Everything Delta Does for the Military

I am starting an operation to identify everything that each airline does for our Service Members.  From flying to charity work to hiring of vets.  I have come up with a slate of questions for each airline.  Delta was gracious enough to go first in this effort.  Right up front, I want to thank Michael Thomas from Delta’s Corporate Communications Department for his time and answers to a wide variety of questions.  He personally participates in these activities and one day I will have to “coin” him for his efforts in supporting our troops.

Here are the questions and answers received:

1.  Does Delta give special consideration to military members in the boarding process?

Uniformed members are recognized and invited to board with our First Class and elite passengers.  Many pilots and Fight Attendents will recognize the Service Members when they are on board the aircraft with a round of applause.

2.  What is Delta’s baggage policy for military personnel on orders?

Personnel are allowed four free bags when traveling on orders in economy and five if they are in Business or First Class.

3.  Does Delta have military fares and how does one book them?

While there are military fares available, they are akin to unrestricted fares meaning that they are not usually the lowest cost option.  However, they are fully refundable or changable.  (My thoughts) Therefore they may work in certain situations if you think the trip is iffy or you can’t necessarily pin down the date.  I know this has occurred with me when you are supposed to get that four day pass before leaving for deployment and the dates may not be nailed down until the last minute.  Price it both ways before making a decision.

4.  What is Delta’s policy on admitting Service Members to the Sky Club when they are travelling?

 Delta grants access to military traveling in or conjunction with the war effort in Iraq or Afghanistan, in or out of uniform. They may be asked to show their military orders.

5.  Describe Delta’s charitable donations to military-related causes such as the USO, Fisher House, etc.

Delta donated $350,000 to the Fisher House last year and millions of Sky Miles to both Fisher House, Luke’s Wings, and the USO.  Delta is also proud to run holiday lounges for Service Members during the holidays on Concourse B at ATL and at MEM.  They take care of thousands of our troops transiting home to see loved ones with a USO-type experience of snacks and entertainment.  Michael personally participates in this activity.  Comment:  This was news to me and very cool because it is often too much effort to leave the concourse and go outside security to enjoy the USO.  I still remember my days as a PFC where the Drill Sergeant dropped us off six hours before the flight just to make sure we made it!

6.  How do Service Members contribute Sky Miles to charities?

To donate SkyMiles to a variety of worthy causes, please visit this site. You’ll find a complete listing of the charities we support through SkyWish including Hero Miles for Fisher House and Luke’s WingsComment:  I will confess to being unaware of Luke’s Wings, a charity that raise miles and funds to fly loved ones to meet thier wounded warriors while they are receiving treatment.  Check them out.

7.  Hiring of veterans, especially those of the recent wars is a big subject right now.  What does Delta do to promote military
veteran hiring?

Delta is proud to participate in the 100,000 Jobs Mission who have achieved hiring 65,000 vets so far.  In addition, they use People Scout who use Hero to Hire, DOL VETS, and other databases that specialize in finding veterans for open positions at Delta.  Of the 80,000 Delta employees, over 10,000 are veterans or Reservists!  Their support for National Guard and Reservists is so great that Delta was awarded the Freedom Award by Employer Support to Guard and Reserve (ESGR).  This was the first time in ten years that an airline won that award.  To honor this achievement, they renamed one of their 757s “Spirit of Freedom”

8.  Anything else that you would like to add?

Michael told me of a group of Delta employees at ATL that got together and formed their own military honor guard.  When a Service members remains are transported through ATL, they are received at the aircraft with a specially decorated tug and baggage cart with military colors.  The flag-draped coffin is then escorted to the next aircraft to take the remains to their final destination.  Here is a blog from Delta about the group and an article from the USO magazine.

a white airplane on the runway
Spirit of Freedom


  1. Hi. So I travel a fair amount. I was a United Airlines Milage plus holder for 21 years. Primarily because I lived in Denver for 15 of those. Delta is arms and legs ahead of United. Having flown every airline in America including many that have gone out of business, I can say with an extreme amount of confidence that every airline is ahead of united. I just wanted to get that out of the way. All in all over 30 years I have been on hundreds of flights both domestic and international.

