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Government employees have long been able to save on cruises, but not everyone knows that they can save significant amounts of money on air travel thanks to federal contracts and the City Pair Program. The General Services Administration (GSA) awarded contracts that will save federal employees an estimated $2.44 billion on travel in 2018.
The following airlines offer attractive savings on flights, checked bags, seat upgrades, and more to government employees and, in some cases, family members. To qualify for airline government and military discounts, prepare to show a valid form of identification proving your status.
GSA City Pair Airfare Program
On average, active-duty military members traveling on official duty can save as much as 74% on commercial airfares through the GSA City Pair Airfare program. These discounts apply to all active-duty military members on official travel, with no advance purchase or minimum/maximum travel length required. Tickets are fully refundable, with no extra charge for changes for cancellations. Search for qualifying tickets on the GSA program database by typing in your departure and arrival cities.
Alaska Airlines offers priority boarding for active-duty military members and U.S. military dependents on travel orders, as well as five free checked bags ($75 for additional checked bags), $25 gate check, and no overweight bag fees up to 70 pounds (then $75 for heavier luggage). Alaska Airlines also offers occasional discounted military fares. Call to ask about available military discounts at (800) 252-7522.
Allegiant Air supports the military by offering up to three free checked bags (up to 100 pounds), no charge for oversized baggage, one free carry-on, free seat assignments, and up to one pet in the cabin for free. Military members must be on active or reserve duty or a U.S. military veteran. Spouses and dependents of U.S. active and reserve duty personnel also qualify for the benefits.
American Airlines offers some discounts to active military members in some markets. You can’t access the discounts online, but you can get more information by contacting Reservations or calling (800) 433-7300. Members can receive 50% off the price to ship pets, Admirals Club lounge access, and complimentary baggage check (up to three bags).
Military dependents are also eligible for the special prices with valid IDs. Tickets are refundable, with no extra charges for changes or cancellations. Veterans do not qualify for airline discounts.
Delta Airlines offers special discounts and companion fares for military and government employees but doesn’t list the discounts online. Instead, you have to contact Reservations to find out more. Discounts apply to certain flights and routes, to active-duty military members and some government employees.
Military members on official duty flights can receive up to four free checked bags (up to 70 pounds each), a carry-on bag, and a personal item for free. Those traveling for leisure can bring two checked bags (up to 50 pounds), a carry-on, and personal item.
Frontier Airlines doesn’t offer government employee or military discounts for flights. However, it waives all baggage costs for active-duty military personnel with valid IDs.
Frontier offers unlimited checked bags with no restrictions on size or weight – the best baggage deal for military members out of any other U.S. continental airline. Dependents can also check their bags for free under the military member’s name.
Note, however, that members can only bring one free carry-on aboard per flight. Call (801) 401-9000 for more information.
Military members and veterans can qualify for a checked baggage exemption with Hawaiian Airlines. The exemption includes two complimentary checked bags (up to 50 pounds) for personal travel and four complimentary bags (up to 70 pounds) for official travel. Dependents can receive the same discount with valid IDs.
JetBlue offers a 5% military discount on leisure travel to over 95 destinations with no blackout dates. The discount also extends to federal employees traveling for business. Active duty military members and their dependents traveling for leisure will receive two free checked bags, while those traveling for duty will receive five free checked bags. All tickets for military members are fully refundable, with no penalties to change or cancel a flight.
JetBlue can also match other government fares from other airlines.
Southwest Airlines may offer special discounts and deals on flights and luggage to government employees and military members, but it does not advertise this information on its website. Instead, the airline instructs travelers to contact the help center and ask about government discounts.
Spirit Airlines states that it already keeps its fares as low as possible for military members, but that it also offers two free checked bags, a free carry-on, and a free personal item for members with valid IDs.
Spirit also gives away hundreds of free flights to wounded warriors and their dependents during hospitalization and rehabilitation, through the Luke’s Wings program. Spirit also takes part in the annual Honor Flight of South Florida to fly veterans to Washington, DC, for free.
United Airlines offers year-round discounts for military members and veterans, as well as discharged military members traveling within seven days of discharge. Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard all qualify for the discount, as do cadets at the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and West Point.
The United Airlines discount is up to 5% off of tickets for United and United Express flights purchased via United.com. Flights must originate in the United States or Canada to be eligible for the veteran’s discount. Discounts also apply to family members of active duty or veteran military members, with an eight-traveler limit on flight purchases. Discount applies to the base fare of the ticket. Enroll with Veterans Advantage to receive this airline discount. Also, ask about pet exceptions for military members.
One of the best checked-bag deals for military personnel is through Virgin America (now part of Alaska Airlines, Inc.). Active-duty military members traveling for official duty can receive 10 free checked bags and their dependents get five free bags. Traveling for leisure as a military member still comes with five complimentary checked bags.
These airlines offer regular discounts to government employees year-round, but you might find additional discounts on certain flights or destinations by searching online.