Many major airline carriers offer discounts to vacationing soldiers and their families, which is part of a rest and relaxation (R&R) program that was instituted for combat troops stationed in the Middle East. The first to do so since Vietnam, this program incorporates government funding to pay for flights from Iraq to Germany, with connecting flights to the United States. Under this program however, individual soldiers have been required to pay for costs incurred for domestic travel. Nevertheless, military discount airline fares offered by domestic carriers may help take some of the punch out of the high cost of same-day or short notice plane ticket purchasing.
Since 2004, carriers as Delta, American Airlines and Southwest don’t always require soldiers to purchase tickets in advance, nor to complete minimum stay requirements. In addition, due to the constantly changing schedules and expectations of today’s soldier, they also often offer refunds on tickets. Taking advantage of such military airline discounts offers many soldiers the opportunity to visit loved ones that were not available before.
Ticket military discounts offered by major carriers are good anywhere in the United States and include round-trip fares within the continental United States to soldiers and dependents for less than $200. So where are such deals today? While it takes a little bit of time and research, soldiers can find several airline carriers who are still trying to facilitate military discount airline fares, including US Airways, United, Delta, and American Airlines.
USAirways offers special rates to military personnel as well as to discharged personnel within seven days of their discharge date. Military dependents and children are also eligible for special military discount airline fares. However, soldiers should be aware that the special rates offered by USAirways are not available to personnel on temporary duty traveling to or from temporary duty stations.
Military dependents are considered to be relatives of a military passenger and must be able to present their uniformed services identification and privilege card. In addition, military personnel should be carrying valid active-duty identification or separation papers in order to take advantage of these military airline discounts.
United has extended their armed forces and family special fares through July 31, 2008. They are offering reduced domestic fairs to destinations within the continental United States. Such fares are available to all military branches, including the National Guard and the Reserves. Spouses and dependent children are also eligible for military discount airline fares on United, and while no advance purchases are required, some require a one- night minimum stay at destination points. Travel days are not restricted, a huge advantage to many soldiers who are unsure where they will be from one day to the next.
United Airlines, or Ted, also offers services from carriers doing business as United Express, including but not limited to GoJet, SkyWest, and Trans States Airlines. Popular domestic destinations are receiving a large number of airfare ticket bookings by all military branches in recent months. Besides discounts, many carriers, including American Airlines are offering combat service men and women other bonuses in addition to military discount airline fares. Specific carriers should be contacted regarding military airlines discount tickets, reservations, and special requirements.
In addition, traveling soldiers may find that many airline carriers are willing to provide immediate seating as well as upgraded seating assignments when uniforms are worn upon arrival to ticketing desks. Such courtesies are often extended in smaller or rural airlines, regardless of carrier.
The airline industry is doing as much as it can to offer American servicemen and women special airfares and discounts as a very small thank you for their dedication, commitment, and service.