In this article, you’ll learn about the best ways that military members and their dependents can either travel for free or at a discounted rate. You’ll also get a look at additional travel deals offered through websites like Expedia specifically for military members and their families.

The information in this article applies solely to active duty US servicemembers and their dependents (where applicable). These offers do not apply to members of the Reserve and National Guard, military veterans, and civilian personnel unless specifically noted.

These are also US airlines as no foreign airlines offer military discounts to US military personnel.

In This Article:

  • How to fly for free: Space Available Flights for Military Members and Dependents

  • The List of Airlines That Offer Military Discounts (Includes Waived Baggage Fees, Lounge Access, Discounted Pet Shipping, and More)

  • The List of Airlines Which Don’t Offer Military Fares (But Do Waive Baggage Fees)

  • Other Special Air Travel Benefits and Deals for Military Personnel

Space Available Flights for Military Members and Dependents

Space Available flights, also known as Space-A flights or “hops”, are free flights on military planes for military members, retirees, and their dependents. Space-A flights are available from some terminals for Reservists and members of the National Guard.

The busiest military passenger terminals have the most available Space-A seating. Seating on a Space-A flight is never guaranteed. If space is not available for you and those traveling with you, you may have to purchase a last-minute fare on a commercial airline if you do not want to cancel your travel plans.

Priority on Space-A flights is given first to those on Emergency Leave. There are many other categories of individuals to whom priority on Space-A flights is given, so you may want to peruse the complete list to see where your specific travel needs will fall.

To determine whether or not you’ll likely be able to fly Space-A, visit the AMC Travel Site or contact the nearest military passenger terminal (a list of Passenger Terminals is available on the right-hand side of the AMC Travel Site’s homepage). The terminal staff will have the most current information and will be able to give you a better idea of whether or not you and those traveling with you have a good chance of scoring a free flight.

The List of Airlines That Offer Military Discounts

1. Alaska Airlines

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: not disclosed; specific military fares are available on certain routes.
  • Requirements for discount: Active duty military members on official orders
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes, but only on official orders
  • Advance purchase required: Recommended in order to receive the lowest rate (seven or more days)
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: Yes, in case of an official change of orders or deployment
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: Yes, in case of an official change of orders or deployment
  • Blackout periods: Yes
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Domestic flights only
  • Available to veterans: No
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel: 
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: Call Alaska Airlines at 1-800-252-7522 (1-800-ALASKAAIR).

2. American Airlines

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: not disclosed; American Airlines offers military fares in some markets for some dates. You can contact reservations for more information.
  • Requirements for discount: Active duty military and dependents with valid military ID
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes (with valid military ID)
  • Advance purchase required: At least 7-14 days is recommended
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: Yes
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: No
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Yes, depending on availability. Transit points are usually associated with military bases, posts, and other military stations.
  • Available to veterans: No
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel: 
    • Pet shipping: American Airlines offers 50% off the price of pet shipping for all active duty military members and their dependents. This discount applies to shipments within the continental U.S., Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This discount is available for personal shipments, not breeder shipments. In order to qualify, you must present proper military identification at the time you drop off your pet. You can call American Airlines at 1-800-227-4622 for more information.
    • Lounge access: U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform can enjoy complimentary access to all Admirals Club lounges as a courtesy when traveling the same day on an American Airlines operated flight. When you arrive, show your boarding pass for same day travel on an American Airlines operated flight and your military ID. Military members traveling in uniform may bring their immediate family (including their spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18 years of age) or up to two guests to the Admirals Club lounge with them.
    • Complimentary baggage check: If you are active duty U.S. military personnel traveling on orders, you may present your military ID and orders at the check-in counter and check up to five complimentary bags (up to 100 lbs and 126 inches, width + length + height). When traveling on personal business or pleasure you can check up to three complimentary bags (up to 50 lbs and 62 inches, width + length + height). If you are a military dependent traveling on orders, you will have the same privileges as U.S. military personnel when you present your military dependent ID and a copy of active orders.
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: Call American Airlines 24 hours a day at 800-433-7300 or contact them in another language or country.

3. Delta Airlines

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: Not disclosed. Military fares may apply to select itineraries and routes; to find out if a military fare is available for the dates and locations you require, contact Delta Airlines at 1-800-221-1212.
  • Requirements for discount: Active duty military and dependents with valid military ID
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes
  • Advance purchase required: No
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: Yes (funds will go back to the credit card)
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: A fare difference will be charged if it applies. There is no penalty for domestic flights. The penalty for changing or canceling an international flight with Delta is $300.
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Yes
  • Available to veterans: No
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel:
    • Active duty military members flying on orders can bring up to 4 checked bags (up to 70 lbs each), one carry-on, and one personal item for free; for active duty military members on personal travel, they may bring two checked bags (up to 50 lbs each), one carry-on, and one personal item for free.
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: Call Delta Airlines at 1-800-221-1212.

4. GSA City Pair Airfare

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: 74%
  • Requirements for discount: offered only to active duty military members on official travel
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: No
  • Advance purchase required: No
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: Yes
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: No
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Both foreign and domestic flights
  • Available to veterans: No
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel: 
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount:
    • Search the Airline City Pair database to look up airfares, which are valid in either direction.
    • Be aware that all domestic airfares include taxes, but not additional fuel, facility, and other fees, while international airfares include neither taxes nor additional fees.

