Airline Military Boarding Policies: United, American, Delta, & More

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When it comes to honoring the service of our active-duty military personnel, many U.S. airlines offer a variety of benefits.

One of these perks is priority boarding, allowing servicemembers to board the plane ahead of the general passengers. This recognition not only provides a more relaxed boarding experience for our servicemembers but also gives them the opportunity to secure their overhead luggage space conveniently.

Let's break down each airlines policies regarding early boarding.

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American Airlines

American Airlines acknowledges the service of our active-duty military by allowing them to board in Group 1. This policy is the same for those flying in First class, ensuring that military personnel receive a premium boarding experience.

The American Airlines website states, “We welcome active-duty military with ID to board the plane in Group 1 along with our customers in First.”

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Southwest Military Boarding

Southwest Airlines has recently updated their military boarding policy to make the travel experience more streamlined for our servicemembers.

According to their website, “Southwest® is committed to making the military travel experience as easy as possible, in and out of uniform. That's why we're updating our military boarding policy to include out of uniform military travelers. Beginning September 22, 2022, we invite all active-duty military members with ID who did not receive an “A” boarding group to board between the A and B groups.”

This adjustment to their boarding policy is a strong statement of Southwest's commitment to making air travel more accessible and convenient for military personnel, even when they're not in uniform.

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United Airlines

United Airlines offers an elevated boarding experience to active members of the military.

United's boarding policy states, “active members of the military” are invited to board before Group 1, in the pre-boarding group. This is the same status they afford Premier 1k members and United Global Services members, putting military personnel on the same level as their most frequent and premium travelers.

This preferential treatment is another way that airlines like United recognize the dedication and service of our military personnel.

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Delta Airlines

Delta is another airline that offers priority boarding to military personnel. Active-duty service members on orders are invited to board with “Delta Comfort+” passengers, ensuring a more relaxed boarding experience.

It's worth noting that service members traveling for leisure may not receive the same benefit; however, the airline often makes exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

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JetBlue extends its gratitude towards the military by inviting them to board early, regardless of their travel class. This policy applies to all active-duty military members, enabling them to settle in and stow their baggage without the rush of general boarding.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines invites U.S. military personnel to pre-board flights. This benefit applies to active-duty members, their dependents, and military veterans. By allowing this group to board ahead of general boarding, Alaska Airlines recognizes the sacrifices made by those in service.

Spirit Airlines

Despite being a budget airline, Spirit does not shy away from expressing appreciation for the military. They offer active-duty military members priority check-in, security screening where available, and boarding, plus an allowance for free carry-on baggage.

The Origin of Preferred Boarding for Military

The priority boarding policies for military personnel took root after the terrible events of September 11, 2001. Following this day, there was a surge of nationalistic sentiment and renewed respect for the military across the United States.

Airlines, like many other businesses, sought ways to express their gratitude to those who serve. Priority boarding became a tangible perk that airlines could offer to ease the travel experience of active-duty servicemembers. While it is a small gesture in comparison to the sacrifices our servicemembers make, it is a public acknowledgment of their service and a sign of the airlines' respect and appreciation.

In conclusion, each airline has unique ways of expressing their gratitude towards active-duty military personnel. The common theme is a desire to acknowledge the commitment and sacrifices made by our servicemembers. While the exact details of each policy vary, the intent is clear – to honor those who serve.

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