    I now live in San Antonio. What many coin as Military City USA. I’m not here to debate that point either, but to recognize that many airlines acknowledge our troops by allowing them to board early. Many have gear and finding overhead space given the new fee structures adopted by the airlines, i like this policy.

    Southwest, American, US Airways Rsshayhay@yahoo.com follow this policy. So today i boarding a Delta flight out of San Antonio. There are several Military folks also waiting to board the flight. The announcement t commence, people with small children the handicapped, etc, then First Class, then Zone 1. 2 etc.

    I go ask the people running the counter if Delta has or mimics the policy other airlines follow and I am told “no we do not, we might sometimes, but no. Ok so perhaps it’s a bad day.

    My connection is in Atlanta and I’m headed to Richmond. I have over an hour in Atlanta, so I walk around and listen as several flight boarding announcements are made. Zero, nada, not a single “we would now ask that any active military board that are in uniform board. I stopped counting at 100 the numbers of uniformed military I saw sitting at Delta gates.

    I asked again as I boarded my flight to virginia as I saw a 1 star general and a private waiting to board our flight. The answer was we’d not follow that policy as it slows down our boarding process. Really. How exactly?

    What I am saying is that I’m not a frequent Delta flyer, but I do fly a lot and I’ve never not seen SW or American not make that offer.

    I don’t know what choice the military has in who they fly, but if you do, I recommend SW or American and as much as I detest United, I would even recommend them for this reason.

    I don’t care about your politics, but these men and women proudly serve us with little compensation and it would seem a very small gesture to give them this courtesy.

    I search the Delta site and there is no reference to this service being offered, however I did find other sites that state they do, but this traveler can tell you from observing over 20 departures today and from two Delta employees they do not.

    Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. I’m sure many do not care, but to me it’s an insult to these men and women and I will make a concerted effort to avoid booking them and yes that unfortunately may mean I will have to fly United from time to time

    Thank you to all that serve. BTW -I never served.

  2. Everything Delta Does not for the Military in uniform.

    I must say after reading this story I am disgusted to hear the way a huge airlines treats our heros. Allowing our active duty military board early is a simple thank you for the huge sacrifice these people have done for us. No one has any idea what has happened to this guys Marine, sailor,soldier or airman. So come on Delta, a early boarding at the gate so they can finally relax on there final destination probably transferring to a new duty station or visiting famil after years won’t hurt anyone. It’s the least you can do and it doesn’t cost you 1 dime.
    Marine Mom

  3. Do you know how I can get a 1st class upgrade for 2 coach tickets that we will purchase for a Wounded Warrior double leg amputee Afghanistan and his wife for flight round trip from Washington DC to Hawaii, mid August. This is a wellness trip for him as he just had femur lengthening surgery on one of his legs at Walter Reed.

  4. I’m not sure the date of your post, perhaps April 2015? But I’ve never once heard Delta offer to let military board early, in our out of uniform and I fly Delta a lot. Maybe your contact at Delta needs to communicated this to those working the gates?

  5. Just boarded a Delta flight. Several Army were escorted to the gate by the USO volunteer and he asked the agent to take care of them. I asked if that applied to Airman too and was told Delta does not have a policy allowing early boarding if military. To me, United n Southwest are the best.

  6. Been in the USAF for 10 years, deployed 3 times, blah blah blah…

    Listen, I’m sure it feel good to tell us “thank you for you service,” but honestly it doesn’t mean much. If you want to thank a vet, stop voting for politicians who send us to fight wars that they refuse to win. It’s not like we’re defending the shores of democracy.

    I’m more impressed with Delta’s fisher house charity work than some bull shit early boarding. Nice work putting some money to good cause. Early boarding…who cares?!

