwest. Southwest Airlines makes it easy for military to take lots of stuff with them when they travel. Checked bags are free for everyone, but a third checked back is free for military, whereas civilians pay a whopping $75. Same for the oversize and overweight bag: Southwest waives the $75 fee for military traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders.
- United. Feel free to check four bags if traveling on orders, or three if going without.
- US Airways. US Air allows Service Members and their dependents up to 5 bags, so long as their traveling on orders
American Airlines Military Discount
Call 800-433-7300 for special military rates on travel. 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 (of pets, that is!). You also get a discount on Priority Parcel Shipments and Expedite FS shipments. Call 1-800-227-4622 for more info.
Delta Airlines Military Discount
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. Their discount program is great because they’ll discount personal travel, in addition to travel for military orders.
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 Military. Pretty nice, Delta!
Lufthansa Airlines Military Discount
As a way of saying thanks to Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, National Guard, Reservist and their families, Lufthansa is offering a 5% military discount to Veterans Advantage® members. This discounted fare is for all Lufthansa or United flights purchased on lufthansa.com
United Military Discount
United Airlines offers a military travel program, which can be booked via their website…it’s not clear that there is an actual discount, but apparently it’s implied. Fares are for Military personnel and certain family members who are traveling on leave and who are using a personal credit card to pay for the flights.
Oh, no government credit cards…
Buyer Beware Of Shady Websites
While searching for Military fares have you ever noticed the abundance of generic Military themed sites? Well for your sake 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 Term’s & 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:
The Bottom Line
The main point is: calling 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. Luckily for you, military discounts on flights can still be found with most airlines.
We’ve seen the discounts start to get stripped down to bare essentials: case in point the airlines who simply offer a waiver on the checked bag fees and a symbolic military discount that doesn’t make much of a dent in your travel expenditures. But as you can tell from the smattering of examples above, there are still many discounts to be found you simply have to put in some phone time to find the one that makes the most sense for you and your particular unique situation.