Many airlines offer discounts for those who serve the U.S. military as well as those retired from service. For each airline, the perks change. This is why you must research the specific airline you’re using before booking.
Southwest Airlines has both baggage and fare discounts for active military personnel only but they are not in flat rates. This includes specialized military fare and baggage policies differing from the average customer. Some of these discounts include larger bags for free and early boarding for no extra fee.
There are other benefits as well. To learn more about all the benefits that the military receives when using Southwest Airlines, continue reading below.
Active Duty Military Fares
Southwest does offer a specialized military fare for any active duty military. However, unlike many other airlines, it is not a flat rate discount. You must call a number to book these flights or go in person to visit the ticket counter to get that fare, which will change with every flight.
The issue with these specialized rates is that they are not always cheaper than the standard fare. Look into the military discount and compare it to standard rates to see which is better for your budget and where you want to be seated.
All active-duty military personnel are welcome to use this fare and are given equal rates no matter which branch. Here is a complete list of all branches of the military as well as exceptions that are eligible to use the military fares.
- U.S. Army
- U.S. Marine Corps
- U.S. Navy
- U.S. Air Force
- U.S. Space Force
- U.S. Coast Guard
- Reservists for any branch
- National Guard members
- U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets
- U.S. Naval Academy Cadets
- U.S.Military Academy (West Point) Cadets
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadets
- Authorized Dependents
All active duty military members who book through Southwest will not be charged with any cancellation fees. This applies whether you use your military fare or not. Active duty military members are allowed to change the time and date of their flight as long as it is used within a year.
Boarding Policies for Active Duty Military
Active duty military members get boarding benefits when it is time for their flight to take off. Depending on how you booked your flight, your boarding group can vary. You can also get pushed back into later boarding groups even when booking with military fares.
If you mention this to a staff member of Southwest when the time comes to board, they will bump you up to board between groups A and B as long as you have proof of your active duty status.
Unlike some other airlines, Southwest does not give active-duty military members free access to their lounge. It does not give anyone free access to lounges including its credit card holders or loyalty program members. This is because they do not have their own private airport lounges like many other airlines.
Baggage Fees and Limitations for Active Duty Military
All customers who fly with Southwest get two bags for free as long as each one is under 50 pounds. Active duty members of the military get a special exception for many baggage policies if they fly with Southwest as long as they have proof of their military status.
While most people get two bags for free, active-duty military personnel are exempt from the two-bag limit like other customers are. They are allowed any number of checked bags provided each bag remains under 100 pounds and 80 linear inches in size when adding length, width, and height.
Bags must also follow all of the airline’s bag policies. To read more about Southwest’s policies, check out our article on Southwest Airlines baggage policies.
For more specific information on the different kinds of equipment you can pack in your bags, you may have to go to Southwest’s website. However, we have you covered on sports equipment specifically, so also feel free to read our article on Southwest Airlines’ sports equipment policy.
While verified dependents are included in the military fare policies, they are not included in their baggage policies. Dependents are subject to the same baggage policies as any other person flying with the airline at a two-bag limit, each under 50 pounds. If they are traveling with the active duty member, exceptions may apply.
Pet transportation on Southwest Airlines applies equally to all military members. The animals must be small, vaccinated, and packed in a carrier appropriately. The pets must be above a certain age and also be flown with you rather than in cargo.
The only exception for active duty military is for military-trained dogs. Southwest allows fully trained law enforcement or military service dogs to fly without any additional fees if they are with their handler. You need to keep all important and related documents on hand for easy access while in the airport.
Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines does not offer any special discounts for non-active duty military personnel. This includes veterans. Southwest Airlines also has no offers through the popular Veterans Advantage program. All their discounts and extras are specifically for active-duty military and occasionally their verified dependents.