Most commercial airlines offer some kind of military discount. Sifting through the available offers and comparing them to other regular airfares may take a little time, but you can often save a significant amount of money with military airline discounts.
Types of Military Airline Discounts
There are three types of military airfare discounts. The one you use depends on whether you are traveling on official business or for pleasure and how flexible you are with your travel dates and times.
1. Published Military Discounts – Most commercial airlines offer published military airfares. These are usually not the lowest airfare, but offer benefits like no cancellation penalties and being able to book at the last minute. Most airlines extend these discounts to active duty military personnel, their dependents, and retired military.
When making reservations, make sure that you compare the military discount to other promotional fares. The military fare is not always the lowest price.
2. GSA City Pairs – For military personnel traveling on official business, GSA fares offer discounts of around 75 percent off of the full fare. In most cases, they also offer more flexibility than airline promotional fares, such as allowing you to change without a penalty and book up to one day before departure.
3. Space Available (Military Hops, Space A) – Space available travel (also called military hops or space A travel) is an affordable, if somewhat unreliable, way to travel. Active and retired military and their dependents can travel on military transports in the continental United States by just paying the taxes and airport fees if the seats are not needed for official business. Your request’s priority is based on your military status (active, retired) and your reason for traveling. (For example, those on emergency leave take priority over those on ordinary leave.)
Using space available travel can be tricky. Military planes do not always use commercial airports, so the possibility exists that you could be stranded at a military airport waiting for the next transport plane. Even at major airports, if you are forced to buy a commercial ticket at the last minute, you’ll usually pay top dollar.