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Sky High Salutes: How Airlines Show Their Love for Veterans (With Mixed Results)

Saluting our veterans isn't just for Veterans Day, folks. Airlines have taken up the call to honor those who served our country, providing some interesting perks that range from "Wow, that's thoughtful" to "Seriously, who came up with this?"

Starting strong, we've got the granddaddy of all carriers, American Airlines. They've got a reward program that's not just for accumulating miles for your vacation to Bora Bora. No sir, it's also for supporting veterans. "AAdvantage," they call it. Sounds more like a superhero name. Well, guess what? They are superheroes. Vets get extra miles that can be donated to veteran-related charities. A sort of "Robin Hood" moves, taking from the rich (frequent flyers) and giving to the heroes.

Next on parade, we have Delta, the airline that practically invented the "slightly less awful middle seat." Delta offers exclusive military discounts plus free checked bags. Free checked bags, folks! It's like finding an oasis in the desert of nickel-and-diming that air travel has become. We can almost see the grizzled veteran, weighed down by the trauma of war, suddenly brightening up at the prospect of saving $30 on a suitcase full of uniforms.

Not wanting to be left out, United Airlines provides veterans up to 5% off on tickets for their Veterans Advantage program. A whopping 5% off! Now you can take that dream vacation, knowing you've saved enough to buy half a Starbucks latte at the airport. Every little helps, right?

Southwest, the airline that makes you feel like you're at a casual Friday meeting, offers special fares for active duty and veterans. How special are these fares, you ask? They don't tell you on their website. It's a secret. Shhh.

On the other hand, JetBlue offers a 5% discount and two free checked bags. There's a sense of déjà vu here. Like they've copied off their buddy's homework and just changed a couple of things. Creativity points: zero. But hey, two free checked bags is nothing to sneeze at.

Continuing on our journey through the exciting world of veteran benefits from airlines, let's circle back with Spirit Airlines. Known for its 'Bare Fare’ model that allows passengers to pack light, fly for less and get fewer services, it might surprise you that they have a heart. They offer free bags for active-duty military members. Don't get too excited; they didn't mention anything about veterans. This is Spirit, the airline that makes Scrooge look like Santa.

Hawaiian Airlines, where the aloha spirit meets the skies, gives a generous 5% off to veterans. It's like they've thrown in a lei with that discount. What's next, a ukulele serenade?

Now let's talk about Frontier Airlines, an airline that does not lack creativity regarding tail designs. This airline offers one free personal item and carry-on and waives change fees for active military. However, as for veterans, it appears the Frontier has not yet been conquered.

Lest we forget, Allegiant Air offers free services to active-duty military, their spouses, and dependents. Free services include baggage, one pet in the cabin, boarding pass printing, and seat assignment. To the veterans, though, it appears they say, "Thank you for your service. Now pay for your bags."

Now, onto Sun Country Airlines, which has a program called "Sun Country for the Military". Active-duty military members receive free baggage allowance, priority boarding, and the option to change or cancel a flight without a fee. The sun seems to have set on the freebie horizon if you're a veteran.

Finally, we have Virgin Atlantic wrapping up our cavalcade of airline offerings. They certainly aren't virginal when it comes to offering military fare discounts. But for specific veteran benefits, they're keeping those details closer to their chest than a winning hand at poker.

Let's wrap it up with Alaska Airlines, who, true to their pioneering spirit, offers discounts to military personnel, but you must call their reservation number to find out what they are. Yes, in an age of AI, VR, and Elon Musk, they want you to call them. On the phone. Like it's 1999.

Well, that's the flight path, folks! While the perks are not quite as glamorous as a ticker tape parade down Fifth Avenue or as satisfying as a warm welcome home, they represent a token of appreciation for our veterans' service. And if you ask me, there's a lot more that can be done. It wouldn't hurt to throw in a complimentary in-flight meal. We can dream, can't we?

Image by John Heintzelman using software (2023).

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