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Some of the Biggest Airlines in the United States Have Refused to Improve Benefits For Serving Military Personnel, Department of Transportation Says

Some of the Biggest Airlines in the United States Have Refused to Improve Benefits For Serving Military Personnel, Department of Transportation Says

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Friday that some of the biggest airlines in the United States, including American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines, have refused to improve the benefits they offer to serving service members and their immediate families.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has called on airlines to make air travel easier for U.S. service members by waiving cancellation and change fees, providing free carry-on and checked luggage, and offering cheap fares for family members to visit service members injured in the line of duty.

To highlight which airlines are providing these services, the DOT has published a new ‘Support Our Troops’ dashboard which clearly displays which airlines are falling short in providing the benefits that the Biden administration wants US carriers to offer military personnel.

The DOT approached the 10 biggest airlines in the United States, but Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines all declined to make clear and enforceable commitments to service members and their families.

The only two airlines that stepped up to the Biden administration’s demand were Allegiant and Spirit, while Frontier said it would waive cancellation and change fees and offer free checked luggage. The Denver-based low-cost carrier, however, stopped short of offering low fares for loved ones to visit their injured relatives.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines already offers free checked luggage and waives change fees for all passengers, so the carrier scored better than some of its rivals despite not explicitly signing up to the ‘Support Our Troops’ campaign.

“As someone who often flew on military orders as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, I know the unique pressures our service members and their families can face when traveling,” Buttigieg commented.

“Service members and their families make extraordinary commitments and sacrifices for this country, and they deserve support and recognition whenever they fly.” 

Some airlines do offer other benefits to active service members, like free airport lounge access and priority boarding, but these benefits are not reflected in the DOT’s new dashboard.

The ‘Support Our Troops’ dashboard is the latest created by the DOT to help consumers make conscious decisions about what airline to fly with. The DOT also has a customer service dashboard which shows which airlines offer free meals and hotel accommodation in the event of a significant delay or cancellation.

The DOT credits the dashboard with pressuring airlines to guarantee free rebooking and meals, while nine major US carriers also guarantee hotel accommodation when an airline issue causes a significant delay or cancellation.

Last month, the Biden administration also introduced two new final rules that will force airlines to provide automatic cash refunds if a flight is cancelled or is significantly altered to the extent that the passenger chooses not to fly.

The DOT is also introducing a rule that will force airlines to disclose ‘surprise junk fees’ in the first stage of a flight search. Several airlines are challenging the rule in federal court, arguing that it will lead to consumer confusion and is an overreach by the government.

View Comments (25)
  • Former military here. Slippery slope when government starts demanding corporations do something for government personnel. Any small touch is a nice gesture, but don’t mandate it. Or shame comedies that don’t do as much as others.

    • Your not so special either LOL. No breaks or common courtesy for you. No gifts at Xmas and birthday ’cause you ain’t special.

    • We are not all equal. Military members risk their lives for this country. It’s easy for you to comment sitting on your couch where the only risk you take is running out of beer and chips.

      • You’re nuts; right? Dimoncrats are the ones buying votes at the expense of the American taxpayer. Trying to shame the airlines for not doing more when they already do a lot for service members – buying votes. College debt being forgiven – buying votes.

  • Good.
    As an airline shareholder, my business is not a charity.

    Plus, check the Anti-Deficiency Act :
    “Accepting voluntary services to essentially get a good or service that Congress did not authorize payment for”

    • Yeah. No vacation for your employees. It’s a business. Ys wish every business you are invested in would eliminate those money grabbing perks. Your dividend may increase $0.01 a quarter. LOL

  • Delta does not charge change fees for domestic non Basic Economy fares and has a rather generous allowance for military personnel and their families whether they are traveling on orders or for leisure. The article fails to mention any of thao

    • The article also does not mention that American offers 3 free bags for military members, up to 7 if they are on orders. They also add them to the priority list for a free upgrade to first class and give them purity boarding with group 1. I think the article is short on a lot of facts and is trying to make the administration look tough… The wimps

  • Service members should not get anything extra when on vacation, only active duty travel on military orders. Just like should your congressman get free perks when on vacation travel?

