Can Retired Military Fly for Free?

Can retired military fly for free: let’s check out retired military travel benefits and other available options for free or discounted air travel.

When it comes to the benefits of military service, many people are aware of the financial assistance provided for education, healthcare, and housing.

However, one lesser-known benefit that often sparks curiosity is the possibility of retired military personnel being able to fly for free.

In this article, we will discuss this topic in depth, discussing the various programs and options available to retired military members seeking free or discounted air travel.

Can Retired Military Fly for Free?

Can Retired Military Fly for Free

Retired military personnel can potentially fly for free through the Space-Available (Space-A) travel program, which allows eligible individuals to fill unoccupied seats on Department of Defense aircraft.

However, Space-A travel is not guaranteed, as seats are allocated based on availability and priority, with active-duty military personnel taking precedence over retirees.

Retired military members must have completed at least 20 years of active-duty service or be retired due to a disability to be eligible for Space-A travel.

Let’s check out more about this program and other options available.

Space-Available Travel Program

The primary way retired military personnel can fly for free is through a program called Space-Available (Space-A) travel.

Space-A travel allows eligible individuals, including retired military members, to fill unoccupied seats on Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft. These flights typically travel between military installations and can sometimes even offer international destinations.

It’s important to note that Space-A travel is not guaranteed. Seats are allocated based on availability and priority, with active-duty military personnel and their families taking precedence over retired military members.

As a result, retirees may find themselves bumped from a flight if more urgent travelers require the seats.

Eligibility for Space-A Travel

To be eligible for Space-A travel, retired military members must have completed at least 20 years of active-duty service or be retired due to a disability.

They must possess a valid Uniformed Services ID card (DD Form 2) with “retired” status indicated.

While dependents of active-duty military personnel are often allowed to accompany them on Space-A flights, the same privilege does not extend to dependents of retired military members.

However, if the retiree has a dependent who is also a military retiree, they may also be eligible for Space-A travel.

How to Use Space-A Travel

For those interested in taking advantage of Space-A travel, there are several steps to follow –

  1. Determine your eligibility by reviewing the guidelines outlined by the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
  2. Research available flights and destinations by contacting the Passenger Terminal at the nearest military installation or visiting their respective Facebook pages for up-to-date flight information.
  3. Register for a flight by contacting the Passenger Terminal and providing your name, rank, retirement date, and other pertinent information. Registration can typically be completed via email, phone, or in person.
  4. Check the flight schedule frequently and be prepared to arrive at the terminal well in advance of the scheduled departure time.
  5. Be patient and flexible with travel plans, as Space-A flights are subject to change and cancellations.

Other Options for Discounted Airfare

While Space-A travel offers an opportunity for free flights, there are other options for retired military personnel seeking discounted airfare.

Military Discounts

Many commercial airlines offer military discounts for active-duty personnel, veterans, and retirees. These discounts can range anywhere from a small percentage off the ticket price to waived baggage fees.

It’s important to contact the airline directly and inquire about any available military discounts, as they may not be advertised on their websites.

Veterans Advantage

Veterans Advantage is a membership program that offers exclusive discounts and benefits to active-duty military, veterans, and their families.

One of the primary benefits of this program is access to discounted airfare through participating airlines. While not free, these discounts can significantly reduce the cost of air travel for retired military members.

Government Vacation Rewards

Government Vacation Rewards is a travel discount program specifically designed for military personnel, veterans, and government employees.

Members can earn points by booking hotels, cruises, and vacation packages, which can then be redeemed for discounts on future travel, including airfare.

Limitations and Considerations

It’s important to remember that while these programs and discounts can help retired military personnel save on air travel, there are some limitations and factors to consider:

  • Space-A travel is not guaranteed and can be unpredictable. Retirees should be prepared for the possibility of being bumped from a flight or experiencing delays and cancellations.
  • Military discounts and travel programs may have restrictions, such as blackout dates or limited availability.
  • To maximize savings, retirees should be flexible with their travel plans and be willing to explore multiple options.

FAQs about Retired Military Air Travel Benefits

Can Veterans use Military Flights?

Yes, veterans can use military flights through the Space-A travel program. Disabled veterans who have been authorized are allowed to travel within the continental United States (CONUS). They can also travel directly between CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

To be eligible, veterans must be classified as “Gray Area” retirees (reserve component members who have completed 20 years of service but have not yet reached the age of 60) or be retired due to a disability. Veterans must possess a valid Uniformed Services ID card (DD Form 2765) with the appropriate status indicated.

Can Veterans Check Bags for Free?

Yes, many airlines offer veterans the benefit of checking bags for free or at a discounted rate. Members of Veterans Advantage can bring two (2) bags weighing up to 50 lbs. each without paying extra charges. However, The specific policies and allowances may vary depending on the airline.

What Veterans are Eligible for Honor Flight?

Honor Flight is an organization that offers free transportation for U.S. military veterans, primarily from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. Old Veterans or with terminal illnesses are prioritized. Eligibility requirements may vary by regional Honor Flight hub.

How to Get Free Military Flights?

To get free military flights through the Space-A Travel program, you must be a service member, a family member of a service member, or a veteran with a 100% disability rating. Eligible individuals can use this service, operated by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, to travel worldwide at little to no cost.

Also Read –

Best Dental Insurance Plans for Retired Military Officers
Can Retired Military Use JAG?


While retired military personnel cannot always fly for free, there are several opportunities for them to save on airfare through Space-A travel and other discount programs.

By researching and taking advantage of these options, retirees can enjoy more affordable travel experiences, allowing them to make the most of their well-deserved retirement.

Martin Miller


Martin Miller is a dedicated retirement expert with over 12+ years of experience in helping individuals achieve their retirement goals. Martin has extensive knowledge and expertise in retirement planning, investment management, and wealth preservation strategies. Keep reading his blog Save10 which can be considered as an encyclopedia for retirees or who are planning their retirement goals.