5. JetBlue

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: not disclosed; Military Leisure Fare (MIL fare) varies by departure and arrival locations.
  • Requirements for discount: You must be active duty military.
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes (immediate family — spouse and children)
  • Advance purchase required: No
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: No; all MIL fares are nonrefundable.
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: Yes; all MIL fares are subject to JetBlue’s regular charges for changes and cancellations.
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Yes
  • Available to veterans: JetBlue has teamed up with Veterans Advantage to offer up to a 5 percent discount on their fares. You’ll first need to enroll with Veterans Advantage.
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel:
    • USO Airport Center access: JetBlue has a USO Airport Center at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The USO Center is a fully stocked center for active duty military and their families located in JFK’s JetBlue Terminal 5 directly across from baggage carousel number two on the street level in the arrivals area.
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: Call JetBlue at 1-800-JETBLUE (1-800-538-2583) or view their full list of representatives by country. In order to confirm the flight, you’ll need the name of the active duty military member, their branch of service, and their military Rank.

6. Southwest Airlines

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: not disclosed; varies by departure and arrival locations. You can call Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA for more details.
  • Requirements for discount: offered to active duty military members and their dependents (dependents must show their military ID if they are of age)
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes
  • Advance purchase required: At least seven days in advance for the lowest fares
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: Yes, on some fares (travel credit issued instead of a refund to your card).
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: No charge for cancellations; you’ll receive a travel credit under your confirmation number if you cancel at least 10 minutes prior to your flight time.
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Yes
  • Available to veterans: No
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel: None
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: If you want to book reservations utilizing the Southwest military discount, you’ll need to call Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.

7. United Airlines

  • Average discount off comparable commercial fares: not disclosed; varies by departure and arrival locations. You can call United Airlines at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) for more details.
  • Requirements for discount: offered to active duty military members and their dependents (dependents must show their military ID if they are of age)
  • Military dependents eligible for discount: Yes
  • Advance purchase required: No
  • Minimum or maximum stay length required: No
  • Refundable tickets: No (flights may be changed or canceled but the money will not be returned to your credit card).
  • Charge for cancellations or changes: Yes; there will be a $200 charge for exchanging tickets.
  • Blackout periods: No
  • Foreign or domestic flights: Both
  • Available to veterans: United Airlines has teamed up with Veterans Advantage to offer up to a 5 percent discount on their fares. You’ll first need to enroll with Veterans Advantage.
  • Other benefits offered to military personnel: 
    • Complimentary baggage check: Active duty military personnel traveling on official orders or for pleasure are invited to check extra baggage free of charge on United Airlines flights. In some cases, military dependents will also be included.
    • Pet shipping: United Airlines allows active duty U.S. military members and their spouses to transport their pet dogs or cats as checked baggage to and from international destinations on United-operated flights.
    • Club access: United Airlines invites active duty military members to visit their United Club locations on the same day they are traveling on a United- or United Express®-operated flight. Please present your military ID and your boarding pass for entry. Access is available to active duty military members only (guests are not included) and is subject to each location’s capacity and seating availability.
  • How to take advantage of the fare discount: Call United Airlines at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) or view their complete list of phone numbers to reach representatives in other countries.

The List of Airlines That Don’t Offer Military Fares (But Still Provide Some Assistance)

The following airlines — Allegiant Air, Frontier Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Virgin America — do not offer military fares or discounts on airfare, but each waives at least some checked baggage fees for active duty military members.

1. Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air does not offer military fares or discounts on airfare. However, Allegiant Air does waive some baggage fees for military personnel on active duty.

2. Frontier Air

Frontier Air does not offer military fares or discounts on airfare. However, we confirmed with a representative of Frontier Air that Frontier Air does waive all baggage fees for military personnel on active duty. A military member may show their military ID when checking baggage and check an unlimited number of bags with no weight or size restrictions. The Frontier Air representative to whom I spoke recommended that dependents traveling with a military member check their baggage under the military member’s name to avoid being charged for baggage. Only one piece of carry-on luggage is permitted, however, even for active duty military members. You can contact Frontier Air by phone at 1 (801) 401-9000 or visit the Frontier Air website.

3. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines does not offer military fares or discounts on airfare. However, Hawaiian Airlines does waive some baggage fees for military personnel on active duty.

4. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines does not offer military fares or discounts on airfare. However, Spirit Airlines does offer two free checked bags and a free carry-on bag for military personnel on active duty who present military ID.

5. Virgin America

Virgin America does not offer military fares or discounts on airfare. However, Virgin American does offer active duty military members to check in up to 10 bags free of charge when traveling on orders and up to 5 bags free of charge when traveling for leisure.

The List of the Best Air Travel-Related Benefits for Military Personnel

1. Expedia+ Gold Membership (Free)

  • Benefits:
    • Access to exclusive travel offers
    • 30% more bonus points earned for bookings
    • 24/7 dedicated customer service agents
    • Complimentary hotel room upgrades (upon availability)
    • Exclusive amenities at over 2,000 +VIP hotels
    • Access to member rates–an additional 10% off select hotels
  • How to take advantage of the free membership:
    • Simply fill out Expedia’s brief form and upload a document showing proof of current or former military service or your military dependent status.
    • Be aware that upon acceptance of the benefits of the Expedia+ gold membership that you will also be agreeing to receive promotional offers including military vacation deals, military discounts on flights, military travel deals, military travel discounts, and veteran travel discounts.

2. USAA Flights by Explore, Cruise, & Travel

  • Benefits:
    • Offers discounted flights through Explore, Cruise, & Travel
    • Book flights (as well as hotels, resorts, and so on) online with no booking fee (a $35 fee applies to flights booked by calling Explore, Cruise, & Travel)
    • Available to all USAA members, whether current active duty military or otherwise
  • How to take advantage of flights offered through USAA:

In Summary

Those were the airlines that give military discounts. Remember to take advantage of free checked and carry-on baggage, where applicable, as well as access to lounges, discounted pet shipping, and more. When you make the sacrifice of spending time away from your loved ones to serve your country, you definitely deserve a cheaper way to fly. Thank you for your service.