      • Agree 100% and when on assignment they are traveling on the government’s dime. I checked American Airlines baggage for military and it is very generous. Military also has gov’t subsidized fares for leisure travel as do dependents. US gov’t pays for active duty travel so this “shame tactic” is nothing more than political posturing – again.

    • If she with you if the military made what comes makes. The military deserves all the perks they can get. To rush your life for the little amount of pay and all the hardships of family separation. They deserve the best we can give them. American airlines gives them free bags, free upgrades, and priority status. You, you get nothing.

  • Active duty military all get a premium American Express card for free (usually $695 a year) which allows access to almost all lounges. There are other branches of the U.S. government——the U.S. foreign service for example—-where employees travel just as far to even more dangerous places.

  • The negative comments I am reading about these airlines not supporting our troops who defend this nation 24 hours a day seven days a week in some of the most dangerous places in the world is truly shameful! You go about your miserable civilian lives everyday and not think once about the men and women who sacrifice everything they have to keep you safe so that you and your family can sleep at night. You are the cowards who refuse to put on a uniform, carry a weapon, and protect this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. You are the cowards who benefit greatly off the backs of these brave men and women, and yet, you criticize them. You are the cowards who take your freedoms for granted, and the minute it is threatened, you run for cover rather than fight and die for it. Remember that freedom is not free, and you have to fight and die for it. Something that you never understand until it is gone. The next time this country is attacked by a foreign nation like 9/11, just remember the negative comments you made on this post about our brave men and women in uniform. So take that and your miserable lives with it!

  • We should definitely give our active duty AND retired/disabled vets better treatment. They are fighting or have fought for our country. I’m an FA for one of these airlines. These are my thoughts and not those of my company. Our service members are so different from congressional members. IYKYK I also believe IMMEDIATE refunds for displaced passengers is a must! Other countries have very strict guidelines in place with airlines. We need to step it up and be more customer focused and stop with the corporate/CEO greed. Without our customers, I wouldn’t have such a great job (even though I get paid crap). I’m over 55, been a FA for a year, love my second career, love the job, and do my best to make every flight enjoyable. I’ve worked in private and high level government sector before this. We, all airlines, need to step it up for all passengers. BTW, be nice to your FA’s. We go through 7 weeks of how to keep you safe and save your life. 1 1/2 days on how to pour coffee. We are NOT servants in the sky. Getting a beverage is a blessing, but summer is here and turbulence is a real thing. If you don’t get service, be thankful we didn’t go flying into you and give us both a concussion. Watch the news people! Passengers die from turbulence!!
    (Sorry for my rant, I’ve needed to vent for a minute) 🤷‍♀️

  • As a military member I have recently flown on Delta and United in the month of May 2024. They DO in fact do free baggage, priority boarding and a few other perks for the military. Who ever says they aren’t. Is full of crap. I took full advantage of them.

    So I suspect fake news.

  • As former service member and have worked in the airline industry for 24 years. This article is just a bunch of BS. The assumption that the airlines should provided these services for free is ludicrous. Next why not give free services to first responders. Or how about school teachers. Everyone contributes. I do not view my service better than someone else’s contribution. It is voluntary military service. I did it for the love of my country, not for free luggage, or club entrances. If the company’s want to do it great, it is their business not the governments. Next the government is going to have restaurants feeding the military for free because the government cant afford to feed them . It is a slippery slope when the government tells businesses how to run their business.

  • Pete Buttigieg and Obiden have had 3 1/2 years to do more for military personnel yet now they want to shame airlines into doing something they ALREADY do. This is nothing more than political grandstanding.

  • If the federal government wants military families to fly without fees, they are free to go ahead and pay for it. Why would they even think of tell airlines how to run their business???

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