  7. Above is a joke, we welcome them aboard if in uniform first, we give them free bags up to 4, wow!!!! They defend our country, or airspace and our freedom, Military discount wow, there are none from any airlines. I think the men and women that serve our country deserve a little more than what any of these airlines offer. “we offer discounts, but it still might not be the best rate’ laugh laugh… oh but its refundable or changeable. so funny… Pisses me off.

    1. I think this guy might be wrong… I’m currently in the terminal waiting I board and I bought military discount tickets on the phone from delta… It’s less than half what was posted online, free cancellation, and best thing is I bought them two days ago.

      I know SW and Delta do military discounted tickets if you call an agent, but not online. Works for me though!

  8. I am a service member currently sitting on a Delta craft waiting for takeoff. I approached the front to board with the first class and priority passengers. I was told by the gentleman boarding the plane that they do not allow military to preboard and I would have to wait for my zone. Walking back out was very embarrassing as everyone saw it.

  9. I have a friend deployed to Syria. They were granted leave to come home. I was told that airlines allow active duty soldiers to fly free to their home cities. Is this true?

    1. @ Letha – Well, on both my deployments, the Government (not the airlines) flew me wherever I wanted to go on leave.

  10. Also have to say fly a lot and the best airline who not only honor active members but also veterans is Jet Blue, will be flying delta next month so will see if they have improved since last responses

  11. Airforce complaining about fight any war. Hahahahaha!since when you you fight close combat????

    Okay. Well thank you for the early boarding. It’s nice that I get to board with the ones who pay and dont sacrifice. It would be better if I get to borad when nit in uniform.

  12. At a Delta gate right now and no pre military boarding allowed. Also, airlines shouldn’t limit it to military in uniform. Many military don’t like to travel in uniform because it makes them a target.

    1. @Soldier – I have actually not run into any issues when I board with military on Alaska/ United/ American. They don’t even ask for my ID. Of course, my haircut pretty much gives it away!

  13. Flew today 22Dec17 and not once did they mention Military. Looks like I’ll be booking on a different airline from now on.

  14. Folks, I think you’re taking some of this stuff a bit too seriously.

    If you don’t want to fly an airline because they didn’t mention the military – either for pre boarding or to praise us for our sacrifice; or because they don’t give out free drinks; or they require a uniform for free entry to the lounge (or, gasp, don’t give military folks free access to the lounge at all); or because they don’t give as many free bags as some other airline; okay, fine. But I’d point out that your principled stand isn’t going to hurt an airline’s bottom line, but it could hurt yours if you won’t fly someone who’s $X cheaper than another simply because of the above.

    Preboarding is nice, I grant you; but it’s practically necessary for the disabled (military or not) and those with young kids. If nothing else, preboarding those folks keeps the rest of us from standing in the jetway as long while they make their way through the airplane. On a scheduled airline military folk aren’t carrying their kevlar, so they need no more time than any other able-bodied adult.

    Where the airlines really help us is with the free bag allowance and, while the rules I’ve read typically say ‘on orders’, I’ve never once had anyone ask for said orders. If you’re worried about being asked, carry a copy of your orders to your most recent command and/or TDY orders. That bag allowance be a huge cost savings when you’re traveling on your own dime and is real money in your pocket.

    As for lounge access, buy a Priority Pass membership if you buy the cheapest ticket going, or get a credit card that grants lounge access if you fly one airline regularly. That will pay for itself very quickly if you fly enough that lounge access actually matters to your life.

    And, for the obligatory “I deserve to get to comment on these matters” comment, I”m retired Navy with over 21 years of AD service and am a current Navy spouse. I know of what I speak.

  15. I have flown many many years with my active duty spouse now retired spouse and even without my spouse. When they call for the military we and even I have always been treated with respect and always gained access to plane early. Delta is awesome but I also have been on other airlines with the same treatment.

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