Commercial & Non-DoD
- As of November 2019 -
For military families, spending time together is a precious commodity, but planning a great vacation without breaking the bank can be a daunting, time-consuming task. Navigating the various websites and finding legitimate deals that apply to members of the armed forces can be a real challenge, but there are real and insightful resources out there if you know where to look. You deserve to give your families a dream vacation without missing out on great savings and benefits that will allow you to travel without added worry or stress.
Throughout our great nation, there is a supportive community of businesses and organizations that show their gratitude to our vets, retirees, and dependents by offering discounted services and special programs that help make travel easier and more affordable for our military families. From commercial airlines to cruise lines...from resorts to national parks, these companies offer a variety of some of the best deals, a few little-known advantages, and lots of great resources that are available to help our military meet their travel needs. Spend more time relaxing and enjoying your vacation time and less time stressing over costs, fees, and itineraries.
Active duty military, reservists, members of the National Guard, and DoD civilian employees are eligible for free TSA Precheck at over 100 airports. This a great timesaver when traveling as it allows you to bypass longer security lines without having to remove your shoes or take out electronic equipment as you move through the security screening. All you need to utilize this service is enter your government DoD 10-digit ID number from the back of your Common Access Card (CAC) when making airline reservations. Dependents age 12 and under may also proceed through TSA Precheck screening when traveling with their eligible family member. Unfortunately, retirees and older dependents are not eligible for free TSA PreÖ since they do not undergo routine backgrounds checks as part of their employment, but they can register for the same expedited screening benefits online with the TSA for a fee.
Most major domestic airlines have great benefits that active duty military and their dependents can take advantage of. You will have to call the airline directly when making reservations in order to get information on military rates offered for specific flights; however, you will find that the military rates are usually higher than the published rates online. Airline agents confirmed that you will see an average savings of $41 per fare when booking online at the regular rate unless you are traveling on short notice and then the military fare may be significantly less than published fares.
There are many other advantages offered by most airlines that will save you money and give you added comfort and peace of mind as you travel, such as free checked baggage, priority boarding, and discounts on pet travel. Here are a few of the extra perks you can find for our military members and their families:
Alaska Airlines: 15% discount on in-flight food purchases and a host of special programs that include the Alaska Air Fallen Soldiers Program to pay proper tribute to our fallen heroes, the Heroes Mileage Program where members can donate their unused air miles to our nation’s heroes, and work in close partnership with the Honor Flight Network to provide complementary travel to Washington, DC, for vets being honored on special tours. 1-800-252-7522
American: Admirals Club access for active duty military traveling in uniform and free seat upgrades when you check in at their kiosk and the Miles for Our Heroes program to assist organizations that work with vets. 1-800-433-7300
Delta: Offer Military Medical Travel for immediate family members and domestic partners of war-injured family and has a direct phone number to their Military/Government Help Desk with agents specializing in military travel discounts. 1-800-325-1771
Hawaiian: No service fees charged on refunded military fares. 1-800-367-5320
Jet Blue: Servicemembers who are enrolled in the Jet Blue TruBlue mileage program will also earn points on discounted travel booked with the Veteran’s Advantage program and Jet Blue has donated a fully stocked USO office at New York’s JFK Airport. 1-800-JETBLUE
Southwest: Honors military fares for dependents not traveling with their active duty service member. 1-800-I-FLY-SWA
United: Active Duty military and traveling family members have access to United Club Lounges and they provide the PetSafe program for military families transporting pets on PCS orders in and out of international destinations. 1-800-UNITED-1
Veteran’s Advantage: In addition to all the benefits listed above and club access, Alaska, Jet Blue, Southwest, Hawaiian, Lufthansa, and United are participants in the Veteran’s Advantage Program that gives enrolled active duty, retirees, guardsmen, veterans and their families 5% discounts on flights for up to 5 companions, discounts on travel insurance, and savings with over 300 partner companies that include Verizon, Hertz, Choice Hotels, Lufthansa Air, Universal Orlando Resort and many more.
Always take advantage of mileage and points programs offered by airlines and resorts. Even when traveling on orders, you can earn points that you can use towards personal travel for you and your family which can generate big savings on airfare and lengthy hotel stays. Many airlines also offer credit cards that hold exclusive benefits for military, just be sure to always compare rates and fees before applying and take advantage of the Service Member’s Credit Relief Act to see about eliminating annual fees and getting lower percentage rates.
Enrollees in the Veteran’s Advantage Program receive great savings with car rental companies like Budget, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. All the major car rental companies include special links on their website to highlight all they offer for their military customers.
Amtrak gives active duty U.S. military and their dependents 10% of the rail portion of an Amtrak Vacations package. Tickets must be made in advance by calling a Rail Vacation Specialist at 1-800-268-7252.
Book your next cruise vacation through a military vacation planning site, such as the military family owned Military Cruise Deals to secure great savings on travel and services. These sites give you 5% off the published cruise fares and can give you inside information on popular benefits that individual cruise lines offer military passengers. Benefits include free travel insurance, consistent low rates on military fares, and onboard credit ranging from $50-$250.
Exclusive lodging for members of our nation’s armed forces and their families can be found worldwide. There is the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Germany, Hale Koa in Honolulu, and Shades of Green at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Military resorts offer rates based on rank, access to world-class accommodations and on-sight restaurants, and MWR and exchange services. Commercial resorts also provide fantastic options for our military with properties like Wyndham Resort Destinations, Hilton, and Sandals Resorts celebrating our heroes and their families with unbeatable package deals and upgrades.
For the second year, Vail Resorts is offering men and women of the US, Canadian, and Australian armed forces access to their Epic Pass Program which enables servicemembers and their families unlimited, unrestricted to skiing activities at all Vail Resort Properties. Passes range in price from $199 per person to $579 per person depending on the type of pass you purchase, which is a significant savings off the $989 regular pass price. The pass gives you access to all 20 Vail properties for the current season which includes: Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Crested Butte, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Stevens Pass, Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton for the 2019-20 season, as well as Perisher, Falls Creek, and Hotham in Australia for the 2020 ski season.
Attractions & Tours
Local MWR and ITT ticket offices are a great resource for buying your attraction and tour tickets at steep discounts before you leave for your vacation destination. Enjoy savings of up to $30 off a single day admission ticket to theme parks like Disney, Universal, and Sea World, as well as exclusive salute promotions that offer multi-day park tickets at over $75 off regular admission per person. Beyond the national theme parks, ITT ticket offices sell discounted tickets to concerts, sporting events, museums, and tours, and provide additional savings opportunities through hotel voucher programs. Whether going on leave or looking for some weekend fun, be sure to stop by your local office to find out about all the recreational programs they offer.
The National Parks Service grants U.S. active duty military a free annual pass that covers entrance fees and day use fees at more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. The annual pass covers the driver and up to four adults in the vehicle (children 15 and under are free) and can be obtained by showing your Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID upon entrance at select federal recreation land sites.
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