Perks of Flying Military Part 1: Free Checked Bags


Perhaps all of you know that when travelling on orders, either domestically or internationally on any US-based carrier, your bags are automatically checked for free. What you might not have known is that you get free checked bags on ANY OTHER type of travel as well, if you are active duty. With some airlines it is a lower number of bags than when on orders travel, but every major domestic carrier allows some free checked bags. (this is, of course, excepting “discount” carriers like Spirit Air, which aren’t truly discount after all the nickel-and-diming they do. Seriously, they are the WORST airline I have ever experienced, in every capacity. If you want details, please message me). Below I’ve assembled a table with the major US carriers. The free checked bags perk includes both domestic and international travel when booked with the respective carriers.


Airline Military Leisure Travel Military Orders
Alaska Airlines (link) -Up to 5 bags, 50lbs max, and $50 for each additional -Same
American Airlines (link) -Up to 3 bags for free, 50lbs max, then normal charges apply. Note that this does NOT extend to dependents, so check all bags under your name. -Up to 5 bags for free, with one bag up to 100lbs, and the rest up to 50lbs. Dependents on orders get 2 bags up to 50lbs free
Delta Airlines (link) -Up to 2 bags for free, 50lbs max, then normal charges apply. NOT extended to dependents -Up to 4 bags for free (5 if flying business or first), 70lbs max.
Southwest Airlines (link) -Up to 2 bags for free, 50lbs max, then normal charges. Note that EVERYONE gets this on SW. -No apparent limit for free, and bags can be oversized and overweight.
United Airlines (link) -Up to 3 bags for free, 70lbs max, for military member and dependents together. -Up to 4 bags for free, 70lbs max, in economy, or 5 bags if travelling in business or first.
US Airways (link) -Up to 2 bags for free, 50lbs max. NOT extended to dependents. (They will be reverting to AA rules sometime in October) -Up to 4 bags for free, 100lbs max EACH.


This is an amazing option that not many active duty people know about. Obviously on carriers that don’t allow dependents to check free bags, the bags should all be checked under the servicemembers name.


Also keep in mind that some of the front desk staff do not know their military baggage policies. Please be polite if they do not know, and kindly ask to see a supervisor if they persist in attempting to collect baggage fees. Note that there is usually no option when booking online to designate yourself a military member. Just say that you are not checking bags, and check them when you get to the airport, and schedule some extra time accordingly.


To my knowledge there are no free baggage perks for reservists or veterans. If anyone knows otherwise, please post below.

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

2 responses to “Perks of Flying Military Part 1: Free Checked Bags”

  1. alex says:

    If you are a reservist, just try to do it with your military ID card. Most agents don’t know the difference and as long as you state you are in the military, they will waive the baggage fee. I had a friend that got it waived by showing his ROTC ID card….

  2. AAL says:

    On Alaska Air, only the active duty service member gets 5 free bags when travelling without orders. (But both active duty and their dependents get 5 free bags when travelling with orders.)

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