A new government tool aims to clarify the benefits troops and their families can receive from America’s 10 largest airlines to make their air travel easier.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Support Our Troops” dashboard offers a chart comparing each airline’s policies on fee waivers, free luggage and refunds for military families during personal travel, or when travel plans change because of a military order. Four companies — Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines — offer some combination of those perks, according to the chart.

Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines are also included in the roundup but have not committed to provide current troops and their families with additional benefits.

In April, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to the CEOs of these 10 largest airlines, urging them to improve their military travel benefits and publicize them more effectively.

The department “appreciates that carriers currently provide active duty service members and their families various military travel benefits,” Buttigieg wrote. “However, these benefits are not consistently detailed in carriers’ public-facing customer service plans, resulting in many service members being unaware of them.”

The travel benefits “often do not fully address the needs of service members who may need to cancel or change personal travel plans due to military directives,” Buttigieg added.

Following the letter, Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier stepped up their existing commitments to troops and families, according to the Department of Transportation.

Six others — Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue and United — declined to make “clear and enforceable” promises of extra benefits, the department said.

Airlines are required to stick to the benefits outlined in their customer service plans, including commitments to care for service members and their families. The department pledges to hold airlines accountable if they fail to do so.

To build the new “Support Our Troops” dashboard, DOT and Pentagon officials collaborated to evaluate airlines on four basic commitments the government believes are the top priorities for troops and families on the go:

  • Whether they waive cancellation fees and ensure full refunds for service members and accompanying family members who cancel travel plans because of a military order or directive (documentation may be required). Three airlines make this commitment.
  • Whether they waive change fees for service members and accompanying family members who reschedule flights because of a military order or directive (documentation may be required). Four airlines make this commitment.
  • Whether they offer at least one free standard carry-on and at least two free standard checked bags for service members and their accompanying spouse and children, with appropriate identification such as a valid military ID. Four airlines make this commitment.
  • Whether they provide the lowest fare for a flight for immediate family members to visit service members recently injured in the line of duty, with supporting documentation. Two airlines make this commitment.

Two airlines — Allegiant and Spirit — pledge to provide all four benefits.

Airlines might offer additional perks to troops and their families, but for those benefits to be reflected on the dashboard, the airlines are required to make those commitments in their customer service plan and provide them to all service members, the department said in a release.

The dashboard applies to current members of the military who are serving or may be called to serve, and who hold a current military ID. That includes members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and reserve components; cadets of the military academies and the Merchant Marine Academy; the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps and Ready Reserve Corps; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s officer corps.

More information is available on the airlines’ websites or by contacting customer service agents.

The military community can also compare prices and snag discounts on upcoming travel through the Defense Department’s American Forces Travel website, which offers deals on flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and travel packages, and event tickets.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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