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First-Time Military Traveler? Here’s What You Need to Know

US soldiers giving salute
Written by Dhinesh Manuel

This blog post was updated on July 20, 2021.

If you’ve been a part of a military family, then you’ll probably be familiar with the constant moving and settling down in a new locale that’s so a part of the job. For the first-time military traveler, things can be a little trickier. Knowing what to expect can be a lifesaver (and a time saver), but where can you get all this info in one place? To keep new recruits (and even seasoned veterans) abreast of what to expect, we’ve rounded up all the info that you’ll need to know about being a military traveler.

How Do I Qualify for Military Travel Perks?

portrait of happy family and man in military uniform at airport

First things first; to break it down pretty simply, you’ll need to be in one of the following categories:

  1. You are on active duty
  2. You are returning from overseas while on active duty
  3. You are traveling on official orders while on active duty
  4. You are on leave from active duty
  5. You are a reservist
  6. You have been recently discharged
  7. You are a veteran
  8. You are dependents of a service member traveling on orders
  9. You are dependents of a service member traveling without them

What’s the Most Important Thing to Remember for Traveling Military Families?

Diverse employees of airport checking passports and biometric data working with passengers.

ALWAYS make sure you and your family have valid ID when you’re ready to hit the road. If you’re a serviceman or servicewoman, you’ll need the appropriate military ID when traveling, and if your family is traveling with you, they’ll need to have proper identification documentation too. This is essential even if you’ve made known your military status online or via phone with the airline.

What Are Some of the Benefits I Get as a Military Traveler?

Everything looks great. Beautiful young woman using laptop and notebook while sitting in waiting hall at airport

Expedited Boarding

You can be through airport security in a breeze thanks to TSA PreCheck. Select airports and participating airlines do accept Department of Defence ID number as recognition that you do not pose any security threat as a member of the armed forces. Accompanying family members ages 12 and under can also be processed through expedited screening. Once again, it’s important to show up with your Department of Defence ID number and do a little research beforehand if the airport and airline do afford this benefit.

Higher Luggage Allowance

A general rule is that you can carry from upwards of 5 free checked bags (each at 70 pounds plus and measuring less than 63 inches wide). Remember that pet storage and sporting gear don’t fall under this extra allowance. This benefit may vary from carrier to carrier, so make sure you check with the airline before booking your flight ticket.

Access to Members-Only Lounges

While this too varies from airline to airline, many carriers will offer free lounge access at select airports to military personnel on active duty. Also, make sure to check with your credit card provider, as they too offer military access to certain lounges. Airport lounges offer a relaxed, more spacious setting, where you can enjoy free or discounted refreshments, free WiFi, and even (at some places) take a shower. You can present your valid military ID and boarding pass to access airport lounges around the world but sometimes this is mostly limited to the military member only and not extended to family or guests.

No Fees Charged for Changes in Travel

Most US carriers totally understand when there is a last-minute change in travel dates if you’re a part of the military, and won’t charge you any incurred fees. All you have to do is provide your commanding officer’s name and contact details, and forward a letter on headed paper explaining the change of travel. Most airlines will offer a full refund on your ticket.


Are you or a family member in the military? Tell us about any other benefits you can take advantage of when traveling.

About the author

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ...

Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!

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