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The Best Baggage Policies for American Military Members

by | Oct 17, 2019 | The Term Reporter, Travel

Top 10 Airlines for Military Baggage

As the costs of air travel have consistently increased in recent years, we are all looking for ways to reduce the costs of our trips.  For active-duty members of the military, one of the easiest ways to ease this burden is by taking advantage of complimentary baggage allowances provided by many U.S. airlines. 

This information isn’t always well advertised, so we decided to bring all the data together here for easy reference.  For all airlines, a common access ID is required, and when benefits differ for official and personal travel, official orders may be required as well. Below, you’ll find easy-to-use reference guides for traveling on orders and on personal business ranked from most generous to least generous along with our overall winner.

Military Baggage Benefits When Traveling on Orders

 

Airline (with ranking)Carry-OnFree Checked BagsCan They be Oversized?What Benefits are there for Dependents?
T-1. UnitedFree for Anyone5YesSame as military member
T-1. AmericanFree for Anyone5YesSame as military member
3. AllegiantOne Free3YesFree carry on + 3 standard checked bags
4. AlaskaFree for Anyone5YesSame as military member; must be traveling on same itinerary
5. SouthwestFree for AnyoneUnlimitedYesNot indicated; call 1-800-435-9792 to verify
6. HawaiianFree for Anyone4YesSame as military member
7. JetBlueFree for Anyone5NoSame as military member; must be traveling on same itinerary
8. DeltaFree for Anyone5YesNone
9. FrontierOne Free2YesNone
10. SpiritOne Free2NoNone

Military Baggage Benefits When Traveling on Personal Business

Airline (with ranking)Carry-OnFree Checked BagsCan They be Oversized?What Benefits are there for Dependents?
1. AllegiantOne Free3YesFree carry on + 3 standard checked bags (includes veterans)
2. AlaskaFree for Anyone5YesSame as military member; must be traveling on same itinerary
3. UnitedFree for Anyone3YesSame as military member; must be traveling on same itinerary
4. FrontierOne Free2YesNone
5. JetBlueFree for Anyone2NoSame as military member; must be traveling on same itinerary
T-6. AmericanFree for Anyone2NoNone
T-6. SouthwestFree for Anyone2NoNot indicated; call 1-800-435-9792 to verify
T-6.HawaiianFree for Anyone2NoNone
T-6. DeltaFree for Anyone2NoNone
T-6. SpiritOne Free2NoNone

Our Overall Rankings

1. Allegiant

While many airlines offer benefits to both active-duty military members and their dependents, only Allegiant goes the extra mile, by providing those benefits to veterans as well. As a result of this generous policy, we have ranked Allegiant first overall when it comes to military baggage benefits.1

2. Alaska

Alaska’s policies are very generous, with the only knock being the fact that dependents on personal travel may only take advantage of the benefits if they are traveling on the same itinerary as an active-duty military member.2

3. United

Like Alaska, United offers very generous baggage benefits on all types of travel, but restricts dependents’ benefits on personal travel to only trips booked on the same itinerary as an active-duty member.3

4. American

American offers great benefits to military members and their dependents when traveling on orders, but the benefits on personal travel are comparatively much less generous.4

5. Southwest

When traveling on orders (and perhaps without dependents), Southwest is as good as it gets, placing no limit on the number of bags one can check.5  We could not find any information on Southwest’s website that dependents are afforded the same allowance, but a phone representative stated that dependents are included.  We recommend calling 1-800-435-9792 to verify.

6. JetBlue

JetBlue does offer substantial benefits to military members, but dependents must be traveling on the same itinerary for both travel on orders and personal business, which hurt their ranking.6

7. Hawaiian

Hawaiian offers great benefits to both members and their dependents when traveling on orders, but on personal travel their policies are less impressive, resulting in a lower ranking.7

8. Delta

Though Delta offers substantial benefits to military members traveling both on orders and personal business, these policies are not extended to dependents on any type of travel.8

9. Frontier

The two free oversized checked bags that Frontier offers military members are nice, but still less than any other provider except for Spirit and Frontier does not offer dependents any such benefits.9

10. Spirit

Finally, Spirit’s offer of two free standard checked bags for military members is the least generous of any of the top 10 US airlines, especially considering that dependents are not offered any benefits whatsoever.10

Summary

We were proud to learn that each of the top 10 US airlines offers some sort of free baggage allowance to our servicemen and women. We are thrilled to congratulate Allegiant on being ranked first overall in our inaugural rankings and commend the company for taking of veterans in addition to our active-duty forces.

1 Allegiant Honors.
2 Rule 15(F)(1)-(3), Contract of Carriage
3 Checked Baggage.
4 Military Bags, Special Items, Special Items and Sports Equipment.
5 Section 7(e)(2), Southwest Contract of Carriage.
6 Baggage Waiver, Military Customers.
7 Military baggage allowance.
8 Baggage Fee Exception, Active Military, Checked Baggage.
9 Buy Bags Early and Save, Military Personnel.
10 Does Spirit offer U.S. Military Discounts.

Authors

Ben Golopol

Contract Analyst, TermScout  

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