If you serve (or served) in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, National Guard, Air Force or Coast Guard, we salute you. Now let’s make your travel experience a little easier.
Know All Your Options
We’ve gathered the best airline flight discounts and freebies (including baggage deals) and you’ll see them below; we also provide links to popular military-friendly websites for expert information and in some cases more discounts. We also offer some basic shopping tips that will help you save on flights even when no discounts are available. There’s also a rundown of airports closest to major military bases to help you as you price out your trip.
Discount Flights for Military
Important: Before you book a military discount flight, go to a comparison airfare site (like FareCompare) to see if the discounted flight is actually the best deal. You may find another airline’s regular price is significantly cheaper than a military fare, but you won’t know until you compare prices.
- American: They do offer an unspecified flight discount, but you have to call to book it.
- Delta: They do offer military fares on select routes, and you have to call for this information.
- JetBlue: The airline has a “special military fare class for active duty military personnel not traveling on orders. This does not provide a percentage discount, but does remove any advanced-purchase requirements, which may result in a lower fare in the event that the advanced-purchase price has expired.”
- Southwest: The airline offers unspecified military fares, and those interested must call first.
- United: The airline offers a discount of up to 5% for U.S. military veterans, active duty military, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families; some restrictions apply.
Free Bags for Military
More and more airlines are offering free bags to members of the military and their dependents; in some cases, veterans are included, too.
- Alaska: Active duty personnel and their dependents get up to 5 bags for free.
- American: Active U.S. military personnel traveling on orders can check 5 bags for free (3 leisure travel) and military dependents can do the same.
- Delta: Up to 5 bags free for travel on military orders, 2 to 3 for leisure travelers.
- Frontier: We’ve seen conflicting information on this, and suggest you call the airline.
- Hawaiian: If traveling on military orders, 4 bags free (and same for dependents); 2free bags for personal travel.
- JetBlue: For baggage fee waivers for active duty military personnel, call 1-800-JETBLUE.
- Southwest: Military personnel get more than the 2 free bag allowance for civilians but unclear how many bags are included.
- Spirit: Active duty military get 2 free bags and 1 free carry-on; dependents are not included.
- United: Active duty military can checked an unspecified number of bags for free, as can dependents.
- Virgin America: Military members can check from 5 to 10 bags for free, up to 5 for dependents.
More Freebies and Discounts
You probably wouldn’t have thought to ask about some of these goodies.
- Alaska: Discounts for transporting the pets of military members.
- American: Active military members can board early on every flight; military in uniform get free access to the airline’s VIP lounges, the Admirals Clubs.
- JetBlue: Change fees may be waived.
- United: Military members get access to VIP lounges, United Clubs and may get cheaper pet transportation.
Websites to Check Out
Some of these are government or charitable websites; others are private. All provide information ranging from finding more discounts and sometime freebies to practical matters such as accessing benefits or finding help for a service-related problem. Note: Sites here are mentioned for the reader’s convenience and are not necessarily endorsed by FareCompare.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – official U.S. government site.
- Gary Sinise Foundation – The actor created this organization to “serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.”
- Military Wallet – A non-government site founded by a veteran who says, “Our goal is to help the military community better manage money and understand the variety of programs and benefits available to them.”
- Armed Forces Vacation Club – Before you book with this club (or any airline or travel group), compare prices for both flights and accommodations to be sure of getting a good deal.
Best Shopping Tips for Military and Families
You’ve already heard the top tip (but you’ll hear it again); here’s a few more.
- Always compare fares: A discount isn’t much good if there’s a cheaper flight on a different airline. Another reason to compare fares is that no single airline always has the cheapest fare.
- Fly the cheapest days: It’s not alway possible but when you can, try flying Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday which are usually the cheapest days to fly in the U.S. If you can’t fly both legs of your trip on a cheap day, try flying one and you’ll still save something (Wednesday to Sunday, for example).
- When in doubt, call: If you aren’t sure an airline you’re interested in has discounted flights or free bags, give them a call. Remember, it never hurts to ask.
Big Military Bases and Closest Airports
These are some of the largest U.S. military installations paired with the nearest civilian airports. Tip: Always compare fares from your closest airport and compare those prices with fares from the nearest large hub airport; the hub may be farther away, but it could also be a lot cheaper.
|Fort Hood, TX||Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport|
|Norfolk Naval Station, VA||Norfolk Int’l Airport|
|Fort Bragg, NC||Raleigh-Durham Int’l Airport|
|Camp Lejeune, NC||Wilmington, NC Int’l Airport|
|Fort Campbell, KY||Nashville Int’l Airport|
|Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA||Sea-Tac Airport|
|Eglin Air Force Base, FL||Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport|
|Naval Air Station, FL||Jacksonville Int’l Airport|
|Joint Base Charleston, SC||Charleston Int’l Airport|
|Fort Benning, GA||Columbus Airport|
Finally, we’d just like to add, thank you for your service – and safe travels always.